One of the terrible problems when you are working on a novel idea is a writer’s block where you literally find it extremely difficult to continue writing. This is more of a stress or a burden, if you have a deadline either by your publishers or by yourself because most of us are not full time writers given the investment and returns from writing.
Writing needs extreme discipline, it is just like dieting, you can’t just eat all you want and expect to lose weight. You have to surrender yourself and work enough concentrating on losing weight. Likewise, with writing, I know a friend of mine who typically sits like a robot at 11:00 PM and types away till 12 and I am of a type, who can ONLY write in the night when all are asleep. So, if you have a disciplined scheduled for writing – chances are that you seldom fall under this block.
Also, it is important to keep off distractions when writing. Many authors turn off internet, switch off their phone, lock themselves in a room or even travel across with their laptop in a cottage to type away their story.
There are many options like Artist’s way where you write 750 words early morning like a task, which will help you from falling apart.
Once you sense the writer’s block there are common things that you can try, first is to try something else – like painting or photography that are of interest other than writing.
You can use this dreading time to read, if you don’t have other hobbies than writing, eventually, helping you more in honing your skills.
I usually have the habit of traveling – I treat myself with a trip to a place that would keep me off from thinking anything else. I would mostly come back with a refreshed mind to write more, with a story-line or a plot idea, sometimes! So choose travel.
Else, take prompts from your friends or surf online, pick some plot and write a really short story on it. Try to flesh out a short story you read, or try to write a short story on the novel you read. So, basically, you’ll be writing something totally different from what you have ever written!
Take a break – even if you’re not in writer’s block, it helps you to be a better writer.
Vanity publishing – this is something I have discussed a lot about and I detailed reasons as to why one should NOT choose to vanity publish one’s work.
Here are my points that summarizes when one can choose to vanity publish
Vanity publishing is when the author pays upfront money to the publisher that usually ranges from 25,000 INR to 3 Lakhs as per the package the author selects.
Time = Money, once you choose to vanity publish, you need not do anything except to submit your final manuscript and pay the cash. All other things will be taken care by the publisher, all you have to do is to just approve.
You can choose to vanity publish when:
Please note: By now, you would have send your manuscript to many publishers who traditionally publish but failed miserably, yet you trust your script much and you still want the book to be released. Fair enough! So now go ahead!
Royalty – In traditional you would not make more than 20-30 INR per book, with vanity, you get around 50 INR
Transparency – You get to know the count of book sold at ease, they are mostly very transparent. In vanity publishing, the publishers help you with a consultant who will readily hear you and do as per your say, so you need not work on anything at all. Your book sales, your promotions, author copies, etc.. are accessible in just one click
Quality – There are publishers who cost cut and publish books that are of bad quality. Books that are shrunk to fit the page, font size, the font, etc.. make it difficult to read. In Vanity, you get the best quality. Paper quality, cover quality, font size, page nation, etc.. are done properly to fit the market standards
Distribution – Your book will be distributed online fairly well, the book will never go out of stock. There are vanity publishing companies that also do offline distribution if the books do well in the market.
If your manuscript gets rejected by traditional publishers but you still trust your script or if you have money than time or if you want better quality of books than those published by second tier or hybrid publishers or if you want your book to be priced reasonably less (self-published books cost more than traditionally published books) – go for vanity! Take a call!
One important aspect of writing is the use of figure of speech, something we seldom do. Having read enough Indian author books – There are a few who use it extremely well and there are a few who just don’t know what it is. I know pals who write novels that sounds like reading information at Wikipedia. So here is one of the less explored areas – understatement.
You write less but it is deeper enough for the reader to understand a lot from it. There are many micro tales and harsh realities post of mine that gets comments that they are deep. Those stories are pretty much lesser than 40 words, this is the role of understatement.
Overstatement is just the opposite of understatement where everything in detailed manner, a reader would eventually just skim through and not read properly when overstatement is used. Ensure you use overstatement only when it is relevant.
You can try writing a scene using both overstatement and understatement to understand the difference that it makes, the less you write, the more careful you are about using words that are very deep and you move on easily.
Don’t use overstatement unless it is poetic, or beautiful. Use frequently used idioms, or figure of speech to convey. Use terms like “Days rolled” or “After a few years” to change timeline and use the mood you have previously created to subtly say what would have happened in between.
Here is an example of understatement from my own kitty!
So, I approached my most favourite authors whom I have read, interacted, nudged with doubts, asked opinions, help, and what not?
