Book writing: guidance, tips, ghostwriters

One’s own Writing a book: It seems that this is the dream of many people. Countless magazine back pages and advertising pillars advertise how anyone – including you – can write a book. In practice, however, the whole thing is easier said than done. Not only do you need a bright idea for an interesting plot. Not everyone understands the craft of writing either. From storytelling to spelling to formal niceties. How you can write a book and what you should consider..

➠ Contents: What to expect

From the idea to the concept

All beginnings are difficult. This already starts with the fact that not always a concrete idea of it exists, about what is to be written at all. It is just not enough to have the literary genre, the era or possibly a character trait in mind.

The topics are on the street, it is called with pleasure. However, this requires a accurate observation Ahead – whether you’re inspired by other books, people around you, or political developments.

Which social developments are recognizable? To what extent are the issues currently different than they were five, ten or twenty years ago? What conflicts, what innovations do you perceive? Which aspects of this may fit your interests or a rough topic fit?

What should be clear: Even if the topics are supposedly in abundance, by no means everything fits every. Beyond that it requires deliberate approach, to find ideas for new or further topics.

It’s best to carry a notebook around with you at all times in which you can write down important thoughts. This way you don’t completely overload yourself with impressions and make sure you don’t forget remarkable aspects. In it, for example, you can create a mind map that can be added to at any time.

Planning prevents writer’s block

Many a person who wants to write a book likes to think of himself as a slightly chaotic, but creative artist who does not shackles of planning wants to put on. If it weren’t for the fear of the blank sheet of paper – because writer’s block always hits you when you need it least.

A solid preparation, ideas about the structure, on the other hand, can help to make such Removing blockades. This may seem rather stuffy to some, and some notable writers such as Stephen King are considered to be more of what are known as gut writers (even discovery writer or in German: discovering writer called).

For the majority of writers, however, a framework does the job quite well. Especially those who are at the beginning of their writing career should at least try to do it this way to keep frustrating moments to a minimum. Part of this is that, like an elevator pitch, you should have a brief summary of your plot think about.

As an outliner, you need to think about the following Actions and characters in advance. The well-known W-questions help here, i.e.: who, what, when, how, where and why? It’s usually not enough to introduce a few characters who meet and everything is fine.

You want to create suspense, so whether for a nonfiction book or a novel, you need a problem, a conflict. Because the reader continues to read because he or she has a the value proposition of your book The solution to the problem or conflict is hoped for.

The following structure is a good idea:

  1. In the first part, you introduce the reader to your story and characters. For this, you do not go too much into depth, but as far as it is necessary at this point. Here you can draw on background information that will play a role at a later date, but is not directly related to the story itself.
  2. Conflict arises in the main part. It doesn’t matter whether you are describing the effects of current climate policy (along with possible future scenarios) or the main character of your medieval novel is suddenly accused of witchcraft: While the introduction provides the setting, the second act is the turning point.
  3. What follows is a series of dramatic events, possibly even multiple problems, that culminate in the conclusion. The principle of causality is important here, i.e., events result from previous ones. On the one hand, this ensures the entertainment value, and at the same time it is a matter of logic. The ending does not necessarily have to be a happy ending, but the conflict must be resolved. If it is a non-fiction book, which describes far-reaching problems, a universal solution is not to be afforded anyway. In this case, however, proposals for solutions or approaches should be recognizable.

ghostwriting: having the book written

Or perhaps have a ghostwriter write the book for you? Ghostwriting evokes associations of the Ghost writingA perfectly formed text is created without your own input, and the credit for it goes not to the author, but to the person under whose name the whole thing is published.

And this is how it works: a ghostwriter writes a piece of work on behalf of another person. In return for payment of a fee, it enters all copyrights and rights of use of the self-written work to his client.

Even if the idea is there, there may be reasons not to write a book yourself:

  • The real author has no time to write the text.
  • He is not familiar with the craft of writing, i.e.: research, stylistics and structure cause him difficulties.
  • Writer’s block makes it difficult to get started with the text.

And having a book written is nothing honorable: ghostwriters write for a variety of people who are more or less in the public eye: Politicians, television presenters, cabaret stars – they all publish and often their books end up on the bestseller lists.

