I am the first to admit that writing about controversial topics in children’s books can be a little scary. In 2017, I self-published my first book- - a children’s picture book. Not a happy, fluffy unicorn with rainbows type of book; a book about a very real and serious topic. One of those topics you really don’t want to have with your kids, but you know it’s your responsibility to do so. My book, “Momma, Did You Hear the News?,” helps parents have the difficult conversation known in the African-American community as “the talk.” It helps kids remember what to do if approached by law enforcement.
Writing and Editing
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Some of the best books in the world already exist, pretty much fully formed, inside the author’s head. And there they stay, keeping you up at night while you think of more ways to explain your concept, rewriting it all inside your head. At some point, you realize that it’s been quite a long time and nothing has actually come out. You have so many ideas but you don’t know where to start with writing them all down.
Ringing in the New Year feels quite different this year. There seems to be this underlying expectation that come 12:01am on January 1, 2022, the flick of a “magic wand” will wrap up one of the most challenging years in history and put us all back on track toward normalcy once again.
‘Tis the season to be jolly... and productive. With the hustle and bustle of the approaching holiday season, it can be easy to push aside your writing productivity as you focus on all the festivities.
Our world needs memoirs.
It needs individuals who are willing to share the honest reality of who they are and the things they’ve experienced. When someone chooses to read a memoir, it means they’re searching for something. They’re searching for understanding, to gain perspective or insight, and they’re hoping to find something within your story that they can resonate with—perhaps something that gives them hope.
Think about a book you loved. I'll bet my own weight in Harry Potter or Jack Reacher novels that it was a character that earned your love. Maybe several characters. A group of friends. A family. A pair of lovers. A man and his sworn enemy. A boy and a kestrel.
Why do we make such a fuss about dialogue? I’m going to give three reasons, and then share some ways dialogue can take your story to the next level.
By its very definition, any kind of creative writing is subjective. Yet, there are understood and recognized rules to be followed…and then broken by those writers who have good reasons for doing so. Despite the relative creative license allowed to writers, there are some things that should be avoided in almost all cases. Everyone’s got an opinion on what these are, but here are three simple writing tips, each in different categories.
Want to instantly capture readers? No matter who you are or what genre your book falls into—nothing beats getting engrossed in a book description that leaves a reader wanting more. Short and long book descriptions both serve a purpose—to make you and your book look good. Before you start writing, here are a few things you need to know.
Successful nonfiction writing calls for more than just conveying information to your reader. Not only do you need to know how to deliver that information, but your writing should also be clear and easy to read. And just because you’re writing nonfiction doesn’t mean you shouldn’t engage your reader with a gripping story and impactful language. These nonfiction writing tips will help you steer clear of some of the most common mistakes made by nonfiction authors, who may think that all they have to do is present the facts.
Mark Twain once said, "The time to begin writing an article is when you have finished it to your satisfaction." That may sound like a tall task, but you already know that writing is hard work and the hardest part of the process is the editing. If you want to help yourself get through your revisions faster and with more confidence, follow these essential writing tips when working on your first draft.
Adding a quote to your book or website has been a popular trend for a while now. It's an excellent way to capture the essence of your writing in a few words and set the tone for what's to come. However, using quotes in your published work can be tricky, and it's best you know the rules beforehand.
Did you know writing poetry can improve your overall writing skills? Even if you don’t consider yourself a poet, writing poetry challenges your diction; ability to be concise, use of imagery, rhythm and storytelling skills.
Some indie writers use beta readers and colleagues rather than professional editing and proofreading services, because it can be far less expensive to go without formal edits, and many indies—understandably!—would like to ease the costs of professional edits. While starting with beta readers is a fantastic idea, going without professional book editing altogether is a mistake.
If a book’s dedication is the opportunity to blow someone a kiss, a book’s acknowledgment feels more like the sort of welcoming hug one might give someone they care about after a long journey. There’s a distinction between the two. It comes down to breadth. Let's break down how to write book acknowledgments.
Ah, research. For some authors, it is the bane of their existence, and for others, their bread and butter. Whether or not one takes any particular pleasure in it, research is integral to any writing process.
