Benefits of Not Reading- Author’s Perspective

Are there are any benefits for a writer who doesn’t read? Turns out there could be:

You get more time to write

Instead of sitting with your nose in a book all day, a writer must write a minimum word count on a daily or weekly basis. Instead she uses all her free time to finish the latest fantasy trilogy or swim in a book of poems. So if you are not obsessed with all the latest books, you get that much more time to write.

You  eavesdrop a lot more

A writer is someone who should know what’s happening around him. If he’s in a busy railway station reading a book, he wouldn’t hear the story about the grisly murder that just happened in that town. He wouldn’t scout around and inspect his surroundings. He would be watery-eyed and dreaming of another writer’s plot and characters.

You get your plot lines from TV

Why do you need books to get a good storyline? There’s enough material on TV to create many series. Good excuse to be a couch potatoes.

You wouldn’t waste time reediting your own work

If you read books by the greats, you become a perfectionist. You become too ashamed of your sentences. So you reread them and rewrite them so much that it takes you far too long to write the chapter at all.

You stop focusing on other characters

So you have a fantasy book in your head. You have sketched out your characters and the dialogues run through your mind, only to be interrupted by Harry Potter or the Hobbit. Why would you want to be immersed in another author’s world when you are creating your own?

You market your own book better

Instead of being enamoured by the words of other authors, you find worth in your own words and you frantically facebook and tweet your latest words. You want everyone to read what you have written and you become the n=best promoter of your work.

You just might write a bestseller!

Many writers swear by the books they read but some writers have hit the bestseller lists by not reading books at all.  They are pretty sure about how time consuming marketing a book is and wouldn’t even try drinking in other’s words.

You become a mentor writer

It’s easier to be a mentor if there is no burden of greatness of other writers on your shoulders. Ignorance is bliss. You think ‘If I can write a book, anyone can!’ And this becomes one more income stream for the writer who wants to reach out to millions of wannabe writers.

Disclaimer: There is no guarantee that not reading books will make you a bestselling writer. We recommend that you read books with an intent to emulate and when you write, just focus on writing the book.

Where can you get free images from?

We talked about a major issue with self-publishers in India being using images from the internet. Most images are copyrighted and are not for indiscriminate use. But there are many sites which provide free images.

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Here are five websites which provide free images you can use In your books:

  1. Unsplash: https://unsplash.com/

Unsplash has some cool high-resolution images, 10 new photos every 10 days. All images can be used whichever way you want.

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2.Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/

Pixabay  has 620,000 images and also links to some sponsored images, which are not free. For free images, stick to the non-sponsored ones. All images can be used whichever way you want.

3. Realistic Shots: http://realisticshots.com/

All photos published on Realistic Shots are licensed under Creative Commons Zero which means you can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos, even for commercial purposes.

4. Life of Pix: http://www.lifeofpix.com/

This site is free and all pictures have no copyright restrictions, with pictures being added on a weekly basis. All images can be used whichever way you want.

5.Flickr: https://www.flickr.com

Flickr is a free service. It was created by Ludicorp in 2004 and acquired by Yahoo in 2005. You can share, store, search, and sort your photos here. You need to use the license filter to get images that can be used whichever way you want. Follow these steps:

  1. Go to flickr.
  2. Search for a term.
  3. There is a license filter available, select “Commercial use and mods allowed” there.

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Advantages of these sites:

  • The images you get are high resolution images that can be used for print.
  • The license is not restrictive. So you can use the images in any way you want.
  • Many good quality images are available.

Disadvantages of these sites:

  • While there will be ample choice for generic images, if your needs are very specific they are unlikely to be satisfied. For example, most of these sites won’t have many Indian images. They are also unlikely to have images of celebrities or historical figures.
  • Since the images are free to use for anyone, they aren’t going to be unique to your book, especially when used as is. So you have to be prepared to see those images pop up at all kinds of places.

Let us know if there are any websites that you have come across that provide free images.

Disclaimer: Licenses were checked at the time of writing the post.

Five Mistakes an Indian Self-Publisher/Author Often Makes

15401031_084808915a_z1. The Indian Self-Publisher/Author sometimes picks up images from the internet

Although everyone has access to thousands of images online, most of these images can not be used in your self-published book.  There are two major reasons for this:

  1. Legal Issues: There is a general feeling that any image on the internet is free. This perception is incorrect. Most images are protected by copyright and users could face legal consequences if they use images that are copyrighted and thereby do not have permission to use. Unless specifically mentioned in public domain or under suitable creative commons license, you should assume that the image is copyrighted. Also when you search for images at google you can search using the usage rights option.Read this: http://creativecommons.org.au/blog/2015/08/think-before-using-photographs-from-the-internet/

     

  2. Technical Issues: Most of the images on the net are low-resolution and don’t print well. You need a minimum resolution of 300 DPI for the image to print well, otherwise the resulting image will be pixelated. More about understanding image size and resolution here

    So think twice before you use an image from the internet.

 

2. The Indian Self-Publisher/Author doesn’t often write in the language s/he is comfortable with

Many writers opt to write in English not because they are well-versed in the language but because it is far more convenient to get copy typed and not worry about font issues. Plus the English language has a wider reach.

