How to write a book and get it published

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The Writing

Most people have a book hidden in them somewhere.  All it needs to come out, is some kind of spark to be ignited.  The spark could be a cataclysmic event, a hilarious experience, something mind-altering and life-changing or something you read that got you thinking, "Hey, I can do that."  Whatever the spark, you do need something to fire you up.  Nobody wakes up and says to themselves, "Golly gee.  Think I'll write a book today."  Okay, nobody says, "Golly gee," period.  Anybody can write a book, it's not difficult.  All it takes, is careful planning and discipline, and don't forget time.  Writing a book is time consuming.

From a young age, way back in elementary school, I loved to write.  I was an avid reader and was already into the heavy stuff like Leon Uris at the age of thirteen.  My personal opinion, if you don't love reading you're going to find it hard to write.  When I write and hit a blank, I read.  Reading other author's work inspires me to get back on track with my writing.  Whatever genre you decide you  want to write about, read whatever you can get your hands  on from that genre.  Do this before you start writing.  Read, read, read.

To start writing, think about what has lit the writing spark in you.  This could be the subject you write about.  Make a list of what you liked about books you read in the genre you've chosen to write in.  Then, make a list of what put you off about some of the books you read.  When you start writing, you want to try to include many of the things from the first list.  Chances are, if it's things you like other people will like them too.

Writing fiction

Before you even think about characters, you need to decide on what the problem is going to be.  A story without a problem is not a story.  People will read it and think, what was the point.  Unless you're writing science fiction or fantasy, don't make the problem too improbable.  You want the story to ring true and be a little believable.  Personally, I hate reading improbable stories.  After you've decided on the prolblem, think about how it will be resolved in the end.  You can think of a few alternative endings.  Then, as you're writing you'll subconsciously gravitate to the best one for your problem.  You want your story to flow.  Once you have your problem, think about what type of characters would work with the problem.  Think of a main character, supporting characters and a villain.  Decide on their names, and write a short biography for each one and even list their likes and dislikes.  When your charcters become real to you as the author, they'll become reall to the reader as well.

Start working out a short synopsis for each chapter, building up to the climax and then coming down to the conclusion.  This will be your basic framework for your novel that you'll work from.  As you start to write, you might add and delete stuff from the basic framework, as you start to get involved and caught up in the story.  Keep a notebook on your person at all times to jot down crazy ideas, funny quotes, anything interesting that you come across during your daily life.  This will serve as a good resource book for you at a later date when you hit a stumbling block or run out of ideas.  Now, take each chapter's synopsis and start fleshing it out by adding in heaps of sparkling dialogue and some good descriptive writing.  Try and describe all the details you see in your mind.  If you don't give your reader a mental picture of what you're talking about, they'll lose interest.

Writing non-fiction

Research, research, research.  Read up all you can on your chosen subject, talk to people about your chosen subject.  You need to become an expert.  Try and write a different slant to the topic, as otherwise it'll be, "Same-old, same-old," and nobody will be interested in reading your book.  Don't write a non-fiction book on a subject you have no knowledge about.  Someone will find you out, trip you up and you'll have egg all over your face.  That'll be a bit messy and not a pretty sight.

Hot Tips

Be disciplined.  Find yourself a quiet spot where you can work uninterrupted.  Set yourself a realistic daily goal of how many pages you want to write.  Try and reach that goal or go beyond it every day.

Don't worry about spelling or grammar as you are writing.  All that is important, is to get your great ideas down before you forget them.  There's time to revise later on.

Get yourself a close friend who can be your editor.  For both my books, the novel and the self-help one, I emailed each day's work to a good friend in London.  As he was only editing a couple of pages at a time, it was much easier for him to do.  I'd email him every night before I went to sleep, and because of the time differences, I'd wake up every morning with the perfectly edited pages in my inbox.  Ah, there are times when technology is so wonderful.  After you've finished your writing and your friend has finished the editing, revise it again.  Send the whole complete package to the friend again, make any changes they've suggested, and them break open a bottle or two of champers.  You've finished the easy part.  Now you have to get it published and out there.

