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What I learned Writing and Publishing my first Novel, a Detective Thriller.

Updated on March 17, 2018
Don Bobbitt profile image

Don is a Writer and a Storyteller. He has published over 7 books on varied subjects along with many articles and commentary on his blogs.

My published novel, ONE BULLET

My first published novel, ONE BULLET available on Amazon
My first published novel, ONE BULLET available on Amazon | Source

Finally finishing your work on a Book is hard

When you set out to write a book, even one as straight forward as a detective mystery, you have to be prepared for the level of work required.

If you already consider yourself to be a writer and, like so many of us, have been pumping out a wide range of; Short Stories, Poetry, Instructional Articles, Political Commentary, or even Recipes, then you probably do have the proven writing skills to finish that thing called a BOOK!

And, I call it a THING intentionally.

You see, with me, it became that THING that was sitting there, on my iPad, waiting patiently for me work on it.

For me, my first book, even though most of it existed in my head, was almost a physical entity. It was always there, just waiting, for me to come back to it and FINISH THE JOB!

An unfinished book can draw at a writer's attention. And with each new idea or inspiration that pops into the writer's head, he feels the need to jump up and work on his book project.

Somewhere I read an article by a famous established author and he described this writer's angst with; an unfinished Book is a fickle and demanding B^%#, and she can drive you crazy.

So,when you start that new book idea on your word processor, you already know that you can write, and write pretty well.

But you should be prepared to accept that a Book demands so much of you and your time that you really do have to manage it's development, and drive yourself to not only write, but to accept it when you have reached that point where you have to let it go and publish (or not).

Going to the next level with a Book

When you decide to move up to writing a complete book which is actually so much more than just a long Story, you also have to understand that you must now write at a higher level than you did with your shorter works.

Of course, back then you were putting out those 500-word or even 2000 to 5000 word works, with ease.

And you were damned good at it. You received accolades from your peers and followers. You were like the guy that walks into a bar and buys a free round for everyone. They all Loved you.You could do no wrong!

But when you step up and commit to writing a full, 100,000-word, or even a 200,000-plus-word STORY, then you have just stepped into another realm of writing skills.

And, I am not talking about writing some enormous technical manual. With these, you have the crutch of the technical data itself to lean upon and you are usually describing procedural steps and thus the work is easier to write as the flow is dictated by reality.

I know, because I wrote so many of these for decades during my career as an Engineer. And, honestly, a Technical Manual is just a grammatically correct list of instructions and technical jargon combined in a format that is convenient for other technical people to read. It is not entertainment.

And, my friend, writing a story that entertains the reader and holds his attention, is a unique skill that not everyone can exhibit easily.

A simple book of TIPs on writing and Publishing a book

This book was written to share with new writers the things i learned while writing and publishing my first novel.
This book was written to share with new writers the things i learned while writing and publishing my first novel. | Source

Some Things that a Writer needs to consider with a book

Have a PLOT

A writer must start with an idea for a Plot, and it had better be a good one.

Some people will story board their Plot before they start. I do this myself, but do it with my own little twist.

I like to use the power of my iPad and start a document with a series of what I call HOT LINES. I am sure that there is a technical writers name for these but I actually consider these Hot Lines to be potential chapter titles.

I have my original story idea and I write a series of these supporting Hot Lines that take me from what I consider to be the starting point of my story, all of the way to what I want to be the ending.

Then, I let the whole thing get COLD for a few days, before I go back and read what I had put down.

Once I figure out what I had written down before, because really, probably half of what I put down makes no sense to me after it gets cold, I end up rewriting and reordering my Hot Lines, often with the addition of more.

Then it's time to let it get Cold again.

Finishing Your Outline

At some point, I start calling these Hot Lines my Outline and I move on to my next step.

I write one paragraph under each line of what i now my Outline.

Each of these paragraphs should have enough meat in them that they make sense to you as part of your Story Line.

Once again, let the whole thing get COLD for a few days and then come back and see if everything makes sense. If it doesn't make sense in your story now, you don't need to waste more time with it. Get rid of it or move it to where it does make sense.

Now, chapter by chapter, put some more meat into the story. In other words, expand each story to the point that they can almost stand alone supporting your Chapter Title.