I would rather happily die as a reader than an author; there are awesome authors I met in my journey who redefined what writing is to me! I myself find a good difference in me, my reading habit, my writing, and here are 10 questions to 10 authors, respectively!nei
Neil – One of the most promising Indian Author, reading his made me a better reader. His books are those that I would give to those friends of mine who say they would not read Indian authors, to prove them wrong. One of the best critics ever!
I asked him about his views on Social media for Marketing books and tips as well.
As a self-published author, I have used social media for marketing majorly. My initial presence as an author began when I started posting stories on Wattpad, Figment, and later on my website. I shared a lot of excerpts on Facebook as well. All these things received a lot of positive feedback and, apart from building for me a significant fan base, it also motivated me to take up writing more seriously. It was apt that I released all three of my books on social media first and then had physical events for them.
Having been using social media for book marketing since two years now, I would say that marketing does not work if you only talk about yourself. There are so many people who just put up posts about their books and such and do not engage in other ways at all. Remember that it is you who need to be visible on social media and not your books. It is equally important to interact with other people when they have something to say. You don’t get listeners here unless you are a listener first.
I don’t know about marketing mistakes as such, but I do have a grouse. And that is, social media marketing takes up a lot of my time, time that I would have otherwise used for writing. At present, I am trying to cut down on my Facebook time so that I can devote more time for my writing, but that could be just a passing phase for I have two books releasing shortly.
An interesting and strong author who self-publishes chucking traditional contracts, someone who is a catalyst of the change to help authors self-publish their books at ease! She is a strong woman and her books also touch base a lot on problems faced by woman in India and the taboo and clichés, she was shortlisted for the 2012 Tibor Jones South Asia award. Also, UK’s Glam magazine calls ‘Tell A Thousand Lies’ one of their ‘five favourite tales from India.’
I asked her about the view on women’s fiction these days, the view on woman writers and also, wanted to know her favourite book on the same line.
There is no doubt the same fiction written by men gets way more
There is this attitude that what women do carries less weight. I remember a recent interview with Times of India where I and another male writer were interviewed. The male author was called a full-time writer, and I was called a housewife even though I gave up my IT job (I have an M Tech.) to pursue writing full time AND I make good money from it,
I read so many books that I am trying to recall names. Toby Neal is one underrated writer. She writer crime fiction based in Hawaii. Her books are excellently researched and authentic. She does bring up the private lives of the main characters – which isn’t surprising considering everyone involved is either a cop or an FBI agent. But doing that somehow seems to dilute the impact of her gritty novels in some eyes.
I see Devika’s books just like a minion that sees a banana. I so adore them for the language, diction, vocabulary and the way she writes. Love oozing stories! And enticing books are all in her kitty.
As she self-publishes her books I wanted to know her thoughts on it and the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing?
That’s a good question. For me, I love the freedom and flexibility of self-publishing. I have a full say in all aspects and can control whatever I feel the need to. I also think payment is fairer (at least for eBook royalties). It can be a bit difficult to handle all aspects; especially marketing – but even traditionally published authors have to carry a lot of the burden or are never discovered because the publishing house doesn’t really give them a chance. Ultimately, each author should make their own choice.
An approachable and ambitious author whom I follow diligently, her book is always on the best sellers chart competing with the US and UK based authors. An artist herself who loves art, crafts and paintings that look as lovely as her book ‘without you’ is!
I asked her if she believes whether the book cover plays an important part in the buying process.
Yes! I can even tell whether it is literary fiction or commercial fiction by just looking at the cover of a book. Most readers, including me, pick books looking at the cover. They say not to judge a book by its cover, but most do. I made my designer change the cover design three times to arrive at the final cover. Many readers have told me they were attracted towards the book initially due to the beautiful cover.
More of a friend to me, and a person I look up at, one of the most approachable to ask any doubt at any walk. Sometime I talk to, before I take any decision. She was polite enough to answer me, even when she had her book launch scheduled the next day.
I asked her about her biggest learning experience with respect to publishing, as all her books are traditionally published.
The contract is the first thing that strikes my mind when you asked this question. Not all publishing companies are the same and not all companies would have the same set of procedure. So, one has to properly go through the contract before signing them. One should discuss with the publishing consultant about the terms and conditions, In India, traditional publishing is the way which will cost less and also, gets the books to the book store, so any author would find any traditional publisher as the best bet but still there are many glitches.
There are copy rights issues, royalty issues, transparency in selling, and many more to quote that author would indeed suffer if they choose to traditionally publish. It is important to choose the right publisher
Ganga’s third novel A sip of coffee and a sip of love has been launched recently! Wishing her good luck to hit the best sellers charts and here is the link to follow her!
