I am part of a collaborative group that puts out inspirational books. We just put out a practical book!!! This was strange because we were using the same principles we had chosen for the other books:
- explore one aspect of the subject,
- call to mind some stories that help people look at the subject from a different perspective,
- give the reader something to think about.
What was different about our last book? It was a “How-To” book on the Art of Speaking. The chapters included organization, incorporating humor, making use of body language and vocal variety (which was really tough because it’s difficult to get across those concepts without actually hearing them!), and the end result was something that could actually serve as a manual for the readers to follow.
What is cool about how our group works is that we keep getting invited to the local library for “local authors” events. There will be a table where we display our (Now 7) books and a hefty percentage of the authors in attendance. The number of authors for each book varies from 7 to 13.
While we sit behind our table we come in contact with other authors. Once we sat next to Preston Love!!! He was astonished that such a big group could work on a single project and still be friends afterward. We were displaying our latest book, “Spotlight on the Art of Gratitude” and he told us that after watching our group all afternoon, he still couldn’t tell who the leader was.
We also walk around and visit the other authors to see what kind of books they’ve got, how long they have been writing, do they have an agent, who does their publishing, stuff like that. Every once in a while, some of us may buy books. I tend to buy books on the history of the area.
There was a book that intrigued me after reading the back cover. It was about a businessman and his ex-girlfriend who had a daughter with him, and he was striving to make the world a better place. The writer of this book went to a self-publishing service. They did not proofread, edit, or format his book. After looking at their website, I’m guessing he got the Black & White interior with the glossy cover. He spent about $2000 on publishing the book, and he got 58 copies. The cost of printing that sized book is about $7.00 apiece. There was no way he would make a profit unless he sold over 275 copies. The chances of him coming out with a new book every 6 months (like we did) were slim and none.
Folks, this book was terrible. I couldn’t get past the first 40 pages and threw it away. Now those of you who know me know I would never throw a book out unless it was covered in duct tape and missing 20 of the interior pages. It was supposed to be a work of fiction. You’d think that there might be a plot somewhere in those first 40 pages. There was a back story on the main character, and there were 18 other characters introduced and all had superficial back stories–one or two sentences each. But we still don’t know why we’re interested in this particular character. And horror of all horrors, this author wants to make this into a series about the guy! So the saying is true…you can’t judge a book by its cover.
How hard is it to write a book? MONUMENTAL!!!! Right?
Nope. You have told stories all your life. There was that one time on vacation… I remember that bully in 6th grade… I entered a car into the pinewood derby once… See? You string these stories together. As you write, you start making up things that your main character would have to do to get from Zero to Hero. Give him a team or maybe pit him against his villain. You can go anywhere with this! Make an outline of what you want to say in your book whether it’s a story or a textbook. Fill in the details. Describe your setting and your characters. How did they get to be the person you’d see in this story? Why are they IN the story? You see?
Half, no 7/8 of what happens in your story is based on the questions you ask yourself. Take the part of the reader as he interviews the characters. Take the perspective of someone that wants to ask the author why this or that scene is in the book… If it’s an adventure, tell us who you want to win in the end. If it is a biography, make a two-dimensional person into a three-dimensional person. Don’t just tell us what he did and when he did it. Tell us about his character, his values, his loves, his hates, his fears… If it is inspirational, include a call to action.
Here’s the most important part: Have fun writing!