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Behind the Scenes: Where to start when writing a book??

So many of us want to write a book, or perhaps have one just bursting to get out, but don’t know where to start. The hard, honest truth is that the first thing you need is ambition. Not a mild “oh, it’s something I’d like to do one day,” way of thinking. It’s a rock solid internal knowledge that not only do you want to do it, you’ll absolutely make it happen. And nothing will stand in your way.  But I’ll begin this background series with why this evolved, which may explain the furious ambition.

11001759_10152788459798860_6807096383217468643_nThe Magic Forest came about when I was talking to my younger sister about our aunt, Rita, in April 2015.  Our revered, dearly adored & worshiped aunt had the audacity to die on us unexpectedly two months before hand (link takes you to the story of what happened and what she was like). Our entire family was devastated. This was a woman who, it felt to me, had given me everything positive in my life, my childhood, and continued her never-ending support and love throughout my adulthood. She was Peter Pan disguised as a beautiful small woman with sparkly eyes and a smile that lit up the sky. You knew she was coming before you saw her because she was always singing and she was never shy to show you how incredibly much she loved you. She still believed in fairies and angels, took us to random forests to roam the wild countryside of Ireland looking for those fairies (they are very shy, you know) and wondering what other magical things may be surrounding us. It was always a happy adventure. Every single person that met Rita fell in love with her within minutes and never forgot her. Because Rita simply is unforgettable.

Like many others, I’ve always mused on writing a book (I’ve actually got a non-fiction book written that I haven’t gotten to polish up yet), but I felt a tug towards something when talking to my younger sister. It instantly hit me that I needed to do a children’s series on a Magic Forest because that’s what Rita made every adventure. I felt that I needed this tribute to her because not only was it something I wanted to do, I was passionate about honoring her in some way. That, my friends, was the beginning. The square peg fit in the square hole. The path was laid out. I knew instantly that this was where I was meant to go and what I was meant to do. And I’m a stubborn ole bird, so when I set my mind on something, nothing stops me.

But, I knew nothing about publishing a book. Where the heck do you start? You can do a brief Google of publishing a book and you’ll be bombarded with links to companies that for a mere $1,000 minimum, will do it all for you – they’ll format it, send it to the printers and then you can order copies if you want. This is called Vanity Publishing, because really, the only person who is likely to see your book is you. They’ll charge you the price of your first-born to do some marketing for you too so that maybe one or two other people may know about your book. To set up a media campaign, they’ll ask for your first-born, favorite pet and your car. So stay the heck away from these people.

What you do then is hard research. I’m talking the non-stop, I-can’t-get-enough-information research that occupies every waking minute on how to make your book happen in the best way possible to maximize exposure, availability, quality and price. These are the matters you need to think about. Not just the written book itself, you’ve got to master every other aspect of publishing a book too – the editing, the illustration (if needed), the cover art, the specific printer format which is a lot trickier than you think, master the numerous software programs that initially will baffle you, learn the formats that are accepted, the file technicalities and capabilities, and only then can you begin to think about distribution, exposure, costs, marketing.  Depending on how serious you are, you can also form your own company to spearhead your career (ahem, ahem, Little Gem Publishing) or not, but do the research on how you want to be paying those taxes first!! So yes, you are the accountant too.

Now remember, this could be all before you’ve even written one word.

If you can go through that with gusto and passion, gobbling up that information you need to know as if it were air, and design a strategy that is suitable to your book (what works for me may not work for others), then can you now sit down and confidently begin the process of really creating a book.

More on that to come. <3

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