I first encountered the term ‘beta reader’ while reading Harry Potter fanfiction online. From the author notes, I surmised that beta readers were the first people to read a story, and that they helped to polish them into finished pieces. I assumed that a beta reader was like an editor, but not paid.
I eventually learned that beta readers are not unpaid editors, but serve a key purpose in the writing process nonetheless. In fact, I’d had beta readers before and didn’t even know it!
When it comes to authors deciding how to write a book dedication, there’s often a lot of giving thanks. There are funny proclamations, curt pithiness, esoteric wit, or the occasional coy flirt. There are greetings and salutations. Yes, yes, when it comes authors dedicating their books, there runs a whole gamut of affection and charm and innuendo.
Fanfiction is a word that is being bandied about more and more in the publishing industry. But what is it exactly? Fanfiction is basically writing a book in another author’s “world.” You use some of their characters and locations and weave them into your own story. Of course you can’t just write this kind of story and publish it on your own, without the approval and blessing from the original author (you don’t want to be accused of plagiarism or “stealing” another author’s ideas and characters). So how does fanfiction work?
As humans, we are addicted to stories. We spend our days telling our own and hearing the stories of others. We then go to sleep at night and our imagination continues to tell story after story. The magic never stops. However, are you listening to that magic or pushing it aside? This being said, in a world where we crave stories, how are you telling yours?
Have you ever read a book that left you in a daze? One of those truly magical reads that leaves you feeling as though you’ve just come back from a walk in the woods at twilight, the scent of pine needles still fresh in your mind.
Whether you are working on your next novel or writing short stories for the sake of writing short stories, there are a number of things that can make the process of writing them a bit easier.
Working with an editor is one of the most important decisions you'll make when it comes to publishing a book. So how do you know when you're ready to send your draft to an editor? How do you choose the right editor? And when do you trust your own writing style over your editor's suggested revisions? Find out all the answers you need to understand the editing process.
The fantasy genre in literature, especially that of the Young Adult (YA) age group, is a constantly changing and maneuvering beast of new ideas, expanding themes, widening horizons, and tedious design—not only inside but outside of the book.
Quarantine days are a bit quieter, and there's never been a better time to step into a creative mindset and write. The IngramSpark community is hyper-engaged right now, and WE 👏 SEE 👏 YOU! 👏 To keep the creative juices flowing, we've rounded up some of our top writing and publishing resources to keep you stimulated and sane while you're at home!
Let’s skip to the point. You’ve already decided on a few things: you like stories (mainly of the suspense-thriller variety), want to write your own, and want to publish something for a wider audience. The only hang-up is you’re not quite sure how to go about it all, right?
Suspense is holding your breath, waiting for the other shoe to drop. Take a second to picture that moment. Notice how your body tenses; you may clench your teeth or curl your toes up. Make a note for later.
Suspense is about heightened emotions. Do you want to have your reader breathless, stressed, intrigued, wondering what’s happening and what’s going to happen next? If you do, then you need to understand and utilize suspense.
“Kids don’t read books anymore.”
How many times have you heard someone say those words in the last ten years? With phones, tablets, TVs, smartwatches, VR headsets, and Siri chatting away in the background, it can seem like an impossible task to entice a child to sit down and read a book for a few hours or even a few minutes.
“What’s the secret sauce?”
“How did you know where to begin?”
“How did you know you would be successful?”
These are all questions I was asked after I wrote my book, and they all come back to the following: How do you embark on a personal venture to change a part of the world, no matter how big or how small it is, through your writing?
When we need guidance on how to write, there is nothing quite like a book from an author we admire. Which other format could be more appropriate for sharing wisdom about our beloved craft?
What’s the big deal about editing? You add some periods, delete a few commas, run spellcheck, and voila, you’ve just edited a book—well done! Nope. It takes years of dedication to the craft before editors develop the necessary skills to help authors say precisely what they want to say in the most effective, affecting way possible.
