Monday, November 26, 2012

10 Steps to Getting Your Book on Paper

If you’re like the majority of people, you’ve thought about writing a book, but you’ve never quite started the project. You might be overwhelmed by the task. You may not be sure where to start. Here are some quick tips to get your book on paper.

1. Pick Your Subject. This may seem pretty basic, but it’s always good to give the choice of your topic some thought. I the subject something of which you are considered an expert? Is it something you want to learn more about? This will set a framework to approach your book.
2. Choose Your Audience. Just as important as the subject matter is who is going to read your book. Are you introducing people to a new subject or addressing experts in the field on a narrow, but in-depth topic? This will help determine the best tone for your book.
3. Identify Your Niche. Thousands of books are published every year. In order for yours to stand out and have worth, it must address the topic in an unusual or new way.
4. Decide on the Process. Not everyone can sit at a desk and type or write an entire book. There are many options for would-be writers to use. Consider hiring a ghost writer. They take your story and provide a completed manuscript. Find a co-author. While this can sometimes cause more problems, it does cut down on the amount of writing you need to do on your own. Also, consider dictating your story into a computer and using software to transcribe it into your manuscript.
5. Use Previous Work. Collect material you already possess. Maybe you’ve written blogs, magazine articles, letters to the editor. All of these items can be incorporated into your book. If you’ve ever interviewed people on the subject of your book, this information can be included as well.
6. Create an Outline. The next step is to organize the information you plan on discussing. Whether you write a formal outline or use sticky notes on a wall or desk to create a storyboard, you’ll find it helps to guide the process.
7. Begin the Writing Process. The next step is to just write. Break down the project into smaller pieces. Consider writing a chapter at a time. Write articles or pieces that you can then combine to make an entire book.
8. Finding the Time. Sometimes, this could be the most difficult part of any writing process. Everyone lives busy lives and between work, family and other activities, there are many excuses to prevent finding the time. Whether you have to lock yourself in a private room or step out to a coffee shop, make sure you set aside the time you need to finish your project.
9. Read Your Book Aloud. Once you’ve finished your first draft, take the time to read your book aloud. While you may not pick up everything that needs fixing, it will help clean up your manuscript. If it doesn’t sound right, change it. Read aloud again.
10. The Next Steps. As a first time author, it is a good idea to hire a professional editor to help smooth the rough edges. This will help you get your manuscript read by publishers.

After you have a completed manuscript and you are ready to publish. You will need to consider the best format for publication. The options available will be the subject of a future blog post.

Nancy E. Randolph
Just Write Books
Maine Books Maine Authors Maine Stories
Contact me: p. 207-729-3600  Skype: jstwrite

Monday, November 12, 2012

Thankful to live and work in Maine

Although we're not quite to Thanksgiving; I thought I would tell others why I'm so happy to live in Maine. First I thought I'd share something I wrote as an answer to a post in Linkedin when the original post was condemning Maine as a place to do business.

I answered that I love Maine and have chosen to live here since 1985 (several months forays away notwithstanding). So the person, who was upset with his life in Maine, volleyed back, "what is Maine's greatest asset?" My answer:

"The people.  People are always what make a place.  (I am a transplant of 27 years. Other than Maine I've lived in Iceland, Japan, the South Pacific, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Ohio, Indiana and Florida.) 

Look for the following types of people (these are just a sampling of those I appreciate):
  • The people who have preserved lands. 
  • The fishermen who bring in the seafood that we eat.
  • The farmers that sell at the market so that I don't have to grow my own veggies.
  • The poets who write about Maine.
  • The authors that write about Maine. (I'm a publisher after all)
  •  Contract workers who prepare artwork, provide editing or other value added services to my business.
  •  Interns who willing get paid very little to learn about publishing and help me keep cost down.
  • The cleaning person who takes care of our house so that although I have a home office, I can focus on my work. 
  •  The friends who are there to support me when I feel discouraged.
My daughter, living in Florida, reminds me that these people are everywhere.  

In Maine, the population is small enough that when we meet these people, we wave and say, "Hi." We might know them better owing to our small town atmosphere.

Nancy E. Randolph, Publisher

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Second 10 Steps to Prepare Your Memoir/Autobiography.

In an earlier blog post, we explored the first ten steps to preparing the materials to create your memoir manuscript. The steps below finish the process up to printing/publishing your book.

1. Prepare all photos. Adding photos to your memoir goes a long way toward connecting people with your stories. For step- by-step instructions on how to compile and organize your photos for your project, please read Preparing Photos for Your Manuscript.
2. Decide which parts of a book that you will employ. Essentially, you are creating a rough outline of your book. Do you need a foreword explaining why this project is important to you? A table of contents to guide the reader through their journey? Other parts to consider are a list of photos or an index to help readers find important information fast. (link for list of parts of book)

3. Design the pages. While a book is mainly text and occasionally photos, there should be no less thought and design into the look of the book pages than of a intensely graphic publication. How do you want your chapter pages to do look? Are you numbering chapters or naming them based on the events occurring within or both? Where do you want the page numbers? Consideration should be given to font styles and sizes that ensure clean, crisp lines and overall readability. If a chapter is going to be divided up into smaller stories, make sure to come up with a decorative element to achieve the separation.

4. Design a cover. We all know the saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Like it is or not, that is what happens. It’s best to have the cover of your book professionally designed. Imagery should be appropriate to the content of the book and the back should include a book summary and very short author bio (see items number 6 and 7 below. Don’t forget spine copy and a barcode!

5. Determine the price. The price of your book is going to include printing costs, publisher’s cost (if any), and something for yourself.

6. Send copies of manuscript printout to writers of preface, foreword and other book reviewers,  as needed. These should be clean copies with no mark ups. (You may label these with the caveat of “draft reviewers copy or unedited publishers proof.”

7. Receive blurbs, preface and reviews. Edit or excerpt pieces for back of cover and for publicity. Some of these items may be used in press releases, event flyers and other means of marketing and selling your book.

8. Set the pages. The design created in step three will be used as a template to format the entire book into a cohesive and easy-to-read final document.

9. Set a complete cover with all necessary elements. Finalize all blurb selections; edit as required. Ensure all text is legible and no imagery is distracting from readability.

10. Perform a complete review. Proof your page layout and cover. Have another professional go over a copy at the same time. Once all changes have been incorporated, your book will be ready.

Nancy E. Randolph operates Just Write Books, a publishing business with the tag line: Maine books by Maine authors telling Maine stories. Randolph quickly developed a reputation as a publisher of quality Maine books. An active community member along with two others she founded and serves as a member of the board of Save Our Swinging Bridge.Org to ensure the maintenance of the historic Roebling designed and built bridge connecting Topsham and Brunswick. She co-chairs with Cathy Lamb the Androscoggin Brunswick-Topsham Riverwalk project--building a 2K walking/biking intown loop. To contact her directly: