How to write a book

In this second article, we will take a look at how to write your own book.

In my initial article from the series about how to publish your own book for free, we have talked about the most common issues that may be some kind of an obstacle, when you want to publish your book with some publisher or publishing house.

I will not be repeating myself in all the details from the first article, but I will just mention that the publishers very often reject almost every manuscript, even when it is good. Just because they are looking at their business first and their target is always just their profit.

So lets’ come back to the topic. You decided to write your own book. Maybe you already have written your first pages, maybe not. Very important thing is, to begin with, thinking and collecting ideas. Are you writing some fiction, or are you working on some professional book targeted at some profession? This may sound like a big difference, but trust me, it isn’t.

Every time when you are writing and preparing a book, you need to follow a few basic steps.

Notes

Prepare a small notebook for your notes and keep working on the notes anytime. Yes, literally anytime. Even when you wake up in the night with some idea, you should write this down. Because after a couple of hours, there will come other ideas and you will very possibly forget some of them. And this is something that is a pity, what do you think?

Trust yourself

The typical question that authors-beginners are asking is – is this really good what I am writing? The answer is always YES. It is normal when you think that your story or text is not something good. I would say, that this is even good to think about yourself because it is always good to be self-critical. Do not give up, just continue writing. After some time you can come back to the very beginning of your text and you will be surprised by yourself. Yes, you are good, do not forget that.

Using software (Word processors, editing software)

Keep writing with one style. I mean the formatting. I am sure that you are writing or preparing the book on your computer. This means that you should be using just one-word processor, not switching between one and another. The reason is simple – you will write a lot of pages very soon (or after some time) and you will have a lot of work then to tidy up the mess.

This can be caused for example because one word processor (let’s say Open Office) saves the formatting in its own file (also with its own file extension), the one version of another word processor (let’s say the older version of MS Word) is saving automatically all the formatting and styles in its own way (and again with its own file extension) and when used also some kind of the latest software (it can be the newest MS Word), this may not be 100% back-compatible and it makes you a lot of headaches later.

I know what I am saying, I did this mistake once and I spent a lot of my time trying to fix everything to just one style and formatting. Do not forget – the book is not just 5 pages, you will have a lot of content and text, and because of just one styling (or formatting) issue somewhere in the first half, will make a mess with all other pages. And when you will imagine what can cause switching between two or more kinds of software – try to avoid that.

Personally me, I recommend using the classic Open Office software or if you have a valid license then use some paid software (MS Office Word, etc.). One thing I do not recommend – using online word editors or programs. These are good for writing some short texts, but not for processing texts with a lot of pages. Remember, one silly issue on the server side or some internet-connectivity disruption can cause a serious problem – a lot of text can be simply lost because it was just not saved. You simply cannot have full control over the software that is online, installed on some server or cloud. Try to avoid this and use locally installed software on your computer.

Always make backups

When you are working one day and you just finish because you are tired, save your work locally. But do not forget to make a backup. I recommend you to make a backup copy on a USB stick drive and also another backup copy to some cloud. If you do not have any cloud, then just send it to yourself via email (to your own email), so you will have the copy also somewhere on the email server.

You never know, anything can happen to your computer. You simply do not want to lose your work. It happened to me once, but it was a long time ago when there were just computers with the classic 3,5” floppy drives (discettes). I was writing a professional textbook with a lot of details and because that time I was at the university and we were just sharing the computers in the library, I was saving everything on small discettes. Yes, I had copies and backups on more of them. But if you remember these times, the discettes were very unreliable mediums. Something happened to the box when y discettes were just placed and I lost my work completely. I do not know what it was, maybe some magnetic field of some iron radiator or something, I really do not know. The discettes could not be read by the computer anymore. You can imagine my feelings at that time.

Manuscript

The manuscript is the text that you are writing. It is a text that you are frequently changing, coming back and re-writing some parts, changing images, and including more details and information that you maybe find and new ideas that you just have.

Writing this way is the best you can do. After you complete your writing, you have your own book-baby. This is something like a treasure, so make a copy. Make copies also of the other files that may be related to the main manuscript file (text of your book). The best practice is to write down detailed notes on some paper – as I mentioned before, use a paper notebook.

When writing the manuscript, try to use always just one formatting – for example, the lines with a height of 1,25 and the font size 12 – the best would be a classic font like Times, Garamond, or something similar. Some authors use other fonts, but this is something that can be changed later when we will talk about the formatting of the book and its preparation for publishing. The main idea is to prepare for this work and make it easier. So it is good to keep using just one font for the whole text of the manuscript.

Images, graphics

When you are using any photographs, images, drawings, charts or anything related, always write down the details of the author and the original source, from where you have this. It is very important, you will have to include this in your book. The best way is to cite the author and the source at the bottom of the page where the image or any graphics is used (or just below the image/graphics). Also, do not use anything that is protected by any copyright and you do not have a license to use that.

When using any graphics, then keep in mind that the size of the file of your book (manuscript) will be growing quite fast. Every day when you save it with new content inside, it will make the file larger and larger. So do not be surprised if you do not have experience with this. It is normal, so be patient especially when you click “save” – it can take some time until it is saved. The same is when you will be uploading a backup copy to the cloud – it can take more time, so be patient.

Always cite the resources

This is something that I mentioned also in the previous paragraph. It is one of the most important things that you simply have to do. Never try to avoid this, because it is something like stealing resources. Imagine that you have published your book and somebody will just copy some part and will use it in his/her book without mentioning you as the original author of this part. For citations you should be using some standards, the best and easiest way is to use a citation generator. You can find them on the internet. I can mention here some of them that are good:

And many others … If you know something really good, just share it below this article in the comments and I will add it to the list. Thank you 🙂

Writing a book is always very exciting. It is something extraordinary – you will feel it when your book will be completed. Your book is something that will remain here in this world for a very long time even when we will not be here anymore and the generations after us will have it in their libraries or databases. Isn’t this fascinating?

In my next article, I will continue with some details of the writing process. Keep writing and stay tuned for new ideas very soon.

A useful tip for you:

You can sign up here to get an email notification when a new article is published on my blog, so you will not miss it!

~Jozef

Related articles of this series:

 

Used photographs in this article:

  • The featured image with the open book on the table: freepik
  • The photograph of the laptop in the article: jcomp/freepik

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