When I was nine years old, my fourth grade teacher read a story to our class about a boy and his two hunting dogs in the Ozark Mountains. Where the Red Fern Grows did more than make me teary-eyed; it filled my young mind with wonder, imagination, and inspiration.
Emotionally driven love scenes can be a powerful part of any story in any genre. And in a romance novel, they are even more key, because the love scenes can and should inform the arcs of both the characters and their relationship, letting readers understand more deeply both what is pulling these characters close… and also what is keeping them apart. So how do you accomplish that?
We all have tasks that we enjoy doing, some we don’t mind doing, and some we dread. Many of us put off doing those tasks that we dread. In fact, almost everyone procrastinates sometimes. Up to 95% of people report that they occasionally procrastinate. However, studies reveal that 20% of people are chronic procrastinators.
As the holiday season winds down, a new sense of excitement is in the air. This is the year that you’re going to publish a book. You’ve thought about it for months, maybe even created goals around writing, networking, and creating a fan base, but you still haven’t published a book. We get it—life happens, and maybe writing isn’t your full-time job. Now is the time to take a leap and go for it. For all of you aspiring authors ready to take the plunge, we’ve put together a list of New Year’s Resolutions for writers that will make your dream to publish a book in 2020 a reality.
Writing is a journey. Sometimes, we could all use little extra motivation! Are you ready to challenge yourself to do more? Learn more about IngramSpark's 30-Day Writing Challenge and join a community of people improving their writing skills, one day at a time.
Most writers will tell you that writing nonfiction is easier than writing fiction. This is the good news. The less good news: that doesn’t mean it’s less work to write a nonfiction book. While fiction writers often use a basic outline and then go wherever the story and characters take them, nonfiction takes careful planning before you even start writing. To get you started, these steps explain the basic process of how to write a nonfiction book.
Cozy mystery (or cosy mystery, in British English) is the gentlest subset of the broad genre of crime writing. As its name suggests, it’s a comfort read that leaves you satisfied and at one with the world, rather than scared to sleep alone with the lights out.
Writing is a journey, and many people use writing to heal old wounds. It's important to work through the pain in order to create a helping version of your story to share with readers. Are you ready for that next step? Everyone can write about painful experiences by following these three steps.
Every author has their own way to outline. Some want minimal detail, some want a lot. Some keep the same outline process for every book they write. Some change from book to book—a new method for a new writing experience. Is there anything they all have in common? Yes, they do.
At least once a week, I get an email that reads something like "I found the perfect image for my book on the internet. Can I use it, as long as I give credit to the photographer?" or "I have the best song to set a scene in my book. Can I quote the song lyrics?" In order to answer these questions, we have to understand "fair use."
Over the years, quite a few business owners, entrepreneurs, and CEOs have come to me asking for help writing a book. Sometimes it's a memoir, other times it can be prescriptive nonfiction, or even inspiration. You may be wondering why this would be a good use of your time—but trust me, there's huge potential to grow your business by writing a book. Here are several different reasons CEOs should write a book.
Do you lose heart when you see fellow indie authors crowing about 2000, 5000, or 10000 words a day, or launching a new book every quarter, every month, or even every week?
Being an indie author is one of the most rewarding jobs there is. But it’s far from an easy one. You have to wear dozens of hats: writer, publisher, and marketer to name a few. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and struggle to prioritise. After all, you can’t market books without… well, books. But you can’t write more books unless you’re earning enough to eat.
When I tell people I'm a ghostwriter, I often hear "I've been working on a book forever." Maybe you have a great book premise, and you just need to get it written. People who hire ghostwriters have a desire to write a book, but there are two things standing in their way—time and experience writing.
As an author you’ve probably been told to look at competing titles through multiple stages of your journey from writing, to publishing, to book promotion. Competing book titles can be lucrative references for cover design, book length, choosing your categories and keywords, pricing your book, determining the best strategies for marketing to potential buyers in your genre or topic, and more!
So you’ve completed a draft of your manuscript! Congratulations!
Before sending your manuscript out, you’ll want to edit it to correct your mistakes. While editing your own manuscript might seem daunting or hard to manage, it’s perfectly possible to edit all by yourself. In this article, we’ll share our five best tips for editing your manuscript… without an editor.