Your Story MUST Flow

It is so important that, your story flows smoothly from the opening statement to the very last line.

Even though you are nowhere near finished with your Story, every time you read through it, with a clear head (sometimes, a glass of wine will help) you must feel confident that your story flows well.

If the first thirty (or whatever) pages are a really good read, but then, even you (the writer) have trouble getting through the next ten pages, then you have a serious problem.

This should be a red flag to you that those ten pages need some serious rework, and now.

I mean do you really want to hear your readers say; Hey I read that Book. It started out OK, but I got bogged down after a while and I just gave up on it. How did it end anyway?

You must have a good Plot and your story really must flow, and flow smoothly.

So, let's say that you have somewhere around 40,000 or more words put together by now and your story line looks pretty good to you.

Then you are just reaching the point where it's time to get to the real work; the task of making your story into a real book.

The hard work part of writing.

Generally, when you are presenting a story to a reader, they expect to read a real story about real people.

You know, people who talk with and yell at each other. People who have thoughts and people who act and move and do things.

Writing Descriptive Text

You must now go back to your story and fill in all of the necessary Descriptive text.

For instance, if you have a love scene, then you must write a descriptive love scene.

I don't mean some sordid description of the sex act, but a description of two people who are in love and who are discovering each other through the act of sex.

Or, if you have a chase scent, then you have to make the reader feel that he is right there, in the middle of the chase, and he knows what the chaser and the chased see and feel and how they act.

And you need to write their conversations in a way that the reader knows exactly why they said what they did, at that moment.

Every paragraph of your work, at this point must be evaluated to ensure that you have used adequate and accurately real descriptive text.

Confirm Your facts

This one can take some time. But, even if you are writing a totally fiction work, the facts that you do use had better be accurate, and at the same time do not, absolutely do not use the names of real people or companies.

They can get real testy and sometimes can sue. Always include a disclaimer in the front or end of your work, to cover your butt.

Fix the GRAMMAR and Spelling.

There it is. The big Bugaboo! All of that Grammar, just lying there in your book and a world of potential readers, just waiting to stumble over that spelling error or even worse, that damned comma-splice.

Just remember that a Spell checker really doesn't get upset if you type "an" or "and", or "the" or "they" or the many other perfectly good words that are spelled similarly.

And, a good grammar checker can have similar problems with structure.

So, yes, you do want to use these great time saving tools, but nothing beats actually re-reading your story. Over and over and over, ad nauseum.

Get another Opinion on your work.

And, eventually, you are to the point of thinking that your work is done. You have just written the perfect detective story.

If you want a reality check, hand a friend (or as I did my wife) a red pen, and a printed copy of your book and ask them to edit it for you.

Then, prepare yourself. You are not going to like what they hand you when they are done.

You see, something is going to happen. You are going to make a discovery, about yourself.

This work,of yours, has become a part of you.

It is not just an English paper getting a grade, it is a part of you that you cannot stand to hear someone criticize. Not even obvious spelling errors that you missed over and over, or a misplaced "Cap" or a note about how a sentence or a paragraph "just doesn't make sense".

And, you will get these corrections, in bright RED ink, all over your work, probably.

Finally, you accept your mistakes and go back to work on them.

And this is when something else happens.

While making these corrections, you are editing and even adding more sentences and paragraphs. Wow, this is even better this new way.

But, don't forget, major changes, even to a paragraph should force you to drop back and go through the Proof-reading process all over again, and if you are still speaking, ask your friend to do their job for you, once again, also.

Ready to Publish

Finally, one day, and that day will come, if you persevere, you will publish.

To get to that day and publish your book just takes some work, and then you will know you are ready.

You will, on that special day, finally realize that there is nothing else you can do to make your story any better. You will just know that it is finally at that point where you cannot contribute any more to the story.

Your story is Done and you, the writer are ready.

You know, to put it out there, in front of those masses of readers.

Good Luck!

Building a Book for Kindle

Building Your Book for Kindle
Building Your Book for Kindle

I used this book of tips before I published my first book and it was a great resource for me. I recommend it to anyone who wants to put their book on Kindle.


I did Publish my own Novel as well as several other books

Well, with all of the pontifications aside, I did publish my first Novel.

