Focus on writing, reading (and researching!)

Now look. If it were as simple as being able to tell you ‘how to write a bestselling novel’ we’d all be millionaires right? So. If you’ve come here looking for the definitive answer you’ll be disappointed. This is essentially a do it yourself section! Remember you get out what you put in.

If you go to the Amazon store and type in HOW TO WRITE A NOVEL in the Kindle Store you’ll come up with 168 (or more) possibilities.

I offer this up to you as an experiment. It’s not that I don’t think I ‘need’ a How to write a novel book but I do think that most of the books here are aimed at the ‘beginner’ or ‘new’ writer market and I’m afraid to say I haven’t looked at any of them personally. But what it shows you is that there are a lot of them out there if you do think you want or need them. As with spiritual enlightenment there are those who understand that:

a)      The way that is named is not the way (ie each person has to undertake their own individual journey) and

b)      That enticing book Spiritual Enlightenment in 10 easy lessons/ 10 minutes a day may be more about making money and less about spiritual enlightenment.

To put it simply.  The creative journey is an individual one. And there are no ‘quick fixes’ That said, weighing up the price of ‘creative writing’ courses (with or without attendant qualifications) and the value of a few ‘road maps’ along the way, there is a good place (as well as a good market) for books (and ebooks) that tell you HOW TO WRITE. But it’s up to you to develop the critical faculties to work out what YOU need to know and which will help YOU. Sorry. You’re on your own there.

What I can say is that there are a lot to pick from. At a variety of prices. With lots of reviews. So you could use this as a ‘topic’ to start researching what value you think reviews have, what value this kind of book has – they all have free samples which give you a good idea of what the book is actually about – and find out more about the writers and their ‘credibility.’ This is DIY. To get you to engage with the ‘process’ even if you don’t want (or need) to buy the ‘product.’

If you don’t want to write a novel, try looking for HOW TO WRITE A BOOK (368 options and counting) and see what other guides there are for non fiction, life story, dissertation or whatever. Of course some of these are ‘indie’ written and some aren’t. And it’ll be interesting for you to see if you can work out the difference in quality of content or price by reviews or samples.  If you choose to buy you should do so from the base of ‘informed’ choice and it’s up to you to work out whether you are being offered ‘informed’ choice or simply sold to.

Many of the books in the Amazon list don’t just deal with writing style or craft but with how to publish, be that conventionally or through epublishing. The world is very literally your oyster. There are freelancer guides, ebooks that will tell you how to ‘earn a living’ or ‘become a millionaire’ by writing (yes, write an ebook on how to become a millionaire for example!) and you’re beginning to see that cynicism can be your friend when you start to look for an ebook. Well, not cynicism, just focus and a clear idea of what it is you are actually looking for. What you actually want and what you do not want.

There’s plenty out there for everyone. As a famous brand once said – Where do you want to go today?

Maybe you don’t want to know HOW TO WRITE (and/or make a million from it) But maybe you do want to find out more about HOW TO READ.  Here I can help you. Here I can offer you a personal recommendation.  Quite simply the best one I’ve come across is Simon Cheshire’s You’ve Got To Read This. It’s reviewed by Dennis Hamley on the Indie eBook review site  review available from Aug 15) and in my opinion well worth the high praise. It’s labelled a Beginners Guide to Great Writers and the History of Books and offers both a comprehensive evaluation of the history of books and a personal selection of Great Writers.  It may teach you more about good writing than many of the How to Write books on sale.

And before the review comes out, you can start your research into whether you think this is the ebook for you by visiting Simon’s excellent blogsite.  It’s well worth the visit (and I bet you’ll end up wanting to buy the ebook!)

This feature is necessarily short because it offers you the option to start exploring the epublishing world for yourself. It’s a huge place and sometimes having a focus can help. So if you want to engage with the ‘research’ process then please do. And maybe if you do, some of the features which come later in the festival will be more valuable to you as a consequence.

Cally Phillips

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