Not any longer are authors spending their time waiting for the next rejection slip.
Everyone can now undertake the process of writing, publishing and promoting a book.
Over 10.000 books are published in the UK each year.
Tools of the trade
Most authors works on a powerful computer, with a fast modem for Internet access.
Word-processing programs such as Microsoft’s Word are not difficult to learn and operate. Most of them have a Spell-Checker, Thesaurus, Word Count and Hyphenation facility, which simplify many of an author’s tasks.
Special computer programs such as Scrivener,, Writers Café, PageFour, NewNovelist and Screenwriter Version Six can handle script formats for motion pictures, theatre, television, novels, comic books and non-fiction books.
Amazingly they keep track of all the characters and the complete plot. Advise on structure, scene order, suggest characters’ names, personality attributes and locations. Such programs are very good value, but these programs still scare some authors away as they are considered by many as a complicated and a mechanical way of writing, but still, they are a guide through all the structural and constructional aspects that are part of the main elements to determine a book’s value.
Writing a book involves research - indispensable both for fiction and non-fiction - and the Internet has made this infinitely easier. Through search engines such as Google the writer can find the answers to most questions without leaving the desk. Only occasional visits to a central library should be needed.
How long does it take?
Writing a book can take anything from one to two years. It involve 2,000 to 3,000 hours of work.
That’s a lot of time to invest, and this must be accepted before starting.
Some people manage to set aside funds to support themselves while they write.
Some write at night, keeping on the day job.
Many write solidly from Friday evening to Monday morning, with little sleep.
Family life, hobbies, holidays are often forgotten.
Either way, creating a book always involves a financial burden, and anything that can shorten the process is to be welcomed.
Who can write a book?
In the author’s revolution era, where everyone who has a good idea and something interesting to tell can write a book.
Writers can be young or old, coming from every remote corner in the world.
In past, very young and very old writers have marked the history of literature. Christopher Paolini wrote the best-seller Eragon, when 15 years old.
was published when Mary Shelley was 19 years old.
Kate Morton’s huge bestseller, The House at Riverton
, is only in her early twenties, but was number one in the best sellers’ list after being promoted on the TV show Richard and Judy for many weeks in 2008.
Writers over fifty have on their side have experiences, which can definitely help in writing a book.
Karen Blixen, who wrote under the pen name Isak Dinesen, did not publish her first book unil far over 50. Out of Africa
followed many years later.
The famous Bangladeshi writer Nirad Chaudhuri published Three Horsemen of the New Apocalypse
in 1997, when he was 100 years old.
And when the book is written...
After what seems like a long time slogging away on a dream, for most budding authors comes around half way of writing the book, the so called ‘saggy middles’ thinking ‘Oh, I don’t know where this is going’
This is the time when authors are divided into two separate groups; the ones who cannot finish a book and never will - and those who decide on continuing day by day until finally writing the cherished words: The End.
Manuscript lying on the desk, crisp and ready to be released on to the unsuspecting world, writers start sending copies to Literary Agents, still key-people to get into mainstream retail publishing.
Some literary agents are good, some are not so effective. Some are serious about encouraging new writers; some do very little, as the burden of looking after the authors to whom they are already committed takes up all their time and energy.
The reality for the typical author who, full of hope, at some considerable cost has sent out maybe a hundred copies of the manuscript to literary agents worldwide, is the depressing sound, over the next month or two, of rejection notes flopping on the doormat.
Only the thought of the many famous writers who have gone through the same process of waiting for that ‘letter of hope’ keeps the author from going insane or diving into depression.
Then, after three months, everything fizzles out and not even the rejection slips arrive.
After so many hours of working with enthusiasm and dedication, and clinging to every shred of hope, there is nothing but silence. In the old days, it was at this point that the thought of using a dreaded Vanity Publisher often came into the picture.
The majority of manuscripts, however, ended up being filed in a drawer, never to be read again, or in the garage, or in a box in the loft marked ‘not to be opened until after the funeral’. Some even went on the fire. Perhaps as many as 90% finished up in oblivion.
The present time of publishing
The modern author, in this new publishing era, does not even bother sending a manuscript to a Literary Agent.
Better to send it to a professional editor, who will comment on characterization, the plot, the start, the middle section, and the end.
The author will then correct accordingly or ignore comments.
Then it is the proofreader’s turn, to correct spelling and grammar mistakes, change bad sentences, cut out repetitions and generally give the book a professional feel.
Book being ready, the publishing phase is the easiest of the whole process.
Nearly two hundred different POD (Print On Demand) companies worldwide will take on the task, creating a cover and back cover, producing an ISBN number, providing all the necessary help to get ready with a nice, professional book.
They can print as many copies as the author wishes, then can keep the file to print it again every time it is necessary and when the author asks for more copies.
Yes, one single book can now be produced with full colour cover and unlimited pages - removing the cost of having stock, which could easily end up in the author’s garden shed or garage, not being sold. Prices vary from a few hundred pounds to thousands, depending what the author needs, how big the book is, which other services are required.
Some of those companies offer their own proof reading and editorial services, so it is good for writers to decide which one to go for at the beginning of the editorial process in order to get the best service available for the less money.