But the following also applies in the business world: "If you want to belong to the top group as a keynote speaker, management consultant or trainer, impress potential customers with your own book on the subject," says Petra Begemann, author of numerous books herself, long-time publishing director and ghostwriter.

And as an insider, she knows how the work between ghostwriter and client comes about:

Often it is the book publishers themselves who suggest that the author work with a ghostwriter. Editors know that gifted speakers are not automatically good writers and that excellent experts do not always put their knowledge down on paper in a readable way. So you bring the content professional together with a writing professional.

Is ghostwriting legally harmless?

In principle, ghostwriting is a legal service, the legality of which applies regardless of the area in which it is provided.

The Higher Regional Court (OLG) of Frankfurt stated this in its Basic Judgment at 01.09.2009 fixed (reference number: 11 U 51/08). Now comes the big but:

Academic Ghostwriting provides An exception dar. Although ghostwriters themselves are not liable to prosecution for their work, they do. However, the client, if he passes off his ghostwriter’s work completely as his own. The reason for this is the affidavit that every student has to sign.

It states him as the sole author of his text. If the university finds out that this is demonstrably not the case, the author can be prosecuted under § 156 of the German Criminal Code (StGB) for making a false affirmation in lieu of an oath. This can lead to the payment of a fine or in the worst case even exmatriculation lead.

The legal part of an academic paper, which was made by a Ghostwriter, extends to three areas:

  • For inspiration, for example, if the outline is unclear.
  • For support when there are doubts or uncertainties about content.
  • For proofreading, if proofreading and editing tasks are undertaken.

Acquiring knowledge through conscientious research

Not everyone is an expert on everything. If you want to write a technical book about the challenges of the skilled trades in the 21. writing about the twentieth century requires different knowledge than writing a novel about the history of medicine in the Middle Ages. A lot of things can be accurate research anlesen. But by no means everything.

Particularly in the case of specialist books, the following applies: Anyone who wants to write a book to make a name for himself must have corresponding Demonstrate expertise can, in order to be taken seriously. No one would listen to a self-proclaimed climatologist who is very interested in weather phenomena, but who demonstrably has studied neither meteorology, geophysics, mathematics, computer science or any other subject related to climatology.

But even if you self-publishing, your books will not sell if the impression is given that the author has no idea what he is writing about. A solid expertise is the basic requirement for the content to become credible and comprehensible for the reader.

Of course, this also applies to a fictional novel. To stay with the example of medical history in the Middle Ages: A non-medical person can easily invent characters, situations and actions. Is it about the details of an operation, which muscles and tendons are recognizable at which point, he needs the expertise of a surgeon.

In any case, libraries and the Internet provide enough material for a beginning. In some cases, it may be necessary to seek the advice of experts. The more details you can write in the book, the more more serious, comprehensible and readable it will be for the reader.

Your own book: enthusiast’s reading has little chance

For several years, the number of amateur authors has been steadily increasing: Writing a book apparently seems to be en vogue. The range of content of these self-published literary product is enormous, however:

  • The Housewife, who write poetry, is equally represented,
  • like the Industrial clerk, who believes he or she can disprove Einstein, or
  • the Senior lecturer, who relieves himself of unfulfilled fantasies with the help of a frivolous novel.

The market share of this Lover’s read is, however, at most 25 percent. And the success of the titles seldom keeps pace with the ego of their authors: most of them end up as unsaleable server.

Significantly better sellers technical books, who occupy a sought-after niche. Such special topics are usually financially unattractive for trade publishers; the risk of failure and storage costs are too high. This does not mean, however, that there is no target group for it.

Accordingly, the proportion of specialist and Niche book authors with the order publishers. They account for about half of the authors. On average, her works have sold up to 1000 copies.

Not a bad result for a trade book – and a top score for a self-published. In the case of the major publishers already books with a sold edition of 5000 copies among the top sellers. And even that is achieved by only a few.

"We are always surprised what sells well in the end and what doesn’t," says Moritz Hagenmuller, managing director of the self-publishing platform "Books on Demand" (BOD). Thus, although poetry in general unsaleable. Beyond that, however, no clear trends could be identified.

What’s more, whether a book is a Bestsellers The success of a book depends less on its linguistic quality than on what the author makes of it. So whether, for example, he organizes readings and events around his topic, runs a website for it and does press work.

