You all know I am a bit fan of lists and rules. So here are some of my own from years of working on books and placing books to be published. You may see this as a bit of a rant... probably true. But you know I love you all and just want you to end up with your BEST book.
Rule 1: Write with intent
So let me clarify something here... these Rules are for writers who want to get published. I have nothing against journaling and diary work. But I am talking to writers who want to end up with a book or a talk or a blog. That means you need to write with your end goal in mind. All pieces of writing need to have a view to be used in your book. I am not a personal fan of morning pages for serious writers. Morning pages are for therapeutic stuff. Write with intent and you end up with a book.
Intent also means you need to know WHAT you are writing.
The gap between having an idea (or a dream) and becoming a published author is a BIG one. I want to help you NOT to get stuck in this gap.
Got a manuscript that you are sitting on? Here is an updated list of all the publishing houses actively looking for books. Romance! Children's books! Recovery and addiction! There is a publishing house for every flavour. Ready? This is a long list so digest it. Check your genre. If submissions are closed but it's your genre then start a list of publishers to target.
The first draft of your book is not something you are going to want to show anyone. Sorry! As much as you have sweated and toiled over it… it is most likely a crude assembly of scenes with a bit of a mishmash plot at best. Totally normal. The good news is you have done most of the legwork.
You absolutely have to put your entire story through a rewrite to get to a 'vaguely passable first draft'. This requires you to step out of writer mode and think like an editor. You need to find structure, pace and plot. Out of the trenches and start to see your book as a construction. Now how do you make it better.....
Writing coach Sarah Bullen and her children were on the verge of returning home to South Africa to start another exciting chapter in their life after a wonderful two-year sojourn on a Greek island. Then she felt a lump in her left breast. This is her story…
Self-publishing allows you to get your material printed and out into the world and spread your message. But before you launch yourself off into the world, take a note of the costs. There are production costs and printing costs.
I am going to give you the costs of some of the books I worked on recently.
Why isn't it selling? Who should be making it sell? Why isn't the publisher doing more? Why are there only three copies at the bookshop and no front of house display?
Very few publishing houses are going to constantly promote you and your book. But the good news is, this is where you can make the critical difference. That means that you have to build an audience for your book.
Here's a good list of questions to ask your hero
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
'Write your Book' the post read. 'Join us on a writing retreat on the beautiful Greek Island of Lesvos’.
I had in fact written a book, which had been percolating in the bottom drawer of my night table for a few years. Here was the opportunity to expose it to the light, not any light, but the warm sun of Lesvos with beautiful beaches and the gin-clear waters of the Mediterranean Sea.
Top lawyer Nicholas Lambrianos is the author of It Shouldn’t Happen to a Lawyer. He joined us on a writing retreat in Greece and decided to join the women-only swim to The Rock.....
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
Sarah Bullen is a writing coach, agent and book editor. She is a structure fanatic and coaches writers on how to write and get published.