"There are some really good reasons that many writers maybe might not want to have a few too many sticky sentences in their personal or professional writing."
Are you ready to abandon this post? With an opening sentence like that, I wouldn't blame you. We call that a "sticky sentence." It’s grammatically correct, but it's clunky and hard to follow. It wobbles around before it gets to the point, and it includes irrelevant information that should be cut. In this post, we’ll explore how you can identify (and repair) sticky sentences in your writing.
Self-publishing is booming, and with this transition comes a plethora of organisations worldwide offering author services to writers. But what if your budget doesn't extend to a professional editor, typesetter, cover designer, and so forth? Does this mean your book will not meet industry standards, be of poor quality, or sadly never be published? Absolutely not.
You've had an idea for a novel...but can you write it? You won't know until you try, and therein lies the problem. There's trying…and then there's trying with a good chance of succeeding. Here are some tactics that will make a difference when you sit down to write a novel.
After a series of recent controversies over fact-checking in book publishing, the question of accuracy is facing more scrutiny than ever. Becoming known as the focus of a book fact-checking controversy is the wrong kind of publicity for any author—and newer authors looking to establish themselves have even more to prove. In self-publishing, the accountability for fact-checking falls squarely on the author (as with just about every other step of the publishing process), and often traditional publishing companies leave the author just as responsible for the accuracy of their work—including any legal consequences. Part of being an author is making sure your information is accurate, and this post will help you get started.
It’s common to think how easy it must be to write children’s books, dreaming of a shiny pile of colourful book covers, hoping that your children’s book is the one that parents roll their eyes at because their children ask for it again and again and again! Well, the bad news is that it is NOT that easy. Here are six tips to help you navigate the world of writing children’s books:
I don’t believe in the notion of writer’s block. I think it’s too easy to end up building a twisted shrine to it—to proclaim the affliction, then festoon one’s writing life with it, saying, “I’m blocked,” over and over again, as if abdicating responsibility for creating the blockage and waiting for magical bolts of inspiration to come down from the sky and unstopper it all (which only happens in the movies, right?).
Authors often ask me how to get that magic piece of writing at the beginning of the book. You know the one, where Mother Teresa tells the world what a fabulous person you are, and how the world will be a better place with your book in it. This little piece of heaven is called the foreword for a book.
So many times, indie authors are thrilled to be “done” writing their book! The book is ready to go to print if all the words are down on paper, right? Well, after you have sent your book to your interior formatter or book designer, there is still one very important last step for you as the author...before you upload the file to your IngramSpark account. You must proofread the book.
I’m in a torrid love affair with romance novels. The headstrong heroines, the misunderstood heroes, and the happily ever afters are everything I could possibly want in a good book. I devour them. And I’m not ashamed to read the paperback (cover out!) on the train during my commute. Another reason I love romance novels so fiercely is that they go hand-in-hand with self-publishing. I spend my days helping self-published authors share their books with the world, and most of those authors write romance. This is no coincidence, and here are five reasons why:
A recipe book is deceptive. It looks so simple: you put together all the recipes you’ve created, add a cover with a delicious photo, and voila! Move over Nigela Lawson! Yes, it’s undeniable that recipe books take less to put together than some other genres, but they still need structure, consistency, and pace.
Storytelling is not a colour-by-numbers exercise. We want to be original. However, even the most rule-breaking story has certain fundamental patterns. If we understand what they are, we can be outlandish and creative—and still know we’re building a satisfying experience for the reader. What are those patterns?
To every writer who tells me, “It’s not about the money,” I first say, “Good.” (Something like 1 percent of writers are able to support themselves through writing.) Next, I say, “Think like a publisher.” Some authors aren’t keen to view their books as commodities, but books are products, and it’s best to make financial decisions with a publisher’s mindset.
As authors, many of us secretly wish book marketing would just magically happen. We’d rather focus on writing and producing books than try to figure out how to sell them. Unfortunately, book sales don’t just happen. We have to do the work. Which is why we should discuss blogging for authors.
