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Things I wish I knew as a First-Time Author | #BlogchatterEbook

Things I wish I knew as a first-time Author

It was around the same time last year when my relationship with Blogchatter started. They had announced their annual BlogchatterEbook Carnival, which transforms a blogger to a self-published author. Since I didn’t have much time to create new content for the Ebook and I desperately wanted to test publishing waters; I decided to edit and compile the existing top blog posts from my blog ‘The contemplation of a Joker’ and give this activity a real chance.

Today I can proudly say I am an author of a ‘self-published’ book. This year Blogchatter has given me an added responsibility. They took from a blogger to an author and now they are converting this author into a mentor for the people who would be participating in this years’ carnival.

I am proud to be considered a mentor for this year’s #BlogchatterEbook and I am here to help you out with your doubts and queries. Since the last years’ affair was so rushed for me there were many questions and things that bothered me right before compiling and putting the content in a book format. There are multiple questions that pop up from what font to use, what should be the order of the content, how to go about formatting the content, what is the ideal word limit and so on.

Based on my experience from last year and the questions I have been getting, I am writing this post on the ‘Things I wish I knew as a first-time author’.

I want to begin by saying; this is YOUR book and is a reflection of you. You are here to have fun and make sure you enjoy the journey from a Blogger to a published Author. There are no set mandatory rules, just a set of guidelines to help you come up with a better version of your book. Many people get scared because of the guidelines and never publish the book itself.

Just remember – Every Criticism is good criticism if you are a writer. Reach out to as many people as possible and ask them if they can give feedback for your work. That will certainly help in boosting confidence and correcting errors. Even if you aren’t finding people to dedicate time for you, do a couple of thorough self-reviews.

To begin with I would say just pick up a random book and go through the look and feel; how the content is formatted, how the chapters are starting, what the margins look like on each side, how many lines are there in a page and how many words in each line and so on.

Let’s start with the cover page:

Do include a cover page, with a pic, title and your name and/or any tagline. You can use Canva and Snapseed to design and edit. If you are looking for free pictures; Canva, Unsplash and Pixabay are good resources. Since it is an Ebook, you can choose a picture in either a vertical or horizontal format. I consider it a mistake since I chose a horizontal picture that might not ideally look like a book cover.

Length/Size of the book:

Personally speaking, there is no defined limit – It’s not an essay contest. Just make sure whatever story you are conveying and the central plot are complete. Don’t worry about word count – still, try to keep it around 15k at least. The more the merrier. If you are going with a compilation of let’s say recipes or travelogues then try to focus on each chapter and make it complete. In that scenario, keep a healthy count of somewhere around 12 and more.

About Content:

It will be best if there is a central theme around the work. Last year I compiled random short stories and that worked too. A theme gives an insight to the readers about what they are getting into. Sometimes, since it is the first time, the book might have two themes – then also go ahead with it and divide it into two sections. Remember there is no right or wrong here.

Title

I wasn’t sure what the title of my book should be – when I looked around it was right in front of me. It was the same as my blog’s title. When you have a THEME, it becomes easy. If it’s a compilation, my advice is to pick the title of most imp story and write ‘other stories…’ If the book has more than one theme, then the title should focus on the theme with more content or importance.

Formatting

It is always about the content in a book and not fancy fonts. Try to keep any ‘serif’ font – Times, Courier, Century Schoolbook, Palatino.

Size – ideally 10 or 12 points (also depends upon page formatting n font)

Indentation

Well, it’s not important but if you want your book’s content to look like a regular ones’ then indentation gives that look and feel.

Select-All (Content/Chapter) and then Control+J. Your content is perfectly done.

Margins

Margins give better readability. Usually, keep half an inch as margin.

Page size – I have mostly worked on A4 so I can recommend that. If you want to convert it into paperback later then A5 for a 6*9 layout is good. Try to keep 250-300 words on a page. I have seen the regular books have somewhere around 20-25 lines on a page. Try to keep that depending upon the size of the font and page.

Header and Footer

Try to keep the name of the book as header and a page number as footer. Start page numbers from the first chapter. I kept the author name too in the header.

