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Showing posts from April, 2012

May Is Short Story Month

When I was a kid... oh, boy, here we go. But seriously, most of us remember reading stories in school by O. Henry , Guy de Maupassant , and Edgar Allan Poe .  The short story was part of my literary education from grade school through college. Later, I read short stories in magazines like the Ladies Home Journal , and regular contributor, Rosamunde Pilcher, is still one of my favorite authors. But as I grew older, novels became my entertainment of choice, and it wasn't until I got my Nook last year that I rediscovered the short story. E-books have changed reading habits for gazillions of people. Not only are we able to buy books in the blink of an eye, we can carry small libraries with us wherever we go. It's particularly convenient if one does a lot of research,and these gadgets are so smart, we can even make notes right in the books! But even better than that, we can sample lots of writing because many authors are using the short story format to introduce readers to their

The Buck Stops Here

At least we hope it stops here — because that’s the plan. So how do we get from hope to plan to book sales? Where’s the marketing goose that lays the golden eggs? Last December, a very interesting piece appeared in the Wall Street Journal . After having her manuscript rejected by several publishers and more than 100 literary agents, first-time author Darcie Chan took matters into her own hands. At the time the article was written, she had sold over 400,000 books. When any unknown writer creates this kind of success, we need to sit up and take notice. What is she doing that we are not? Check out the article at the link below, and then tell us what you think. How could you adapt her marketing strategy to your book? This is a very short post because I really want you to  read this article . It could make a huge difference in the success of your books — as well as the size of your bank account. Linda Lane and her editing team mentor and encourage writers at all phases of the wri

Getting Rich by Writing

Let's face it. The prospect of being rich appeals to all of us. That's why millions of people buy lottery tickets and hunt for treasure and prospect for gold. It is the lure of hitting the jackpot, striking it rich that tantalizes us all. It's not all that different for many writers. They read about million dollar book deals and want a piece of that action for themselves, but the truth of the matter is that those who are really getting rich in the publishing business are only a small percentage of writers. The rest of us are slogging away day by day, perhaps making a decent living, or perhaps just supplementing a partner's earnings, and we will never get rich. Let me repeat that. Most of us will never get rich by writing. However, in this era of e-publishing, there are many opportunities for writers to do much better than just making a decent living. Terry Odell already shared her recent success with putting one of her books in the Nook First program at Barnes &a

Making Money as a Writer

Unless your name is Grisham or Steele or Rollings, you may not be making much, if any, money writing books. Authors must be prolific, and have excellent marketing skills or someone to do that for them. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make money as a writer. Freelance writers who write newspaper and magazine articles can develop a nice income by treating their writing as a full-time job. You must constantly be putting out queries, doing interviews, and writing articles. I have been a freelance writer, and although I didn’t work at it full-time, I managed to bring in extra money to contribute to the household income. My money-making “job” now is mainly freelance editing. Again, I’m not working at it full-time, as I’m still trying to be an author as well. Editing takes knowledge and experience and a certain skill. Not everyone can jump into this field. It also takes time to build a clientele. I worked at acquiring clients for several years before they started coming to me. I love this

On Bartending and Writing

When asked what other jobs they’ve had, novelists usually have an oddball list. They may dream of job security and a health plan by night, but by day they are seduced by interesting experiences, diverse characters, a bit of income, and the flexibility to write. Most of my jobs have had to do with writing, though. Shame inspired me. My first husband, Ron, a bar manager with a keen sense of what his time was worth in cash, called my writing my “volunteer work.” This maddened me because I was a newspaper dance critic and always paid—although at the peak of this career, writing some 50 articles per year, I managed to pull in no more than $2,500. My husband could make the bulk of that tending bar on New Year’s Eve alone. To preserve my self-respect as much as to show Ron I could do it, I had to find a way to use my writing skills to bring in more respectable money. So I started a desktop publishing business, producing newsletters, custom-designed written communications, and resumes

Making Money: Sidra Smart's Spring Fling

It’s really a little too early to tell if the release of my first three books in the Sidra Smart mystery series makes any money or not, but when you change publishers mid-series, it seemed like a wise thing to do.   Philip Martin, at Crickhollow Books , published my national award-winning historical novel, A War Of Her Own , and did such a fabulous job, I asked him to publish the fourth book (The Swamp Whisperer) in my Sidra Smart Mystery Series. To do that, he and I agreed for him to pick up the whole series, re-release the first three, building new interest and energy for them, then release the fourth with a splash. In our decision-making process, as to what stays and what goes, we decided to not change the titles of the books, or the series, since Sidra Smart already has a strong following. Rather we decided to focus on tighter, cleaner edits, and fresh new covers. Also, we corrected any errors in plot, setting, and location that might have been overlooked in the first relea

