RESOURCE FOR NEW & EMERGING AUTHORS
So you want to write a book? Have you already embarked on that journey?
Well, on this page you will find some useful information to help you become a good or better writer and faster.
First, what are the different forms of books?
Non-fiction:prose writing that is based on facts, real events, and real people. This category includes memoirs, biography, autobiographies and history.
Fiction: prose that describes imaginary events and people. In other words, the story is made up. This category includes short stories, novellas, and novels.
TO BEGIN: THE IDEA:
To write in any of the forms mentioned above, you always begin with an idea. Ideas can come in a multitude of ways, sometimes when you least expect them. Sometimes it stems from something someone said, or something you read, or something you saw. When you receive these indicators, jot them down. The next thing is to mull over the idea. Is it solid? Will you be able to mould it into a story? Do you have access to additional information that you will require? Who would want to read the story? Of course, if the book will be non-fiction, you may already have tons of information.
Every story has a plot. It has a beginning, a middle and an end. These components are sometimes mixed a bit, and a story may begin with the end of the tale, but the plot still has the three components. While some experience authors write their stories freely without plotting it out, I suggest you write an outline before you wade into the prose. Outlines can be as detailed or as sketchy as you like. Even when writing non-fiction books a sketch is useful. The reason for doing it is to give you a mini roadmap about where you want the story to go. Since a sketch in not carved in stone, it can always be adjusted.
Can you imagine The Lord of the Rings stories without Middle-earth and all the other sights in the story? Any story you write must be set somewhere. In your prose, the imagery of the scenes you write about will provide a part of the setting. But setting is not only a geographic location, it includes time. Is your story set in the fifth century or in the twenty-first century? Is a scene taking place at noon or twilight? Is it in winter or spring?
A story without a character is no story at all, but a story without an interesting character is almost as bad. While some readers do not mind reading about things, for the most part, they want to read about people—fascinating, interesting people. Without the quaint array of characters in the Harry Potter novels, the books would not attract so many readers. Even when you write memoirs and biographies, readers want to read about intriguing characters. The Great Gatsby is one of my favourite novels. Why? It is not because of the narrator, but because Gatsby and Tom are great characters.
POINT OF VIEW:
In telling any story, the point of view that is shared with the reader makes all the difference in how you relate to the story. Note that the point of view is not necessarily that of the narrator—the speaker of the words. A story can be told in the first person, second person and third person, yet the point of view can be that of a young child, a stranger, or a family member. Sometimes there may be more than one point of view in a novel.
The theme is the underlying message of a story. Sometimes is so buried, it takes the reader a while to grasp it. A theme sometimes acts as a moral in a story, and sometimes it is a simple idea such as, “All love is fleeting.”
According to The English Oxford Dictionary genre is: “a style or category of art, music, or literature”. All prose falls into a genre. The major classic genres are:
· Realistic fiction.
· Romance novel.
Note that there are several other genre divisions. For example, Genre Fiction is further divided into: Crime; Fantasy; Romance; Science Fiction; Western; Inspiration, and Horror.
For marketing purposes, it is important to have an idea of the genre your story.
Okay, so you have written your masterpiece—a novel set in the nineteenth century with an adorable main character. How do you go about publishing it?
Today, there are some myriad ways to publish a book—fiction or non-fiction. I will focus on the four main ways on this page.
In the old days, this was the only way to get a book published. These are publishers like Random House and Simon & Schuster. They are established publishing houses with editors, copy editors, book designers, and marketers on staff. Most of these houses do not accept unsolicited manuscripts from writers; they deal with literary agents. But should they accept your manuscript, you would first have to send them a query letter with one or two chapters of the manuscript (never send the full document.) If they like what you send, after several months they may write and ask you for the full document. You NEVER pay a fee to these types of publishers. They pay you an advance in anticipation of sales after you sign a publishing contract with them. There are some smaller traditional publishing houses who will accept unsolicited manuscripts, but they operate very similarly to the larger companies. Going this route is one of the hardest and longest way to get published, however, it is books published by these houses that are considered for the prestigious awards such as the Nobel, Pulitzer, and Booker.
