This time last year, I was browsing the books at a book fair, looking for some great bargains. I wasn’t particularly thinking about writing – my first book was coming out in March 2015. I was not thinking of writing something new. As I browsed the travel section, I picked up the books about Greece. It’s my heritage, so holds a special interest. I love to go there and love to see it written about in books. All the books were either travel guides or were fictional stories set in Greece as the writer or a hero/heroine dealt with some life issue or another while on a Greek island. Where was mainland Greece (besides Athens)? Did no one want to write about the stunning locations on the mainland, many not well known to tourists who don’t venture off the beaten track?
I mused over this briefly but soon preparation for the release of ‘When Study Goes Wrong’ took over. It was published in March in paperback and then on Kindle in April. It was over, yet the marketing and promotion needed constant efforts. Despite all that, in April I somehow sat down and wrote some ideas for a travel book down. I remembered my trip to the book fair and somehow ended up with a skeleton plan for a new book. Writing another book after the exhaustion and ups and downs related to my first book was not something I wanted to do. Yet…the idea was there and by May I was starting to research locations, their history and writing chapters.
I made plans to physically visit places that I wanted to include but had not yet seen. My trip was in August and September, by which time I had written half of the book’s content and outlined the remainder of the chapters that I would write once I had visited the other areas. I had researched and written about their histories and left myself the scope to include other areas I would discover while in Greece.
In Greece, I had the unique experience of writing about areas I had not previously visited as I explored them. I took copious notes by hand as I wandered around with a pen and notebook. I took away pamphlets, spoke to locals and experienced local art, activities, food and drink. ‘A Greek Odyssey’ was born. It took shape by October, I completed my own edits in November and it was then ready for editing by the publisher. In December, the cover, back cover and final edits were completed. In January, the final design and format was approved and I am now just weeks away from the official publication of my book.
It will be 9 months since the concept was put down on paper to publication into a tangible book that I am proud to present to the world. ‘A Greek Odyssey’ is an expression of my love for Greece, my desire to highlight the hidden gems of Greece and to focus on the areas that my parents themselves come from. The Greece I introduce readers to is a Greece filled with beauty, history and scenery that needs to be seen to be believed.
How does anyone become a writer? I’ve outlined how I got from 0 words to a full book. Book writing isn’t easy, if it was, everyone would be doing it. So how do you take an idea and turn it into a book?
Firstly, it needs to be an idea that is broad enough to become a book, but not so broad that the ideas and story jump all over the place. It needs to be structured, with a clear outline to work from. This doesn’t stop you adding ideas, or changing concepts that don’t end up working for you. It simply is a guide, a fluid guide which moves and changes along with your writing.
Choosing a topic is very important. Why are you the best person to write about this topic, what other books are out there on this topic? Is your perspective new and fresh, does it lend to the knowledge and literature in the area of your choice? Do you need contributors? Who are you writing for? Do you have a clear understanding of your intended audience? All of these questions and more need to be asked before you start to write or at least when you have written some of the manuscript and have a better idea where you’re heading with it.
Then what? Do you start writing and see how far you get or start writing only once you have done all your research and outlined each chapter? This depends on your own method of writing and working. Some fully research their book before writing, others start to write and research as they go. Fictional works need the writer to know where they want to go, how each plot line and character develops is an artistic work in its intricacy. For a non-fiction book the focus is on covering topics and sub-topics, bringing in research and raising discussion points around each.
All you need is an idea and you can create from it what you want – a blog post, an article, a feature article or an entire book. It’s up to you and up to the topic you choose. My advice is to read widely and let ideas grow – you never know where an idea may take you.