Want to get your book written? Put down your phone.

Want to get your book written? Put down your phone.

As I sit on the tram heading into central Melbourne, I lift my head from my phone and look around me. Sure enough, everyone else is staring at their phone as well. It's what we do in 2017. Hard to believe that just 10 years ago we didn't have these things to stare at isn't it? What did we do with ourselves in the pre-iPhone era?

Our phones give us 'something to do' from the moment we wake until the moment we turn out the light – and even beyond that. We can fill every spare minute of our day, whether waiting in line, waiting for a coffee or waiting for a partner outside the change room. Even walking the dog has become time to be filled by checking email, social media and news updates.

Does this matter? Isn't it just the modern way? 

Well, yes, it does, according to psychologists. Especially if you're trying to do something creative such as write a book.

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The art of sorting information for your book

The art of sorting information for your book

I'm currently working on the early stages of two separate ghostwriting projects. In both cases I'm starting with good quantities of raw material. In one case I have transcripts from interviews amounting to about 80,000 words, about three times the target length of the final book. In the other case I have an early draft to work with plus some new material – and a few gaps to fill.

My job now, in both cases, is to sort out the existing raw material and start to give it some shape. From there I'll be able to create initial rough outlines, which will help with refining the material (in the first case) and identifying gaps (in the second).

The sorting step is a point where many inexperienced book writers can get bogged down. The task often seems insurmountable, especially when you have a lot of material, some of which is written down and some of which is still in your head.

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The economics of self-publishing a book

The economics of self-publishing a book

In my last blog post I explored the myth that writing and publishing a book is guaranteed to make you rich. A couple of posts before that I wrote about how self-publishing a paper book is easier, and less expensive than ever.

This time I thought it might be worthwhile bringing these two posts together and doing some number crunching. What do the economics of self-publishing look like in Australia in 2017? A warning: what follows may be a bit dry (unless you're an accountant and into such things).

To make these numbers real, I'm going to focus on a typical example. We're going to publish a 200-page non-fiction paperback book of about 30,000 words.

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Plan to get rich from your book? Read this first

Plan to get rich from your book? Read this first

Recently a couple of people I've known for a short time learnt that I am a 'published author'. Immediately I felt a glow about me as my reputation in their eyes went up a couple of notches.

The aura didn't last long. Unfortunately I knew the truth: that my newfound esteem was misplaced. My new friends had fallen for the Great Author Myth.

There's always been a strange glamour associated with being an author, particularly a published author, i.e. a writer who a so-called 'trade' publisher has recognised as being worthy. It's this glamour that gives a book its power to bestow immediate credibility on its creator – something that also applies to a well-prepared self-published book. It also generates, in the minds of many, the notion that publishing a book is a good way to make money.

Here lies the myth, on both counts.

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Is your book already written ... you just don't realise it?

Is your book already written ... you just don't realise it?

Raise the topic of writing a book and most people will look at you aghast. The very idea of writing a book conjures visions of a gargantuan task, the literary equivalent of climbing Mt Everest (albeit without the need for supplementary oxygen). You may even be thinking along the same lines. Writers write books, and I'm not a writer.

A blog, on the other hand? No big deal. Tell people you're writing a blog and some will be impressed while others will secretly be wondering if you'll manage to get out more than three posts. 

Nevertheless, a blog seems more manageable than a book. A post once a fortnight, say. About 600 words. You don't need to be a writer to do that – just capable of writing a few coherent sentences.

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Self publishing a real book has never been easier

Self publishing a real book has never been easier

Last week I attended the launch of a book by one of my clients, only a month after we had tied up the manuscript. In the interim the material was prepared for publication (i.e. editing and design) then, after final adjustments to the typesetting and a good proofread, the files were sent to the printer. Three days later the books were delivered to her office on a Monday, ready for the Thursday launch. 

A couple of days after that, the print book was available for order literally all over the world, via several major online stores including Amazon US and UKBook Depository and Booktopia. The ebook version will soon be available from all the major vendors as well. 

This is the way of modern independent publishing. Very quick and remarkably inexpensive. To a large extent the future that was originally promised by print-on-demand has arrived.

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A better approach to capturing old memories

A better approach to capturing old memories

Over the recent holiday break we were chatting amongst the family about the need to capture the stories of our parents' generation while we still can. How often have I heard people speak with regret about never having done so, their parent's fantastic stories and valuable lessons going with them to the grave?

We were together as a family for a few days and dipped in and out of this conversation over that time. Quite a few stories came up too – stories of my parents' childhoods, the early years of their marriage and so on. Some I'd heard before but there were quite a few special ones that were new to me ... which isn't bad given I'm on the 'wrong' side of 50.

All of which got me thinking. The 'typical' approach to capturing a family history is not as good as it could be...

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Hiring a ghostwriter? Here's what you're paying for.

Hiring a ghostwriter? Here's what you're paying for.

One of the first questions I get when someone enquires about my book writing services is, understandably, 'How much will it cost?' To which I respond, 'How long is a piece of string?' Well, not really. At least not in those words, though the sentiment is the same.

While I completely understand that a potential buyer needs to have some idea of cost, the challenge for a ghostwriter is that we can't afford to lock in a price that is unrealistic, and there are *a lot* of variables that determine how much work will be needed to write a book.

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Donald Trump's co-writer and the ethics of ghostwriting

Donald Trump's co-writer and the ethics of ghostwriting

There's been some interesting debate in the ghostwriting community over the last few weeks since The New Yorker published an interview with Tony Schwartz, co-author of The Art of the Deal with Donald Trump in 1987.

In the interview, Schwartz pulls back the curtains on his time with Trump, essentially to make a case that the Trump he worked with is manifestly unsuitable to be president of the USA.

Debate has arisen from a perception by many who feel that Schwartz has broken a golden rule of ghostwriting by speaking out.

There's a reason why ghostwriters are so-called. We are 'ghosts' in the sense of being invisible.

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My favourite new tool for writing is not an app. It's a standing desk.

If there's one thing that writers do well, it is sitting. We are experts at it, simply because we get so much practice. We spend most of every day parked on our posteriors. Typically this is combined with a well refined hunch over the keyboard to provide the perfect recipe for a lifetime of tight shoulders and cricked necks. 

This is not good. Humans weren't designed to spend most of our time sitting. If we were we wouldn't need expensive chairs with height, tilt and lumbar adjustment – none of which ever seem to be quite right. On top of which we now have those pesky scientists exposing numerous risks to our health from prolonged sitting.

So what to do?

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