VANITY PRESS or VANITY PUBLISHER:
A publishing house in which authors pay to have their books published. They usually have no selection criteria, therefore they will publish “anything.” Authors can get saddled with hundreds of books which they have to try to sell themselves. A big difference between a vanity press and a traditional publisher is that the latter derives its profit from sales of books to the public, while the former obtain its profit from the fees it charges authors. In addition, books published by a vanity press is usually not treated with the same recognition or prestige as books published by a traditional publisher. One advantage of using a vanity press is that authors have more independence than they do with a traditional publisher.
PRINT ON DEMAND PUBLISHERS (POD):
Print on Demand publishers have become very popular in recent years. They are really printing technology and business operations in which books are printed when the companies receive orders. They can therefore print small amounts of books so that the author is not stuck with loads of inventory. PODs have provided a new category of a publishing company that offers services for a fee directly to authors who wish to self-publish, and these include printing and shipping each individual book ordered. They will also handle royalties and may arrange to get books listed in online bookstores.
When you self-publish you do almost everything yourself. You write the book, you edit it or hire someone to edit it, you get someone to design your cover, and you search for a printing company to format and print your book. You pay for all these services, and when the books are ready, you try your best to sell them. Note that when you use a POD or a vanity press, this is also regarded as self-publish.
Useful information to help improve your knowledge and prose
The National Association of Independent Writers and Editors: https://naiwe.com/Mission—"We exist to help members succeed…”
The Authors Guild: https://www.authorsguild.org/who-we-are/ Mission—“To support working writers…”
National Writers Union: https://nwu.org/about/mission/ Mission—“To promote and protect the rights, interests, and economic advancement of members …”
Black Writers Alliance: http://blackwriters.blogspot.ca/2005/10/who-we-are.htmlMission—“To form a Trade Alliance of black writers and booksellers…”
Canadian Authors Association: https://canadianauthors.org/national/what-we-do/
Mission—“Dedicated to promoting a flourishing community of writers across Canada…”
GLOSSARY OF HELPFUL LITERARY TERMINOLOGIES
ALLITERATION: The repetition of speech sound in sequence of nearby words (a session of sweet silent surf.)
ALLUSION: A passing reference without explicit identification such as a person, place or object.
ANTAGONIST: A character or a group of characters which stand in opposition to the protagonist or the main character.
APOLOGUE: A story intended to convey a useful, moral lesson, in which animals or inanimate things take part and speak to one another in human language.
AVANT-GARDE: People or works that are experimental, radical, or unorthodox, with respect to art, culture, and society.
CACOPHONY: The usage of several unharmonious or dissonant sounds in a line or passage.
CLIMAX: A climax of a story occurs when there is a turning point from which there is no going back.
CRITIQUE: A literary technique that means to critically evaluate a piece of literary work.
EUPHEMISM: A polite, indirect expressions which replace words and phrases considered harsh and impolite or which suggest something unpleasant (He kicked the bucket).
FIRST-PERSON NARRATIVE: The telling of a story in the grammatical first person—from the perspective of "I." The story can also be told by the main character, or a minor character witnessing events.
FLASHBACK: An interruption of the chronological sequence (as of a film or literary work) of an event of an earlier occurrence.
HYPERBOLE: A figure of speech, which involves an exaggeration of ideas for the sake of emphasis.
IRONY: The use of words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of its literal meaning.
METAPHOR: A figure of speech which makes an implicit, implied or hidden comparison between two things that are unrelated but share some common characteristics.
NOVELLA: A work of fiction intermediate in length and complexity between a short story and a novel.
OXYMORON: A figure of speech in which two opposite ideas are joined to create an effect (bittersweet).
TROPE: A trope is any word used in a figurative sense (i.e., a figure of speech) or a reoccurring theme or device in literature.