Hacks for Writing A Book

Books are magical works of art that can transport you from your everyday life into a whole new realm. As magical as they may be, however, sadly they don’t write themselves. Unlike technical papers or academic writing, creating a book takes a huge personal investment. There is much more to writing a book than sitting down and putting words on a piece of paper. We will go over what you need to do to write a book and some tips that will help you get started.

Trust The Process

It is impossible to just take a seat and craft a book from scratch. In general, writing a book will start with a whole lot of daydreaming to create a fully fleshed idea followed by months or even years of getting it all on paper. Starting with a simple sentence and then a page, and then a chapter is the only way to make progress, so trust the process and yourself if you want to succeed.

Decide What Your Book Will Explore

The first tip is to choose what you want your book to be about and what type of message you want to impart. Knowing you want to write a book will only take you so far, you need to have a firm idea of what direction you want to go and the final result of your message at the end of the book. Once you know what you want to talk about, good writing will follow.

Set A Work Schedule & Goal

Creative writing is difficult, and it is very easy to get distracted especially if you have a lot going on in your real life. The best tip we can offer for anyone looking to write a book is to set aside a specific time each day to dedicate to moving your story forward. If you are really ambitious, you can even seat a goal for the number of words you want to get on paper each day. For example, set aside a time every afternoon with a goal of writing one page, or at least 300 words to make real progress on your story. You’ll see that you’ll start to write faster with practice!

Set A Total Work Count & Focus Your Mind

No matter what type of book you plan to write, it is a good idea to set a general word count. This will give you a clear starting point and a general ending point so that you can structure your time and story arc accordingly. Also, a great tip that will help you focus when you write is using the same place each time you sit down to work. Find an area that inspires your creativity while also giving you the peace of mind you need to achieve your writing targets each day.

Create Realistic Deadlines & Get The Work Done

One of the biggest problems many writers face is proper time management. It is easy to procrastinate when it comes to writing a book, so creating deadlines for yourself will help keep you on track for the long haul. Setting a deadline each week for a specified amount of work or number of words will help cut down the urge to procrastinate. Once you set these deadlines, it is important to follow through by doing the work and holding yourself accountable when you fall short. 

The Bottom Line

Writing a book is not a walk in the part, but if you have a dream and are committed to getting published, then our writing tips may come in handy.With these tips, your book writing efforts will be much more productive and you will be on your way to getting published in no time.

How to find literary agents

Writing a book is hard, and after laboring for what is often years to get your story completed, running the gauntlet for publishing can be demoralizing. Instead of approaching a publishing house directly or even sending your book to every publishing house on the planet, work with a literary agent to increase your chance of success. While you still will have to be patient and knock on doors, working with an agent will help to streamline the process. Today we will cover how to find a literary agent to help you get your book published.

Figure Out Where Your Book Fits In Publishing

There are a lot of different genres and knowing which genre your book will fit into best will help you find a literary agent that can help you get published. If there is a sub-genre, it is a good idea to further narrow down your choices to help find an agent to help represent you more effectively. Think about the style of your book, how you write, who your target audience is, and if there is an author that your writing style emulates.

Look For An Agent That Works With Books Like Yours

There are thousands of literary agents out there, but they are not all experts at selling every genre of book. The best way to connect and hire a literary agent is by targeting a curated list of around 20-25 agents who have worked with books from your genre or those that are similar in style to your writing. Avoid pitching to agents who only vaguely match your criteria because chances are they either won’t be interested in taking you on as a client or if they do, your book may sit in limbo due to poor marketing.

Search For Agents In The Right Place

There are a lot of different places to find and connect with literary agents, however, the best two places to look in on the Publisher’s Marketplace and Query Tracker. If you are looking for a free search option, Query Tracker is going to be your best friend, but go ahead and set some time aside to narrow down your search manually. Publisher’s Marketplace is a paid service, but it only costs $25 a month, and with the right searches you can find an agent within a couple of months making it a smart, yet minimal investment. To boost your search efforts, you can check out Writer’s Digest and Manuscript Wish List to look further into agents who make it onto your shortlist.

