All Posts by Dixie Carlton

Common Mistakes Authors Make – Part 2: Transcribing Your Words

One of the biggest and most frustrating issues I hear about from all this new-style form of publishing as an indie author is around the issue of recording and then transcribing your words into a book.   The growing use of great software that enables you to simply record your voice accurately, and have your text turn into a book, without editing in many instances, is the thing of nightmares for most serious writers and publishers.  Regardless of whether you’re an indie or a traditional author, you need to know this simple truth. Your spoken words are received differently by the reader than your written words are.

You can by all means, record your book, blog, report or anything else for that matter. I’m not knocking the concept of recording your work if you feel you’re a better speaker than writer.   And for many people, this is a perfect option because it’s also less time consuming and easier to find the right ‘flow’ for your words.   Just as some people also like to hand write everything to get their personal ‘muses’ awoken and performing well.  The issue lies not with the option of recording, but in what happens next.

If you record your book, then you must have it edited thoroughly and that includes having the manuscript properly tidied up.   This is an expensive edit if you choose to not do a lot of this part yourself.  The challenge is, that when you go through and read your transcribed words out loud to see if they make sense to you, as you are the person closest to your content, the words will undoubtedly be very well ‘heard’ by your own ears.   However, to someone who is not you – although in some cases your partner might be so familiar with your speaking style that they too will not pick up on the nuances obvious to anyone else – will read your work without your voice in their head and will simply find that your work is (at best) poorly written.

Poorly written books are rubbish!

Worth not much more than scrap paper.   Ouch!   I know that sounds brutal, but sadly it’s true. 

If you are writing a book because you wish to impress your potential clients, fans, family that you are outstanding in your field of expertise, then producing a poorly written book – regardless of how good your actual wisdom might be – will fail to hit any targets you set for it.

Please, simply know this.  If you think you can race to the finish line by simply making some notes, and then recording a spoken version of your book, and then not having it professionally edited by someone who has high quality ghost writing and/or superior editing skills, you are potentially wasting your time, and risking your reputation.

Your Best Solution

So here’s what you can do if you wish to speed up the process of developing your manuscript. 

Make lots of notes – write out most of your content and if you are already an outstanding professional speaker, then you might be able to get away with recording the bulk of your content with just the notes.  From there, get a very competent outsider (someone who who is not you, and does not hear you talking on a daily basis) to read your material.   And give you brutal feedback.

Then hire a great writer or editor to polish your manuscript thoroughly.

From there, be prepared for some additional re-writes of your own, because your editor will stumble across some things you said that just won’t make sense, and then hire an alternative editor for a final go over.

Then you will have a manuscript worthy of publishing.  One that will be a professional representative of your expertise in your market.

 

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Common Mistakes Authors Make – Part 1: Overthinking Content

I get asked a lot of questions about writing and publishing books and there are some frequently asked questions I could list for an hour or so, but I often don’t get asked about the things that authors seem to blindly just plunge into making big mistakes about, so I thought I’d have more fun listing these.   Over the next few week’s I’ll go through them one by one. 

The first one, and by far the biggest one in my view is thinking either too much or not enough about your content.  Often an author will start writing and overthink how much content they have, and how they might fit it all into one book.  The chances of ending up with ‘word salad’ is all too high when you overthink your content.

For example, you may be an expert about leadership.   And maybe you run workshops or offer training about this.  If you’re pretty good at – all the way to being bloody amazing at this topic, then I bet you could fill several books with what you know.   In fact, you could probably fill a whole book with what might really be relegated to FAQs in your mind.   Never mind getting into the nitty gritty – why not write about the surface stuff.   Or, alternatively write about all the misconceptions about your topic.  Maybe for fun, write about the silly side of your topic.    Overall when you start to list all you know about the topic you know most about, or the industry you are most comfortable in, you could easily fill several books.  So go with that from the start.  When you sit and plot out your chapters, sections, and subtitles, stick to what is one general area and relegate all the rest that doesn’t really fit into THIS book into your plans for the next book you’ll write.

Then of course there are the under-thinkers.  The author’s who think that 10000 words and a lot of blank pages is still a decent sized book.   It’s not.  That’s what we around here call a ‘report’ or maybe a ‘book-ette’.   Think about this…  a 45 minute speech might add up to around 5,000 words.   If you know you could easily talk about your favourite subject for at least an hour and a half, that’s maybe 10,000 words.   But seriously, if you know a lot more than that – and you should if it’s your topic of expertise – then a two or three hour effort when speaking should at least equate to 25,000 words.   At 2,000 per chapter (approx 6-8 pages) that’s a lot closer to 100+ pages (allowing for spacing, diagrams, images, book size, and a number of other things.

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve written a couple of books that were only around 50 pages – and they served their purpose well.   But a decent sized book should be a lot bigger than that.

