This list of handy tips is for all those who have nurtured the dream to be a published author as I had many years ago. Here, I have touched upon some of the lessons I have learnt over the years.
If you want to be a good writer…
1) Read A Lot: To be a good writer, you must be a good reader. Read a wide variety of books and do it for the pleasure of reading, not as a critic. The more you love the written word, the more you will feel the urge to express yourself through writing.
I used to borrow and read one book every day from the school library - all kinds of books from the classics to detective novels and pulp fiction. It's remained a habit - I always carry a book to read on flights, on vacation and at my bedside. I am pretty sure it's what inspired me to ultimately write my own book
2) Be Original: Admire as many authors as you want but do not try to be like one of them. You are unique, your thoughts and style of writing should reflect that. Don't be afraid to say or do things in a way that haven't been done before!
I remember reading a book called What Should I Do with My Life by Po Bronson in 2004-5. It's an amazing book where the author features the stories of 50 people who answered this question, each in their own way. This book definitely influenced and inspired me but the writing style of Stay Hungry Stay Foolish (and my subsequent books) is very different.
3) Write For Yourself: Some people think they should write keeping in mind 'what readers want' or 'what publishers want'. This will lead you nowhere.The source of writing has to be pure and internal; only then does it have a chance to connect with the external world.
Stay Hungry Stay Foolish was originally meant to be a publication for internal circulation at IIM Ahmedabad with a print run of 1000 copies. But I wrote the book with sincerity, involvement and passion. And mostly I wrote the book to share my own thoughts and feelings, the learnings and inspiration I got by meeting each entrepreneur.
Final Tip: Keep reading, keep writing! Keep the faith coz you just might have a bloody good book in you!
Now, if you want to be published, here's what you need to know…
1) When: Start worrying about how to get published only after you complete the entire manuscript. No publisher is going to accept a book from a new author on the basis of an idea, outline or even a few chapters. So, first focus on your writing.
2) Where: All reputed publishers accept email submissions. The guidelines for the same are mentioned on the respective websites.
Please follow them carefully as it creates a good first impression. Sloppy formatting makes it harder for the editor to read and spoils your chances.
3) What: A strong opening chapter is absolutely a must. If you can't hook the reader in your first 10 pages, the book is probably a lost cause. Hence make sure the beginning of the book is not overly descriptive but introduces the key character/s and makes you want to know them better. A catchy title also helps!
4) How: Go to Crossword and browse through books, pinpoint books similar to yours in terms of genre and audience. These would be the right publishers for you to approach. Start with the one you are most keen to get published by and work through the list. If rejected by some publishers, do not take it personally. It's the nature of the work and persistence is key.
5) Why: At the end of the day the editor will ask - why should anyone read this book? There has to be an emotional connection to the subject matter and the characters. Ultimately it all comes back to the content of the book. If you channel emotional energy into the book, it is more likely to connect with readers. Hence focus on writing not from the mind but from the heart.
Final Tip: Simply upload your manuscript on Bloody Good Book and let the public decide if yours is a bloody good book!