Brad Younie

Author

Book Production 101: Process Overview

I’m an Indie Author. That means my books are, at least currently, not released by a traditional publisher. I self-publish my books. In this series of blogs, I will discuss the various things you will need to do to produce a book that will be as professional as possible.

NOTE: I’ll be posting other blog entries from time to time. The posts for this will be under the category “Book Production 101.”

Overview in a Nutshell

Here’s the simple list of the things that you must do to publish your book. I say “must” because these are things that you really need to do (or hire someone to do) if you want your book to do well.

This list assumes that you want your book to sell and be as successful as possible. If all you care about is to have your book available for friends and family, then you won’t need to do all of these steps. What you get out of the process is directly proportional to what you put into it.

  1. Write a great novel
  2. Edit the story
  3. Copy edit the book
  4. Give out reader copies
  5. Edit the book based on those reader copies
  6. Hire a freelance editor to edit your book
  7. Contract an artist to make your cover
  8. Layout the book for each of your intended formats
  9. Integrate your title and name and other text onto your cover
  10. Use a POD service to set up production of your book
  11. Buy an ISBN for each book format you are producing

There are a lot of steps in this list, and I will create a blog post that goes into detail for each one. I might cover more than one in each post, depending on how much detail they need. But there you go.

Valley of the Headless Men

Here is a little bit of flash fiction I wrote a while ago. It was going to be part of a bigger story, but it never happened. If you all like it, I might manage to finish it:

Jim Powers stretched, reaching his arms outward and arching his back. He was tired, but he had to fight off sleep. There was work to do. A light rain began to fall, the cold droplets finding their way through the maze of conifers that formed a canopy over Jim’s head and creating a gentle chorus as they pattered around him.

Good, he thought. That’ll keep me awake.

He glanced around the small clearing. At midnight, his camp was engulfed in darkness, but the moon, near full, forced some of its light through the clouds to cast an eerie glow over the ground. The mist had rolled in, covering the ground in a two-foot layer of thick fog. His tent sat alone, rising like a bright green pyramid out of the mist. The rain bounced off it, pattering louder.

And then there was the tree stump. The five-foot-tall stump of a small tree had been ripped, roots and all, from the ground and shoved back into the hole upside down. Of course, Jim had not done that. It would have taken several men with a backhoe to accomplish what something had apparently done with bare hands. He smiled at it.

There’s my evidence. A Sasquatch had been here and had marked its territory.

That’s why Jim was there. He and his team had come to the Nahanni National Park in Canada to find evidence of the mysterious creature known as Bigfoot. And there, in the clearing where he stood, they had seen it. The tree stump had been ripped from the ground by an animal, but only by an animal with two hands and inhumanly massive strength.

They had taken pictures, of course, and searched it for hair samples, of which they found some. Then, Jim made camp there, while the rest of the team moved onward, setting camp about a quarter mile away.

He took out his walkie talkie and put it to his mouth.

“Team Two. This is Team One. Over.”

This was met by static coming out the little speaker.

Jim frowned. “Team Two. This is Team One. Respond.”

Still nothing.

“Come on, guys! Pick up.”

When there was still no response, he sighed. “Whatever.” They’re not paying attention. Well, I’ll give ‘em something to think about.

 “Okay, if you can hear this, I’m going to try some tree knocking and see what happens.”

He clipped the walkie talkie to his belt and searched around for a nice strong stick. Hefting a long, fallen tree limb, he examined it. It was recently fallen and had not begun to rot. It seemed strong enough.

“This’ll do,” he said to himself as he walked over to a tree on the edge of the clearing. Before swinging, he lifted the sound recorder that dangled on a lanyard around his neck and turned it on.

“May 17, 2019. Nahanni National Park. 12:07 am. Trying some tree knocking to elicit a response.” He let the recorder dangle and raised the stick.

Taking up his best batter’s pose, he breathed in deeply, exhaled and swung hard. The stick struck the tree with a loud crack that reverberated throughout the forest. The limb held strong.