An author who writes on romance, she is well-known for her lively and not just happily-ever-after but slice-of-life writing! She is one author who proved her capability with her blog posts before her debut which made publishing and the aftermath a privileged entry! If you want to learn the right route to blogging to author, one would point her as the best person to follow.
I asked her about the notion in general that whether romance is easy to write when compared to thriller or mystery. I wanted to know if romance is a difficult genre as well. Because, there are millions love stories with minuscule differences. How difficult it is to make a romance novel to stand out?
Romance is definitely not easy to write than any other genre. In my opinion any comparison is waste of time. The thriller or mystery tales are plot driven, whereas romance is character driven. Unlike a mystery or thriller, the characters in a romance novel need both internal and external conflicts. While external conflict is tangible and could be easily expressed; internal conflict needs to be developed and has to be taken to a successful closure. It is extremely difficult to articulate internal conflict which connects with the readers.
Since it is a popular genre everything has been done, every plot has been explored. So the setting and presentation has to be unique for a romance story to stand out.
Read her published works and check her books on goodreads
I was introduced to Paromita through a book marketing community created by her to ease the marketing burden of authors.
After reading her works, I understood it was edited very well and so, my question to her was on editing!
Thank you so much Kavipriya for this opportunity. This is my personal views and in no way should be taken personally. Being good in English does not make you a good editor always as in the publishing field. You can correct the grammatical mistakes perfectly fine but when we are talking about books we are also taking about sales and above all readers. An editor should be able to gasp the nerves of the readers or rather the market. If you have a good editor, you will not only have corrections done but also have your manuscript edited as according to the market. Chop off the areas that are not necessary. Trim down scenes and make it more presentable. It’s like dressing your dish before serving. That’s what the editors are for. Hence according to me choosing editor for your work is very important part of publishing your book.
Check her words here!
We crossed paths at for writers, by authors group. His book ‘1000 kilograms of Goa’ is a huge hit, and the best part of his book was the world building.
So I asked him about his views on world building, how important it is and if it is possible to write a story based on a place that an author has never been.
Kavipriya, Of course you’ve heard of James Hadley Chase. He lived in Britain all life. But almost all his novels were based in the US. Frankly, I find it difficult to set my story in a place where I’ve not been. Even though I live in Goa, I visited many of my locations, some of them even thrice.
It all depends on how much the place has a relevance to a particular location. If it’s just a regular story, I could do a Google search and find info on certain places and look into their maps. But if the location is highly relevant (like in my case ) it’s near to impossible to do it
Even when James Hadley Chase wrote his stories on the backdrop of US, all the specifics he needed was the law in that country and functioning of other law enforcement bodies, In order to keep it real.
I’d just share with you something very embarrassing
For the second novel, i wanted to insert a scene in a red light area. So on my regular trip to Mumbai, I visited Grant Road and had a chat with a couple of ladies. I was finding it difficult to visualise what a real red-light -area looks like. Also, for the first novel, I visited a casino and was asked by the bouncers to leave, because they didn’t like me interviewing their staff, they thought I was a journalist or something.
Things that an author does to write a book and get information are indeed a great journey itself! Follow Rohan Govenkar for more updates on how his second novel is shaping up!
The one who redefined ‘mythology’ – with her ‘soul warrior’ she just hit that a writer has no limits to creativity.
I asked her what an author should primarily do? Or start with, when they want to try their hands with fantasy fiction or historic, that is not common and different in every aspect.
Firstly, thank you for saying that I’ve redefined “retelling” a story. Ok, so to answer how I did it and what other authors can do to make their stories different is that learn the story so well and from so many angles that you know exactly where to tear it apart. Alexander McQueen, the infamous dress designer, has said that to know where to make that daring alternative cut, I needed to know traditional dressmaking. Does that make sense? Have I answered your questions?
Every “change” I made in Soul Warrior has a basis in Vedic literature and mythology. Literature and history tells us that Karna was the perfect mate for Draupadi. If that is true, why did fate work against them? There had to be a reason why Krishna manipulated events so Karna and D did not get together. That’s the basis. Then I had to imagine the subtle changes and differences I could introduce. And if they made sense.
10. Dhasa Sathya
One of the promising debut last year with a short story collections. His styles are one of a kind, a very experimental and level headed author with whom I shared a stage for a workshop.
I wanted him to talk on his mastered area on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
Writer’s block is a sign that your mind is bored with the script running the story and scenes time and again, because we writers are prone to read the written a few times before re-starting our work, right? So I would suggest to forget writing and to start reading! I bet that your mind will miss the lingering torture of your characters that they would start calling you back.
The above is applicable only to writing, but there are chances that you have a block in you plot itself, this is when you should stop fumbling and start working on something different, it can be a short story or some prompt or any whimsical idea – basically give a nice vacation for your brain.
