Roland Allnach

multi-award winning author of the strange and surreal


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The Writer's Primer:
A Practical Guide for Aspiring Authors Seeking Publication

From the back cover:

  "You know, I have a great idea for a story..."

  Rapid changes in the publishing world have opened the doors to many writers who wish to pursue the adventure of publishing.  What will one experience as an author? How does one seek publication, and what paths should be followed for marketing? With The Writer's Primer, multi-award winning author Roland Allnach shares his knowledge and experience and offers a cohesive, pragmatic guide to those new to writing and publishing. For both new and experienced writers, The Writer's Primer illustrates the spectrum of possibilities in today's publishing world.

 On this page:        

 The Writer's Primer is available at Amazon in print and Kindle formats. Signed copies are also available on this site at the Bookstore.



 The Writer's Primer, in a nutshell:

  Perhaps the best way to describe The Writer's Primer is through its table of contents.

Part 1:  Regarding the Literary Craft
A brief introduction to the publishing world
*It’s never too late to start a publishing adventure
*How to develop a publishing strategy
*The necessity of perseverance and patience
*The necessity of time structure and time discipline
*Realistic expectations and the “overnight sensation” myth
*Join a local authors group
*Economic and expense considerations
*Research, research, and more research
*Train your creativity: write all you can
*Copyright: how it protects an author’s work 

Part 2:  Basic Writing Mechanics
Basic writing mechanics: are you ready to submit?
*Point of view: differentiating 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person narrative
*Characterization: summoning life within a story
*Writing dialog: giving characters their voice
*Plotting: getting from beginning to end
*Setting: story environment and world building
*Levels of editing: copy, line, and content edit
*When enough is enough: working with explicit content
*Developing a narrative voice 

Part 3:  Regarding the Short Story Marketplace
Before sending out that first submission ...
*Not every word is sacred
*Respect the playing field
*A word about query/cover letters
*Manuscript formats
*Word counts and story lengths
*Selecting markets
*Time to submit: a final checklist
*Evaluating editorial comments

Part 4:  Regarding Novels
A brief history of self-, small, and large publishers
*The big question: self-, small, or large publisher
*How large publishers leverage books to win in the marketplace
*Book economics: price points, expenses, and royalties
*Considerations for book design
*Considerations for book length
*Distribution acronyms: ISBN, ASIN, UPC, EAN and LCCN
*Book production services
*A few words on audiobooks
*Literary agents: some pros and cons
*Preparing a book submission/query package
*The book is published—now what?
*Considerations for book reviews: a first step after publication
*Be brave—enter an award contest!
*A bigger picture: have your own publishing imprint
*Summation: the book world, in a nutshell

Part 5:  Regarding Marketing
Marketing fundamentals, part one: author branding and author platform
*Marketing fundamentals, part two: media marketing materials
*Pundit recommendations: how to keep them in perspective
*Marketing realities of self-, small, and large publishers
*Make the most of what’s free
*Virtual book tours and blog promotions
*Claim your own corner of cyberspace: build a website and/or blog
*Meet your audience: book signings and interviews
*The fine print on press releases
*Economic considerations for marketing
*To charge or not to charge: gifts and giveaways
*A simple, sample marketing plan
*Moving forward: be the proverbial rolling stone 



  Introductory Excerpt

  (The following section is a short excerpt from the opening of The Writer's Primer.)

   “You know, I have a great idea for a story …”

   For many authors, this single thought is the start of a complex journey. Today’s publication world offers more opportunities than perhaps any previous time, thanks in large part to the Internet and the open accessibility of numerous self-publishing outlets. Online journals exist alongside print journals, small publishers and self-published authors are listed beside large publishers and A-list authors, and a wide array of bloggers and reading communities are looking for the next great author to follow. Nevertheless, with so many options and variables, the marketplace itself can be daunting.

   The intention of this book is to introduce aspiring writers to the rich landscape of the publishing world. Whether you’re looking to publish a story or book, or have yet to put a single word to paper—or keyboard—I’ve assembled this primer as a practical guide to the realities that await you. From basic considerations of how writing can find a place in your life to rudimentary mechanics of proper literary technique; from short story publication, book publication, and finally to marketing, this primer aims to provide you with a walking guide. Consider it a source of things you might wish to have known in hindsight, which is the perspective I took when deciding on the sections for each part of this book. The information shared in these pages would have been a very welcome companion when I took my first steps—or stumbles—into the publishing world.

   In regard to semantics, I use the words ‘primer’ and ‘guide’ in the title and subtitle of this book for specific reasons. As a primer it’s meant to introduce those unfamiliar with the publishing world to the situations they will most likely encounter; as a guide it’s meant to give fundamental and practical advice on taking the first steps into that world. There are numerous books on writing and publishing, many of which claim to be definitive guides. Unfortunately, given the dynamic nature of the publishing world, any “definitive” publishing guide is most likely obsolete within a year of its own publication.

   This primer is different from other how-to books in that I present material from the perspective of a fellow author in the trenches of the publishing industry. While there are many volumes offering advice from the upper reaches of success, few books address the pragmatic demands of fledgling authors who enter the publishing world without the benefit of a Masters in Fine Art and who have to balance their literary pursuits, family, and an existing career.



  Behind The Writer's Primer

   Those who know this website will by now be familiar with my 'For the Writer' page and its discussions on various publication topics for new authors. When I was first planning this website I wanted something that would set my website apart from other author websites, and one thing thing I saw I could do was to discuss subjects I learned from my experiences in the publication world.

   The perspective on the 'For the Writer' page is from outside literary circles, addressing authors who, like me, were coming in from the cold. From the original launch of this site, though, I considered the knowledge I shared as perhaps common knowledge to those experienced with the market but valuable to those lacking experience. With all the diversity, options, and challenges of the publishing world, I hoped to give back a little of what I learned.

   My thoughts on the future of the page evolved after joining a local authors group, the Long Island Authors Group. Although I thought I had a good knowledge base for an indepenent author, I found I still had a tremendous amount to learn after talking with my fellow authors. At the same time, I came to the realization that I did in fact have quite a bit of knowledge to return in the sharing.

   Two things came to light. One, I came to understand that it is far easier to market non-fiction than it is to market fiction. When marketing non-fiction, the author is presenting a service in the sharing of expertise on a particular topic. This not only provides a welcome opportunity to educate people, but it allows the presenting author to hone an audience by topic alone. Secondly, even though I primarily consider myself a fiction author, I came to see that getting in front of an audience for any reason is not an opportunity to forego.

   With all that in mind, I came to the conclusion that I should take a crack at a non-fiction book. The question, of course, was the topic for a book. After wracking my brains the little light of thought at last winked on to tell me that I should write about the very thing I had spent years researching and learning - publication itself. My 'For the Writer' page served as the basic template for the book and, using that as a guide, I expanded sections, added many new sections, and continued to grow the book during its writing to produce the finished product.

   So, for those who are looking to publish, or even those who are yet to start writing, there are many valuable lessons within the covers of The Writer's Primer. Enjoy! 



All original content copyright by Roland Allnach.  Content may be linked and/or quoted, but not reproduced without permission.