Create Personalized Query Letters

Your book has to give readers a good impression in order to convince them to keep reading, the same goes for attracting an agent. Think of your query letter as an introduction to both you and your writing. You have just a few lines to capture the attention of the agent, and then sell your idea, which is your book. We understand that sending out 20-30 letters or more can get pretty tedious in a hurry. While you may be tempted to send everyone the same letter, it is important to personalize the letter for each and every agent. Let them know what makes them different and why you think that their services in particular will help you reach your publishing goals.

Send In Batches & Follow Up

Send out your letters in batches of 5 or 10. Give agents about three weeks to get back to you in one way or another. If you have yet to hear anything, follow up with another letter, and email, or even a phone call. With a bit of dedicated effort and an ounce of luck, you will land an amazing literary agent that can help you get published in no time.

When Are You Ready to Start Looking for a Literary Agent?

You’re working on a book and, after insane amounts of introspection, you’ve decided that you would like to go the traditional publishing route. To get your book published on terms that actually work in your favor, you know that you will need to partner with a literary agent. Literary agents can’t just land you the perfect publisher, but also advocate for you every step of the way. When an agent decides to accept you as a client, their stake in your book’s success becomes almost as big as your own — so to increase your odds of finding the perfect agent, you need to make sure you are ready. 

If you tick all these boxes, you might be on track to start sending query letters to literary agents

Your book is completely finished

You might be ready to start looking for literary agents if your book is completely finished. Even if, once you find an agent, they may suggest some edits, your manuscript should be done (for now) before you begin to look for a literary agent as a debut author. Yes, that ideally means you will already have had beta readers, and your book will definitely have been reviewed by a professional editor. Unless you are already a published author, fiction writers should never send in a first draft. Non-fiction authors might have more of a chance, depending on their profile.

You’ve written a strong synopsis

Most literary agents will first read your query letter — and if they are still interested by the time they reach the end, they then move on to your synopsis. By the time you are ready to craft one, as an author, you will be truly invested in your book. You are likely to have serious jitters about sending your work out into the world, and after all the hard work of writing your book, you may discover that writing a strong synopsis that represents your book well is far from an easy task. Get feedback from your critique group and beta readers before you finalize your synopsis. They’ll have read your book, but not quite as often as you. That means they’ll be better at conveying what is so unique about it in a way that will convince literary agents as well.

You know your genre and your audience

Literary agents specialize in certain genres as well as target age groups. You certainly wouldn’t be the first author to believe that their book can be meaningful for literally everyone, but that type of attitude is not going to help you land an agent. Before you are even ready to start drafting query letters, you’ll need to be able to describe your genre and target audience succinctly and efficiently. 

You’re familiar with the essential elements of a query letter

You aren’t writing another book — the most effective query letters are so short they could almost fit onto a postcard. You’ll know that you need to include:

  • Evidence that you’ve done your research. You’re addressing a specific agent you know represents authors in your genre. You follow the agent’s submission guidelines. 
  • A clear and gripping, but short, book summary that convinces prospective literary agents to keep reading.
  • Your genre and audience. Knowing who your target readers are enable the literary agents who read your letter to begin assessing whether they could represent you, as well as kick-starting their process of matching you with potential publishers. 
  • Your personal profile, as well as your humility. Literary agents need to know who you are to be able to get your book published. To actually want to work with you, they’ll also need to get flexible vibes from your query letter.

You understand what role a literary agent plays

Your literary agent is going to hold your hand through all the parts you, yourself, know almost nothing about — they’ll be your advocate, your counselor, and your friend. A literary agent isn’t just a necessary evil you need to deal with as you try to get your book traditionally published, but a partner who depends on your book’s success every bit as much as you do. If you understand that you might not always like everything your agent says, but they will always have your best interest at heart for the simple reason that what’s good for you is also good for them, you might be ready to start looking for a literary agent. 