For page numbers – go to Insert – Page numbers and then format. Insert only page numbers and not Page1, Page2… The beginning pages like Title, preface, acknowledgment should be devoid of page numbers or if you really want then go for roman numbering.

The order of the book

There is compulsory order but the one that is usually followed is – Cover Page – Title Page – Copyright page – dedication (optional) – Acknowledgement (Optional) – Table of contents – Chapters – About the author (it can be placed before Index as well). If you are writing non-fiction or content that requires a lot of references, then you can add the list of references at the end. If the book has more than one part then you can also add a teaser for the next part in the end.

How to save as pdf

Everybody is not tech savvy and since I received a couple of questions on this – After you have put everything in order – verify the order of chapters and pages. Close the file, open again and re-check. Go to ‘SaveAs’ and then in the format or file type change it to pdf from doc or docx. Save it and your ebook in pdf format is ready.

Headings

Try to keep consistency in the formatting of heading throughout the book – it looks very professional. It is not pleasing to the eye to look at different fonts on different chapters. Similarly, for sub-headings, if your book has them, then keep them same everywhere.

How to reduce the size of a picture

It is not advisable to stack-up your book with a lot of pictures as it will dramatically increase the size of your book and might not meet the maximum size criteria provided by the platform. Hence if it is unavoidable then you can follow these steps to reduce the size of any picture. I use Mac – in that when you open a pic in preview – Go to tools – adjust size, there you can reduce by percentage or pixels or cms. It definitely reduces the size in MB by 50% in one go itself.

Just remember no question is a silly question.

All the mentors including me are here to help you out to get your book ready.

All the best of love’n’luck for your journey.

For all the first time authors,

For all those bloggers who will take the plunge,

For all those who found this helpful,

And

For all those who now know things as a first-time author

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

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12

Through the Mist – Book Review


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Cover Page

Through the Mist – Book Review

Book: Through the Mist

Author: Sona Grover, Abirami,

Adhithya, Nimitha & Rupali

Reviewed By: Manas Mukul

Publisher: Jimpify Publishing (29 Aug 2017)

Price: Rs 99

Pages: 92 (pdf)

Language: English

My rating: 3/5

One picture – Five Authors – Five stories – One Book. This in itself is an interesting premise for anyone to enlist ‘Through The Mist’ in his or her reading list.

About four years back I took part in a collaborative effort to come up with content worthy of publishing. Collaborative writing can sometimes turn out to be very tricky. It can be less writing ‘effort’ but it can surely be more ‘headaches’. When too many heads collide taking a story in a definite direction then sometimes the story takes the back seat and ego begins to power the engine. Anyway, let’s not digress.

Sona Grover, one of the five authors of the book, to do a review for them, approached me. My bargain was; an honest review in exchange for a free copy.

I found the overall premise very intriguing. A picture, which is also the cover page, was shared with the authors and each was expected to start with their version of the story keep the picture as the pivotal point.

Usually when authors collaborate the book turns out to be an anthology but what makes ‘Through the Mist’ interestingly unique is that each author will share their unfinished draft with other authors in a sequential manner and after all the authors have written on every story then only it will be considered complete. So that means each author will contribute to every story.

It is like a relay race of writers. You don’t know how the next is going to imagine and write or how good the outcome would be; all you could manage is your own leg.

The Motivation

The team:

Jithin, who provided the inspiration for the book. He blogs at www.trablogger.com

Abirami, the teenager who’s obsessed with writing and blogs at www.theobsessivewriter.com

Adhithya, the youngest teenager of the team who blogs at www.wordstuggedatheartstrings.wordpress.com

Nimitha, the writer who finds time to write between her busy work schedule. She blogs at www.nimzrevealed.wordpress.com 

Rupali, the teenager studying maths and writing poems at www.literatureismyporn.wordpress.com

Sona, an avid reader and the resource person to lend any help. She blogs at www.sonaonline.wordpress.com

Aadhira, the in-house editor who pushed everyone to write this book, blogs at www.aadhira.me

The five stories are:

‘A Middle Class‘ story brings us Pari, the independent, headstrong girl whose parents want her to marry and settle down. Love has other views and comes unexpectedly through Rehan. In this comedy of errors, blunders pile on and the protagonists head a laugh riot.