It's a detective story about a half Navajo, ex-Marine who went to work as a detective for a Special investigation Unit of the Tampa Police Department.

He has the world by the tail until one day an Assassin comes to town and the detective is drawn into a world of subterfuge, and lies, that end up turning his life upside-down.

My book is available on Amazon as a Paperback as well as in Kindle ebook format.

How to StoryBoard your Book

Stephen King on Writing Books

© 2012 Don Bobbitt


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    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      4 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      PegCole17- Thanks, and you are so right.

      I must a hundred books that I have started, from 1000 to 100,000 words, but its the act of finishing one that counts, and makes you a true writer in my opinion.

      You have to stop as some time and "just let it go", for better or worse.


    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      4 years ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      It's always inspiring to read of another author's success in completing a project. Congratulations, Don. Your words have encouraged me to move forward on my finished novel that needs a rewrite. I've let it grow cold for too long now. Thanks for the jump start.

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      4 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      Tilssontitan- Sad to say, I love writing books much more than I do marketing them.

      So, other than listing them on Amazon and my Blogs, I pretty much just leave them to be "discovered". Which, according to the experts, mens sure failure.

      But, this is what works for me. LOL!

      Thanks for the read and comment.


    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      4 years ago from New York

      Though I am a bit late coming here, your information and expertise is as timely today as it was two years ago. If only English teachers or Creative Writing teachers had your flare! How many more writers would jump into their books instead of shying away.

      I hope by now your book has been a tremendous success!

      Voted all across the board because it was that good. Shared and pinned as well.

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      4 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      Kate McBride- Thanks for the read and the kind words.

      Funny that you mention my "writing skill". I have been a writer, of sorts my whole life, but I had to change over to my love of storytelling before I really began to write.

      So, I am really just a storyteller without an audience who is driven to the written word as an outlet.

    • Kate Mc Bride profile image

      Kate McBride 

      4 years ago from Donegal Ireland

      I liked reading this hub and you have the unique skill for writing that you mention above. Thank you for following me :-)

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      5 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      StephanieBCrosny- I know, it is hard to get started but I found out a way to get a book started that works for me. You see, I have an iPad with their word processor called Pages on it. So, whenever I had an inspiration for a story, I would just grab my iPad and start typing, spelling and grammer errors and all. Kind of a Free-thought process. Then, when I ran out o creative steam, I put the story away. Later, I would go back and start a major edit of what I had putdown so haphazardly. By doing this, IU would end up with maybe one out of five that looked good enough to keep for further development.

      But it is always what works for you that counts,

      Good Luck,


    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      5 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      pstraube48- Thanks for the comment and kind words. I wrote this in hopes that others would get a "leg up" on learning the process if they saw and read my article.

      One day you will look at a blank sheet of paper and say to yourself; I have something that I need to put on that page.

      Once you say this to yourself it will be all over. You will write that Book! The need to write will drive you insane until you get it done.

      It did me!

      Thanks again,


    • StephanieBCrosby profile image

      Stephanie Bradberry 

      5 years ago from New Jersey

      All I can say is excellent advice. I think the biggest hurdle to get over (and this goes for myself) is sitting down to write. It sounds so simple until you are faced with it.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      5 years ago from sunny Florida

      Hi This is filled with so much that is helpful. The pieces coming together spell a great story.

      One day I may embark on this journey. Congratulations on being published. You must feel a great sense of accomplishment.

      Thanks for sharing. Angels are on the way.. ps

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      6 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      PegCole17- Thanks for the read and the kind words about my article.

      I hope it proved to be of some use to you as you evolve your book.

      Thanks Again,.


    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      6 years ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      These are encouraging words from someone who has actually done it. I like the way you've explained the stages and the need to let the story go cold for a while. Coming back to a story with new eyes is a great way to see it in a new light. Great job on your explanation and congratulations on your finished book.

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      6 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      billdo1603- Thanks for the response to my artuicle, and I hope it proves to be of some use to you in the future.

      Have a Good Day!


    • billd01603 profile image


      6 years ago from Worcester

      Hi Don. great Hub. I'm a few years away from writing a book. Although I have a few ideas. I put this hub into my favorites to refer to it when i;m ready. Thanks

    • juliecaroline profile image


      6 years ago from Olympia, Washington USA

      You are very helpful. Thank you!