Hallmark Press International (Tel 00 44 191 158 73 886 www.hallmarkpress.co.uk) is the new face of friendly publishing. Trafford Publishing in Canada sends a comprehensive free publishing guide (www.trafford.com). PenPress produces five quality books for £50. BookSurge.com is part of the Amazon group of companies. IUniverse was owned by Barnes and Noble.
Others work slightly differently: Lulu, for example, has no upfront fee and over a million members worldwide. Writers set the price and keep the copyright.
All of these are established realities in the publishing, working alongside traditional publishers and offer a great professional service.
The final product is in fact a quality book that, no matter the content, looks good, maybe better than many traditionally publishing books.
But the publishing revolution does not stop here
Here comes the book promotion phase.
It’s a fact, that if the general buying public are not aware of the new book, people would hardly find it by chance and buy it.
It is absolutely essential to get visibility or awareness for the book.
Get it out for the world to see.
There are many book publicists who work independently and are not bound to publishing houses. Among them, some of the most famous are the US based TCI Smith Publicity and the UK based Book Promotion Limited. Both work worldwide.
started some years ago from the idea by a group of literary interested people, who put a team of experts together to research how to create awareness for an unknown author and a new book.
A year was spent focusing on the publishing world and the struggle of new writers. Then gradually the team moved on to create a proper promotion campaign, called Book Promology, which today is used in the UK, US, Canada, Australia, by POD publishers, mainstream publishers and by authors.
Their web site was created, www.book-promotion.com, to illustrate the methods and the campaigns; the number of daily visitors on it became quickly astonishingly high.
Book Promotion Limited’s policy is to accept every author and every new book. Fiction and non-fiction.
The company cannot, therefore, make any promises with regards to the number of books expected to be sold - and which publications would take the book for reviews.
An open and honest policy might anyway be better in the long run, as mentioned in the Company Declaration.
But the core of their method is to get the book out on the Internet, making it visible to millions.
This is happening through creating an author’s web site for each book, SEO (search engine optimization) and through a press and article releases distributed to a database of contacts and directly to 14.000 press agencies.
One of the ten internal professional reviewers reads the book, decides on keywords, checks the synopsis and forwards the finished review to the author or publisher for comments.
Adding that to an interview with the author, a press release, a bio provided by the author, info on how to buy the book and a couple of pictures, the seven-page web site is ready. The site is focusing strongly on creating sales.
Advanced tag and keyword technology is used to attract the right people for that specific book.
Registration on hundreds of search engines is done and a Google Adwords campaign made ready.
The book promoted is placed on the two largest book price comparison sites, www.Bookhead.co.uk
together with a registering on the eight most applicable social websites with an audience of many hundred millions.
This advanced promotion technology, combined with the company’s trained optimatization staff makes it possible to guarantee unique visitors to the website, within 150 days of launch.
Writers have their own web site - and also a public of people, who visited it.
The company includes a three-month one-to-one marketing support.
All this costs £548.00.
Also additional book promotions are available; to either continue what has been started during the basic promotion or to add more services. One of the most interesting of them is the presentation of the book at the Cannes Film Festival. This campaign is usually sold out a year in advance.
And the future?
Back in 2006, new hand-held e-book was presented, with mixed reviews, definitely not all positive. The e-book did not take off.
At the Le Web conference in Paris end of last year the audience erupted into laughter, when presented with an idea that already seemed ‘old hat’.
Then, Sony launched their new product, the super-slim ‘Sony Reader’ in the USA.
All of a sudden, like a miracle, everything changed.
Not only can it hold 160 books at one time, but also it’s light, elegant, with black leather casing and ‘white paper technology’ as the screen, which can even be read in sunlight. Hold the Sony Reader in any way you want and the text is clear on the screen. Vertical or horizontal.
Amazon has come up with a similar product: ‘Kindle Electronic Reader’ which was launched already, but has been improved to the extent that Citigroup has forecast a turnover of $ 1.1 billion for Amazon, through the sale of the reader and the downloading of books.
Ilead Reader, Libresco and BeBook are similar book readers on the market in US, coming to EU and Asia within months.
The Sony Reader is available in the UK Waterstones and from Sony’s own shops at around £200.00.
A realistic price, when knowing that the saving on every book you order for the Sony Reader, comes to half price, with many classics free.
This is a totally new world with which the author - has to come to terms.
It is not clear yet how POD books will get onto these electronic readers, but Book Promotion Limited is among the companies negotiating with the manufacturers of the Readers in order to include the titles promoted through the Book Promology program, to be available on the e-book readers in 2010.
The Ipod and Apple is expected to launch a new model later in 2010.
Book reviews in news-papers and magazines are now attracting lower numbers of readers, as people need to see the book and get to know more, to be convinced to buy.
The success of Richard and Judy’s book presentation on TV and similar programs in US, has made it clear that more lively, more direct means are needed for spreading the word about new books.
The world’s largest review website, devoted entirely to book reviews and interviews, with daily updates, is being created for launch summer of 2010.
It will be called www.BookReviewShow.com.
A natural market place for new books and new authors.