Friday, February 15, 2013
How to write a book?
There are many of us who have a secret longing to write or publish a book but never got round to it. Some started but got disillusioned or for some other reasons could not go on and quit. It may look glamorous when you see others having a book to their name. Having written quite a lot of reference books and publications, let me tell you, it is sheer hard work. Blood, sweat and tears. Of course, nothing beats the feeling of satisfaction and pride when you finally see your name on that book.
So, here's my two cents' worth for you if you wish to write a reference book or any other book.
1. For reference books, you could write to any of the publishers with a sample chapter of your writing. You could also attach your resume. Normally, they will asssign a few writers for a book because of time constraints.
2. Once you have been commissioned to write one or you really have a burning desire to publish one, make a cover of the book, print your name on it. This is good motivation. Put this into a binder with some papers. On the first page, write down the rough content or chapters. I usually use a pencil to jot down roughly, then I type it into my computer when I am ready. The three ring binder is good cos you can move the chapters around as you edit.
3. Break down the book into smaller units. If you think about completing a 200- page book in a few months, it could be overwhelming and it will break you. I prefer to work on one unit at a time, depending on the dateline given. If you think that you have the pleasure of doing it at your own pace, then you have to write and publish your own book. Publishers have a dateline and if you are thinking of selling your workbook, everything has to finish by May. You need time for editing, proofreading once it is printed. The books have to hit the stores by October.
4. Commit at least one or two hours a day to your book. If you are writing on your own, you have to be disciplined. If you tend to procrastinate, like me, then, when the dateline looms, you have nothing to show and you hit the panic button and all your other work will suffer. So, work on a little everyday. I prefer to set small datelines and I keep sending each time I finish. For the astrotutortv programme, I was working on one episode per week for pmr and spm. This means I have to write everyday but this lasted only for 16 episodes each, just a few months.
5. Do not get demotivated if you missed a day or two. Come right back and start again.
6. Remember to check for grammatical errors. There have been a few cases where I recommended some writers but the publishers told me their work was not up to par. Sometimes, it is better if someone else read your work.
7. Be careful of plagiarism. You cannot take an article and make some comprehension questions, then pass it off as yours. You need to rewrite, change and change again until it is a new piece. You also need to acknowledge the references if you use them. Normally, publishers do not seek permission for you. If you use any copyrighted stuff, you will have to write and ask, or pay them yourself.
How much do we get? Royalty or one-off payment?
How much does it cost if we publish our own books?
These will be dealt with later. Happy writing.