I’m an Indie Author, an Indie Publisher, and if there is such a thing, an Indie Marketeer. As such, I’m sometimes asked two questions. What’s it like authoring a book and sometimes I’ll be asked how I sell my books. Well, I’ll deal with the second question first. The simple answer is, I don’t sell my books, Amazon does it for me. But I do market my books, which is an entirely different thing from selling a book.
As for what it’s like to author a book. The simple answer is it’s hard. Then there is an analogous answer, well, two analogies. I liken authoring a book to building a wall without a plan and doing a jigsaw puzzle with no idea what the picture will be at the end.
In both these examples you are working blind, and that is usually what I find when I get an idea for a novel. I’ll use my latest novel, The Brittle Sea, as an example because it’s an enjoyable book, so I’m told, and because it allows me to give my novel a shameless plug… that’s marketing for you, take note wannabe Indie Marketeers.
You build a wall using two things. Bricks (or stones, my wall is posh and not made of mud) and cement… no dry walls for me! If you have no plan and no idea of how to build a wall, first time Indie Authors take note, then you are going to make mistakes. But it’s one brick at a time with cement in between the bricks for adhesion and strength. Indie Wall Builders take note, I have never built a wall, and this is just an analogy. In the end you will have a wall, of sorts.
Authoring a book is the same process. You write words, in a certain order to make sense, adding in punctuation to create a sentence. You do this many, many times until you have a paragraph. Repeat until you have a page, repeat again until you have a chapter and then do it all over again until you have many chapters and a lot of words that make sense. Proofread, edit, repeat and then, with a bit of luck you may have a novel that creates an emotional response from the reader… they either like it or hate it.
Now, when you do a jigsaw puzzle where the box has gone missing and the pieces are in a bag, you have two major problems if you have never done this jigsaw before. One is you have no idea what the jigsaw should look like and two, you cannot be sure you have all the pieces until you get to the end. It’s this second analogy that is a bit more in depth to describe what it’s like authoring a novel.
Fiction, dear reader, is a journey of discovery for both the writer and the reader. You as the writer have no idea what you are writing until you either start outlining your book or if you’re a pantser like me, you have no idea until you get to the end. Actually, I write by the seat of my pants but do a little minimal outlining first, in an unusual way. In my case it’s the idea for the story that pops into my head first, followed by the title, then the cover design arrives at the station that is my cluttered mind and finally I get an idea for the opening scene. Then I write chapter titles that are in themselves indicators as to where the story is going and what it’s about and… Ta-Dah! I have a novel outlined.
Now, a word (forgive the pun) to the wise about writing with MS Word. I use chapter titles and these titles are not simply Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 etc. I use actual titles like those shown in the image below. There are four reasons for doing this.
As I write I keep the Navigation Pane open and it’s a way of showing what’s going on because I use it to show dates if I need to, which helps in the flow of the story. These obviously only remain there during the writing and editing and then are removed at publication.
In the chapter heading I will place this in front of the title, *** WRITE *** which indicates I must write the chapter. In a similar move if I want to re-write I can use headings 2-4 to show that I need to *** RE-WRITE *** certain sections, which will show as indented in the Navigation Pane. Again, these are removed prior to publication.
Finally, I use a chapter title to indicate a simple flow of the full story to the reader. This, as a reader, I find not only interesting but sometimes intriguing and I have bought books based on this. It’s also useful to indicate to you, the writer, what is happening and who it is happening to in your story. Once again, all extraneous rubbish is removed from the chapter title to leave a clean and simple signpost for your reader to navigate their way through.
Brick wall or jigsaw, once I have my outline, I then know I have all the pieces and it’s a straightforward race to write a lot of words that eventually becomes a best-selling novel… Indie Marketeers take note, authoring your novel is easy, marketing it is the hard part.
And before I forget, a quick note about finding a title for your book. If you think of a great title for your novel, do an internet search on Google (not Amazon, Amazon doesn’t carry all published books) to make sure it’s not been used already. I produced a great title for a crime novel. The Stone Menagerie was to be a murder mystery. But the title is already out there. Back to the drawing board.
Now here’s the shameless plug.
Copyright © Tom Kane 2021
Published by Brittle Media
The Brittle Sea is book one in the Brittle Saga trilogy.