I wish to share my experience about writing my first book. Picking up my first run of 30 copies, seeing the cover, seeing the barcode, realizing that this is real and that I am now a published author has been a very rewarding experience.
Deciding to Write
I had put writing a book on my bucket list about 10 years ago. I started to write a fiction novel in 2004. I was 60,000 words in when my computer crashed. When I could not retrieve what was written, I called it a day and forgot about it.
Then, in 2012, I decided I was going to write a book about renovation. I had been in the renovation business for about 12 years and I felt it was something I knew enough about to make the investment in time and money worthwhile. My goal was to share insight with homeowners and contractors alike in hopes that it might help both parties have a successful renovation, which is described as “when a homeowner is happy with the product and the contractor made his expected profit.”
Writing non-fiction is different from writing fiction. The room for originality is much smaller. My first task was to ensure that my approach to both the subject and the content was truly original. In my search, I was pleased not to discover any other books on renovation that would be similar to the one I wanted to write.
Believing that I could be original and helpful in what I wanted to write gave me great confidence from the start. It afforded me the commitment and perseverance required to write a book. Believe me, reading and rewriting your own work again and again is something that can easily become enough to drive you crazy.
Length, Content, and Tone
One concern I had at the beginning was whether I had enough good information to actually write a book. I didn’t want to end up with a small 60-page “booklet.” I wanted something that I could sell as a book. I soon realized that I was going to be well over 150 pages and this eased those concerns. I also knew that because this was non-fiction, I would have to be on point and eliminate all the fluff. Meaning, I didn’t want fillers in there to make the book longer. I knew the reader would only want good information presented in an easy-to-understand format. This wasn’t something that readers were going to snuggle up with in front of a warm fire and lose themselves in.
Prior to actually typing words, I conceptualized how the book was going to flow. How was I going to get the information out there in an organized and easy-to-read way? What was my tone going to be? I wanted to be read as an unbiased observer of the subject. I also wanted to keep the tone positive and friendly, somewhat personable. I kept personal anecdotes to a minimum, and used them only as comedic relief in a few select spots.
I started writing on Microsoft Word. I hadn’t thought about how I was going to edit, format, print, or market the book, but after speaking with a few people, I was confident it wasn’t going to cost a fortune, nor be a difficult process.
I finally finished writing everything I wanted to say. In retrospect, that was about the halfway mark in respect to the whole process. I reread it, I rewrote sections, and I spell-checked it. I had taken it as far as I could. I am fortunate to have a father who is well versed in both renovation and English. He read the manuscript and made hundreds of necessary corrections that I missed.
Budgeting for Editing
The next step was going to cost money, much more than the $200 on coffee and cigarettes I had spent keeping myself perked throughout the writing process. I checked out a few companies. One company wanted $4,000 to edit, format, print then market the book, but it seemed like I would lose all control.
After calling four or five other editing companies, I came across The Editing Company. I spoke to a woman named Beth and I knew right away that this was the company I wanted to work with.
Beth gave me a quote and informed me what I would receive for that quote. I accepted. I sent her my manuscript. Within the time frame that she had promised, she sent me back the edit. The format was amazing. I could read through what I had written while seeing the editor’s suggested corrections. I could approve, decline, or alter each suggestion as I read it through. The editor had corrected spelling, grammar, and syntax, of course, but she had also made numerous suggestions on content, many of which were insightful and ended up being a part of the finished product.
Working with the Designer
The next step was to get the book designed. Beth put me in touch with David, their production editor. I spoke to him about a general concept for the cover and gave him carte blanche for the interior. He did an amazing job. He provided me with a barcode and the ISBN, and gave me the book in all the formats I needed for an e-book on Amazon and for hard-copy printing. He also registered the book with CIP, which means the book is categorized and will automatically come up when keyword searches are entered. So now I have multiple files that have everything I need when I go to sell on all the various platforms.
The Final Book
The price for all of this was about what I had budgeted for, which was a pleasant surprise, because we all know, no matter what we are doing, we normally go over budget.
The Editing Company truly made what I thought would be a confusing and possibly an expensive process a painless and pleasant experience.
Thank you Beth, Mary Ann, and David!
About The Author: Between 2001 and 2011, David Christopher Manson worked as a multi-versed skilled tradesman, performing finished carpentry, designer tiling, drywalling, drywall finishing, concrete finishing, landscaping, masonry, painting, plumbing, framing, trimming, and mechanical and structural work. In 2010, he became the tradesman, project manager, salesman, and assistant for business development for Renovators of Canada. A Homeowner’s Guide to a Successful Renovation is his first book. It will be available on Amazon in spring 2014.