Take a vacation between your books and keep observing things! It will change a lot of perspectives and make more room to write about.
Here is all you would like to know about him and his books!
Firstly, get this clear. There are companies that ask money upfront (25k to 3lacs) to publish your book and call themselves the “Self Publishing Company” – it is actually, vanity publishing! They layer the company with this fancy term to save themselves from getting burnt and use the naive nature of first time writers to make money! Vanity is different from self-publishing, self-publishing is when you do every little thing for your book by yourself or pay someone to do the same (Time=Money), period!
Any consultant (?) that fancily calls you and says “we offer 20% discount on publishing packages” – DUDE RUN AWAY! Anything on web that reads “Select your package” – CLOSE THAT TAB ON YOUR FIREFOX, those “guided publishing plans” are sheet CRAP! – “We publish your books in any size and format,” they would claim – say NO THANKS!
You had an idea and spent months on it, made it to a decent 25k to a lakh word book
You employed a beta reader or an editor, proof read – and it is all set to go to print
Sign up and create a kindle publishing account
Title, other details of the book necessary, book category, cover (Design it by self or ask a designer, it must cost less than 5000 INR) – ensure you already have the ePub version (get it done at smashwords.com)
The tax information might be confusing; it is actually nothing in India. Just punch in your PAN number when it asks for an ID and your bank details where you get royalty ( you get 23 INR for every book sold if it is priced less than a dollar)
In a few hours or maximum one day, your book will be up on amazon kindle
Market the book – sell it!
I don’t recommend it and I don’t do it, and I will NEVER do it – but you can suffix or prefix your name on Facebook with the ‘Author’ tag! J No offense to the existing! I respect their choice!
I want my name on print – on books – I want DP with my book in hand – yes! You can my bunny writer. You can.
Get your book a roll number i.e ISBN
Find a printing company – 1000 copies must cost you around 36,000 INR to 45,000 INR or if you think you know how many copies you are most likely to sell, the cost would increase. More you print – lesser the price
Amazon and Flipkart – you can distribute following the guidelines on their website
Find distributors and aggregators who will place your book in book stores for a cost
If you don’t know a printer or find it costly, www.pothi.com has options to print on demand – I STRONGLY PERSONALLY RECOMMEND
With my interaction with friends, fellows, and aspiring writers, I have always been questioned if I get to take the MRP of each book sold. Many think, I have made lakhs with my book (Chuckles) whereas in reality, I only spent more than what I made. This, in real, is the case of most of the authors. Even during one of the workshop, one writer ended up asking if he can make enough money just by writing. Sad truth being a NO, I thought I will bring Royalty into picture. Now that you know how much you will have to spend to publish with Q for Quotations post, here is what you should know about the ROI (Return on Investment)
So, what the author makes?
The money that the author makes out of books is called ‘Royalty’ what a fancy term! It is just a small percentage of the MRP. The Percentage varies according to the author (Big authors get advance payments too) and also, the publishers. Big publishers pay better than the second tier, they say! So mostly is varies between 7% to quote the least to 20% as the maximum.
So if the book’s MRP is 200 INR then the royalty is between 14 INR (No I didn’t miss a zero in the end, it is fourteen) and 40 INR.
The above is for traditionally published, for vanity publishing – you get up to 50 to 60 INR (Of course, you pay 20k to 1 lakh up front) and for self-published books via pothi it is around 20 INR only.
What if you go through a literary agent? you have to give 10-20% of the ROYALTY that you make. Yes, 2 to 4 INR of every book sold goes to the literary agent and I have heard that you should promise a count of books that would be sold for sure, if your book don’t meet the count, author has to buy the rest. Stop crying!
And, any promotional offers or slashed price to help sell the book – author makes no money!
