How did you become a writer?
Like many authors I began by writing magazine articles. Fascinated with skydiving and parachutes, I wrote a monthly column Parachutist magazine. In just a couple of years I realize that these articles could be put together into a book. The only manuals we had on parachutes were left over from World War II. They covered military parachutes only, and there were many inaccuracies. I began gathering information for my column that would fit the book. This helped me to develop my writing style, bank material, and develop a following.
Name your writing influences (writers, books, teachers, etc.).
There weren't any books on how to write and publish books back in the late 60s. I don't think there were any associations or other help. In 1969, there were only 3000 book publishers in the United States; that is 1 to 2% of what we have now. I was flying blind. Using what I knew about business and selling directly to my audience (skydivers), I moved a lot of books.
When and where do you write?
My preferred method is to write straight through; day and night. That way you keep the entire project in your mind. You know where everything is.
I love my 11” MacBook air. The 27” Thunderbolt display allows me to see several pages at one time. On the road, I will write on the same computer with the smaller screen. In the car, I scribble on a pad. It is often difficult to read my own writing but I manage to get the thoughts down. When I go for my walks and come up with an idea, I dictate them to my iPhone.
I often wake up very early in the morning, sometimes 3 or 4 AM, my head is spinning with ideas, my eyes are wide open. Realizing that I can't go back to sleep, I get up and head for the keyboard.
Today, more and more people writing the iPad. One of the best features of the iPad is that it is instant-on. My MacBook Air takes 20 seconds to boot up, which is a huge improvement over the PCs I used to carry. But even in that 20 seconds I sometimes lose my train of thought.
What are you working on now?
Recently, I wrote 4 books in 5 weeks. Two of them were updates/revisions and two were brand-new. Book writing used to take me a minimum of 30 days. It is much faster now because I have a book template and because the ebook is less work. The template allows you to simply fill in the blanks.
You may download a free copy of the template from:
Today, you publish your ebook first; the process is faster and easier. Your table contents does not have numbers, there are no headers, no page numbers, no index. Just write straight text and insert illustrations in MS-Word. If you finish your book at 6 PM, you can upload it to Smashwords and Kindle and your book is for sale the next morning. Suddenly, you are a published author. After that, you can go back and reformat the book for printing. Printing can take 3 to 5 weeks. Meanwhile your ebook is for sale and gathering reviews.
Have you ever suffered from writer’s block?
Writers block is due to a lack of preparation. I prepare and therefore I do not suffer from writer's block. Research your subject, plan your book, gather your materials, place your materials in chapter piles, start with the chapter that's the shortest, easiest, or most fun. And write your first chapter last. To learn more about research and planning, see Writing Your Book at:
What’s your advice to new writers?
Get as much information you possibly can. You are an expert on your subject but you are entering the publishing business. And it is a business. A different business. The most expensive parts of publishing are the mistakes. You do not have to make them. Go to conferences, purchase books, take part in publishing forums. The small investment is cheaper than a mistake. Download our free Information Kit on book writing: http://parapub.com/sites/para/resources/infokit.cfm
Dan Poynter is an author (130+ books), publisher (since 1969), and a professional speaker (CSP). His seminars have been featured on CNN, his books have been pictured in The Wall Street Journal and his story has been told in The New York Times. The media come to Dan because he is the leading authority on book publishing. Dan studies the industry and has been referred to as a Book Futurist. A professional speaker, he travels more than 6,000 miles each week to share his book plan. Dan is a past vice-president of the Publishers Marketing Association (now IBPA). He lives in Santa Barbara. See http://parapub.com