When plotting your content, try to remember this: 

2000 words, divided into 3 is approximately 650-700 words per section.  Aim for 3 – 4 sections per chapter.   Writing 500-700 words per day x 4 days per week is probably manageable if you’re serious about writing a book at all.   That might level out at around an hour (tops) per section – so up to four hours per week.  If you can’t see your way clear to that commitment then halve it and take twice as long to write your book.

Try not to get overwhelmed.    A simple 12 chapter length book is is a good target – you don’t have to write War and Peace – just a good solid, well crafted series of closely linked articles about one aspect of your expertise is ideal.

 

If you’re unaware of just what mistakes to avoid when writing a book -especially your first one – talk to me.   Or join our Thursday mornings online for FREE advice and ideas… 

 

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Spinning Plates

I’ve just been going through all my company’s service options for clients going forward.  I realised that what we do now is SOOOOO (Add another hundred O’s) much more than where we started a few years ago.  Like most of us, we grow, evolve, and there’s lots of zigging and zagging at times too.

A simple publishing service that sat in the middle of traditional and self publishing models, was far from typical of anything else back in 2006, when I ‘accidentally stumbled in’ and started assisting other speakers with their non-fiction books.  So, there was not really anyone else to model on.   Instead we took what we could from the parts that just made sense, tapped into what we could learn from experts in various parts of the industry, and attended a log of conferences.   Some great mentoring along the way also helped a lot.  But fast forward a dozen years, and the entire landscape has changed dramatically.

In 2019, I’m working with clients from as far away as the USA, Dubai, New Zealand, and I’ve just had someone from Dublin contact me for help.  We (a very specialised team and I) also added Amazon Ninja, Social Media Mavens, and Speaker (Topic) Development to our core business last year, and I’m intending to take some of my GOLD Author-ity Author’s books to the international book fairs again this year.

I remember once, working on my business plan – many years ago now – and realising with the help of my coach at the time, that simple things like:

  1. Work on the business – not just in it
  2. Find a niche and develop that
  3. Charge appropriately
  4. Value your relationships and your reputation above all else!

…are all things that I may have understood at a totally ‘junior’ level back then, and hoped that one day they would make more sense.

They sure do now!

You see, I think in all things, we have to grow into who we are, what we can manage, develop our maturity.    We can’t go there till we grow there either.   It’s experience (nearly 70 books and around 100 authors now) and time that does that.

As I looked at the many parts of what I created in my current review and planning documents this last week, I was inspired by some of what I’d achieved so far.  So much so that I did take a wander back through some of my old points of reference from days gone by – yes including the handful of books that are relegated firmly to the back of a dark cupboard and hopefully won’t reemerge again until I’m long gone!

Now – as we face exciting times such as growth, further development, the whole concept of Publishing 3.0, and my personal new focus and desires as a writer, and publishing coach, and speaker,  I’m thrilled by some of the extraordinary people moving into my space, bringing with them whole new levels of expertise and experiences too.  After all, one of the other things I’ve realised is that one person cannot do everything.   It takes a whole village to raise a child and a whole community of special people to bring a book to life and then get leverage on that book and the author’s potential. It’s like having a lot of spinning plates up in the air – someone can get them all spinning, but you have to have them carefully managed and massaged to keep them from slowing too much or worse, dropping and crashing to the ground – taking some of the other’s with them.

Watch this space, it’s going to be a huge year of many exciting things ahead… if you’re keen to know more, please follow us on FB, Linked In, or just get in touch.

PS – Announcements pending early March… you’re going to be blown AWAY! 🙂 

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Learning New Tricks in 2018

In 2018 I embarked on a significant new journey of up-skilling in the areas of Amazon, Ingram Spark, and the use of KeyWords and Categories for authors.   Because the indie publishing world is constantly changing and growing, it’s been a wild ride that also saw me working one-on-one with a publishing coach of my own, for my own books.   All of this meant that during the course of the last 12 months, I’ve been able to super-charge some of the work I’ve been able to offer as a publishing coach to my clients.

But because this landscape is constantly changing, and because I seem to have more-or-less the same conversations with variations across so many of the authors I work with, I decided that the best use I can put to for much of what I have been learning is to freely and openly share my newly acquired knowledge.   And so I’m happy to announce that going forward, Thursday mornings at 10 am my local time in Brisbane Australia, I’ll be sitting in my online cafe, happy to connect and talk books, publishing, Amazon, IS, Advertising, and some of the fascinating and extraordinary tools I now use in my work.

You will need to register – via this link

Please turn up on time…   Each week will feature different topics, and sometimes I’ll have guests too who have specific expertise of their own.    This will be nothing like a webinar, but mostly like a regular hangout at the local cafe – and as many who wish to join us and pull up a chair can do so.  BYO coffee or tea, and join in the conversation.     These will run for approximately 30 minutes each – longer if the conversation warrants it.    And I’ll not be recording these…  but a brief recap of some of the highlights will be posted and shared with those who have registered.

These sessions will be interactive – so please do ask questions, take notes, engage in the conversation.   And they are FREE.

So – what are you doing Thursday mornings in 2019?

Dixie

 

 

 

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