Jim paused to listen. He expected his friends to check if the noise came from him, but the walkie-talkie remained silent. He also didn’t hear any Sasquatch.

He grimaced and tried again, this time hitting harder. The impact rattled his arms, and it hurt a little, but the stick didn’t break.

Far off in the distance, perhaps a mile or two off to the east, he thought he heard a return call. Another tree knock, first one and then another, repeating his pattern.

That was not the direction of Team Two. This was something new.

Encouraged by the response, he banged out the pattern again, first one, then the other with increasing strength. On the second swing, the stick had had enough. With a loud crack, it broke in two, sending the far end hurtling into the trees.

Jim held up the stick to inspect it. It was now only two feet long with a jagged, broken end.

He grinned. “Oh well. It was worth it.”

In the distance, he heard the responding knocks, again repeating his pattern.

Now to get a vocalization.

He cupped his hands around his mouth, inhaled, and …

The sound of cracking branches came from behind him, followed by heavy footfalls entering the clearing.

Jim froze.

Another Sasquatch? It didn’t respond to the tree knocking because it was nearby. That made sense. He stood still, listening intently. If he turned around, he might spook it.

The newcomer stepped closer, and Jim sighed with disappointment.

Four-legged. A bear? A moose?

Now it was important to turn around.

He spun about, slowly, holding the stick down, so as not to antagonizes the bear.

Then, he froze. His jaw gaped, and his eyes went wide in terror.

“Oh my God …”

The intruder lunged.

Soundtracks to Write By

I’m easily distracted when I write. It doesn’t matter where I am or what is going on around me. An empty house could demand my attention as much as one full of people. It’s my ADD getting the better of me.

Putting on headphones (actual headphones, not earbuds) and playing music solves this problem nicely. But it has to be the right type of music. I can’t just throw in some rock, metal, or other stuff I usually listen to and expect to keep my head clear. The music is just too engaging. Nope. I need music without lyrics. No words should be going into my brain aside from those I create for my story. So, what do I listen to?

Movie soundtracks!

I’ve found that movie and show soundtracks not only block all the distractions and let me write, but they can also set the atmosphere for whatever I’m writing. So, I’ve started building a collection of soundtracks. It’s still smaller than I want, but it’s still growing.

Each book I’m working on has its own atmosphere, so when I sit down to write, I choose a soundtrack that both fits the mood of my work-in-progress and sounds good to me at the time. 

For example, when writing The Wand and The Scepter, I listened to The Mummy (the Brendan Frasier version) and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The former fit with the Egyptian theme like a glove and the latter was chock full of Wizarding World goodness. 

My latest book is kind of a supernatural modern noir mystery, so finding a soundtrack was a little tricky. The Sherlock Holmes (Rober Downey, Jr. version) has worked well, even though that has more of a Steampunk feel. I’ve found that the John Carter soundtrack works well for most of what I write. 

So, if you have trouble keeping your attention on your writing and can do with a little added mood, try a movie soundtrack! 

New Release!

Read “The Wand and The Scepter” For Free

Strong-willed Perpugilliam Atwood, a witch living among Muggles in 19th-Century London, goes to work at the Ministry of Magic as though it were any other day. But she’s thrust into a mission to Egypt to help break the curses surrounding the ruins of an ancient city, and remove any magical artifact before the Muggles find them. In a team with Aurors, a curse breaker, and a man from the Department of Mysteries, Perpugilliam must keep her wits about her as they encounter political upheaval, fantastic beasts, and the attention of a dashing wizard archaeologist who threatens to whisk her off her feet. But their arrival at the ancient city reveals a mystery that could spell doom for them all.

The Wand and The Scepter is a Wizarding World of J.K. Rowling fan fiction novel. It will be released on Wattpad.com before long.

Read it now here!

The Wand and The Scepter is Available!

Come one and all to Wattpad to read my new novel, The Wand and The Scepter. It’s a fun novel about a witch who goes on an adventure to Egypt in the 1860’s to search for a lost city and gets more than she bargained for. The book has action, mystery, suspense, romance, and enough Harry Potter-ish wonder to make anyone happy.