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      6 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      juliecaroline- Thanks for the comment.

      And, I do suggest that you go back and look at the old formatting problems. They have changed a number of things for the better now.

      If you use MS Word, when you are publishing your book in paperback, they offer to send you right to their Kindle site with the same document.

      There are some things that you should do to simplify things, and a few are;

      1-set a default font in your whole document and stick to it. 2- center your photos, 3- Use a simple TOC (up to over 20-chapters, I think, 4- use smaller paragraphs to make the Kindle readers happy, to name a few.

      Good Luck,


    • juliecaroline profile image


      6 years ago from Olympia, Washington USA

      Congratulations and thank you for the inspiration to get back to my historical fiction work. I also worked through Createspace and found it to be pretty easy for my first work that is for sale on Amazon, but then Kindle came around, and I got a little discouraged with formatting. I will be taking a second look at this and trying again.

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      6 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      Chefmancave- Although everyone is different, if you really are comfortable with your writing skills, then take that first step and BEGIN!

      Structure your Plot and begin writing those smaller sections until you have ennough of a storyline that you can start expanding it into a Book with a good Plot and interesting characters.

      And, be prepared to have a lot of re-writes.

      Good Luck!

    • chefmancave profile image

      Robert Loescher 

      6 years ago from Michigan

      Super Article. Like many of the other commentors, your article has inspired me to think about writing a WHOLE book. While I pride myself on having good english/writing skills, I fear my skill level is not good enough to tackle a whole book. Any tips on overcoming my self-doubt?

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      6 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      Mr Archer- thanks for the kind words. It makes me happy to hear from someone that has gone through the process themselves, that recommends my Hub. I hope it helps some of the many others that think they have a book in them.

      Have a great day.

    • Mr Archer profile image

      Mr Archer 

      6 years ago from Missouri

      Great informative and inspiring hub. I too have a couple of books on Amazon in the Kindle area. It's a boost to the self esteem when you check and see sales. I wish I had seen this hub before; might have helped me go further sooner. But for sure, I will refer to it going forward.

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 

      6 years ago from Dallas, Texas through August 23, 2019.

      Don Bobbitt, thank you for that. I will check it out. But actually finishing a novel sized work seems monumental at the moment. My hat is off to you.

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      6 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      cam8510- Go onto amazon and if you have an account "buy" the FREE kindle book called Building your book for Kindle. If you wrote it in WORD, the process of cub mission is very simple. Check it out.

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 

      6 years ago from Dallas, Texas through August 23, 2019.

      My son said that when I finish the fiction I am working on now that he will help me with publishing it as an e-book. Is that what you have done? If not, is it a good way to go? Thanks

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      6 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      Leni- Thanks for kind words and as to reviews I am a firm believer in reciprocity! How do i find your book?

    • leni sands profile image

      Leni Sands 

      6 years ago from UK

      Great hub. voted up. I, too, publish through createspace and amazon...wish I'd had your hub to guide me through the process at the time but hey ho, congratulations on joining the ranks for the self published...good luck with your sales. I will look out for it for my kindle and maybe do a review for you on Amazon. Well Done!

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      6 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      Thanks for reading my article, cam8510 and good luck with your new fictions works.

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 

      6 years ago from Dallas, Texas through August 23, 2019.

      Don Bobbitt, thanks for this hub. I am experimenting with fiction, finally. I am enjoying it, although I know it is still very amateurish. I will incorporate your suggestions into my process and see what happens. Congratulations on another published work.

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      7 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      Thanks, Gulf Coast Sun, for the comment. I learn my lessons the hard way, and I just wanted to help any prospective writers get their work done. As they say, anyone can write a book, but not many finish them. God luck with your writings and I will follow you and look for more.

    • Gulf Coast Sun profile image

      Gulf Coast Sun 

      7 years ago from Gulf of Mexico

      Came across your comment on another site, which made me "check you out." I'm glad I did. In the process (past two years) of writing historical fiction, based out of GA and FL (colonial era). Your article is quite useful and I'm a new fan. Best wishes to you and your wife on health challenges. It seems that as we age (hubby and I are in our 60's) we become mentally stronger as we encounter more challenges every year. Voted up and useful and looking forward to reading more of your hubs. Kathleen

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      7 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      Glenn, Thanks so much for sharing your publishing experiences with me.

