What happens behind the scenes when I first meet a new or veteran writer at his initial and virginal phase of the writing of his book?
The writer comes with a lot of ideas, questions and insecurities equipped with a sea of notes and papers full of handwriting, some with cumbersome sentences, unfinished and unstructured but I recognize beneath the lines a tiny spark of light that I want to illuminate this point and show him the starting point and then we can expand this to a brighter light in order to spread it to the rest of the readers' world.
"C' n C" - A frustrating or challenging meeting?
In the small coffee shop at the corner of Allenby Street and Rothchild Boulevard in Tel Aviv, I find myself surfing through my notes while I take a sip of my coffee, black with some drops of milk. I read again the dreams and hopes of this new writer whose only goal is to touch the heart of his readers. He called last week, with an ocean of possible topics and ideas. His mind muddled with way too many ideas and too much information. I ask him a bunch of questions in order to decide which idea he should focus on as the main topic of this first book. He had sent me his draft. It was only two pages, but filled with expectation, passion and optimism. I needed to read it again and again to understand his plot. In order for the content to be clear and readable I'm waiting to meet him for a "C n C " -Coffee & Conversation – to talk about his book.
The backbone of the book
Finally, he comes, with a shy smile, eyes full of hope and with an open mind. The best way to begin the process of writing is to put all his drafts and ideas together. With assistance from us, our writer, begins his own inner journeys of discovery, which gives him the ability to write his first draft.
He sits in front of me and orders a black coffee reviewing my notes, like a student in front of his teacher waiting to learn his grade. He takes a deep breath and finally asks the question that all authors ask, no matter whether it is a new or veteran writer: "What does it look like, is it good enough?" I tell him it's not important right now. He mutters to himself "Anyway, why do I want to be a writer?" He looks at me with a lack of confidence.
I tell him in a firm voice, "What you need now is determination”. He stares at me in surprise and seems a bit confused. I tell him about another writer I worked with who I met when she was at the same stage as him and now her own book is selling very well online and in bookstores. We have translated her books and are currently in the final translation stage of the book into Spanish.
After calming down a bit and with a little confidence on his face we continue to work on his ideas and drafts according to the backbone and the format of the book.
The "Ping Pong" Phase
"What's the subject? What's your main idea? Who are you writing for?" I ask the writer and meanwhile asking the waiter to fill my cup with some more coffee and I repeat my question asking him, "Who is your reader?" Many times, the writers forget their audience completely and write only for themselves. That's okay when the manuscript remains hidden in a drawer or when they write a personal diary. However, if you want to publish your book you need to have this question in mind. It gives you the direction for the development of the idea and plot of the book. The writer suddenly began to doubt himself, his skills and abilities .... "Don’t worry! Just imagine the person who clicks on your book to read more or the someone who pulls it off of the shelf to leaf through it?" After thinking about this issue, we continue to process his main topic and build the entire book plan while setting deadlines for the completion of each draft or of each chapter. He takes this as homework and knows where and how to begin to write his first draft. The image of his imaginary reader in front of his eyes.
Two weeks later, he sends me his draft and we meet again this time in my office. He still looks like a student approaching his teacher again, afraid he might have failed this writing assignment. I look at him and tell him that he is on the right track and provide him with the necessary feedback so that he can be sure that he is doing well in his writing. We decide on goals of each chapter and how to clarify his messages. I help him focus on his dream and create the best and the most interesting book. This time I give him some effective tools and useful tips helping him to accelerate his writing until he finishes writing this book. He knows that he can call and consult with me every step of the way during this writing journey.
I look at him directly and tell him, "Yes, it's not an easy journey and it takes a lot of time to write a good book. I'm not going to lie to you. You definitely have good stuff and you just have to finish what you started without losing the spark and the passion. Do not forget your dream and your goal - to be a good writer.” Meanwhile, I return his draft with all my marks and comments. I say again, "Believe in yourself, because you've got it!"
Finally, we get to the "D+D" – Drafts & Deadlines. We agreed on deadlines, and he takes all the material, says goodbye with new faith in himself and a greater desire to continue his work.
From Idea to Publication
A month later, we arrive at the final steps. We review each chapter, adjust titles according to the content in each chapter. Then we forward the manuscript for linguistic editing, proofreading, formatting and graphics. The last part of this journey is to send the book to a professional reader who reviews the book and gives opinions on both the language and the plot. The writer is so excited and says: "Yesterday, it was like a dream, but now it is a reality." We are at the stage of publishing and will start marketing his book on Amazon. The coin drops and he truly understands what I meant when I told him it is a journey that requires determination and faith.
In the end, he sees his book on Amazon with the shimmering light and the little dampness of a tear in his eyes. He is like a father who sees his child for the first time. The excitement overwhelms both of us. A couple of months later, I find him in a book fair in Brasilia, Brazil, promoting his book release and talking with publishers who are interested in his book. He said: “I was waiting to get back home to call you about the next book, but since you are here maybe we can discuss it now”, he wants his first book to be translated from Spanish to Portuguese. “Of course, It’ll be a pleasure” I reply, meanwhile a friend of him comes and he said: “This is a friend who wants to write his own book and I would like to introduce you to him so you can talk about his book.” I say to myself with a sigh: " Another dream to fulfill for someone…"
I shake his hand and I ask him “If you want to become a writer? Just call us.”
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