April 16, 2013

Writing Compelling Description

frontcover 600The Heart and Craft family of fine publications has expanded. Today marks the official debut of The Heart and Craft of Writing Compelling Description.

Chapters in this book may sound familiar to some. Each of the forty-eight chapters appeared as a post on this blog. Many may wonder why I published this book when all the content is available online. Here’s the story.

I already had a short anthology of description-related posts that I’ve used in various ways over the past few years. One gray January day, I whimsically decided to transform that document into a $.99 Kindle short. I thought it might take … maybe three hours. That was three months ago!

Many of my favorite posts were missing, so I sorted through nearly six hundred posts. Forty-eight made the cut. Next I shuffled them into some semblance of order, checked for dead links, and double-checked permissions for graphics. Sharing on a blog  the public can read for free is one thing. Using images in a for-profit publication is another. Some had to be changed. The posts needed more editing than I realized. A volunteer team of friends and writing group buddies offered  remarkable suggestions and the quality improved.

As I struggled with the introduction, I had an epiphany about the entire process of writing description:

Description is anything that shapes the reader’s perception of your message or story.

That insight blew out the walls of  my boxed-in concept of description as adjectives, similes and metaphors, opening a universe of creative options I had not previously noticed in those posts as I wrote them.

As the collection grew, friends convinced me this project had outgrown the original $.99 intention. They wanted to have a collection of those posts at their fingertips where they could easily refer to them, so I crafted a print version and turned to Amazon’s free CreateSpace publishing service as my printer and distributor.

During the ensuing weeks, various cheerleaders, with Gutsy Sonia Marsh at the fore, held my feet to the fire to develop a cover everyone was happy with. Writing group friends helped with content edits. Thanks especially to Elizabeth Kim, Carol Broz and Tom Imerito. How I valued their help with the book description! Who thinks about these aspects of publishing?

Hillary Clinton coined the phrase “It takes a village.” That phrase is equally true of publishing. Anyone can write a book, but it takes a village to ensure it’s a solid, well-written, well-crafted book the world can benefit from. I especially appreciate enthusiastic “beta readers” who have (or soon will) post reviews. I can’t begin to describe the sense of elated humility I feel as I read those reviews and personal comments.

The biggest differences between publishing this book and The Heart and Craft of Lifestory Writing (released seven years ago) is that this time I made final decisions on everything, and I control the business end. Even that book was a non-traditional experience. Although the earlier cover was professionally designed, it built on my concept, and I did all layout – an unheard-of arrangement when working with a traditional publisher. I love doing layout!

Controlling graphics for eBook conversion had a steep learning curve. I’ve now tamed that beast, and I can save you a lot of time if you ever need to know the secret.

Thanks again to all who have helped along the way, and I hope everyone else finds as much value in this new volume as you have!

Write now: I invite you to click over to Amazon and use the “Look Inside” feature to read the introduction to The Heart and Craft of Writing Compelling Description, and skim the reviews. Then either buy a copy of this new book and write a review. Or find a book you’ve recently enjoyed and review it. Reviewing is the best way to find hidden insights you missed on the first reading and milk even more goodness from the volume. It builds community with other readers, past and potential, as well as the authors.

7 comments :

suzicate said...

Yay to you for getting it done. How lucky you are to have a group behind you! I look forward to reading it. Congrats, Sharon!

Sue Mitchell said...

Thanks for taking us behind the scenes of your book creation process. I'm glad you decided to offer a print version. Even though I read the Kindle version, I'm considering buying a hard copy too because its format makes it perfect for casual browsing whenever I need a little inspiration to crank my writing up a notch. I'm looking forward to working through it and responding to all the prompts.

Sharon said...

Thank you Sue. Evidence is strong that print is nowhere close to dead. I appreciate both, and for whatever it's worth to readers planning to publish, once you have your manuscript set up for print, it takes very little extra work to transform it to an eBook, so you might was well do both, even if you are publishing only for family. I'll write more about this another time.

Belinda Nicoll said...

I'm getting it, Sharon. I guess one can think of a 'Blog Book' as a first draft. As for reference books, there's nothing like holding one in your hands.

Sharon said...

Hmm. The posts themselves were a sort of first draft. Before they were finalized in the anthology, they underwent significant editing and improvement. To avoid any possible confusion, the anthology is definitely not a first draft. But I don't think that's exactly what you meant. I agree that print books have a special feel and significance, which is why I did decide to go ahead with a print version rather than sticking to Kindle as originally planned.

Belinda Nicoll said...

No, I didn't assume that you'd put out a draft for use - sorry about the confusion. Firstly, I meant I'm buying the book (just downloaded the Kindle version, for now). Secondly, I was referring to the general principle of 'blogging a book.' I sure know all about the hard work and expense that go into producing a good quality book, not to mention the valuable support of peers.

Sharon said...

Thanks for clarifying, Belinda. I assumed that's what you meant, but you have me an opportunity for more back story. Peer support is everything indeed everything! I look forward to your next volume.

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