Find it Here

The Wand and The Scepter

Get an Account and Use Website or App

You need to have an account on Wattpad to read the book, but it’s free and easy to do. Just go to http://wattpad.com and create an account. Then, you can either search for me, Brad Younie, or for The Wand and The Scepter and start reading.

If you are unfamiliar with Wattpad, you can either read books using the website or get the app for your phone or tablet.

It’s a Serial!

As is normal on Wattpad, the book is being added in serial format, with one chapter being added each week. I will post every Friday afternoon, without fail.

Follow, Library, and Vote

You can follow the book to get notifications when new chapters are added and when existing chapters are updated.

Add the book to your Library to have easy access to it.

And, of course, Vote for each chapter. Voting is just a toggle, so it’s the same as Liking. If you like the chapter, then vote on it to let me know.

Enjoy!

Most of all, have fun with the book. I had a blast writing it, and I hope you have a blast reading.

Editing, Editing, and More Editing

Because I’m attention span challenged, I am always working on more than one writing project at a time. I try to keep the number of projects limited to a reasonable number, and not start anything new until one of my in-progress novels is complete. This worked, I believed for a long time, because sometimes I would be in the mood to edit, while other times I’d be in the mood to write.

Well, I’ve come to a realization: when given the choice between writing and editing, I choose writing 100% of the time. As a result, I have four novels that are first draft complete and waiting to be edited. Of those, I’m editing one. I recently came up with a wonderful setting concept for a new novel, and I’m anxious to get to work on it. But I’ve decided enough is enough. I’ll take down notes on it, and do some thinking about it, but I refuse to write a single word of prose until all my works-in-progress are complete.

So, I will be in editing mode for the foreseeable future. But it’s all good because, in the end, I’ll have four books ready to get published!

I’m currently on the final pass of my Wizarding World fan-fiction novel The Wand and The Scepter. Once that is complete and being posted on Wattpad, I’ll move to my Urban Fantasy novel, Bad Luck.

The Wand and The Scepter has a cover

And here’s the cover of the new novel, The Wand and The Scepter. The book is planned for a release on Wattpad. I’m still editing, but I hope to start publishing in a month or so.

The process for getting the cover done was smooth, and Gordon Napier was a great artist. The finished product is fantastic, as you can see, but I was very impressed with his professionalism and the regular updates he gave me, each time asking for my thoughts and concerns.

The cover represents a scene from the novel. For spoiler prevention, I will not go into detail about the scene, but I will say a few things about the cover.

This is pretty much what I envisioned Perri to look like. She’s the protagonist of the novel and is a Wizarding world witch in the 1800’s. So, she’s sporting a Victorian style dress underneath her red wizard’s robe. I never had a clear image of her face, save for the brown hair and brown eyes, but Gordon’s representation is spot on.

The background looks fantastic, and both exciting and eerie at the same time. Of course, in the novel, the creepy-crawlies do not climb on the walls, but it looks great in the image.

“The Wand and The Scepter” novel status: cover, illustrations, and editing

I’m in what I believe to be the home stretch in my preparations for posting my Wizarding World fan fiction novel on Wattpad.com. This phase has three parts to it: the cover art, chapter illustrations, and editing.

The cover art itself is done! My thanks to the fantastic Gordon Napier (http://dashinvaine.co.uk/) for painting a scene that’s far better than I could have pictured in my mind. He was professional and easy to work with. I now have the fun of working out the title and author text, which is coming along nicely.

Thanks to the excellent Kelly Bennett for contributing an illustration for each chapter heading. She has delivered art for the first two chapters and is working on the next. They are amazing!

Finally, I’m working on an editing pass of the novel. For this pass, I’m making use of AutoCrit, which I’m pretty impressed with. It’s moving along but is taking longer than I expected. Still, it’s worthwhile, and there’s no need to rush the project.

