Manuscript Finished

The crazy thing that has allowed me to write books so quickly...

The proofers and scientific fact-checkers are done! Besides the bibliography and endnote formatting, which I’m sure is currently atrocious, I have everything I need to incorporate their suggestions and changes back into the manuscript. Now that I’ve done a couple of books, I understand why people use fancy words like “manuscript.” The manuscript is the stuff that goes inside the book. Book means something different—it’s the cover and the stack of paper (called the “book block”) that goes inside the cover. The book block includes the manuscript but also other random odds and ends like blurbs and reviews of what other people thought about the book, advertisements for other books, and publishing information.

So if you want to sound big time, you say “manuscript” when you’re talking about that thing you wrote that will get a fancy cover wrapped around the outside of it. Hopefully, one day people will call it a “book” and not “birdcage litter.” I’ve learned these terms because, unfortunately, we live in a time we’re people like me live in fear our books will be banned at any time. As a result, I’ve been looking into printing and binding equipment so that I might be able to print my own books (and others) without fear of getting shutdown by uninformed fear-mongers. Just yesterday I met with some equipment folks and discussed the ins and outs of printing various sized books at various price points, trying to figure out a way I might be able to print my own books. I’ve spoken to a few other authors and mentioned that I may be cranking up an actual publishing/printing company that can print, sell and ship their books for them without fear of getting censored by the bad guys. Wish me luck on that endeavor! It’s not something I ever thought I’d end up doing. But to come to think of it, I didn’t ever think I’d be writing books about medical history and neurological disorders and being called all sorts of nasty things in the process. You never know where life is going to take you and this path certainly wasn’t on the roadmap!

I wanted to tell you a little bit more about my writing process in hopes that some of YOU will consider writing your own books. The single thing that has made the most difference for me above all other things is an app called Scrivener. Scrivener is designed for writing long-form books. If you use Microsoft Word for writing books, it’s going to be a pain in the you know what. Scrivener makes organizing your thoughts, chapters, research and everything really easy. It takes a little bit of getting used to, but once you’re over the hump, you will never go back to writing books any other way.

In Scrivener, you don’t create a “document.” You create a project. The project contains all the chapters, snippets, research info, pictures, reference material and any other thing you want to throw in there. You can lay out your chapters, re-order them, and see how the book is coming together in a way that’s just not possible with Microsoft Word. If you haven’t noticed, my books have A LOT of chapters. I like short and sweet chapters—to keep the story moving along quickly. Lots of chapters make the reader feel like they’re reading at light speed. If you’ve ever read a book that has six 80-page chapters, it can really feel like a drag. I write books for people with short-attention spans so they feel like a literary superhero as they fly along.

My favorite part of Scrivener is a little progress bar that shows you your progress as you write. The Draft Target is the word count for the entire manuscript, and the Session Target is the word count for that day. You can see I set the word count target for “The Autism Vaccine” at 62,000. Most non-fiction books are around the 60,000-90,000 range. I think Crooked was around 104,00 so it was a bit long. The Moth in the Iron Lung ended up being about 62,000. What I try to do is overshoot the goal, knowing when I go back and edit, it’s going to be trimmed back a good bit.

One of my favorite books in this genre, “The Ghost Map,” was 72,000 words and it felt a tiny bit sluggish in places. So I generally aim for around 62,000 and try to edit down to 60,000. Any longer and the book starts to feel too long for me. People have short attention spans and there is always much more that could be talked about!

Yesterday I started taking pre-orders for the new book through my store. I’ve been using this url: to have an easy-to-remember URL for people to get there. I’m going to stop taking pre-orders at the end of the week so if you wanted to order some of the books with free shipping and without supporting Amazon, now’s the time to do it. If Amazon doesn’t ban my book, I’ll probably try and just keep selling through there. It’s not a perfect system and I have my complaints about their company, just like anyone. But it is much easier for me than trying to run a print/publishing company and will allow me to focus on research and writing more—and I can’t wait to tell you about the next book I’ve got brewing!

So, if you’re as excited about “The Autism Vaccine” as I am, head on over to and pre-order a book or two now. You should have it well before anyone else!