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Learn how to write a book!

November 17, 2019

Recap of production

We’re only one day away from receiving our shipment of 2020 Canadian Branchline calendars, after which distribution will commence immediately. Speed Graphics and Steam 1958! vol. 2 won’t be far behind (the bindery says it will be ready at the first of the week).

Who is interested in writing a book someday?

Tell me, have you ever fancied writing a book about some aspects of your railway hobby? That may entail your favourite prototype subjects, reminiscences of railfanning over the years, a subject you have researched, scale modelling techniques, collectibles and artifacts that interest you—and many other possibilities.

The reason I ask is that I’ve been contemplating a course (presented in a series of videos and PDFs) that gives readers the basics in writing, producing and distributing books.

"What genre of books? And print or eBook?"

There are two areas I have explored which I do not plan to revisit anytime soon—fiction writing and eBooks. So any knowledge I relate will concern nonfiction print books only.

In terms of subject matter, I’m assuming any contemplated book of yours would land somewhere within (a) the field of railway operations in any era or (b) a historic context involving transportation (which need not be rail) or military subjects.

"Why might I aspire to write a book?"

Pretty much because you have something to share and you believe there are some people who’ll want to read it! That’s not to rule out a book project for which only one copy is produced—say for your own reference or as a family heirloom. Producing a book need not be a commercial venture.

Broken down, there are a number of reasons to write a book for distribution:

  • To enhance your credibility in a given field of interest or expertise
  • Name recognition (whether to raise your business profile or enhance your personal brand)
  • A door-opener (being a book author offers opportunities not readily available to others)
  • Invitations to speak to groups or participate in workshops, clinics, conventions, etc.
  • Meaningful experiences (it means a lot to be in the position of dedicating a book to someone special, or to autograph books for people interested in your work)
  • A supplementary income stream through book sales
  • Immortality (your book will outlive you and speak for you after you are gone)
  • Assist in the success of a project or cause dear to you (e.g. a restoration)

The steps involved

There are many ingredients to creating a finished book. They include:

  • Project management and scheduling
  • Research
  • Photo acquisition
  • Interviews
  • The discipline of writing
  • The craft of writing
  • The art and science of editing
  • Page layout and design
  • Typesetting and formatting
  • Photo finishing
  • Proofing and review
  • Costs and budgeting
  • Printing and binding
  • Marketing
  • Storage and logistics (i.e. shipping and distribution)
  • Bookkeeping

What I foresee offering (broad brush strokes at the moment)

I’d like to start with a small group, which I’d probably limit to 12 people. This project would start at the beginning of 2020. Content would be delivered in a series of videos (each with a supporting PDF) at the rate of one or two per week. Altogether, there would be somewhere between 8 and 12 videos.

Space is limited

For this trial run, I’m going to limit participants to twelve, as I would like to be able to explore each reader’s potential project in detail.

If you are (a) interested in participating in this trial program early in 2020 and (b) are willing to commit to proceeding through each of the steps, then please do the following:

Send me an email at briefly indicating your specific reason(s) for wanting to be one of the first twelve to take this course in the basics of how to write and produce a nonfiction print book.

There are no right or wrong answers for your reasons, and brevity is appreciated. What I’m interested in doing is selecting a group of 12 participants who share a similar motivation for learning about the process of creating a book.

"What will I end up with, at the end?"

The first objective will be to clear any hurdles you have in your mind as to the intricacies of writing a book. It’s not for everyone—very few people actually commit to, and eventually produce, even one book in a lifetime. Most of the reasons for this lie in the list above—and it’s my job to smooth out those bumps.

The second objective would be to set you on your way with a plan for producing a book—YOUR book.

How much will this trial cost?

The cost for all video instruction segments, plus supporting PDFs and lots of Q&A with the author, is $97 CAD (all-inclusive). That price will rise to $147 CAD after November 30, 2019. If you’re one of the 12 selected, we’ll send you a PayPal invoice shortly afterward.

"What if I know someone else who might be interested in learning how to write a book?"

Then share this blog post with him/her!

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