It’s one thing to come up with the idea for a book. It’s quite another to actually put said idea into words. It’s not as easy as it seems. Especially when you don’t have any writing ability.
I was terrible in high school English classes. Diagramming sentences, grammar, all that. I hated it. It didn’t help I had some really bad teachers either. Even today, I couldn’t tell you the difference between an adverb and a pronoun, nor do I care. I still write. And what’s really odd, I’m enjoying it.
I guess the blog has been the key to this whole writin’ thing. What started out as a simple chronicle of life in the Florida Keys has exploded into something I was not expecting. The Fritter is enjoying it’s most busiest month since it started with traffic almost doubled from the month previous. As the blog grew I tried all the tricks of the trade to add traffic and bring in some passive income. Ads, links, widgets, the occasional nekkid couple walking down Duval. Some of it worked, some of it didn’t. But through it all, was the content, the posts.
Some months, maybe a dozen or so, other months, 20 or better. It all depends on if I had stuff to write about. As I wrote more, it became easier. Suddenly it was nothing to bang out a thousand words in a short period of time. If I found a good subject, the post could get real long, something I try to avoid since the average reader of these things has a pretty short attention span. But I kept on writing, and to this day, it’s become a regular thing.
Writing the Fritter is a job, kinda, sorta. It may not pay like a real job, but I treat it as such. The big difference is it’s a job I look forward too, most of the time. Yes, there are times where I have no real subject to write about, or just don’t feel very creative, but given my location and the many things which happen here at the end of the world, if I can’t come up with a string of words, I can always go out and take some pictures of a sunset, (Yes, I know, I’ve been a bit lax there. But I’ve been sick too.), or some other attraction in Key West. There is never a time where there isn’t something interesting to post about. So when I decided to try my hand at book writing, I felt a lot more confident in my ability to put something together.
My first book, Moving to The Florida Keys was actually pretty easy to write. Most of the content was gleaned from past posts about my adventures and issues in moving down here. So it was pretty simple to compile said posts into chapters, add some enhancements here and there, and there you have it. After three years the book is still doing well, at least by my standards, and I have plans for a related project after I get the current book done.
I wrote a second book about Stand Up Paddle Boarding in the Florida Keys. It was easy too since it was a subject I was well versed in. But when the file got screwed up in the iBookstore, I took down the listing. I still have all the information on a file somewhere in my little computer and I may or may not rewrite said file just to have it out there. It’s not a priority for the moment.
And just a tip for anyone out there thinking of writing a book. If you have a blog like this, it’s a ready made source of material you can use to publish something. No need to write a best seller your first time out. Just something simple and easy based on your blog subject matter. You won’t get rich, but you will get a few bucks and it’s really, really cool to see those little royalty payments come in every month.
The current book I’m writing is a totally different animal. It’s a full on fantasy novel with things like plots, characters, and dialogue. So it’s going to take a lot more thought and work to get it all down on electrons. I can’t take blog posts and rehash them into the story. But, a lot of elements in the story are based on events which happened to me over the past few years here in Key West. You may recognize some of them when the book is published.
When I started this book, I had a pretty good idea where I was going with it. I started writing about a year ago but then all the unpleasantness started up with the drunk landlord and all the other distractions. I didn’t do any writing this past fall, and then coming down with the plague which lasted for over two months took any initiative I had left completely out of me. I was almost to the point of abandoning the whole project when the other book started to kick up the sales ever so slightly. Again, we are not talking a lot of money here, but I kept looking at the fact, here was a three year old book, still selling and still getting feedback. I’ve had more than a few people tell me they read it and were considering moving down here, or not, depending on what they gleaned from the book.
It was a pretty good feeling to know somebody was paying good money to read what I had written, so after the holidays, and when I was slowly starting to feel human again, I reopened the book file and read through what I had written earlier. As I read each chapter I realized I had a good story going here. All I needed to do was fill in some plot holes, fiddle with the characters, and enhance a few things.
As usual income was the big issue. Writing does not make money, selling your writing does, hence, I came up with the gofundme campaign which is off to a great start and again, I thank all those who have contributed. It is helping…a lot.
This past week, despite all the crap going down with the drunk, unemployed landlord on yet another binge, his ugly, fat, loudmouthed girlfriend, and their distractions, I have been able to spend some time actually writing the book again. I got several chapters finished. I was able to fill in the remaining plot holes, and if things stay reasonably steady, I should have full working draft of the book sometime in February. Then it will be off to some proofreaders to look over for the really bad grammar mistakes and hopefully some honest and objective opinions about the book itself. Once that has been accomplished I can go back in, punch up the weak stuff, enhance some more, add some bits here and there, and this puppy will be ready to publish.
It’s a bit different writing a novel. Writing dialogue is time consuming. You have to watch your details so you don’t say one thing at one point in the book, and then something totally different which contradicts it at another. Spelling, grammar, punctuation, and all that comes into play. I’m using iBooks Author as the program to put it all together. You pick out a theme with the layout, and as you write you get to see exactly how the book will look once the words are printed. It gives you all the tools you need to put a book together….the cover, table of contents, copyright, and whatever else you need. And if all you have is an iPad, the program works there as well.
When I am finally ready to publish, I need to convert the file into the proper formats for the iBookstore and Amazon. To do so, I use a program called Calibre. It’s a free program which will convert your book file into whatever format you want. Very handy to have. Then it’s just a matter of publishing and then sitting back and letting the millions of royalties roll in.
So, the tools are there, the content is halfway between my brain thingie and on a digital file. It’s really a matter now of getting into the writing, which I am starting to do. A little here, a little there, and it’s all coming together.
If any of you out there have considered writing a book, all I can say is…DO IT! All the tools are there and if you stick with just the ebook, and not bother with killing trees to publish an old fashioned paper edition, you can easily get yourself published. Self publishing is the way to go, at least as far as I am concerned. You have complete control over your work, you take care of the marketing, and you reap the profits.
It doesn’t matter what the subject is but if it is something you know a little about then writing said book is a lot more easier. It can be anything, even a simple cookbook. If you know enough about the subject, and are willing to sit down and type it out, you can be an author. And as I said earlier, it’s a real special feeling to see those royalty checks come in every month, no matter what size they are. It means somebody out there thought enough of your writings to spend a little money to read said writings.
And speaking of which, I’m over 1600 words here, time to get back to the book. But before I go, here is a little tease:
The book features a captain, an evil developer, a princess, a hippie, a flower child, a mermaid, a pirate battle, and an interspecies love affair. It all takes place here in Key West, and it’s all true. Honest! You can trust me. I’m Capt. Fritter.