Money, Money, Money, Money! - Susan Malone

Welcome to guest blogger, Susan Malone, who is addressing our April theme. Can you guess what it is? (smile) A necessary evil, money.  For most artists, we hate to even think about it.  And as a measure of success, well, the money often doesn’t match up with critical acclaim.  That part hasn’t changed in this business. What constitutes a Best Seller often doesn’t correlate to “well written.” We all know that. Especially in this day and age of the e-book revolution, what sells well is often something quite different from a great book. Not always of course. But the devil is in the marketing now more than it ever has been. And we, as writers, of course, have to watch that dreaded bottom line.  We all wear two distinct hats in this industry: the Writer and the Marketer. And most writers really hate that other hat. But without it, not only do we not pay our light bills, but our books languish in obscurity as well. All writers (at least on some level) want to find audiences for their babi

Show Your Setting through the POV Character’s Eyes - Jodie Renner

Jodie Renner is our guest today sharing some pointers on description. Fiction writers—one of the fastest ways to bring your story world and characters to life is to portray the setting through the senses, feelings, reactions, and attitude of your protagonist. Enhancing your fiction by filtering the description of the setting through your viewpoint character’s senses is a concept I instinctively embraced when I first started editing fiction about six years ago. I was editing a contemporary middle-school novel, whose two main characters, a boy and a girl, were both eleven years old (details slightly changed). The author had them describing rooms they entered as if they were interior decorators, complete with words like “exquisite,” “stylish,” “coordinated,” “ornate,” and “delightful.” Then, when they were in the park or the woods playing and exploring with friends, each tree, shrub and flower was accurately named and described in details that were way beyond the average preteen’s kn

More Eggs, More Baskets - Terry Odell

Please welcome Terry Odell for another interesting and informative guest piece. I started writing a new book last week. I'd been between projects with other writing-related activities taking up my time. What I didn't realize until I immersed myself in Chapter 1 was that I need to write. It's a stress-release for me. If you're a writer, you write because writing is like breathing. You simply have to do it. But will it make you rich? If you're looking at the success stories of the few rich and famous authors, you're going to feel like a failure from Day One. There are no overnight success stories. No shortcuts. A writing career is a marathon, not a sprint. And nowadays, when the odds of a new author breaking into the Big Six are getting slimmer and slimmer, and the mid-list authors are going the way of the dodo, I decided to investigate alternate publishing methods. Yes, I'd heard Joe Konrath preach that e-books were the get-rich-quick scheme of publishin

How to Pay a Ghost

It’s usually the first question I am asked: “How much do you charge?” It is also the hardest question for a ghostwriter to answer.That’s because ghostwriting fees can have an extensive range, depending on a host of factors. Costs are unique to each project. Some of the factors which may determine the price are: the probable length of the manuscript what kind of book it is (memoir, business or financial, technical, scholarly, how-to, children, fiction, and so on) how much, if any, research needs to be done, and what kind of research it is how much, if any, material already exists (such as articles, blog posts, speeches or speaker notes, class notes or scripts, audios and videos, diaries, napkin jottings, etc.) how many interviews with how many people will be needed if there is travel involved if there are tables, graphs, or unusual formatting when the book needs to be finished and many more The next most popular question I am asked is whether I will ghostwrite a book in exchan

Cues from the Coach: What’s for Dinner?

Have you ever noticed that writers are often not taken seriously? Like the prophet who gets no respect in his home territory, the writer finds herself (or himself) universally available to family and friends. “Mommy, Suzie hit me!” “C’mon, Mary, you can work on your book after the kids go to bed. This spring dress sale only lasts eight hours !” “Honey, can you bring me a beer? I don’t wanna miss this next play.” You know the mentality: Writers don’t work. They play on the computer all day while the laundry piles up and the kids create art masterpieces in the dust on the end table. We’ve talked about scheduling, about setting aside time to write, about keeping the creative juices flowing—but the reality is that these things are a lot more difficult than they sound. In the fantasy world of the writer, we spew out an endless flow of literary magnificence from 8 to 5, stopping only long enough to fill another cup from the coffeemaker that’s perpetually full and fragrant, grab a


Some writers love writing. Others love the editing phase of writing. They're probably in the minority. I'm one of those that loves both phases. Those days when I seem to channel the character are bliss. I can't seem to type fast enough. I can sit at the computer and write her/his story for hours. If the "voice" in my head falters, I stop and re-read the last few pages and, voila, the character begins to talk to me again. When I edit those pages, the process is slower - but just as much fun. I read more slowly, analyzing the words. If a phrase makes me stumble, I tear it apart and figure out what is "off". Is it a particular word? Is the construction awkward? Is it out of place? Does it need to be cut altogether? Is it repetitive? Once I have "perfected" it or even cut it, I move on. I try not to edit while I'm in the "flow" of writing. For me, it works to do the writing in two phases. The first is "creative". The s