In ‘A strange Life‘, Aarya, bored with her profession and disappointed with her personal life, finds an unexpected adventure that is a little too much for her to comprehend. Can she manifest the life she has wanted to have, by reclaiming her power?

Aakash cannot forget Anavya, the love of his life. His longing turns him into a poet and he hopes and waits for her, years later. ‘Languish in Love‘ is a delicate story that explores love, longing, pain.

‘The Lone Man‘ is hard-hitting. All John wants is to forget his wife Sarah’s death and get on with his life. But his nightmares and visions would not let go of him.

‘Turn of the Tides‘ is set at sea and the men who have lived with the sea and loved her are the ones who fear her now. Can they conquer their dread and have the sea lose her power over them?

PROS:

What surely works for the book is the diversity that each of writer brings to the table. With their experiences and thought processes that vary from a teenager to a mom, it definitely adds on to the flavor. The love of writing is what makes this a ‘team’ irrespective of the difference in their culture, language, preferences, age groups and perspectives.

The standout thing in the book is that each story is completely different from each other and do not belong to a single genre. That is very refreshing, as it doesn’t overdo a single theme or genre.

One thing which I would like to highlight since each story exchanged hands five times that there was consistency in the storyline and the theme in all five stories. It is a swift read with only 92 pages.

CONS:

The role of an editor in such a collaborative effort becomes crucial and critical. I felt that the authors were let down by average editing, judging by how the stories were stitched.

The other thing, which I believe, could have been a bit better is the vocabulary. There are far too many grammatical errors. So the onus lies with each author as well as the editor. I can understand the flow of the stories not being smooth because of the format but still, that’s no excuse for the grammatical errors.

How it came about:

My favorite story:

The last story how it personifies the sea. I like it for its poetic and metrical tone and how expressively it gives ‘Sea’ a voice.

The pros definitely outweigh the cons in ‘Through the mist’. It’s definitely worth a read once. I give two and half stars for the stories and another half a star for the concept. It’s 3 out of 5 for the unique collaboration i.e. ‘Through the Mist’.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

Grab a copy here: Amazon

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Interview with Manas #AuthorChatter #anshuasks

Anshu Bhojnagarwala

Manas Mukul is human – an MBA, a Business Consultant, Actor, Software Engineer, Writer, Blogger, Joker.

authorchatter, author interview, contemplation of a joker, ebook, blogchatter, blogger Manas loves Sports, Travel and Dance. He is humorous and fun loving.

‘The Contemplation of a Joker’ is the child of his pen!! Excited to know him!

Which is your favourite story in the collection ‘The Contemplation of a Joker’?

Can a mother differentiate among her children? No. Right. But I would still say ‘Made for each other’ is the most complete and elaborate of all the stories in The Contemplation of a Joker.

What does joker stand for in this book? Is it your alter ego?

Jostein Gaarder said, “A joker is a little fool who is different from everyone else, he is not a club, a diamond or a spade, he is not an eight or a nine or a king or a jack. He is an outsider”. Here I…

View original post 912 more words

22

Deal of Death – Book Review

Cover Page – Deal of Death

Deal of Death – Book Review

Book: Deal of Death

Author: Sonia Chatterjee

Reviewed By: Manas Mukul

Publisher: Self – published

Price: Free (As of now)

Pages: 65 (pdf)

Language: English

My rating: 3/5

Watching ‘Vyomkesh Bakshi’ on Doordarshan is one of the favorite memories of my childhood. It was a prominent and popular Indian detective series in the early 90s. Since then I am huge fan of this genre. Nothing noteworthy popped up on the Indian TV scene after that.

Breathing books reintroduced me to genus once again. To review a detective thriller is simply bliss. If a writer can come up with exhilarating suspense stuff, nothing can be better than that as it always gives the writer an opportunity to convert the protagonist or the lead detective into a character associated with a series. I feel that if you can write and can cook up surprising roller coaster events then one must definitely try their hand on a detective novel. Most of the books that I have reviewed so far belong to the same category.

