Book Writing Series Step One – The Concept

This is the first part of my series on writing and publishing a book. I want to make a few things clear, if I may. One, not all of these concepts are specific to writing “print” books. Many of these concepts can be used in writing ebooks, magazine articles, short stories, or pretty much anything else one wishes to write. Two, all of these steps aren’t concrete; these are my opinions on the steps one should take, or things one should think about.

Writing
Pedro Ribeiro Simões
via Compfight

This may seem like the most basic step to most people, but it’s actually the one that keeps a lot of people from starting. Every person has to first decide what they want to write about, but it has to be more detailed than what they think.

For instance, you may say you want to write a detective story. Okay, what kind of detective story do you want to write? Do you want your main character to be a male or a female? Is it an agency or an individual? What kind of detective agency; serious crimes, following around people cheating on each other, finding lost children? Is there a particular area of the world your detectives are living in, and do you know enough about that area to write plausibly? What race is your main character; weight, height, background? Are they funny, serious, brooding, good looking, ugly, troubled, perfect, educated, rich, poor, sexual? Are they well known, well liked, well traveled, or are they the opposite? Are they more like James Bond or Easy Rollins or Kinsey Milhone? Or are they actually something else entirely, but end up doing detective like stuff, such as Dirk Pitt or Stone Barrington?

Or maybe you want to write a book about travel. Are you going to try to cover the entire world, or just a specific segment? Are you going to talk about places you’ve been, or places you’ve researched? Will there be images? Will there be history? Are you going to talk about the foods, the demographics, the politics?

Perspective is always key when you decide you want to write something. Almost no one gets away with writing about something they really don’t know anything about. Many years ago a friend and I decided to write a short story about a guy who ran a mining company on the planet Mercury, and how, on his return flight back to Earth, settings on his ship had been altered and, instead of flying back towards Earth, he was heading towards the sun, and had to try to figure out a way to get things changed before he was killed. Sounded like a plausible thing for us, as I wrote the storyline part and my friend dug into a little bit of the science. We submitted the story and got rejected soundly, saying our science wasn’t close to being legitimate enough to make the story plausible. Though the storyline was a pretty good one, we were way out of our realm in trying to write a science fiction story to pull it off.

I told you about my book, which I’m not going to mention here, but expect it in the next post; hey, I get to plug also, right? 🙂 Anyway, it’s a book on leadership and management. I had been thinking about writing that book for years before I started. I had always been the leader of my group as a kid, and when I got my first real job, I worked as a regular employee for 8 months before I was promoted to management, and I’d been in a leadership position ever since until I went into consulting, and even now, I always go into a consulting assignment in a leadership or independent role. While I was a director, twice the place I was working brought in survey companies to question the employees on management, and both times I came out as either the top ranked leader or tied for the top ranked leader. I always had other managers and directors and supervisors coming to me to ask how I would handle situations involving their employees. I felt that this was a subject that I was imminently qualified to write about. And even with that, I still did a little bit of research, because I wanted to have some statistics behind me while I was giving my tips.

Every book written doesn’t necessarily need to have research done, but if facts are put into a book they need to be somewhat accurate. For instance, if you mention the name of a song and the group that sang the song, it had better be correct, unless you’re writing an alternate universe story. If you’re a male and writing the story from a female perspective, you’d better be sure you’ve captured how women think and act correctly, and not just your impression of how women are.

Anyway, this all leads to what all the preparation and concept of what you’re going to write is all about. No one sits down one day and starts writing a book. Most probably, you’ve been thinking about something for a long time. Hopefully it’s become a passion for you, but it’s possible that you’re a hired gun; the process is the same.

What I recommend is to create an outline or a fact sheet, or both. An outline helps you determine in which order you want things to happen in your book. It also allows you to group common themes together if it’s a nonfiction book, or keep the flow of your book together if it’s fiction. A fact sheet allows you to put down facts that you garner from research, or write more detailed biographies of characters you introduce in your story. I know one guy who actually writes mini diaries of all the characters in his books, even if they only appear in one chapter, if he gives them a name. That way, he feels he has a better chance of capturing their personality properly as his story goes along, in case that character gets introduced again. But that’s for another time.

This gets us started on our series. I hope you’ve picked up at least one or two tips, if you needed them. Be looking out for part two of this series.
 

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Stuff You Probably Missed

Like most blogs, this one has gone through a bunch of changes since the first post, which was pretty lame; heck, most people’s first posts are pretty lame. My writing style has definitely changed, but it also changed with my business blog. I tend to believe that, as writers and bloggers, we’re allowed to go through style changes, because when we’re true to ourselves, our readers can feel it.