This took a month and a half to write, but I was very disciplned at the time.
This took a month and a half to write, but I was very disciplned at the time.

The Publishing

This part is the nightmare. This is the part that kills it for many would -be-writers. There are many people out there with books completed, who can't do anything with them. Most publishers and publishing houses won't accept unsolicited manuscripts. You have to go through a literary agent. Most literary agents won't touch new unpublished authors with a bar of soap. Many literary agents won't take unsolicited manuscrips. You, as a new author, are the lowest of the low. The piece of doggy doo stuck under a shoe. Many don't treat you with much respect. They pride themselves on making you feel inferior. To get them to graciously allow you to submit your manuscript for their consideration, you have to write a query letter. Your query letter has to be so fantastic, that you'll wow the pants off the literary agent. The bad news is that the pants of the literary agents are stuck to them with super glue. Probably because they spend all day sitting on their bum. In fairness to them, they receive thousands of query letters each month, all from would-be authors who are convinced that their book is the next number one bestseller. Very, very, very few impress a literary agent.

What many new authors are doing these days is self-publishing. There are many self-publishing companies out there, many of them suspect. After many rejection emails, and feeling a little dejected, I saw an ad for a self-publishing house. The first one I used for my self-help book was Instabooks. My self-help book shot to the top of their bestseller list, but all I got for my efforts from book sales was $20! Despite quite a few sales. I sent them numerous emails and battled like hell just to get that $20. So, I don't recommend them at all.

The other way to publish your book, is as an ebook with Lulu.com. They are free, no cost to you at all as the author and you get a percentage of every ebook sale. I've put both my books for sale with Lulu.com, but haven't had much success there. You have to do your own online marketing and I suck at that.

The self-publishing house I recommend is Booksurge.com. They are part of the Amazon group of companies and if you publish with them, your book is automatically listed with Amazon. I found their customer service to be excellent, they respond to all your questions timeously and the finished product was very good. To self-publish, you have to make sure that your editing is spot-on if you don't want to pay for Booksurge to do the editing. They met all their deadlines, delivered all the sold books within a few days of the customer ordering it, and send me a cheque at the end of every month.

Another self-publishing house which is part of the Amazon Group is Creatspace. I am currently busy publishing a revised copy of my self-help book with them. You don't pay a publishing fee like you do with Booksurge (which is incidentally under $500), but you do have to pay for your proof copy and the postage of it to you. All books published with Creatspace are also automatically listed on Amazon. I have a good feeling about them so hope it won't be like the Instabooks-disaster.

This book I worked on for about 6 months
This book I worked on for about 6 months
Reading an excerpt from my book at the book signing.
Reading an excerpt from my book at the book signing.

The Marketing

The biggest problem with self publishing, is that if you don't market your book yourself, you won't sell any.  Big bookshops won't stock it, so you are forced to try and sell it online.  The best way is through Amazon.  But, with so many million other books listed for sale on their website, it's very hard to get your book noticed by the masses.  Which brings you back to doing your own online marketing.  You have to direct traffic to your book's link on Amazon.  Believe you me, this is not easy.  Online marketing is time consuming and not for the faint-hearted.   Especially, when you are technologically challenged like me.  Half the things you read you should do to market your book online, you don't know what they are.  It's impossible to continue writing other books while you have to do your online marketing and hold down a day job.  There are just not enough hours in the day. and when you have kids that have to be fed and cared for, it is a mountain you have to climb to get anywhere.

I don't want to put you off.  The writing part was the easiest for me, and when I decided on self-publishing, that part was easy.  It's the marketing.  Jeez, it is so hard.  A friend is helping me put together a website as apparently that is very important.  It is also important for people who've read the book, to give you reviews.  Amazon also have a special deal Buy X get Y.  You list your book with a bestseller and people have the option to buy two books at a special price.  This costs over $1000.  Sorry, have son's upcoming university costs to pay so don't have that kind of cash lying around waiting to be spent.