Standard Book Sizes: Mass-Market Paperbacks

One of the book terms that you may have heard of if you are interested in or have studied the publishing industry is the mass-market paperback. Most people are familiar with paperbacks, having read plenty of them, but there are two different types of paperbacks out there. The first is the trade paperback. Trade paperbacks are usually the second stage of life after hardcovers. A previously published hardcover book is usually released in a trade paperback size by the original publisher. But there is another type of book that comes in paperback too: the mass-market paperback. Let’s take a closer look at this publishing trend.

If you want more publishing advice, particularly from the ever-changing world of self-publishing, visit Reedsy.com where there are lots of articles and resources to help you.

Trim Sizes

The first thing that you want to understand is the term trim size. This is a term that is used frequently by traditional publishers during the printing process and on self-publishing websites when you start looking at the different size options that are available. Trim size simply means the size of your book – the actual dimensions. The term comes from the process of printing. The pages of books are printed on large sheets which are then folded and glued together, and then later on they are trimmed down to a particular size. This gives every book a smooth surface on all sides except the spine when the pages are closed.

What Are Mass-Market Paperbacks

Mass-market paperbacks are paperbacks that are published for mass distribution. They cost a lot less than trade paperbacks to print because the use cheaper paper for both the book and the cover and they are smaller. The standard book sizes for a mass-market paperback is 4-1/4” x 7”. You have probably read more mass-market paperbacks than trade paperbacks. Trade paperbacks are the soft covers that you find at your local library or on the bookstore shelves. But mass-market paperbacks are sold at airports, grocery stores and lots of other places. Mass-market paperbacks enjoy a much wider distribution then trade paperbacks. They are also sold for a lot less, and those that are on a budget may wish to wait for a book to be released mass-market before they buy it because the price of a trade paperback can be around three times as high as a mass-market paperback.

The Difficulty in Mass-Market for Self-Publishers

The problem with mass-market sizes for self-publishing authors is that so few self-publishing companies offer these sizes. What you have to understand is that publishers already have deals with distributors that put those mass-market paperback books into grocery stores, department stores and all of the other locations where you can find them easily. If you are self-publishing, not only are you going to find it difficult to have a self-publishing company print in mass-market, but you are also going to have an almost impossible time getting your book distributed on a scale like most mass-market paperbacks are distributed. Self-publishing companies, like the print on demand company CreateSpace, offer trade paperback sizes that can get listed in industry catalogs.

How Pricing Works with Kindle Direct Publishing

If you are publishing with the Kindle Direct Publishing Platform, then there are four basic pricing models that you are going to want to be aware of. You have a great deal of power over what you set your price at when you use this platform, but the way that you come to decide upon a price varies based upon what you actually set your price at and whether you publish print books, e-books or both. Let’s take a look at each of these pricing models.

Fixed Cost Print Pricing

Fixed cost print pricing means that you pay a fixed price to print the book as well as a premium on the number of pages and the type of pages that you have. For example, you would be charged differently for color pages than for black and white pages. Amazon sets a specific fixed price to publish your book and then the standard cost for whatever pages you have would be multiplied by the number of pages that you have. So for example, if the fixed price was one dollar and the price per page for black and white was one tenth of one cent, then a 300 page book would be a premium of $.30 combined with the price of one dollar. This equals $1.30. However, this is much lower than Amazon’s actual rate.

Minimum List Price Print Pricing

Minimum list price is a method for determining price that ensures that you always make a profit no matter what your book costs to print and send out. So, the cost of printing the book is divided by the royalty rate for the minimum list price print books. That rate is 60%. So, a printing cost of $4.45 would be divided by 60% and the result added. That would make the minimum list price $7.42 and ensures that you always earn something on your books. Both of these models are only available for print book pricing within this platform.

EBook Publishing at $2.99 and Higher

If you publish an eBook and you price it at least $2.99 then you are able to earn a 70% royalty rate on every book that you sell – minus a very nominal fee (a penny or two) that Amazon charged for the electronic transfer of the document. The bigger the file is for your book the more they charge but it is never more than a few cents. Most people go with the 70% royalty rate because $2.99 is about the minimum price that you should be charging for an e-book anyway.