Continuing with the books from the Blogchatter Ebook carnival my third pick is a suspense thriller. It is actually one of the most downloaded novellas, ‘Deal of Death’ from Sonia Chatterjee.

Deal of Death is the story of Raya Ray, the leading lady, who dons many hats. The beginning of the book showcases how Raya Ray and her supporting husband tries to cope up with their stillborn child. The greatest loss for any woman…any mother. It’s a journey of how she overpowers her emotions and tries to get her life back by opting for a new place and profession.

Raya ray’s character is multi-layered but it is the thread of her unquenched motherhood that plays the underlined theme. The case she entrusts herself is also of a stillborn baby, where the mother of the child, Sharmila, is indubitably confirmed that the baby was alive at the time of birth and had suckled on her in her half conscious state. Hence the story is about whether Raya is successfully able to unveil the mystery around the missing child.

The major portion of the plot is based in and around ‘Munshiganj’, a forgotten city, which had a lot of prominence in the pre-independence era. It was once the capital of old Bengal during the early 1900s. The city helps in blending the cocktail of Bengali backdrop with Nawab connection. Sonia puts in few photographs in the book to bring that old bucolic lure and pragmatism to the content. The selection of such a city was important as the plot discusses supernatural and blind-faith.

The story has few characters along with Raya Ray but each and every one of them gets their space in the narrative. No character has been introduced unnecessarily. It is a fast read with only 65 pages and modest vocabulary.

No story is perfect and Deal of Death also has its share of negatives. The story doesn’t answer the question as to what happened to Sharmila’s Child. There are some sub-plots, which are unnecessary since they don’t add to the main plot and sometimes work as extra information. I also felt that more detailed work would have made the story more compelling but given the time constraint in which Sonia has come up with this is still appreciable. The book calls for basic editing, including grammar and formatting. A good re-editing of the work would definitely benefit the book.

Deal of Death, portraying an empowered woman with a gritty character, is a good debut effort by Sonia Chatterjee. Raya Ray certainly has a lot of scope for future novellas. I am going with three out of five for Deal of Death.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

You can Grab a FREE copy of the book HERE

The Joker has published his own ebook and you can give it a try for free here

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Insta Gita – Book Review

Cover page – Insta Gita

Insta Gita – Book review

Book: Insta Gita

Author: Nupur Maskara

Reviewed By: Manas Mukul

Publisher: Self – published

Price: Free (As of now)

Pages: 74 (pdf)

Language: English

My rating: 3/5

For centuries the world has been intrigued by the Indian ancient text of ‘Bhagavad Gita’. It is one of the most translated scripts of Hindu mythology. ‘Bhagavad Gita’ literal translation means ‘the Song of God’ and it serves for both – literature and philosophy.

Every reader has since tried to translate the conversation and the context of Bhagavad Gita to the best of their abilities and understanding. It is a complex text aiming to give the simplest of meaningful messages and in the process has transformed into one of the greatest self-help books.

I have been always fascinated by the iconic image of ‘Krishna’ and ‘Arjuna’ in the middle of the war, where Krishna masterfully and patiently untangles the turmoil that had taken birth within Arjuna. I haven’t read Bhagavad Gita, and hence ‘Insta Gita’ was my first taste of what it is all about.

Nupur Maskara’s ‘Insta Gita’ is a modern rework of Bhagavad Gita in English poetry. She has intentionally kept it short and crisp and focused majorly on the part, which holds the utmost importance ignoring the paraphernalia that unnecessarily surrounds it.

The book begins where Arjuna decides to quit the battlefield confronting his beloved ones, friends, brothers and teachers; who form the majority of other side. He was caught in a tussle with his conscience about raising artillery against his own blood. The conversations between Krishna and Arjuna have been given a fresh outlook by Nupur in her poetry. Wherever she feels the milieu becomes arduous, she complements it with due rationalisation. Each page has some highlighted text, which signifies the theme of that chapter.