Prospects for success in writing a book

In fact, the impetus to deliver a literary milestone is not even the main driver for the majority of niche authors Ordering book authors. What is known in the trade as "vanity publishing" is of little significance, says BOD boss Hagenmuller.

The majority of the authors seeking either independence of content or hopes to find a place with one of the big publishers later on via the springboard of order books.

This is not entirely absurd. So there are now some authors whose success has opened publishing doors for them:

  • Markolf H. Niemz for example, was the first BOD author to make it onto the paperback bestseller list of Gong magazine with his science novel "Lucy with a C". The sequel "Lucy in the Light" is now being published by Droemer Knaur.
  • Guido Keller in turn produced with the samurai wisdom "Hagakure" and over 28.000 copies sold, one of the most successful BOD titles, and is now moving to Piper.
  • And John Punisher was poached by the Eichborn publishing house after the Mirror had presented his self-published "Black Book of Revenge.

According to estimates, there are about 300.000 unpublished manuscripts in German drawers. And publishers like Campus receive about 1000 unsolicited manuscripts a year, of which on average only one a year is accepted. The picture is the same with other publishers: of the manuscripts sent in, at most one in 300 has been accepted. a chance to be taken.

The chances increase, however, if you have a Agents on. Service providers filter in advance which manuscripts are attractive to trade publishers and target them accordingly. The probability of getting a contract increases to 1 in 20. Here is a small selection of well-known book agencies:

One thing must always be clear to an author, however: You can hardly get rich with a book. At best a nice extra income is in it. For example, the unit costs of order books are determined by the number of pages and the print run: a paperback book with 160 pages costs the author about nine euros per copy; with a print run of 100 copies, it’s just under five euros.

Since books-on-demand authors have the later Store price of their work, they also determine the margin they want to earn on it. That can be as much as ten euros per book – provided it is also ordered.

How does one actually become a novelist??

Oliver Potzsch has achieved what many hobby writers dream of. He has made writing his profession – his main occupation. Since 2008, the 44-year-old Munich native has had a contract with the venerable Ullstein publishing house in his pocket, and his historical novels have since made it onto millions of bedside tables around the world. But how do you get there? How does one actually become Novelist? We simply asked him – and got some sobering, but also motivating answers.

"You can’t plan a book like a soup

Mr. Potzsch, I have a great idea for a story, want to present it to a publisher, and absolutely want to make a novel out of it. How do I do that?

First of all, I would advise anyone not to write a whole manuscript, which, by the way, also takes half a year or more, and then mail it to ten publishers at the same time and believe that anyone will be enthusiastic about it. This works out in the rarest of cases and is probably even less likely than winning the lottery. It is better to go to a reputable frahlingen. You can find it quite quickly if you do a little googling on the Internet.

But surely you won’t find only honorable gentlemen there.

Of course, there are also many sinister characters that you should not fall for. For example, if someone makes an advance payment of 3.000 euros, then he is unserious. Reputable agencies always work with commissions, which are usually between 15 and 20 percent. So the agent only gets money when you get some yourself. You can also recognize a serious agent by the fact that he doesn’t promise you the moon; that starts with the design of his homepage. But the most important feature is clearly the commission basis.

And it’s easy to get to publishers through agents, isn’t it??

Well, in the meantime the agencies have also become very selective, because there are simply so many people who want to become writers. I recommend to them then: Keep on bugging me! However, many agencies nowadays first want to see 30 to 40 pages of text samples, a good idea alone is not enough by far.

And if nobody wants me, what do I do then?? In the age of e-books, can’t I go through with my plan on my own??

Absolutely. I didn’t have to go this way myself, but I think self-publishing is a great thing. And I always recommend that you try it. There’s nothing to lose. Ten or 20 years ago, you had to self-publish your book if all the publishers turned you down. The result was that the books were insanely expensive. There were authors who had 100 or 200 of their books printed and then sold them for 30 euros at some booth. Today, Amazon and Books-on-Demand give me the opportunity to buy e-books and books on demand. to have books produced. I do not even have to specify a quantity beforehand. My books are printed quasi on demand resp. are available as e-books at any time, which of course makes them much cheaper. Yes, so it is possible to do it all by yourself today and earn money with it as well.