EBook Publishing at Less Than $2.99

Finally, there is a different pricing model if you choose to price your book at less than $2.99. For example, someone who prices their book at $0.99 will only earn a 30% royalty – or about $0.30 for each book sold. Compare that to 70% of $2.99 which comes out to be about $2.09. If you price your book at $1.99, you also only get 30% or around $0.59.

What’s The Best Fandom For Fanfiction And How To Choose It?

Chances are you have already completed this first step and chosen a fandom. Or rather, your fandom has chosen you. It has been my experience that story ideas come to you while you watch or read something, or not long after. Your brain finds a hole in the original story. That hole does not have to be any kind of flaw in the original, but rather just a gap you can fill with your own scenarios:

•A movie you love includes two of your favorite characters on a days-long road trip. But it does not show any of the fun little side stops and adventures you know had to have happened along the way.

•The network just canceled your favorite television show. But the show ended with a season-ending cliffhanger and no resolution in sight.

•You read a book and realized that you liked the secondary characters better than the main characters. You start wondering what might happen if the story followed those secondary characters instead. The basics of writing fanfiction are the same, regardless of the fandom or the type of story you want to tell.

The fandoms themselves, though, can differ substantially in scope. Fandoms can be large or small or somewhere in between. The size of the fandom usually has little to do with the popularity of the original source material. The original could be a 90-minute film measured in ratings. It could be a book or television series measured in sales or ratings, number of volumes or episodes. That original source could be a short story that appeared in one issue of a magazine.

Or it could be a 30-second television commercial or a graphic novel that only sold a dozen copies. Those of us who write fanfiction like what we like. And we will expand on that canon — the original source or official story — accordingly. With fanfiction, you can make anything happen.

Many fanfic writersalso love the idea of fanfiction because they don’t have to worry about some of the more mundane aspects of publishing (although if you do run into query letter issues or have a need for software, Reedsy has great guides for those topics). In general though, fanfiction writers can dodge those issues and just post online. Less headache.

Television

Writing fanfiction for a television show can be both easier than for other types of fandom or it can be more challenging. Either way, the reasons are the same. There is usually so much more source material, or canon, available for a TV show it can sometimes be hard to narrow down a story idea. That can make the writing more difficult. In that same vein, because there is so much canon material, when you do come up with an idea, there is a greater possibility that no one in your fandom has

yet written a similar story. (Not that that would be a stopper. It is not at all unusual for similar inspiration to strike several fanfic writers. It isn’t the idea so much as what you do with it that counts.) A popular television fandom for fanworks of all kinds is Supernatural, an American production currently in its twelfth season.

Supernatural has 116,000 stories on one popular archive and more than 143,000 on another. (The count actually went up by about a thousand new fics while I was writing this book.) Even if many of these fics exist on both archives, which is not uncommon, that is still a large catalogue of works in just this one fandom.

Another prolific television fandom is Doctor Who, which has over fifty years’ worth of canon material to play with. This long-running British production has inspired audio plays, feature films, stage productions, and licensed novels.

There were at least two spinoff series, The Sarah Jane Adventures and Torchwood, and they both have their own fanfiction. On one archive alone, there are more than 72,500 fics listed. At the other end of the spectrum, you’ll find Firefly, an American television series from Joss Whedon of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame. Firefly fics span the timeline from before the series began to after the last episode ended. They cover the origins of the fictional universe, the back stories of the characters, interject scenes into episodes.

Firefly aired for only one brief, 13-episode season in 2002. In 2005, three years after the cancellation, a follow-up movie, Serenity, hit cinemas worldwide. That gave fans two more hours of new canon adventures to play with. Less than 15 hours of original material, and yet there are more than 13,000 fics written for it.

You might even remember Danger Man a more obscure TV show, but sure enough, there is fanfiction: https://www.fanfiction.net/tv/Danger-Man/

Movies

Movies can generally be considered to be “closed canon” in that there will not be anything new added to the original source. (This is also true for books or for television shows that have been canceled or otherwise have ended.)

