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Writing Books @ the Speed of Thought

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Books are changing—for the better. There is a New Model for
book writing, producing, selling, and promoting. Now you can break
into print faster, easier, and cheaper. One part of this
revolutionary change is in book writing.

Gone are the days of manuscript boxes holding boring sheets of
paper with double-spaced lines in Courier typeface. Gone too are
dull manuscripts without photos and drawings. Today’s
manuscripts look like books. In fact, they are books with four-color
soft covers, single-spaced lines, words that may be bolded or
italicized, and headers with page numbers. New printing techniques
let you produce books faster and cheaper—and this changes the
way the books are written.

Today authors “build” their books; writing is just part
of the assembly. Building your book is like building a speech with
PowerPoint. The computer simply provides you with more aids to help
you get your point across to your reader. Now, in addition to the
printed word, you add digital photos and scanned drawings to your
manuscript as you write. You pull information from the Web, add
resource URLs to your text, search encyclopedias for background
information, check art sites for illustrations, and skim through
quotation sites for quotations. You draw from all these sources as
you draft the manuscript.

First, you set up your book in a binder with frontmatter pages,
dividers for each chapter, and a backmatter section. You fill in as
much as you have for the title page, copyright page,
acknowledgments, about the author, etc. Then you build the
manuscript by filling in the pages. For a complete description and
page layout instructions, see my book Writing Nonfiction.

You will save time if you submit your completed manuscript to
your copy editor on a Zip disk or rewritable CD. Have the editor
make changes on the disk and return it to you. Then re-read the
manuscript to make sure the editor improved the copy without making
material changes. If the corrections are made to a printout (the old
way), you will have to enter the changes and then proof them. This
is time-consuming, and there are more opportunities for error.

Following this New Model, your manuscript grows looking like a
typeset book from the start. Then with a click of the mouse, you
will convert the word-processing file to Adobe Acrobat PDF and you
are ready to send the disk to a POD (print on demand) or PQN (print
quantity needed) printer for single or a small quantity of
perfect-bound or hardcover books. For information on PDF, see http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/main.html. For information on
PQN printing, see http://www.PQNbooks.com.

You can wring maximum value out of your work by repurposing your
core content into other products. Those versions may be for
Web-based downloadable books, ebook readers, compact discs,
articles, special reports, compatible (non-information) products,
seminars, consulting, and digital audio.

The electronic edition of your book will have even more features
than the print version: It may have color illustrations, sound,
video, and hyperlinks. Your e-edition will take up less space, be
even less expensive to produce, and will provide a richer experience
to your reader.

With POD and PQN printing, authors may send their book to agents
and publishers. A finished book is more portable and a nicer
presentation than a bunch of loose sheets.

Also with POD and PQN printing, publishers may send copies to
major reviewers, distributors, catalogs, specialty stores,
associations, book clubs, premium prospects, foreign publishers
suggesting translations, and various opinion molders. In the future,
books will not be printed on spec—in the hope they will be
sold. Books will not be produced in great quantity until after they
are sold.

New computer programs, new printing processes, and the Web are
transforming the writing, producing, disseminating, and promoting of
information. Books will never be the same. The winners are authors,
publishers, and readers.

Dan Poynter has written 81 books since 1969 including “Writing Nonfiction” and “The Self-Publishing
Manual” published by Para Publishing. See http://ParaPub.com.
Poynter is a past Vice-President of PMA.

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