I have some interesting plans for this blog. Some of the things you see on the sides are changing, or have changed, and there’s more to come. I plan on putting together a set of my favorite blog posts, and hopefully continue updating it as I go along. I’ve already mentioned in the last post that I’m putting together a series on writing a book and the rest of the process; the first installment of that series will commence tomorrow morning, while I’m at a meeting; talk about pre-posting. I will probably be putting together a set of all my posts that have some sort of video on them; I’ll need to think about that one a bit more. I’m probably going to be adding something called Scratch Back at some point, which does on the concept of a “tip jar”, where people can pay for a nofollow link on your site to honor your blog or blog posts while advertising themselves and their websites. Of course, I’m getting the idea of this one from Lynn Terry and John Dilbeck (man, I feel like I’m becoming a promoter for John; I think one of you other guys needs to do something special lol).

There’s things coming, and I figure this blog will always evolve. However, even before I hit my regular stride, there were some posts of mine that I thought were either pretty good or pretty entertaining for one reason or another, and pretty much no one except Sire (yeah, Sire got his plug also) saw any of them. Now that’s what friends are for! Anyway, I wanted to highlight here 5 of my favorite posts from early on that you probably never saw, along with 5 of my favorite posts that contained videos. However, when it came down to it, the videos were easy to do, but my favorite 5 has turned into my favorite 7. So, here we go, highlighting 12 posts of mine that I hope all of you will go and take a look at; you can even leave a comment if you wish to. And, along with some other things I’ve done, I’m thinking this is something those of you who have either older blogs or lots of previous content, should do from time to time. Sometimes, it’s hard for our new readers to know what meant a lot to you.

So, here we go:

This was an early post talking about How Affiliate Marketing Works

This was my take on the dust up that came about when Joel Comm released the latest version of Adsense Secrets and along with it came a continuity option that was hidden, which I was glad I read about before I went ahead and bought the book.

Before I started talking more about internet marketing so much, I asked the questionHow Far Are You Willing To Go For Promotion

Later on, I decided to follow the previous post up by asking How Far Will You Go To Brand Yourself> after attending a local marketing seminar

I wrote this gripe post asking Is It Easy To Comment On Your Blog after wanting to post a comment on some blogs and having them either wanting me to register to make comments or search all over the place to see if there’s a way to leave comments.

Of course, one can’t always talk about marketing online; sometimes you have to talk about offline marketing also

This was probably one of those important and oddly motivational posts asking people How Big Are You Ready For, because most people want to be rich, but many people really aren’t ready for it if it came.

That’s the serious stuff; stuff that wasn’t so serious includes:

One of my favorite TV clips of all time was Harry Belafonte on the Muppet Show singing Turn The World Around

I found this intriguing; people always learn things better when it’s attached to music, and that includes Rapping About Web Design

I don’t know how many people remember this little goofy kid who did this screaming rant that he filmed and put up on YouTube when Britney Spears was going through her meltdown phase. I’m betting that you would be just as entertained by watching this

Man, if you needed a boost in the early 90’s, there was no other song that quite got you there than singing 2 Legit 2 Quit

This last one was just so funny that I really didn’t have to write anything, because no one ever saw it coming

There you go; twelve posts of mine that I hope you’ll go back and take a look at. And even if you don’t, I figure I just gave myself some link love; I’d best not hear any of those comments about “loving myself”. 🙂

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New Series – Writing And Marketing A Book

In the last couple of weeks, I wrote two posts that got a whole lot of attention. The first one asked the question How Do You Write, and the second one was a tips post on How To Be A Prolific Writer. Then yesterday, I wrote a post highlighting my book Embrace The Lead. That one hasn’t received any comments yet, and it may not, and because it’s still the same day based on statistics (since I’m on the East Coast and the stats won’t be updated until midnight on the West Coast), I don’t even have any ideas how many people have even read that post, if anyone has.

No matter. My thinking, in looking back at the other two posts, is that it might help some people if I talked about the process of writing my first book, since studies have shown that more than 50% of people who have been asked the question as to whether they’ve tried writing a book answered in the affirmative, but when asked the percentage of those who’ve actually finished writing a book, that figure drops to less than 1%.

People have many different reasons for not finishing books. One reason is that they don’t have the time to consistently work on one. Another reason is that the project gets too daunting; no real direction once they’ve started. Another reason is that they start thinking about how others would view them, or if they’d like their book. Some believe that they don’t have what it takes to really write a book and just stop.

Well, I’d like to help out, if I can. So, I’m going to be writing a series of posts geared towards tips on writing a book. We’ll do things step by step, and I’ll mix in some tales of the process that I went through in first writing my book, then trying to market my book, and then finally publishing my book. This will be real world stuff; no lies, no quick money making, just the honest truth. But it’ll end up being a series, and when I’m done, I’ll be putting all the posts in one place at the top so that anyone who wishes to follow the series later on can do it, just like my series on blogging tips.

