Writing Books/book


Dear xxxx,
  I am writing my memoirs from the 60ís and want to understand a few things about writing a book before I get too deep into it.  I recently found notes that I put down after I got out of the navy in the early 70ís and they were way to funny not to compile into a book.
1.    What is the average number of words I should work around for a 250 page book?
2.   What font and font size should I use?
3.   I want to double space.  Is that a problem?
4.   I am having a couple friends reviewing the pages as I draft them.  Too risky?
5.   As my writing is not what it used to be, what is the best way to make it more colorful, readable, and marketable once my 1st draft is done?
6.   And of course, what is the best way to market it?

Thanks, Dick Schlueter
Richard Schlueter
Senior Manufacturing Engineer
Ikonisys, Inc.
Five Science Park
New Haven, CT 06511
Ph: (203) 776-0791 ext. 210
Fax: (203) 776-0795

Congratulations on getting started with your book. I can certainly understand that you want to educate yourself. Way to go! Iíll answer the questions one at a time.

1.   Most publishers prefer for a book to be more than 50,000 words and fewer than 100,000 words. As for how many pages your book will be when printed, that depends far too much on the type style, internal design, size of the book, and whether it includes photos, charts, or other artwork. Donít worry about the final page count in a published book; concentrate on getting your words down on the first draft. If the word count doesnít fit within the guidelines, add or delete portions or chapters as necessary, and then concentrate on polishing those words.
2.   Standard manuscript format is already set for you. Use Courier twelve-point type, double-spaced, with at least one-inch margins on all sides of the manuscript. Start new chapters on a new page, about a third of the way down the page. Single space after periods. Do not add extra space between paragraphs unless changing a scene or a point of view. Indent five spaces for each new paragraph. Stick to this standardized format, and any publisher or editor will be pleased.
3.   Double spacing is standard, as explained in number two.
4.   Is it risky to have friends review the pages? The answer depends on what you expect. If you want back pats and congratulations, you may get them. If you want good editorial input, you probably won't. In such a case, turn to a professional editor for solid, honest, helpful feedback. If you want to keep the information private until the book is released, thatís another issue entirely, but by copyright law you own the rights to your book simply by having written it, so itís highly unlikely anyone would steal your work.
5.   As for the best way to make the writing more colorful, readable, and marketable, I hate to be a shameless self-promoter, but the information is far too long to explain in paragraph or two, and thatís why I wrote a complete book about it. Write In Style (Union Square Publishing, an imprint of Cardoza Publishing) has won three awards and has been called the definitive textbook on creative writing. Itís available at bookstores everywhere.
6.   As for marketing the finished product, thatís an entirely other subject that would fill another book. I haven't written that book, though; my area of expertise lies in getting the words right and the manuscript marketable, but it does not extend beyond the time the book is published. Read How to Jump Start Your Book Sales or some other book on marketing a book, to get that information.

I hope you'll also go to my Web site (www.zebraeditor.com) and sign up for my free writers newsletter that always has tips on writing, too. I wish you well.

Oh, on a personal note, my parents were from New Haven! We used to visit up there when I was young. It was a beautiful area.  

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Bobbie Christmas


Book Doctor Bobbie Christmas owns Zebra Communications, a book-editing firm in metro Atlanta. She not only edits books, she also helps writers power up their prose to increase their chances of success. She is the author of Write In Style (Union Square Publishing), a creative-writing guide that won three awards.


Bobbie has spent more than 40 years in the publishing and communications industry and has run Zebra Communications, a book-editing company, since 1992. The editor of many publications and periodicals, she has worked with book publishers and trade magazine publishers as well as working in marketing communications and corporate communications.

Past president, Georgia Writers Association; past vice president, South Carolina Writers Workshop; charter/lifelong member, Florida Writers Association; Southeastern Writers Association; Atlanta Writers Club; Society for the Preservation of English Language and Literature (SPELL); International Guild of Professional Consultants

Write in Style (Union Square Publishing), A Cup of Comfort (Adams Media Corporation), A Cup of Comfort for Friends (Adams Media), A Cup of Comfort for Mothers and Sons (Adams Media), Haunted Engounters (Atriad Press), Remembering Woolworth's (St. Martin's Press), First-Time Home Buyer magazine, HomeBusiness Journal, Apparel Industry Magazine, Edge Magazine, Atlanta Jewish Times, Time Travel Australia, American Writers Review, Points North, That's Entertainment, Atlanta Parent, Agnes Scott Alumnae Magazine, etc.

Journalism: University of South Carolina plus four decades of working in publishing, marketing, communications, advertising, newspaper and magazine production, book publishing, etc.

Awards and Honors
First Place, nonfiction, Georgia Writers Annual Contest, 2005; First Place, education, Royal Palm Literary Award, 2004; Best in Division, Georgia Author of the Year Awards, 2005; Finalist, Best Books 2005, USA BookNews Third Place, nonfiction, Georgia Writers, 1999; Nominated for Georgia Author of the Year, 1998; plus many other awards

Past/Present Clients
Capital Books, Sourcebooks, Olin Frederick, The Writer's Machine, Russell Dean & Company, Outskirts Press, and hundreds of writers.

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