The three paths to salvation as emphasised by Krishna have been vividly discussed. The book gives Arjuna’s inner dilemma a new voice through poetry. An inner conflict that antagonises everyone during the journey called life. It also showcases how Krishna eloquently teaches the lesson of detachment and how not to expect anything when performing any action.

A page from Insta Gita

Use of ostentatious coloured background on alternating pages, with sketches and pictures depicting the theme of the chapter is very refreshing at the same time subtle and contemporary. Nupur has made the best use of the ‘ebook’ format because I am not sure the representation would have come like this if presented in a paperback format. I liked the title, which signifies ‘insta’ and equates to a readymade sachet of instant coffee.

The use of font could have been better. The current one doesn’t help in lending the seriousness attached to the subject and it doesn’t help the readability either. There was an error in numbering of the pages and an acknowledgement, which should have been in the beginning.

In today’s times when everybody is delivering content based on the number of characters at disposal and reading news consisting of 60 characters, Insta Gita is surely a must read for them. In its petite form also it delivers the main messages of Bhagavad Gita. With only 74 pages and tiny poems it is definitely a fast read. Its small and concise yet powerful and impactful.

I am going with three out of five for Nupur Maskara’s Insta Gita. It definitely packs a punch in its small ‘avatar’.

I want to express my gratitude towards all those who have been sending me the books to review from authors to publishers to marketing teams. I have just hopped on from a mystical thriller to a book on mental health and now one on Bhagavad Gita. It is a luxury in disguise, which only lucky ones can afford.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

You can download Insta Gita for free HERE

My Ebook is also listed for a Free download. Download the same here

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A Carnival of Life

I take on the Baton of Blogchatter EBook Carnival from Nausheen whose ebook ‘Blogging Basics 1.0’ is also part of the mix. 
About Nausheen’s ebook: Blogging Basics 1.0 gives basic insights about blogging. It includes topics that bloggers struggle with. It is based on Dr Bushra’s 2 years blogging experience and tries to keep it simple and give clear ideas. It is the first part of a Blogging Basics series.

 

A CARNIVAL of LIFE

Our lives are sometimes marked by events that literally alter the course of its journey. For some people such moments are blessings like your first job, first love, marriage, birth of your child and many more. I am of a little unfortunate kind. August of 2017 made the biggest impact in my life. It took my first coach, my lifelong friend, my mentor, my biggest critic…my father away from me.

My father always wanted me to pursue my passion, something, which brings happiness to me. Till his last I knew, he was unhappy with the fact that I hadn’t figured out my path. Six months down the line and I was still busy with the things left scattered after his sudden demise. Innumerous visits to government offices, banks, court, etc. had started taking its toll on me and more so on my creative abilities. The fear had started surfacing that I would never be able to write again.

Then something happened which gave a new leash of life to my writing. I got an email from Blogchatter for an Ebook carnival, where one was supposed to come up with a book for self-publishing on their platform. I had previously given self publishing a lot of thought, but sometimes because of lack of conviction, sometimes content, sometimes simply the ‘will’ it never saw the light of the day.

This time, with a more resolute will, I had to do it for my father and more importantly for me. I knew I had to take the plunge come what may. But the bigger question that loomed was where is the content and on top of that I had only twenty days for submission. I knew I wouldn’t be able to come up with something afresh. Finally, I decided to edit and compile the existing top blog posts from my blog ‘The contemplation of a Joker’ and give this activity a real chance.

Today I can proudly say I am an author of a ‘self-published’ book. I get goosebumps every time I remember the emotions and the sensations that ran through me when the cover page was unveiled. It got an unimagined overwhelming reaction. I know there are, many loved ones out there who have urged me on to take this step from a really long…long time.

There are a few people without whom this compilation wouldn’t have come through. They have been duly acknowledged in the book and for that you have to download a copy 😀 .

Blogchatter Feature – Click to download my ebook

I would definitely want to take this moment to thank Blogchatter for giving me this delightful opportunity with all the blogging community and marketing magic to go along with it.

I want to highlight a definite change that this carnival has brought in me. For the first time in my life I am reading as much as I am writing, and to my surprise and benefit, I am relishing this change. This activity gave my writing a good exposure and helped me in forging new friendships along the way. The journey from a blogger to a published author has been a real rewarding one. I got some great reviews along with constructive feedback for me to work on and improve my writing. The value of which is immeasurable.

