Marilyn Briant is the author of The Pax Principles - a Red Ribbon Winner 2020, in The Wishing Shelf Book Awards (UK)
Marilyn with her third book: The Pax Principles
I was interested in writing a book for a teen audience because I wanted to share some concepts that were not your usual 'teen' material. Wanted them to question a lot of things, like how thoughts affect the way we feel, and how much of what we value brings us true happiness or gives real meaning to our lives. So I decided to incorporate my ideas within a Sci-Fi setting!
Then, before I started writing I went over the basics of the storyline with my teenage granddaughter, to find out whether she thought it would make an interesting book. After receiving her confirmation that it would, I got to work. And while it was frustrating to be housebound because of the Covid-19 Virus, I found it easy to be focused with so much time on my hands!
But as soon as I began, I understood writing for this age group would be a completely different experience to putting together picture books! Believing it was important to write stories that were meaningful as well as fun to look at for young children, I had previously written and published my first book, The Leopard and The Mouse in 2010, for children aged 2 - 5 years. This was inspired by photographs taken by an English photographer who captured an actual interaction between a leopard and a mouse! And from that I created a story that demonstrated values like kindness, sharing and accepting differences.
And then I wrote Arms Out, Kiano Sees The World, for children ages 6 - 8 published in 2015, which contained fabulous illustrations of amazing places all over the world, and was all about believing in your dreams.
I needed to go from under 1,000 words - the length of each of my previous two books - to more than 40,000 words. And there would no longer be any illustrations to help tell the story. Instead I would have to create the pictures with my words.
Actually it was fun and not that difficult to do this. Especially since I wanted to make it an exciting and engaging story that incorporated so many of my beliefs about what was meaningful in life and what adds to our own peace and happiness. To encourage teens (and all age readers) to imagine what it would be like to live in a world where things were very different from the way they are on Earth!
It did however require discipline and peace and quiet, which meant writing for at least a few hours almost every day, (luckily my husband was on the golf course three or four days a week). But the process I used was not your normal 'prepare an outline, define your characters and develop your plot'.
It was more of an inspired, guided flow that produced the chapters .I simply sat down at the computer, often with no idea of what to write, and typed the words that came into my head. Of course I had a lot of ideas about what I wanted to include in the story, and my granddaughter had told me what was important to her: "It has to make me cry grandma, and it has to be a love story!" But I mainly just followed my intuition and the story came out.
Sometimes writer's get feedback from people along the way. They write a few chapters and ask if it is interesting and informative. And I did this with one special person. Then, when I finished the first draft, I asked three friends to read the story and tell me what they thought of the book. It was just so amazing to me that they, and everyone I know who has read it said the same thing: "I loved it!"
So that was really good. But I knew I needed to make it better. I needed to find an editor, so I searched for and found someone who was willing to work with me and also proofread the end result.
Finding an Editor and/or Proofreader
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Getting Ready To Publish
Luckily, I discovered there are many professionals out there and available to work with authors in producing a great, professional-looking book, so I made sure I took my time and found the right person (within my budget) who helped me do that.
She reviewed the manuscript, corrected the grammar and punctuation and came up with suggestions on how to make the story better. Together we worked on taking out and adding to the manuscript until I knew my book was finished.
I believed (and so did some of my family and friends) that I had written a great story and it felt great to know this, but there was a lot more work to do! Even a professional proofreader will not catch everything and I ended up doing a great deal of additional proofreading/making corrections myself.
But it was well worth the time and effort, because even though I found it really time-consuming and frustrating, I knew there was nothing worse than reading a book with numerous typos, spelling and punctuation mistakes!
One other part of the process, was developing the front and back covers. And I asked the illustrator for my previous two books to do this for me, right after I finished the first draft. I then wrote the back-cover copy, which is a brief description or summary of your story.
Being technologically challenged, I needed to find someone to help with the formatting of both my paperback and ebook. So I hired someone to format my books, then used Amazon's KDP company to upload the finished books.
After correctly uploading the paperback document on their site, I had to wait until I was advised that it met their requirements, before it was accepted for publishing. And once that happened I went ahead and uploaded the ebook. Then I started telling everyone I know that both versions of my book were now available for purchase!
The final aspect of the process, (which I am working on now) involves promoting and marketing. And this is the part I find the most difficult! It is hard for me to ask people to buy my our book, or get into 'blowing my own trumpet'. But I realize that even when a book is published by a major publishing house (which is almost impossible since I understand you need to be a 'known' author first), this is something all authors need to do. After all, what is the point of having spent so much time and effort writing and perfecting your story, if no one is going to read it?!
Sharing the good news with my Facebook friends has been very helpful, and I have been diligent in asking people to write reviews. But recently I was extremely upset and disappointed to find out that Amazon refuses to accept reviews from people who have bought my book, unless they have spent a specified amount on their Amazon accounts.
That is really just too bad! But I have a feeling that what guarantees success even more than a large number of great reviews, is people buying and loving my book, then telling their family and friends and so on, which means more and more readers end up buying the book.
And what also helps is entering award contests. I did this in December 2020 and was recently thrilled to learn that The Pax Principles is a Red Ribbon Winner - The Wishing Shelf Awards (UK) .
Marilyn Briant (author) on November 14, 2020:
Thanks so much!
Shafqat M from UK on November 14, 2020:
Congratulations on the publication of your third book!