17: How to Write a Book

This episode addresses some of the questions we’ve gotten about the process of writing a book. We talk about why it’s a worthwhile endeavor for you to consider as well as the process of taking a book from an idea to a finished copy.

Who? What? Why? (4:20)

Before you start a book, you need to know…

  • Who it’s for
  • What’s in it
  • Why you’re writing it

We go through the process of deciding our target audience, narrowing the focus of our content, and figuring out why the filmmaking world might need a book like ours.

Outlining (12:54)

No matter what type of book you’re writing, you need to have a rough outline for the content inside. If you’re writing a narrative, you obviously want to know how the story is paced and where it will end up. But ever for nonfiction like our book, The Break In, it’s wise to get a bird’s eye view of your content.

Scribbling (15:40)

It’s too intimidating to attempt writing perfect pages from the start. That’s why it’s important to start with no-pressure, rough drafts of a few chapters. Get feedback and review your imperfect versions of a few pages before fully diving into writing the whole book. This helped us refine our voice and subject matter.

First Draft (18:54)

In our first draft, we switched off writing chapters, where Will would write the odd chapters, and Michael wrote the even ones. It was still sloppy, but getting through our first pass showed us that it was an achievable goal to actually finish a book.

Rewrites, Feedback, Editing (21:45)

Get feedback from smart people who are willing to tell you when they’re bored or confused by your writing. We had our interns, Joel and Dito, read The Break In and give us critical feedback over the course of last summer. We used this feedback to refine our writing when we switched off chapters and did rewrites. Once we had a solid copy of the book, we sent it on to our editor, Chad B. Anderson, to do a grammatical edit with some structural feedback.

Titles, Marketing, Cover Design, Illustration (28:30)

Before we finalized the book, we ran surveys on surveymonkey.com to get an idea of how strangers would react to our title and different marketing phrases. Because of this process, we were able to make final tweaks with the knowledge of how our book would ultimately be presented to our customers.

The final part of figuring out how the book would be presented was the cover design. We talk about the process of creating a cover concept and working with illustrator, John Coleman, to do the cover and in-book illustrations.

Check out John’s work at topobear.com.

Formatting, Printing, Distribution (33:30)

The final step of releasing a book can be a painstaking one. Formatting our book for print, audiobook, and ebook versions took longer than expected. But ultimately, it was a worthwhile process because it taught us new, valuable skills and allowed us to maintain complete quality control over our final product.

Post-Release Thoughts (44:55)

We discuss our feelings about the book release and how we plan to move forward. Releasing a book and a movie are very different experiences, mainly because you don’t get to see book reactions firsthand, the way you do in a theater with an audience watching your movie. For this reason, hearing encouraging reviews is all the more important. Hint hint: if you read our book and enjoy it, let us know here.

To wrap up, we encourage you to start writing a book and offer the worst moments of the process of writing a book. Stay tuned next week for our FINAL episode of 2016.