I did have a book signing here in Nanjing, China, at the local Irish Pub which was quite successful.  I'm sure that marketing a book in the States is far easier than marketing an English fiction book in China.  You could do many more book signings at book clubs and shopping malls.  There are far more opportunities there.

Don't be put off by my negative comments about marketing.  I just suck at it but you might be great.  Get that book out of your closet, dust it off and self publish it.  Make sure you work out a marketing plan in advance, not like me who tries to market as I go along!  Good luck and go for it!

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Comments 46 comments

C. C. Riter 7 years ago

I have decided that I will go throguh a literary agent, or as many as I have to. I can wait, I'm patient and can live with the many rejections. I've waited this long anyway, and if ti doesn't meet their expectations, it's just not good enough. thanks for the info anyway. Good luck on your sales. I may have to cech yuour books out now.


Hawkesdream profile image

Hawkesdream 7 years ago from Cornwall

Thanks for the hub on writing and publishing a book, very handy Knowledge to have. Am sure that I will keep referring to it.


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Thanks, CC. Yeah, I'm not the most patient of people and get quite depressed with the rejection letters. What gets me, is that they reject without even taking a look


C. C. Riter 7 years ago

Yes, I know. I've heard that too. So one needs to just keep trying to grab someones attention with a good querie. Many good books have been lost through the system I fear.


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

lol Hawkesdream, you found my hub with the very boring uncatchy title. Decided to just use a plain one this time that tells exactly what the hub is about. I know that the title of the hub is what I typed into Google Search when I was trying to find out how to go about writing a book. So, I figure other people might also do that. lol I know nothing about the intricasies of search engines and traffic and stuff. Glad you found the hub useful.


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Yeah CC, the literary agents tell you straight, they only take on published authors as the market is struggling in the recession


Raven King profile image

Raven King 7 years ago from Cabin Fever

Hi Cindyvine I think this hub is very helpful. I have to agree with you that writing is easy but to get an agent or studio to read it is virtually impossible! So I vented on my Hug Your Local Artist hub. I sent out querry letters about my screenplay and they rubberstamped no thanks, it's not what we are looking for. They didn't even read the script. So I might adapt my screenplay into a novel?

The online publishers look very interesting.

Thanks for this helpful acticle.


C. C. Riter 7 years ago

There are several literary agents still seeking new authors and accepting queries online. NYC too.


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Yep, but not from authors living in China. They put on their websites they accept new submissions, then when you send them a query letter, they say sorry, have such a back up, or are not taking on new authors at this time. It's still worth contacting them though.


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Hey Raven, NoNaNoMo - think that's write are having a scriptwriting frenzy the month of April. You set yourself a goal and you have one month to complete the draft. It's great fun and they have a great resource section with tools and workbooks to help you with your writing. Even for elementary school kids. I downloaded the elementary workbooks and now all my Grade 4's are writing a playscript. Okay Raven, have just checked, it's Scriptfrenzy.org


Raven King profile image

Raven King 7 years ago from Cabin Fever

Thanks. Sounds like a fun challenge.


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Go for it and we'll cheer you on from here!


k@ri profile image

k@ri 7 years ago from Sunny Southern California

Thanks for the information. I don't need it yet, but maybe one day...


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Hey K@ri, I just know you have a book in you!


k@ri profile image

k@ri 7 years ago from Sunny Southern California

Thanks Cindy!


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Just wish Hubpages could close down for a few days so it'll stop distracting me from the book I'm supposed to be writing now!


Abodos 7 years ago

Thanks cindy, I've been wanting to get around to writing my own science fiction for some time, so I'll keep your hub in mind when the time comes.


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Hi again Abodos, yes, pointless reinventing the wheel and struggling for yourself, just use my experiences and you'll be able to get there faster. I looked around for help like this on the net, some was helpful, some not so good.