Just because there won’t be any new source material added, though, does not make them any less rich a field in which to play when you write your fic. In some ways, because there is less to the official story, a movie fandom can be an even more fertile field to write in.

It will give you more possibilities that were never explored in canon.

But you also have movie series such as Star Wars or the Marvel and DC Comics movies. Movies like these are “open canon” in nature because the films are still in production. The canon story lines are more limited than those of a television series. It takes much longer for the next installment in the series to become available, months or even years, rather than showing up on a weekly basis.

These particular fandoms have a much wider scope than a standalone movie might because they include canon from comic books and novels.

The movie Titanic is an example of a closed canon fandom. There are a couple thousand fics written for the movie, most of which resurrect Jack, who dies in canon. (If you somehow missed seeing this film, my apologies for the spoiler.) Many of these fics explore what might have happened between him and Rose after that fateful voyage. Yet others take Jack and Rose and change their stories into something completely different. They look at ways they might have met without the Titanic. Or they show how their story might have evolved a hundred years later, in 2012 rather than 1912. Star Wars is an open canon consisting of movies, books, and cartoons.

It receives an injection of renewed enthusiasm every few months with the release of the newest film or novel or episode. It being an open canon gives the fandom a much larger presence on the various fanfiction archives than a closed fandom like Titanic. On one popular site, there are 2,600 Titanic fics versus 41,000 fics in the Star Wars fandom.

Even some indies have picked up some fanfiction to inject new creative flares to the storylines. Things like Bandidasfor example.

Books

Of course, books are perhaps the richest area of all for the fanfiction writer.

There are literally millions of options to choose from. Unlike other fandoms, if you write fic for a book fandom, with lots of practice you can match your writing style to the original author’s. In the long run, it is probably best for you to develop your own writing style before you try to mimic another. Even so, it can be satisfying to post a story and have people tell you it is just like reading the original.

As you might suspect, perhaps the most popular book fandoms are Harry Potter and Twilight. Between these two fandoms, there are almost a million fics posted to one multifandom website alone. At one time, Harry Potter was thought (or perhaps feared is a better word) to be a closed canon with the end of the book series. Not only did the movies add new life to fannish enthusiasm, but the wizarding world of Harry Potter is expanding.

There is new canon material with the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. There will be yet more with the upcoming release of the film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Just look at Percy Jackson. This is a book that has created one of the most popular fandoms. You can check out some stories from that fandom here: https://commaful.com/tags/percy%20jackson/

Other Types of Fandoms

While television, books, and movies account for the greater part of fanfics, they are not the only types of fandom we fans write for. Anything that sparks your imagination can be used for fanfiction.

You’ll sometimes see joking references made by people who consider themselves to be a fandom of one. The commercials of insurance companies like State Farm, Allstate, and Progressive have inspired fic. You’ll find stories on the internet based on individual songs and whole albums. Comics and graphic novels have important fandom contributions. Fans have written tens of thousands of fics for Homestuck, Batman, X-Men, and the Justice League.

There are almost a thousand fics written for the Calvin and Hobbes comic series, which ended in 1995. Anime and manga fandoms are no less attractive for fanfiction writers. Shingeki no Kyojin, also known as Attack on Titan, has more than 30,000 individual fics posted to just one fanfiction archive. Another favorite anime and manga title, Naruto, has over 400,000 works on yet another website.

Crossovers

If more than one of the above fandoms interests you, you can consider writing a fusion fic or crossover. A crossover is a single work of fanfiction that combines two or more different, usually unrelated fandoms. You might look at a character from fandom

A and think about how well they might fit in with the characters of fandom

B. Your fic could follow their adventures in that combined fandom. You could create a setting where the characters of many fandoms interact without needing much manipulation to get them there. Or you might find opportunities to combine two or more wildly different fandoms into one story. Crossovers force you to think about how they might logically work together in a coherent whole.

Of course, your crossover doesn’t have to make logical sense. It’s a common fannish convention to “hand wave” away such mundane concerns as logic in favor of character and story. The choice is yours. The important part is to have fun writing whatever fic you choose to write.