The New Writer's Guide

You can watch the entire guide on this page, or use the buttons to go to each individual topic’s page.

Introduction

There’s a lot more to writing a book than just flicking on the computer and starting to type, and there’s an even bigger learning curve if you want to actually publish it.

The internet is awash with advice, some of it excellent, some of it dubious, some that was true when it was written but isn’t any longer, and some that’s still true ten years after it was posted. The problem for the newbie writer is being able to tell which is which. This series of short videos is the result of my own winnowing process over the past two years.

The first six videos all address high level questions, but later clips will also address questions as specific as how to handle a Table of Contents when creating a Paperback file for Amazon.

Sales and marketing will NOT be covered in this series.

There's only one way to write a book! (Really?)

There are a lot of articles and videos out there that purport you tell you “the one true way” or “the best way” to write a book, but is there really a best way?

If you can write a report, you can write a novel! (Really?)

Is writing a book any different from writing a business report?

What other stuff do you have to be able to do?

The idea's the most important thing! (Really?)

There’s a perception that the idea for a book is the biggest and most important part of the whole thing, but just how true is that really? Do you need to factor in anything else for it to be successful?

How polished does your manuscript have to be?

Whether you’re self publishing or trying to snare an agent, you’ll need to address the issue of how polished you need your manuscript to be.

It’s going to be a trade off between the time and effort needed to get it to a high standard vs. how much is good enough?

What are the key things you need to consider when making this decision?

Chase a literary agent or buy a lottery ticket?

We all know the chances of an unpublished author snaring a literary agent aren’t great, but what’s involved in making the attempt?

Is the potential prize worth the cost of entry?

The following videos point to Piers Blofeld’s youTube channel.

Piers is a literary agent with Sheil Land Associates. He has an extremely useful series of videos on his channel, that really give the budding author a taste of how an agent tries to address the overwhelming volume of submissions pouring into his inbox. All successful agents face this challenge. The greater the number of submissions, the less time the agent can spend on each one, so the slightest little thing can mean instant rejection. 

It’s one thing to know this intellectually, it’s quite another to see it in action. I’m incredibly grateful to Piers for these videos because they lend a powerful sense of reality to what can appear to the author to be a deeply surreal process.

You can find his YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFS0kUQowOYzxp5ySlA1EbQ

You can find Sheil Land Associates at http://www.sheilland.com

(I have no affiliation of any kind with either Piers or Sheil Land.)

Click the image to go to Pier's YouTube Home page.
Click the company name to go to Sheil Land. (NB: I have no affiliation with either Piers or Sheil Land Associates.)

Should you leave your book in a drawer for three months before you edit it?

Lots of people advise you to put your manuscript aside and not look at it for a while, especially before you get stuck into the editing. Given that’s probably the last thing you want to do, is it actually a good idea?

Why do writers use double spaced lines?

Almost all agents and publishers want you to submit your manuscript with the lines double spaced, whether it’s in electronic or paper form. Why?

If there are good reasons to submit with double spaced lines, do those reasons also apply when you’re actually writing it?

Does an author have to use an editor?

Most people in the publishing world would tell an author that getting their work edited before submitting to and agent, or self publishing is a really good idea. However, it’s one of the major expenses in the process of creating your book, and if you’re temporarily short of funds it might seem more of a nice to have than a necessity. So do you really have to use one?

Reading your work out loud is a really good idea

Historically, almost everyone who could read, did it out loud. Today it’s very much the exception unless you’re a performer, or deliberately communicating something to a select audience. There are however some very good reasons why an author might read their work out loud, and not just to get audience feedback.