Author Tips

Newsflash for Australian authors

NLA logo 300dpi square

Yes, this is an Ozpecific post. I’ve invented a word specifically for Aussies!

Did you know that the Cataloguing in Publication service (CiP) has been changed? It’s now called the Prepublication Data Service (PDS). As well as the exciting reduction in keystrokes to type the words, the big change for authors is that the application form is now much simpler and is processed immediately instead of the previous two-week turnaround. 

What’s it all about?

If you are wondering what I’m talking about, the now-PDS is a cataloguing service offered by the National Library of Australia (NLA). It lists forthcoming titles published in Australia, on library databases in Australia and overseas. Libraries, booksellers and the general public can search Trove (https://trove.nla.gov.au) for forthcoming titles. This can, and often does, mean extra book sales! So I encourage all authors to take advantage of this free service. I’m constantly surprised by the sales that come through this service.

What I find a little sad is that the wording that must be included on the Imprint Page of books has changed. Instead of useful information about the book, its various contributors and the subject categories it falls under, we now have a ‘cataloguing statement’, which simply declares that a catalogue entry exists. Slightly less personal, I must say.

Back to the good news

The application form now only requires contributor details, ISBN and publication info, format of publication (eg paperback and eBook) plus a very generic genre selection. No need to upload Contents Page, Introduction or Book Blurb. So the process is certainly less daunting than it used to be.

Oh, and it’s still free! How many services can we say that about?

Visit http://www.nla.gov.au/content/prepublication-data-service to have your book listed. Yes, now, while you are still writing it.

PS If you list your book with PDS, don’t forget to send a copy to the National Library and one to a deposit library in your home state

8 Tips For Writing a Cookbook

8 tips for writing a cookbook

A recipe book is deceptive. It looks so simple: you put together all the recipes you’ve created, add a cover with a delicious photo, and voila! Move over Nigela Lawson! Yes, it’s undeniable that recipe books take less to put together than some other genres, but they still need structure, consistency, and pace.

To achieve this, it’s important to look at what will tie your recipes together, and once you’ve created that framework, focus on the detail of how each recipe is written. Readers have subconscious expectations on how the material in each genre is put together; how it flows, and along which route.

Like a vital ingredient, putting your finger on exactly what is creating the right mix can be difficult, but you will know quickly if it is missing. It’s the same with recipes. They have an unspoken order that allows the reader to flow along, enjoying the creativity, rather than searching frantically through the cupboard for extra ingredients halfway through the flambé.

Knowing these eight little tricks can help you look at your recipes through your reader’s eyes, and fill in the hard-to-spot holes that might be lurking.

Read the full article I wrote for IngramSpark here.

What To Expect from a Book Coach

What to expect from a book coach

Some of the best books in the world are there, pretty much fully formed, inside the author’s head. And there they stay, keeping you up at night while you think of more fabulous ways to explain your concept, rewriting it all inside your head. At some point though, you realise that it’s been rather a long time, and nothing has actually come out. There are so many ideas, but you don’t know where to start with writing it all down.

Or, you have written and written and written; you have notebooks full of everything you know, hundreds of pages tapped out on the keyboard in a frenzy of excitement. And then, nothing. You realise that a lot of writing is not actually a book. It’s a valuable brain dump, it’s golden research, it’s many things, but it isn’t actually a book.

A book coach is the person you call in at this point, when your family and friends are sick of hearing about your book that never seems quite finished. Make sure you find one who gets you, who works in your genre and has good feedback from other authors. It’s quite an intense relationship, so find a coach you really like.

Read the full article I wrote for IngramSpark here.

Inside your introduction

Inside your introduction

The introduction may appear at the start of your book, but don’t get caught up trying to perfect it before you write the rest of the manuscript. Many new authors are surprised and relieved to find that it’s usually the last chapter to be finalised!

Trying to write the introduction before you start the book is like trying to describe the taste of a cake you haven’t baked yet. How do you know how your cake tastes if it doesn’t exist yet?

Your introduction is really a wrap-up of what you have created; a rundown on what the reader should expect in the book you have written. That’s why it is hard to write before you start, because you don’t yet know how the book turned out. Books change and grow as you write them, and often don’t reveal the nuances of their flavour until the end.

I know many authors want to start at the beginning and have a go at their introduction. If that’s you, go ahead and put together the frame of your intro. Get some points down; talk about what you are planning in the book. Let the reader know what’s going to happen. How is the book structured? How do they need to prepare before they jump in? Will they be asked to participate with thoughts or actions, or can they sit back and relax while you take them on a rollicking good ride from start to finish? What are the concepts you want to share, and how will this affect your reader? How do they feel when they start, and how will they feel when they finish?

Getting your thoughts on the introduction down can help crystallise what it is you are trying to achieve. Then when you have finished your manuscript, come back and take another look at the introduction. Like a diary from a few years ago, it can be fascinating to compare what you thought then to where you are now.

How to Handle ‘Track Changes’ Edits from Your Editor – for the non-techy author

How to Handle ‘Track Changes’ Edits

When your Word document arrives back from the editor (that’s me) covered in Track Changes marks, and you’ve recovered from the delight/shock/overwhelm of all the changes and suggestions, the next step is to review the changes and work out what you want to keep. This extremely brief and non-comprehensive starter’s guide might help you avoid some of the pitfalls I see regularly…

• Go into your Word document and make sure the ‘review’ panel is open at the top of the page
• Some people like to click on ‘reviewing pane’ so a catalogue of all the changes appears on the left side of the screen
• If the reviewing pane adds to your overwhelm skip that step – it’s not vital
• Now put your cursor at the beginning of the first line of text in your document
• Press ‘next’ on the review panel. This will take you to the next change I’ve made
• Consider my suggestion, then press ‘accept’ if you agree with the change, or ‘reject’ if you don’t
• Use ‘previous’ or ‘next’ to move from one change to another
• The bubbles on the right side of the page are my comments directly to you. You can write back to me in the bubble if you want – that’s our chat room
• If you don’t know why I’ve changed something (such as when you see a word crossed out and written again), it’s because there was something wrong – usually too many spaces between the words or some little thing like that that is hard to see unless you are pedantic like me. Rather than ponder the true meaning of my correction, honestly it’s easier just to press ‘accept’ and then see if it looks right.

If you manually change everything, the chances are you’ll delete the work you’ve paid me to do and I’ll end up doing it again (and charging you again) in the next round of editing. So try doing it this way and see if it works for you.

It’s an automatic system that is meant to make life easier, but I know it takes a bit of getting used to. These instructions are just the basics; you can use Track Changes to do all kinds of funky things. If you aren’t confident with it or have better things to fill your day with, once you’ve addressed anything in the bubbles don’t hesitate to say ‘Alex, it looks fine, can you accept everything’. I can whizz through and get it finished, so don’t stress!

Good luck, and remember it’s always up to you what is changed – you are the author and these are your words!