I have tabulated the cost involved in publishing! Took me a while to prepare! I hope it is worth the efforts 🙂
|Cost involved in each Type of publishing|
|Factor||Traditional Publishing||Kindle Publishing||Self-Publishing||Pothi Publishing||Vanity Publishing|
|Book Cover||Anywhere around 5000 INR for a decent cover, few cost 2,500 INR to 3000 INR as well accordingly!||Kindle gives you an option to use a simple color template with book title, or you can choose to design one at a lesser price. It should be around 3000 INR as it is just a kindle version||Anywhere around 5000 INR for a decent cover, few cost 2,500 INR to 3000 INR as well accordingly!||Pothi also has an set of covers designed, you can either choose o spend on it||Covers in the package mostly or you can choose to buy a cover outside|
|Editing a 50,000 word manuscript||publishers edit the novel and the author need not pay. However, if the author is not good at grammar, they can choose a round of proof reading before submitting the manuscript to the publishers.||In Vanity, there are packages that might cover editing which would cost the same|
|Substantial Editing: Approximately 25,000 INR|
|Copy Editing, Line Editing: 15,000 INR to 20,000 INR|
|Proof Reading: 10,000 INR to 15,000 INR|
|Beta Reading||Publishers don’t cove beta-reading||Beta-reading a novel should cost anywhere from 5p to 50p per word|
|illustrations, photography and graphics||Publishers cover the cost||It can cost around 3000 INR or more according to the requirements in the novel.||Comes with the package|
|layout, formatting and ebook conversion||Publishers cover the cost||Costs 3000 INR – Hint: You can do the same for free at http://www.smashwords.com||Publishers cover the cost|
|Book Printing||Publishers cover the cost||Not applicable||40 – 60 INR per book of around 200 pages if bulk printed||Print on demand. Costs around 120 for 100 pages book||Publishers cover the cost|
|Distribution cost||Publishers cover the cost||Not applicable||Lesser in comparison. At amazon I believe it is zero cost, and flipkart asks a nominal fee||1500 INR for amazon and flipkart||Publishers cover the cost|
|Marketing cost||Publishers cover the basic cost – depends on the tier||Depends on the type of marketing. A newspaper interview if it is through a PR would cost at least 15,000 INR. Book Reviews, Book tours, Spotlights – might start from 8000 INR to 50,000 INR depending on various choices of marketing|
|Publishing cost||Not Applicable||Not Applicable||Not Applicable||Not Applicable||25,000 INR is the least and cheapest available. It goes up to 1,25,000 INR with other added valuable services|
Most of us think plot and story line is the same thing. Or, we just elaborate the same thing in different ways. If they are one and the same, why two different terms though? Yes! They are different.
Plot – Main Events of the novel arranged in a manner such that it has twists and turns, with tinge of drama or emotions or thrill.
Story line – Chronological order of what the novel is all about.
To put them simply, plot is watching the movie and story line is your friend narrating the 3 hour movie in 3 minutes revealing all the twists well in advance. Thank me later 😉
Baby steps of plotting
Define your protagonist, and add meat as of his reactions to every frigging thing that he or she would cross in the novel. Note all the directions possible with respect to the travel.
Take your character through twists, turns, and new developments to reach the final stage of the novel
When plotting – tighten the scenes adding more details, the character traits, engage more and add more thrill because only you know what happens next, not the reader. Don’t let them guess! – What’s the fun? 😉
How do we plot?
Have a clear motivation of what you want to convey in this novel. Structure it out. Add more sub-plots which adds more meat to the story.
X and Y get married in the end – Plot
X went through a bad relationship before
Y was skeptical to propose for long
X waits for Y to propose
When creating sub-plots, it is almost like diving chapters and hence, ensure to do the following.
Readers should feel the urge to flip the page – when do they feel it? When there is something out there to figure out.
Play a guessing game with your reader – give them food to think
Add suspense elements and add a mild action that would be seldom noticed, but makes sense in the end
Meaty reactions by characters
Don’t get lost in the middle – don’t add extra meat to add pages – write what’s required
There are numerous worksheets available online for plotting and there are pretty good number of online courses, resources, that would help one to plot better! If you find it difficult to plot, try books on plot prompts for the same.
More often, we start our novels from a small spark and keep it growing. Sometimes, it gets clumsy and the end product would be something totally different from what we expected. It is not wrong, but maybe, if you try properly outlining the novel, it would be of great help to not just finish the novel but finish on time because you know what you’re writing. I did this clumsy mistake of starting at a point and not knowing the travel of the story with my first novel, but with my second WIP, I have improved a lot on this.
So, let’s outline – the silver line of the cloud! Let’s do it.
One best way to outline is using the snowflake method. I have covered it in methods of writing! Check out!
Or use the Freytag’s Pyramid – jot down the one-liners that would cover under each part of it.
Even if you’re a panster – if you work on outlining, it would help you overcome the writer’s block. Trust me! It works. Anyhow, the outlines are just as flexible as ever, to alter according to the flow.
Things to ponder and write down first:
Write down the important characters
Pen the important scenes that you want to cover – there are times that we have a scene in mind than the actual story plots. So put them down.
Chapters – divide them into chapters, and divide the meat accordingly. Figure out ‘what’ you’ll cover ‘where’ this will avoid any spill at all
Also, tunnel them. Divide your sheets and pen down the different tunnels or paths you have in mind and let the story choose the road to travel to complete the maze