How?

I’ve been getting a lot of questions that sum up simply as “how?” How do you write a whole novel? How do you write a series? How do you self publish? How do I book cover? Sales how!?!

Simple questions often have a complex answer that seems discouraging but shouldn’t. I can, and  have, outlined pretty much all the steps in writing a novel and/or a series and how to format for epublication. I’ve outlined how to do it for as little money as possible (though there’s no real way to do it completely for free, you have to have at least one editor and they will cost you) but still I get asked “how.”

So I’m thinking of setting up an ecourse to help people through the process, step by step though of course that brings up all kinds of new questions. Like what do you want/need to know first? Besides write the damn thing; I’m sure there’s something hopeful independent authors are really struggling with and want to know how to do right off the bat.

Let me know what you think in the comments and I’ll try to come up with something to help. Now back to work on this massive bloody novel.

 

My Writing Process

Writing

My writing process has changed. A lot.

In the beginning I started out using a few books on the art and craft of writing novels and tried to follow along – often deviating about a third of the way through their recommended process as I got the hang of their method, made changes to suit my own style and my novel’s needs. Most of those craft books aren’t really geared towards writing series either so, even in the best of times, after the first novel was finished the books were pretty much useless to me and I had to find my own way.

Now my process is a culmination of techniques I’ve used before, utilizing software that I’ve found helpful (more about that later I hope) and my own preferences. Here’s a brief rundown of the process, hopefully I’ll explain and expand on each of the sections in blog posts of their own later.

You might notice that cover design and title choice aren’t on the list, those tend to happen at various times that I haven’t really finalized yet. I try to decide the title and finish the cover as soon as possible, it helps with advertising and getting readers excited about an upcoming release.

Another thing you won’t notice on the list is an estimate on how long the novel will take or when it will be released, they vary too much. I have yet to be absolutely certain of a release date more than a week or two in advance – mostly because the second a novel is done, I put it up for sale. I can’t stand making readers wait for a release that could be out sooner but if I set a date in advance based on how things are going at the time – it’s pretty much guaranteed that it will put a hex on the works.

Book Interior Formatting: Dotting Your I’s and Crossing Your T’s – Final Checklist

Formatting. Every time I finish a book and start the process of formatting it for print, I have to run around and look at at a thousand different pages trying to remember everything I know about formatting. Every time, I end up looking up half a dozen new pages because I’ve lost or misplaced my bookmarks. Every time, I feel like pulling out my hair because it’s a lot to juggle while distilling it all down to the vital bits. This time I’m writing it all down as I go, so there will be a handy guide for next time and so other indie authors have a useful one stop shop for all their info.

At this point I’m almost done formatting my second paperback book, so it’s time to go back over the whole and make sure I’m not making any glaring errors that would make all the hoops I’ve gone through so far, to save money and appear professional, a waste.

  • Odd numbered pages appear on the right (During the hell of formatting page numbers, double checking them, fixing them, etc; you might notice that you’ve got everything perfect and working, except – all the even numbered pages appear on the right side of your book. Yes it’s worthwhile to go back and fix it as it’s the #1 amateur mistake noticed by book designers and readers alike.)
  • Copyright page (Yes, some indie publishers don’t bother to include one in their paperbacks and the lack of one is a clear give away of an amateur operation.)
  • No page numbers on Chapter pages and other front and back matter and/or appropriate roman numbering for those pages that need it. (First page of a chapter – shouldn’t have numbers on it, you can have numbers on a index page or prologue but they should be roman numerals.)

If you’ve got those three covered – congrats! You should be able to print a passably professional looking (at least from a distance, if you squint and don’t know too much about book design) paperback novel!

Be sure to check out the other steps on formatting your paperbacks interiors with Microsoft Word:

And as always – if there’s anything I’ve neglected to cover that you want to know, just ask in the comments and I’ll see what I can do to help.

While You Were Sleeping…

If you signed up for email alerts you already know this but for the rest of you, I went ahead and released “Toxic Ash,” updated the blog, Facebook and all the relevant hoodads – and then just because I wasn’t feeling like enough of an over achiever I went ahead and made this:

Ash-of-Ambitions-Createspace-RC1-for-sharing Continue reading

Book Interior Formatting: The Dreaded Page Number

Formatting. Every time I finish a book and start the process of formatting it for print, I have to run around and look at at a thousand different pages trying to remember everything I know about formatting. Every time, I end up looking up half a dozen new pages because I’ve lost or misplaced my bookmarks. Every time, I feel like pulling out my hair because it’s a lot to juggle while distilling it all down to the vital bits. This time I’m writing it all down as I go, so there will be a handy guide for next time and so other indie authors have a useful one stop shop for all their info.

The Dreaded Page Number

Dead tree books, unlike ebooks, require page numbers, page numbers that can be an ever loving pain in the all get out to format properly. In order to mimic as closely as possible a book published by one of the big six publishing companies (never mind that the sizes available from Createspace are all wrong for a proper pocket paperback) you’ll need page numbers at the top of each page but excluding most of your front number pages as well as the first page of each chapter and you’ll also want the author’s name on alternate pages from the title of the book, again excluding your front and pack matter pages.

In any other document, page numbers are easy so it always throws me for a loop how hard they are to format for a paperback. Click on images for a larger illustration of the steps.

Section Breaks

First thing you’re going to want to do is open your document and click on “show paragraph formatting” in the ‘home” tab of word. Then you need to go through each chapter (currently I find it’s easiest to do these one at a time) and make sure to delete any Page Breaks you see, in their place you’ll go to the “page layout” tab and select “breaks,” you’ll be adding “next page” or “next odd/even page” Section Breaks where you previously had page breaks.

Author/Title

Once you have those set up you can go ahead and click on the header portion of your document to open up the header/footer editor. Find the first page of your chapter and enter in either your name or the name of your novel, make sure that “different first page,” “Different Odd & Even Pages” and “link to previous” are all checked.

Page Number

Pg-#-Current-Pos-1

Continue reading

Book Interior Formatting: Getting Fancy

Formatting. Every time I finish a book and start the process of formatting it for print, I have to run around and look at at a thousand different pages trying to remember everything I know about formatting. Every time, I end up looking up half a dozen new pages because I’ve lost or misplaced my bookmarks. Every time, I feel like pulling out my hair because it’s a lot to juggle while distilling it all down to the vital bits. This time I’m writing it all down as I go, so there will be a handy guide for next time and so other indie authors have a useful one stop shop for all their info.

Continue reading

Book Interior Formatting: Chapter Headers

Formatting. Every time I finish a book and start the process of formatting it for print, I have to run around and look at at a thousand different pages trying to remember everything I know about formatting. Every time, I end up looking up half a dozen new pages because I’ve lost or misplaced my bookmarks. Every time, I feel like pulling out my hair because it’s a lot to juggle while distilling it all down to the vital bits. This time I’m writing it all down as I go, so there will be a handy guide for next time and so other indie authors have a useful one stop shop for all their info.

Continue reading