Unfortunately, without  fluency in the language you publish the book in, having a wider target audience is pointless. Writing in a language you are not comfortable with means you don’t put your best foot forward. Nowadays books published in regional languages are making a mark, so why hesitate to write in the language that you love?

3. The Indian Self-Publisher/Author doesn’t always think about marketing

Whether it is traditional publishing or self-publishing, marketing is key and this is something the author is responsible for. Just because the book is written, readers won’t come. The writer has to think about building a platform even before the book is written.

4. The Indian Self-Publisher/Author is prone to scams

Instead of focusing on platform building authors end up being taken for a ride and  fall prey to expensive promises.  If something is too good to be true, it probably is. Publishing is the easy part. Getting readers and becoming an author readers are looking to read is difficult. If someone promises to do that for a lot of money, they are probably lying.

5. The Indian Self-Publisher/Author is usually paranoid about manuscript protection

“One setback many writers bring in their own path is their obsession with protecting their manuscript,” says Jaya Jha, co-founder of Pothi.com. “If you are just starting out, your problem is obscurity, not theft or piracy. Focus on writing the best book and bringing it to as many people as you can, instead of being paranoid about someone stealing your work. Selling a book is a difficult task. People, in general, aren’t on the lookout for a manuscript to steal.”

Gift a Book Day

Today is Gift a Book Day! Don’t forget to gift a book to someone special! Send us your photos and experience at giftabookday@gmail.com.

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How to Write a Good Sentence

Many times those of you are in the business of writing worry about making that word count. ‘How will I write 80,000 words?’ is a question you ask yourself.

What you really ought to worry about though is how you will write a good sentence.

A sentence is made up of words and words don’t just come one after the other. They indicate a particular situation or action. These sentences make up a paragraph. So they are the building blocks of your novel and for that reason ought to be well thought out and well-connected to each other and the overall story.

There are so many aspects to sentence making. This is where the grammar of the sentence comes in.  There are simple, compound and complex sentences. Then there are clauses, prepositions and phrases.  Even the seasoned writer can have grammatical doubts. Always carry a copy of Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style.

And be in doubt; this is very important. Just because something is in print doesn’t mean it is correct. You should double check to see if your sentences are correct. Also if you are reading a copy of popular books in the market today, keep your eyes open for any obvious errors! You can learn from the mistakes of others.

 

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What should you keep in mind when you write a sentence?

Besides grammar like sticking more to active than passive voice, a great deal goes into a sentence. Here are some questions you can ask yourself:

  • What do you really want to say?
  • Is it best to use the vocabulary you have at your fingertips or do you need to visit the thesaurus?
  • Has someone else been able to express the sentiment you have better than you have? Read it.
  • Is a long sentence going to help you describe better?
  • Is a short sentence sufficient to express a strong emotion like a mother’s grief at losing her child?
  • Does this sentence deserve to stand alone, separate from the rest of the paragraph?
  • Is this sentence good enough to start your essay or novel or is it a better ending?

Being conscientious about every sentence that you write will make the prose flow and whether your book is a commercial or literary one, it should be readable. For this, the sentences should flow.

Some links to help you write good sentences:

http://www.newstatesman.com/books/2011/02/write-sentence-comes

http://www.npr.org/2011/01/25/133214521/stanley-fish-demystifies-how-to-write-a-sentence

http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-goal/business-legal-matters/sentence-sleuth-0608

http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/how-to-write-clear-sentences

http://www.newyorker.com/humor/daily-shouts/write-sentence

PS: Check out this Twitter post that explains the difference between short, medium and long sentences: https://twitter.com/lfoulkesy/status/715077404700631041

 

Self-editing your Manuscript

 

Before you shoot your manuscript off to the press, you need to do one thing.

Read the book, your book, a few times. Many writers are hesitant to do this. You might remember an old-fashioned teacher asking you to read your paper once before submitting. You may have never followed this advice, but it makes sense to read your manuscript at least once before sending it to a publisher or literary agent for review and also before you self-publish.

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Why should you self-edit?

Self-editing could help you make important connections that could improve the story.

You could catch a few unnecessary typos, repetitions and grammatical errors.

Since your story benefits from the extra read, do it!

If you find reading from the computer hard, you can take a print out and read. Otherwise, the computer is a good option as you can track changes and go back to the original if you wish.

What should you be looking for in your book?

Once you’ve written the book, and left it alone for a while, you can go back to it and check for plot problems, inconsistencies, anachronisms, etc.

You can separately look for grammar issues, typos, and punctuation. A simple spell check can save your manuscript from loads of mistakes.

Are you using big words just because they make the manuscript look more sophisticated? If the word makes no sense, remove it even if it is a big word and makes you look smart.

Entrust a couple of beta-readers to fill you in on different aspects of the book to give you a perspective of any areas of the book you might need to rework.

Before sending your book to an editor, you need to make sure that your copy is readable. If you can’t read it, nobody can.

Don’t hesitate to take professional help if your manuscript requires it. A fresh eye can do wonders for your manuscript.

Some links that can help you with self-editing:

http://www.jerryjenkins.com/self-editing/

http://amandashofner.com/5-tips-self-edit-novel-effectively/

http://thewritelife.com/self-editing-basics/

April 1 is Gift a Book Day. Gift a Book to Someone and Make the World a Better Place!

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