Smireles profile image

Smireles 7 years ago from Texas

I recently published two books with Createspace and intend to work with them again in the future. Marketing is the big problem and although I am in the states I have found it difficult. I am much better at writing than selling. Still...it is worth it! Keep writing!


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Thanks Smireless, we have to find some easier way to market!


frogdropping profile image

frogdropping 7 years ago

Cindy - this was not just useful but written as though you're sat here physically giving advice. Made it easy reading. Good stuff.

Thumbed up :)


frogdropping profile image

frogdropping 7 years ago

Cindy - sorry. I'm meant to be reading your new stuff. Got distracted ...


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Lol Frog, am happy you thought it was worthwhile!


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 7 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida

Cindy, if the rest of your book on the adventures of Fenella Fisher is as great as the title, I have no doubt it will be a great success. I wish you (and Fenella) great Karma for the future.


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Thanks so much, Connie. I am working on another one at the moment.


shazwellyn profile image

shazwellyn 7 years ago from Great Britain

Some sound points here. My father gave it a go and it was soul destroying. I just write for the love of it, so not bothered to get paid or acknowledged. I want people just to enjoy the party in my head! Thanksx


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Shaz, I love that description - Party in my head. Hey, are you taking part in NaNoWriMo


Georgina_writes profile image

Georgina_writes 7 years ago from Dartmoor

I've also written about how to publish - seems we have similar ideas on this subject.


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

So Georgina, have you also gone the self-publish route?


Rebecca E. profile image

Rebecca E. 6 years ago from Canada

excellent points consider this bookmarked and Stumbled Upon.


dinkan53 profile image

dinkan53 6 years ago from India

really need great talent to write some thing and get readers for that article is the sweetest reward that a writer can achieve.


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 6 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Thanks so much Rebecca, I appreciate that!

Dinkan, yeah I like sweetest rewards.


writegirl86 profile image

writegirl86 6 years ago from Ohio

What you really need to do is get a literary agent, and have him-or her-find you a good publishing house. It took me a few months to find an agent, but I'm glad I went through the trouble. My first book was self published and I do not recommend it, no matter what company you go through.


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 6 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

I hear what you are saying Writegirl, but living here in Tanzania there are no literary agents.


thebluestar profile image

thebluestar 6 years ago from Northern Ireland

Hi Cindy, great blog so informative to a newbie like me. I am writing mu autobiography at the moment, lots of soul searhing and an emotional rollercoaster. My problem is finding someone I trust to read the draft first as some of the material is delicate. I have been contacted by two self publishing houses already and it is really food for thought. Keep up the sound advice, from someone so confused, Good Luck


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 6 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Best of luck Bluestar, and I have to just give you a warning, be very careful of self publishing houses who contact you, they just want your money.


kristy s  6 years ago

Good article. That was some good reading


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 6 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Thanks Kristy!


WriteABook 5 years ago

While it is quite hard to write and published a book , you can be successful by getting advice from best seller authors.Search for them and read their story of success.


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 5 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Thanks for taking the time to comment, WriteABook


Rhonda Waits profile image

Rhonda Waits 5 years ago from The Emerald Coast

Thanks for writing this hub. I am glad to have found it. My writing was born when I lost my late husband. In 2001 he passed from a brain tumor. I had our two sons age 8 and 4 at the time to raise. I was told by a friend to keep a journal of my feelings. This inspired my writing. Thanks and voted up and awesome.

Sweet wishes Rhonda


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 5 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Thanks Rhonda! Sorry for your loss. Sometimes we find our creativity when we go through bad times.


htodd profile image

htodd 5 years ago from United States

Thanks for the great post...nice


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 5 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Thanks for taking the time to comment, Htodd!


Bridget A Brimer profile image

Bridget A Brimer 4 years ago

Thank you; this article I found superbly helpful. :]


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 4 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

That's great Bridget. Booksurge has now become a part of Createspace.

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