Book Writing Tips From an Award Winning Author

Behind the Scenes with A.O. Abudu

Over the past two decades, A.O. Abudu has self-published 18 books which is nothing short of an illustrious achievement. Naturally, as curious as we are at Publish Wiz, we asked A.O. Abudu to share the secret behind the style of writing that has fueled his literary success and he kindly agreed to do so.

A.O. Abudu

How I Compose My Manuscripts

I use no structure whatsoever, such as picking the title and setting up chapters with outlines of topics under each of them. I start with an idea that I wish to share with others. These ideas come from sources such as:

  • My life-long insatiable quest for knowledge that can be used. That is what enabled me to graduate from some of the best universities in the US, despite having never had any formal high schooling or its equivalent. The university environment in America was like a gold mine. I read widely and covered close to 200 books or more during each of the almost dozen years that I spent in academia in that country.
  • I am a keen observer of people and all the various forms of life within the environments wherever I find myself, including all the various places that I have visited on our planet. Just about every situation is my teacher, with some very exciting lessons for me.
  • I am always preoccupied with the idea that every situation can be improved upon, since knowledge is what equips people either to get stuck in their ways or to change for higher levels of enjoying life. That is why I wish to share my perspectives with other humans.

Doing The Writing

First, I am struck by a powerful idea that hopefully can remove a human deficit. I create a file for it on my computer. At one point I had as many as 10 such files each of which eventually progressed to being a published book.

Through persistent observation, reflection and various pieces of daily coincidences, I keep building up this file with additional ideas and as a result, I always carry with me a piece of paper and a pen to jot down any idea that strikes me. On returning home, I enter any such ideas into their relevant computer files, some of which allow me to elaborate on previous ideas in a specific file. Eventually, some of these elaborations get long enough to qualify as potential chapters. I then identify each chapter by placing “CHAPTER” above it, but with no number yet to this label.

As I keep elaborating, I eventually have enough potential chapters that have emerged, each identified with the heading, “CHAPTER”, above it. At this point I then decide on the sequence for these chapters, using the following guidelines:

  • I am writing for people who know nothing about the topic, at least from the way I look at it. This allows me to take nothing for granted.
  • The order in which I should organize the various chapters so that they follow a logical sequence that the reader can understand or appreciate with ease and gain a new perspective from the many aspects of the topic.

From this point onward, on each occasion I read from the first chapter to the last. My writing style is conversational, thus I imagine that I am conversing with the reader. By the time I must reluctantly release the manuscript to the printers, I would have read it at least ten times or more. Each occasion allows me to refine the text and reorganize the sequence of the chapters if necessary.

  • I try to make my manuscripts as reader friendly as possible and with no need for a reader to ever use a dictionary. Therefore, quite often, I use a word publishing programme that checks spelling and grammar. Within this function, an analytic table representing readability statistics presents various average characteristics of the text. These include word count, length of words, number of sentences, number of paragraphs, number of sentences per paragraph, and how many years of formal education the reader should have to understand the text. For example, as much as I am able to, I try to keep my presentation readable and understable by those who have completed high school, i.e., 12 years of formal schooling.

Therefore, on each occasion that I take to read the entire manuscript, I use the information from my latest spelling and grammar analysis as stated above to ensure that sentences are made as short as is humanly possible. Each must have one idea but not more than two. I replace long or difficult words with those that are relatively shorter. To do this, I use synonym suggestions from my word publishing programme and replace the longer words where possible and practical, choosing a word that comes closest to the idea that I wish to express.

  • I break the text in each chapter into sections. Apart from ensuring a logical transition from one section to the next, each section can be read independently of the others that come before it or after.
  • The title for each section must summarize the related text below it.
  • After I have completed organizing the sections in each chapter, I now choose a chapter heading that summarizes the theme for the entire text.
  • I always create a file for potential titles of the book that occasionally occur to me. The title for the book is the last step in the process and must be relatively brief but also summarise what the book is all about. However, the title could also come from unexpected sources. For example, the title for my latest book, FIXING GHANA, came from the subject that I used for sending e-mail messages related to the book.