This word 'expert' comes up a lot when working with memoir or non-fiction books. It comes from the question … am I actually qualified to tell people how to do this? It could be ….. make money, control diabetes, train a dog, lose weight, make money, cope with grief. But am I qualified....
Good questions ... do you have to be an expert to write a book?
A year ago (in 2012) I had a full and busy life. I was the group editor of a publishing company, mom to two young kids (eight and ten) and busy training for a 10km run. My husband of 10 years was also dying of brain cancer. I was emotionally exhausted and I simply had no reserves. On Wednesday I went for a 5km run during my lunch hour. That is the last thing I remember for over a month. by Sarah Bullen
This article was published in Women's Health October 2013 issue under the title A Year On
A book themes asks of you to find what the book is about. See how many of these words seem to apply to your NON FICTION book. This can be a memoir or non-fiction in general.
Structure is the architecture of your book. It is the way you are going to organise your information in a way that is entertaining and logical for the reader. What kind of structure you are going to hang your story on? Here are some of the larger ones for non-fiction books.
Where will your book sit? Remember your first step in non-fiction writing is to be clear on your genre. Find your main genre and subgenre from the list below.
There are some lines from romance novels that really make you shiver. Here are some of my favourites, share yours below in the comments!
Making readers CARE about your character is not actually a mystery. It is most often a product of good dialogue and good plotting. I have found on a rewrite that most writers need to go through the manuscript and tackle it on two levels. BY SARAH BULLEN
There are a few key places where it is just so easy to get stuck as a writer. You may get stuck in all of them. But if you want to move forward and be a published author you have to fight your way forward and through each and every one of these sticky little holes. They will suck you in and you are going to have to claw your way out. That is some of the hard work required in writing. Did you hear anyone say it was easy?
Here are my top five Writing Black Holes:
I have been doing a bit of a roadshow presenting some new authors to publishers both in locally and globally. I also use the opportunity to gauge the market, and see what publishers are looking for right now. I believe in writing with purpose, because that way you have a better chance of getting a publishing deal.
Here are the biggest trends and what they mean to you as an author:
I always encourage a writer to learn the craft by writing a genre romance - and that means a Harlequin/M&B style one. And why not? You have the highest chance of being published in this genre, it’s fun, it's a challenge and it’s shorter than many other books. It sure worked for EL James. But does that mean it is easy? Not a chance! It will put to the test all your storytelling skills. That’s why it is such a great place to start your career.
Now if you have been following my steps you have completed step 1. That means you have printed and marked up your entire manuscript, your next step is to get back on your computer and start to fix all the errors.
OK so this post is assuming that you have competed one of the courses and you have a first draft of your book in your hand. So it is going to take you through the next few steps that you need to take to move your first draft into a better book.
A smoking author biography is an essential part of a book proposal. Writing a good one - that sums up your personality and book in a few succinct words - is so unbelievably useful for so many reasons. So this is one tight piece of writing you need to really work on and here are some essential elements you need to include. By Sarah Bullen
How do you find your true voice when you write? I am so often asked this. It is hard to find what you genuinely feel is YOU. Our brains are so full of all the authors we have read, all the poems and stories. They are full of what 'good' writing is. I think of your writing voice as a song that you have to discover by removing all the other voices. The song is ancient. But how do you find YOURS? by Sarah Bullen
Losing some work due to a computer glitch is a frustrating moment. Losing your entire book is a crushing event. Okay it wasn't an entire book I just lost, but it was enough to ruin my day.
I work with writers all over the world to help them get their books written and then published. And what is the one thing that published writers do that many unpublished writers don't? They schedule writing time. And I mean literally put it in the diary.
Most writers will tell you that writing time doesn't always just happen. The Muse doesn't always strike. Sometimes writing is a hard slog. Sure, sometimes it flows. Sometimes it is like mud. But you have to do the slog.
Sending off a manuscript is terrifying. It is adrenalin inducing, heart-stopping stuff for any writer. But so many writers bail or fail at this critical point. They send their book off to a publisher and get a rejection letter. Then they put it in a bottom drawer and don’t send it again. This is not called submitting a book! Submitting a book is a long process that requires work and persistence.
This is NOT the time to be shy or hold back.
Do you believe in this book?
Did you invest your time in it?
Now change gear from a writer into a sales person and get this book SOLD! And remember that selling a book is a process of securing a deal in which a publisher agrees to print your book, carry the printing, distribution and marketing costs and share some of the profit with you.
Here are a few essential steps you need to take and some advice from an agent who does this a lot.
When I started teaching writing over a decade ago I always used to tell writers NOT to write about themselves. This was in the interests of cultivating good fiction authors. Why? Because if you write about yourself in fiction, you really only have one story to tell. It is also a totally misunderstood maxim of writing that you must ‘write what you know.’ All this has changed!
Starting a book? That is the (relatively) easy bit. Keeping going is a bit harder. Who wants to sit alone in front of a keyboard while everyone else is out playing. Facebook is waiting. Maybe a blog would be more achievable than a whole BOOK? So here’s my take on why many writers stop before the end. This is not any professional research, just my observations from experience.
One of the most common complaints I always hear from writers is that they can’t 'find the time' to write. They may start their books but then, three months into the process, a pressing project at work is taking up all their time. Or the kids are too demanding. Or (on the other side of the spectrum) I get writers who tell me they are going to quit their jobs to finally write that book. Now go easy on both sides of this extreme. There are better ways to tackle this.
I started the first writing course and agency ten years ago and focused only on novels. Almost all the writers who found me saw 'writing a book' as 'writing a novel' so my work was to get writers to plot, plan and craft their novels. Publishing and writers have changed dramatically. Not many writers send queries about wanting to write a novel any more. Most writers who find me want to write their own story - either as a memoir or a non-fiction book.
I get asked this so often. There is only one answer to this question (in my view). YES of course you should plan a book!
I believe in writing with intent if you want to get published.
Ever wonder how many books get sold in SA every year? What SA publishing looks like from the inside? How many books the average South African author sells? Ever wonder how many books get sold in SA every year? What SA publishing looks like from the inside? How many books the average South African author sells?
Pour yourself a drink, this is going to hurt like hell. By Paige Nick
You may want to write a non-fiction book that is based on your professional expertise. Or perhaps it's an illustrated children’s book, a cookbook or a photographic travel book. The good news is that you don’t have to write your entire book first. You can submit a proposal. In fact these books are generally commissioned by publishers on a proposal basis. (I am going to use the terms publisher / agent interchangeably).
This means that writing a proposal is actually a Pretty Big Deal. They are long and they take a whole lotta work. But they will easily weed out the serious writer (that’s you) from the ‘don’t care enough’ to an experienced publisher. Don’t rush the process of the book proposal and don’t underestimate how carefully crafted this needs to be. This is what is going to get your book sold.
Your book needs a theme. A theme is closely aligned to your plot and often the words are used interchangably. I see them as different however. A theme is more of a feeling your book has, a message, or a arc your character will undergo. Your plot is the step by step way in which you are going to tell story. Of course they are closely aligned. But building a plot takes a more practical method of working out how your character is going to move from A to B.
The list below is from 20 Master Plots & How to Build Them (Ronald Tobias 1993). See if you can identify your plot in one of these. It may give you focus. It may give clarity to a story goal you are battling to lock down.
Sarah Bullen is a writing coach, agent and book editor. She is a structure fanatic and wants to get all books into a publishable format.