Editing is one of those skillsets that many people claim to do well but which few actually do. And while it’s probably the most important service an author can solicit (second only to book cover design), it’s often undervalued. Furthermore, most authors have no idea how to assess an editor’s work, and the result can be catastrophic, ranging from an editor who introduces new errors to an editor who changes the intention of your writing.
You’ve got your book ready to go, but it’s time to consider the auxiliary writing you must do in order to support the publication of your masterpiece! Now that the writing is “done,” it is time to write your author bio.
If you want to write a truly chilling horror story that scares the bejeebers out of readers, there are a few key elements that need careful consideration. It can be easy to assume that all you need to do is push the limits. However, if you read some of the best authors in the genre, you will see that more gore is not always the key to writing great horror.
Having a book production schedule filled with the right tasks in the right order, will not only result in a professionally produced product and enough time to plan your release, but will also reduce your stress, and ensure you’re not throwing your book into the sky and hoping for the best. Breaking the process into parts makes it easier to focus on one thing at a time and get each step right without getting overwhelmed.
A book’s title is extremely important. According to Thomas Nelson publishers, research shows that consumers look at a book’s title first and foremost when the author’s name is taken out of the mix (well-known authors are sometimes the deciding factor in purchasing a book). However, coming up with a compelling book title can be arduous, time-consuming work. Here are four guidelines to help you craft a compelling, memorable title for your book.
Expanding to a new language market is a huge and exciting step for indie authors. By translating your book into a new language, you give it the potential to expand its reach to hundreds of thousands of new readers. You should be aware, however, that translation is only one step in the process of bringing your book to a new audience.
Who cares? is one of the most common assaults memoir writers are subjected to, and it’s usually lobbed at them by their own inner critic. Memoir writers face critical voices—their own and others’—who state that the story/message/idea is trivial, boring, not worth sharing. It’s so important for memoirists to get past these messages in order to set free the story that wants to be told. Here are some tips for memoir writers, especially those struggling with their inner critics, whose primary goal is to engage readers.
Have you ever found yourself waiting for the next book in a series to come out? And the next one after that? Book series tend to sell a lot of books and they can also help build an author's platform. When compelling characters are engaged in exciting storylines, readers look forward to finding out what happens to them even if they have to wait for another book. If you haven't already thought about writing a book series, consider why you might want to and how to do it.
Page one matters to book buyers. The book cover is the hook, pulling readers in, the book description gives an idea of the kind of book it is, and then what? We take a peek at how the book starts—what it feels like to read this book. That’s where the final decision is made: in the opening lines.
Before setting up I_AM Self-Publishing, I spent years working at a trade publisher and a literary agency, so I have seen just how many hoops authors need to jump through to get a publishing deal. In fact, one of the reasons I moved into self-publishing is because it became very difficult to get a publishing contract for a debut author, no matter how good they were. Here are reasons why literary agents and publishers reject books.
A conversation about book subtitles should always start with the genre, as best practices for subtitling vary from genre to genre. Recently, a memoirist I’m working with presented me with a long list of things her editor felt a subtitle needed to achieve, including that it has a rhythm, exhibits a progression, and stands on its own. If your subtitle can accomplish all of this and more, great, but most subtitles can’t and won’t. The quest for a perfect book subtitle is often elusive, and setting yourself up to hit various arbitrary benchmarks won’t always serve your book.
The book editing process is highly personal and it's important to know what you're getting into before you begin. Here are a few frequently asked questions about the book editing process to help authors better understand what to expect.
The back cover copy you write for your book is among the most important marketing messages you’ll craft. It’s the essence of your book’s most exciting features, distilled into a few hundred words. It typically serves as the foundation for your online book descriptions, as well as any press releases or pitches you make to the media. It will get re-used and re-fashioned for dozens of purposes. Whatever labor you expend on perfecting it will reward you in the long run.
Writer’s fatigue and writer’s block are similar concepts. Whereas blocks can happen at any point in the writing process, even before you’ve begun, fatigue normally occurs after extended periods of writing. The condition is frustrating, emotionally draining, and affects confidence.