No amount of words can express my gratitude towards my Sister who has been involved with my writing long before this blog was even conceived. From every critical review to hearing my point of view patiently, from grammatical corrections to helping me with vocabulary she has been there in every inch of the stride that I took and it would have been impossible without her.

For all those who have read my blog,

For all those who have downloaded my book,

For all those who have read my words,

For all those who have reviewed my work,

For all those who urged me to publish,

For all those who gave me a platform,

And

For all those who are yet to download and read,

Its not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE…aur han… Keep downloading, Keep reading, Keep reviewing and Keep sharing the Love.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

You can download my book HERE

Some of the reviews:

From Sona Grover: read here

Sitharaam Jayakumar: read here

Souravi Paul: read here

I pass on the Baton of Blogchatter EBook Carnival to Mahak whose ebook ‘Diary of a Baby’ is also part of the mix. 
About Mahak’s ebook: Have you ever wondered what goes on inside your baby’s mind? “Diary of a Baby” is a candid, witty take on life from a baby’s perspective written as diary entries, followed by an interpretation phase of baby’s life from the author’s own parenting experience
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A to Z of Mental Health – Book Review

Front Page – A to Z of Mental Health

Book: A to Z of Mental health

Author: Arjun Gupta

Reviewed By: Manas Mukul

Publisher: Self – published

Price: Free (As of now)

Pages: 60 (pdf)

Language: English

My rating: 2.5/5

According to WHO, India is one of the most depressed countries. The modern frantic lifestyle, stressful workplace environment, toxic social atmosphere, nuclear families, alienating individuals and to some extent genetics; all are playing their part in making our lives more taxing and hence the exponential surge in cases of mental illness and depression.

Gone are those days when visit to a psychiatrist was always tagged as ‘one’ has gone mad. People these days are more open to discuss their mental illness and have slowly started getting acceptance that whosoever, is suffering with mental issue is not a lunatic. With proper medication and supervision along with affectionate care and love these mental illnesses can be better dealt with if not cured.

‘A to Z of Mental Health’ by Arjun Gupta tries to put this issue into spotlight. He gives his best to bust the myths, state facts, highlight causes and suggest remedies pertaining to several mental issues including depression. For me to do this review honestly I do have to mention this. ‘A to Z of Mental Health’ seemed less of a book and more of a detailed case study on depression. Now that it is out of the way lets move ahead with the review of the content.

The book doesn’t have a cover page plus there is a knight of steel logo that embeds a Dark knight and a superman logo, which doesn’t have a correlation with the book and about which Arjun might have some copyright issues. Furthermore, there are few images missing and a lot of formatting issues, which I am sure Arjun will take care before taking it forward.

There are a lot of positives going for the book. The content is diverse and adequately researched where the author touches base with many topics that lend a lot of credibility and depth. I still felt he could have gone all out and incorporated more areas. Some of the stats are really astonishing and can really work as an eye-opener for people working in this sector. This one really caught my attention – ‘In 2008, the number of people at risk of suicide in India was 2.1 out of 10. This number rose to an astonishing 8.21 out of 10 by July 2016.’

The vocabulary of the book is decent and only 60 pages surely helps it being a fast read. The author carefully tackles the gloomy and difficult theme of mental illness and depression and brings life to such context with few jokes and quotes stitching it close to his personal encounter with depression. ‘It is easy to smile, it is much harder to be happy’ – a quote from the book.

In this fight against mental illness and depression this is just a start and we have a really long way to go. But I would like to congratulate Arjun that it is a promising start and would encourage him to pursue his path. I am going with two and half out of five for this good debut effort from Arjun Gupta for ‘A to Z of Mental health’

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

Click the image to Download

One giveaway, he is soon launching his youtube channel to discuss on the same issue. Do look out for that. You can download a FREE copy of the same Ebook here.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Blogchatter for giving me an opportunity to publish my work in an ebook format and showcase my work to the world. You can download my Ebook from the same carnival here.