Rereading the classic novel, “Deryni Rising”

I first read Deryni Rising back in the 70’s when I was in Junior High. It became one of my favorite fantasy novels, and I have looked back fondly at it ever since. I remember wanting to be Kelson Haldane. Well, maybe not King Kelson, but a Deryni like him. I remember how Katherine Kurtz managed to bring the complex, yet colorful setting alive and pull me into the story, where I felt like I was wandering the halls of Rhemuth Castle alongside Morgan, Duncan, Kelson, and the other many characters in the book.

Lately, I have stepped up my game as a writer. I’m now in a writer’s group, and I have written—an am writing—several novels. I’m immersed in editing most of them at this point. I’m in a frame of mind where I look at the books I read from an editor’s perspective, letting me see the stories in a way I’ve never seen them before.

I reread Deryni Rising recently, and I discovered something both fascinating and wonderful. I figured out how the esteemed Katherine Kurtz let the reader look inside each character’s head without it becoming confused or chaotic.

In one scene, I was in the head of Alaric Morgan, one of the books main characters, and I was fully aware of the stress he was under and the urgency of his work. Then, Queen Jehana stormed into the room and began shouting at him. As it happened, I was inside Morgan’s head and experienced the argument through his perspective.

Then Jehana turned on her heel and left the room…

And I followed.

With the ending of the argument and the physical change of the Queen leaving the room, I had switched perspective and was now marching down the castle hallway, trying to keep up with Jehana as her mind seethed over the dispute. I heard what she was thinking and I understood her point of view—even though I didn’t agree with it. She went through a doorway and had a heated conversation with Prince Nigel—she was always angry throughout the novel.

And when she left Nigel, she left me as well. I stayed behind in Nigel’s room and head.

This technique was brilliant because it not only accomplished the necessary task of keeping the reader abreast of what was going on, and what everyone was thinking, but it actually pulled me into the story, where I felt like I was there walking beside them. When they had inner dialog, it was as though they were talking to me.

I think it was this subtle means of perspective shifting that helped make the book so magical for me—beyond the intriguing characters, fantastic yet realistic setting, and suspenseful plot.

Deryni Rising was not one of the first fantasy novels I ever read, but it has stood the test of time to remain always one of my favorites. And now, it has taught me how to handle stories that involve a large ensemble cast—something I was hesitant to attempt, but am now looking forward to.

Writing for Wattpad

I have several books that I’ve been working on that I plan to get published the traditional way: query, query, query for an agent. Hopefully get published. One is already immersed in that process. But two things happened that expanded my horizon: I decided to write a fan fiction novel, and I discovered Wattpad.

Now, how did these two things open up opportunities for me? I mean, after all, the books you post on that site are given away for free. And you generally can’t publish fan fiction for money.

Well, I’ve been hearing good things about Wattpad and thought it might be a good platform for getting some of my work out there for people to read. In fact, I’ve heard it can be a very useful site to help kickstart an author’s career. But I haven’t posted anything on Wattpad yet, and my gut tells me my first attempt might be fraught with mistakes that can hurt its ability to succeed. I kept thinking the first novel I post should be a test, so that if I don’t get all the Wattpaddy things right, I can learn from it and not feel bad for having wasted a perfectly good novel.

But I can’t write a novel I don’t love. I want everything I write to succeed. So, I needed to write something I love that I can’t get published for some reason. But what?

Then I saw the movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and I got inspired. I saw how JK Rowling’s Wizarding World is so much larger than Harry Potter and Hogwarts and ideas suddenly came to me. I wanted to write a novel in that world.

So, now I have a wonderful novel whose story and characters are completely my own, even though they live in someone else’s world. It’s fantastic, and I want the world to read it and enjoy it. And yet I can’t publish it for sale.

I can, however, publish it on Wattpad.

It’s like the two were meant for each other, and I’m embracing that relationship wholeheartedly. I’ve contracted an artist to do the cover art. I’m editing the book to make it as perfect as possible. I’m researching everything I can about how to make your novel successful on Wattpad, so that the readers can enjoy the book without any frustrations. Although this book is never likely to get picked up by a publisher, I still want it to be as successful as it can.

I can’t wait! I’ll still plug away trying to get some of my novels published the traditional way, but I now plan to embrace Wattpad as one of my valid publishing options.

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