      And, it is interesting to me that the path to success is similar for everyone who writes.

      I laugh now, but when I now get a criticism, the hairs on my back stand up and I have to do the "count to ten" thing several times. That darned book becomes your own child, and just like if someone makes says your child is dyslexic you feel insulted. My biggest problem right now is to keep that smile on my face as people tell me things like; "loved your book but you know, in chapter 5, I would have ...." It is really hard not to say; "Why don't you write your own damned book?"

      Oh well!

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      7 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      derdriu, thanks for the comment and kind words. Yes, I think (hope) my new book might be interesting to you (and others. It has just been listed on Amazon in paperback form under the title ONE BULLET. I am converting it for the Kindle and will have that format out there in a month or so, also. And, of course, this book is the first of a series that I have laid out in my head. But, I must warn you, my Navajo detective is a nice guy that in the next book will operate outside of the law to "get the job done". Thanks again, Don

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Don Bobbitt, Just when I was worrying about what to do to fill the gap left by the end to Tony Hillerman's Navajo detective series... . Often I've felt that it would have been interesting for him to have written at least one book about Janet Pete's experiences as a Navajo in a big city away from Navajoland. You've done the equivalent with your half-Navajo law enforcemen man way far away from a Hillerman setting in the southwest.

      In particular, I appreciate the pivotal writing/organizing/editing stages which you identify for the wannabe writer.

      Respectfully, and with many thanks for sharing and with Congratulations on your book, Derdriu

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      7 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      Grayghost- great to hear from you, and thanks for the comment. Yeah, I understand the level of work when you get into the research part. I spent a while in Arizona in Apache Junction and when I was there, I collected a lot of info on Native Americans there, specifically the Navajo and then when i got to Tampa, I had to put in a lot of work to place my story in the Tampa area and not use real names for companies or similar people. So, good luck with your work, and I look forward to hearing more about it.

    • grayghost profile image


      7 years ago

      Congratulations on your success and thanks for sharing your experiences. I have one in the "cooker", a novel based in historical events. The dates and surrounding real facts and events are driving me nuts! Makes me wish I was a lawyer, or a politician. Then having to tell "the truth" wouldn't get in the way! Great info on self-publishing and best wishes on the sequel as well.

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      7 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      Kathy, thanks for the comment. Now, on to the iPad.

      You need the PAGES App for your word processor, and NUMBERS for your Excel stuff.

      Each one can take in MS Office docs (word) and spreadsheets (excel). Ithen you can edit them and export them to the same Microsoft types of docs.

      I you have ny more questions, please let me know.

    • Kathy Atwood profile image

      Kathy Atwood 

      7 years ago from California, USA

      Congrats! Another great hub and info I will use. On a side note I just got an ipad and I am lost in space with Apple... Where is the word doc, excel, and power point application? How do you use a thumb drive to work on another computer? Can you read books on it? Thanks

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      7 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      Hey respenser, Great to hear from you again. And,thanks for the comment and encouragement.

    • resspenser profile image

      Ronnie Sowell 

      7 years ago from South Carolina

      Way to go, Don!

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      7 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      thanks mckbirdbks. for your kind words. The main thing is, I finally got it done. Now, a breath of air and guess what? The sequel! LOL!

    • mckbirdbks profile image


      7 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Congratulations - well done. You are an example for all of us.

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      7 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      writer20- thanks for the comment.

      As to Createspace, they are owned by Amazon, and if you go to their site you can see their pricing for sales.

      But, as to publishing, I pay $25 for what they call "Expanded" distribution, but otherwise they and Amazon get a piece of each sale.

      So, you should check it out. I compared them with other "old-style" publishers, and after everyone else gets their cut, you end up with pretty much the same amount as the writer, with almost no investment on your part.

      Good Luck and let me know how it goes for you.

    • writer20 profile image

      Joyce Haragsim 

      7 years ago from Southern Nevada

      Congratulations on getting it finished.

      One person told me they were printed on create space for free is this you as well????

      I have a 33,500 police story ready for the last two years, beinging laid off killed any chance to get it proffessional edited and published.


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    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)