And that is worthwhile?

For example, if you sell an e-book through Amazon, Amazon takes 30 percent and the author keeps 70 percent. If, on the other hand, I publish a paperback with a normal publisher, I might get seven percent if I negotiate well. So that’s already a tempting option.

Then why doesn’t everyone do it?

Of course, you also have to remember that the Internet is a huge sea of information. If I throw my book in there, someone has to find it first. People think it’s too easy. A publisher doesn’t take money for nothing. He has a distributor, he does the press, designs the cover and proofreads. By the way, this is very important and more than a simple spelling program. A proofreader is a professional partner who advises you and puts you on the right track. Many people don’t see that. But if you think as an entrepreneur, manage your own social media presence professionally, take care of everything, get an editor on board, make a marketing plan and so on, then you are on the right track as a self-publisher.

Why were you NOT a self-publisher and do it the classic way with a contract with Ullstein??

I simply didn’t have to do it myself. I was lucky enough to find a publisher right away with my first book. I think Ken Follett wrote ten books before he found a publisher. But you shouldn’t think that you can quit your normal job and buy a Porsche just because you have a contract in your pocket. At that time I was still working in television and I can give you a figure. You usually get an advance payment of 10.000 to 15.000 euros for a paperback book, so you have that for sure. For a book you’ve been writing for a whole year, mind you. But now you don’t necessarily have to earn much more than that. The more you sell, the more you get on top of it. Let’s say you get 70 cents for a 10-euro book according to the contract and sell 20.000 copies, then you’re at 14.000 euros. But 20.000 books you have to sell first. Very few authors in Germany can make a living from writing, for most it is a very poorly paid hobby.

I see already, a career as a writer is in no way plannable.

No, of course not. That would be a terrible idea, if you could plan a book like a bowl of soup. The really big books have always been the ones that publishers waved off in the beginning. Who would have thought that a book about a boy who goes to a magic school would be such a success?? Or a book about a woman’s S&M practices? Or a book about vampirism and first love? None of this could be planned. The same goes for me. A Bavarian executioner as the main character, everyone shook their heads. In the meantime, people in China, the USA and Russia are reading it.

And what is the secret of literary success??

I believe that a successful book is only 40 percent skill and talent, but 60 percent discipline, discipline, discipline. For example, I’ve often sat in my writing room and watched the other fathers of the family from my window as they drove to work in their Megane, and thought to myself: ‘How old are you, anyway – 14??What dream are you chasing here??But the key is to have the will, to burn, to really want to do it. All great authors have this will, that’s what distinguishes them.

What does the typical daily routine of a novelist look like??

It’s important to set yourself a steady work schedule. My good fortune is that I have a very Protestant work ethic. I also always sit shaved and dressed in my office and not in a robe, but everyone has to know that for themselves. I sit at my desk at 9 or 10 o’clock at the latest and write for three to four hours, then I do all my office stuff until 4 o’clock. Six days a week I work, one day is reserved for the family. I couldn’t write for more than three or four hours a day. On the other hand, as a writer you are always working and hatching ideas.

And if you have times no more?

That doesn’t happen. When I have blocks, I get myself out of them somehow. I go for a run, I go for a walk, I always have my notepad and my iPhone with me. I find ideas best when I’m walking. And if nothing works at all, then I lie down in the bathtub. I have at least one idea every day.

Do you dream of seeing your films on the big screen à la Harry Potter??

The film rights are sold. But historical film adaptations are always insanely expensive. Take a look at Medicus, it’s still from the 80s by Noah Gordon and was just recently filmed. It always takes forever. Sure you wish, but that’s not the big dream of mine now either. If I can manage to live my life in such a way that I can make a living from writing until the end of my life, which I hope is still a long way off, and put a little money aside for my children on the side, then I’m happy already. Because then I would get a lot more done than most of the others who dream of writing.

Last question: Do you have a favorite book??

I’m not recommending a novel, but a how-to book. Namely "Save the Cat" by Blake Synder. This is what everyone in Hollywood is reading right now because it’s a recipe for successful film adaptations. Everybody who likes to watch movies or write books can get something out of it.

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