So I don’t overwhelm anybody, I’m going to restrict myself to one post a day on the subject, and then possibly one post on another subject on the same day. I don’t really know how long the series will be right now, but I’ll be numbering them as I go along, so everyone will know the order to read them in. I hope they’ll be as entertaining as they will attempt to be informative. And please, if there are any questions on each part, go ahead and ask, but don’t jump ahead; I’ll let you know if you’re jumping ahead at any point.

Stay tuned; there are other changes that will be coming to this blog, as I morph myself around just a little bit. Always in the process of change; better than stagnation at any level.


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“Legitimizing” Spam?

How many times have I talked about spam? Well, let’s see. I talked about dealing with >Russian spam>. I talked about spam that seemed to be coming out of the wood works when I was talking about Compete Rank, and I talked about it a week ago when I talked about hating spam.

SPAM!
Luc De Leeuw via Compfight

I still hate spam, but now I’m seeing a different kind of spam, and if I’m seeing it, I know you’re seeing it also.

I’m talking about a specialized spam that’s advertising software that will send out comment spam. Talk about being bold and upfront about what you are! I even decided to visit a couple of these sites, putting the name of the company into Google first just to make sure they weren’t sites whose purpose was to drop drive-by malware onto my system.

Nope; in their own way, they’re attempting to be “legitimate” businesses by actually having safe domain names, without much contact information of course, and some of them are one page sites where you can click to purchase the software. Most of the sites actually said “send messages to millions of blogs at the same time”; no sir, that can’t be good for anyone.

This left me with many questions that maybe someone else can help me with.

One, uhhh, isn’t spam illegal?

Two, how the heck can the “regular” people who might think to try this stuff actually get away with it more than once, since their ISP would have to catch on? I mean, does the software actually know how to get around that one?

Three, if there’s software that helps explain all the spam we presently get, didn’t anyone deign to teach those who are using it a little bit of proper grammar. I mean, most spam is written quite poorly.

I’m not alone in writing about the topic of spam these days. Most stories are the one surrounding the ISP that got shut down and supposedly reduced the amount of spam by 70%; I didn’t see that. There was even one study that was done by scientists through a seized part of a spammer’s network, where they were able to send out 469 million pieces of spam and only got 28 “attempted sales” (they didn’t actually sell the product since it was a study, so all sales requests were rejected. So, the conclusion was that spammers have to work really hard to make sales, which is why they exist; anyone feeling sympathy for these folks yet?

I like the idea I came up with while talking to someone on Twitter about this yesterday. Let’s find out who they are, and take some sledgehammers, break down the doors, and destroy all of their computers. It might not stop anything, but it would sure feel good for a little while.
 

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Embrace The Lead

I must be the worst promoter in the world. I just realized that I’ve never really talked about one book that’s more special to me than any other book I’ve ever come into contact with.

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Enjoy this pic; the book’s
over there to the left

That would be a book called Embrace The Lead – Strategies for Management in the 21st Century. Why is this book so special?

Because I wrote it; yup, I’m a published author. Of course, I’ve mentioned it briefly in the past, especially when I wrote a post on how to publish a book. It’s self published, but I have an ISBN number, which means I’m considered as much of a publisher as the big boys, and thus I could sell my book on Amazon or Barnes & Noble if I so chose to.

Let me talk a little bit about my book. It’s a book on leadership and management, and in it I discuss the state of business, employees, and management in today’s working environment.

Let’s face the fact that no one is buying the old story about your place of employment being a “family” anymore. The challenges for employers thus has gotten tougher. It was always relatively tough to begin with, because one thing companies almost never invest in is leadership and management training for their managers and supervisors.

Everyone has reported to someone without the skills for the role, even if they had supreme skills to do the task at hand. In today’s world, bad managers have it even harder because today’s employees aren’t going to stick around in fear of not being able to get another job. Even now, in a bad economy, most employees will look for something else and be gone in a heartbreak because they know they can’t trust companies anymore. Without managers who are also good leaders, there’s nothing encouraging them to stay.

In the book I talk about today’s employees; why managers may be like they are; give a breakdown on different employee types; and discuss tips on criteria for becoming a good manager. For anyone who is in a leadership position at their company, or for anyone who’s thinking about it, this book is for you, from someone who’s been there. Did I happen to mention before that I also do leadership and management training, as well as executive coaching? Why yes, in my post on About pages, which was one of my most popular posts at one time.

If you’re interested in learning more about my book Embrace The Lead – Strategies for Management in the 21st Century, click on the link to see more, including testimonials. I also sell it in two versions; the ebook, and the soft cover, which, if you ask me nicely, I’ll even autograph for you when I send it to you. Now, how many other folks are you going to be reading today who’ve written a full book, and not just an ebook? 🙂
 

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