10 Lies You Might Tell Yourself While Editing

Completing any manuscript is a Herculean task. The icing on the cake (which has somewhat bitter tang) is that you're not done yet. No, not by a long shot. must edit. You must edit with purpose and without emotional attachment. But before you head bravely into that good night, lighten your mood with these ten half-truths (lies is such an ugly word) with which I've had more than a nodding acquaintance.  Please note, I am not referring to professional editing, but to the labour of love - I had to say that - that every writer must complete at some point in their manuscript's development. I will admit to trying to sell myself on many of these; I will not admit to my success rate. I will also not admit the number of editing purges, er, passes,  some of my manuscripts have needed. I have enough pain. I hope you enjoy these. 10. The front door changing colour half way through your manuscript is obviously symbolic. 9.  This same symbolism seems to be at

Self-Publishing: The Numbers Game

This post by Scott Nicholson first published on September 16, 2010. What has changed in publishing since he wrote this? Has it gotten any easier? Please leave us your comments! Self-publishing as an act of artistic independence, political manifesto, or corporate defiance is all well and good, but most writers have the dream of earning money from their work, if not making a career out of it. That’s where it gets scary, no matter which route you take. Industry advances for typical genre books range from $5,000 to $15,000, with more desirable upper-midlist books getting between $20,000 to $50,000. The more you get, the better you do, but after agent cut, income taxes, self-employment taxes, promotional expenses, and health insurance, it’s clearly a struggle even for those edging toward the top. Now imagine how hard it is to make that much without a publisher. Making $2 an e-book on Amazon, you’d have to sell 15,000 a year to even dream about doing it full time, living uninsured in a

Writing in 140: Situating Oneself in the Publishdom

In 2005, I interviewed my fave author, Bernice McFadden , at my blog, ChickLitGurrl . She offered three pieces of advice to writers: One, remain true to the story the characters are sharing with you; two, keep in mind that publishing is a business - and that publishers are in business to make money, so decide what you're in it for; and three, develop a thick skin . Seven years later, this advice still stands. Often, we talk about how to strengthen one’s writing and how/where to publish. Just as important as these things is the advice McFadden gives. Today, situate yourself in your literary journey. Are you remaining true to the stories you write? Have you thought about where you want to fit in the Publishdom? Are you standing and walking through the criticism that arises during the journey?   ~~~~~~~~~~ Shon Bacon is an author, doctoral candidate, editor, and educator. She has published both creatively and academically. Shon also interviews women writers on her popular blog C

Busted!—Kelly Simmons Caught Featuring an Emotionally Troubled Character

In her novel Standing Still , Kelly Simmons writes of a woman who has panic disorder. Contemporary fiction and memoir are full of such emotionally troubled characters, and their story arcs can be most satisfying (brooding, wounded hero, anyone?). Yet since the novelist’s primary goal is to entertain and/or enlighten, pitfalls abound in such an arc. You will not want to fray your reader’s nerves with your character’s annoying, repetitive characteristics any more than you’ll want to use your exceptional skills to drown the reader in the biological muck and mire of her troubled realities. To do so would be to invite your reader to set down your book. Kelly’s protagonist, Claire, has had experiences that cause her to succumb to the grip of irrational fears. Here are some useful techniques that helped Kelly deftly handle this arc. • She gives voice to the reader’s concern by allowing another character to express exasperation. After a troubling doctor’s appointment, Claire sits in the

Hearing Voices: The Whispering Trees

Oregon Rain Forest Watercolor by Stephen Quiller Writers spend enormous amounts of time and imagination creating memorable characters, paying special attention to appearance, habits, speech, and interactions. We try to develop strong and identifiable voices, some so distinct and vital, we don't really need tags to know them in dialogue. There isn't a good writer in the craft who hasn't asked himself the question, "would he really say that?" Today, as I was writing a new story, my characters spoke to me in crystal clear voices. There was a reason for it. Morning brought a blissfully calm and quiet winter day, the ground muffled in a heavy blanket of wet, gleaming snow. It was a blessed reprieve after several days of intense lashing winds that kept my muse well tucked away someplace safe, while I grappled with a stabbing inner earache from the wicked drop in barometric pressure. Who could write? The weather was like a demon, and that got me thinking about how

Little Fixes to Improve Your Book

There are so many little fixes we can do to a manuscript so we don't insult our reader's intelligence. Consider the following: "Perfect," he said to himself.  If the character is the only one in the scene it is obvious that he is speaking to himself. When you have internal dialogue in italics, then the character says something out loud, what they say is put in quotes, so you don't have to write "he said aloud". Instead of writing: She stood up, simply write: She stood. When a person stands, it is always up, unless a drill sergeant says, "Stand down, soldier." Could we be a little less awkward? These are examples from published books: 1. Fred drove down the palm tree-lined street       Fred drove down a street lined with palm trees swaying in a gentle breeze. Not only is the second try at this more visual it gets rid of that awkward punctuation dilemma of where to put the hyphen. 2. My favorite item on that list: positive attitude: arg