"Success doesn't come to you...you go to it." - Marva Collins
Persistence and perseverance are important to success. Even Stephen King dealt with rejection time and again. But he never stopped trying because he knew, like Marva Collins did, that success wasn't going to just happen; he had to make it happen.
What are you doing to ensure your success? How have you worked this week toward becoming a published author?
Broken down into three parts--The Art of Reviewing, The Influence of Book Reviews, and Resources--this book takes the reader through every aspect of book reviews. From how to write an objective review--positive or negative--to how to start your own book review site; from authors' opinions on how reviews impact sales to how reviews are utilized by libraries, bookstores, and book clubs; from where to get started posting reviews to lists of genre specific review sites, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing has it all.
Whether you are a reviewer, author or publicist, the information found within this book's 180 pages is destined to improve your knowledge of book reviews and book review sites, and improve your working relationship with other members of the publishing industry.
How? By giving you the tools and the insight into what book reviewing is all about and what reviews mean to the authors and publicists who seek them.
Topics include, but are not limited to:
The Five Keys to Being a Good Reviewer Reading Critically The Absolute Dont's (or Signs of an Amateur) Is There Any Money in It? How to Start Your Own Book Review Site Dealing with Review Editors, Authors, Publishers and Publicists
Readers will discover the difference between a review, a book report, a critique, and a press release. They'll find out how facile praise or harsh negativity affects the reputation of a book reviewer and read all about the reviewers versus bloggers controversy.
Filled with sample reviews, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing can help you draft stronger, more objective reviews for genre fiction, literary works, and non-fiction, and explores the interesting animal known as the article-review.
The last section of this book includes links and information for sites where aspiring reviewers can begin posting reviews; top print review publications, small print publications, print publications that pay for reviews, and general and genre specific online review sites and publications. The Appendix also includes a sample press release.
As always, Calvani's attention to detail provides the reader with an easy understanding of the topic matter. While this is the first collaboration with Anne K. Edwards that I have read, I will certainly be seeking out more of Edwards's work as a result of the clarity and perfect structure of The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing. Calvani is a multi-genre author, reviewer, and editor and Edwards is a mystery author and editor of Voice in the Dark, a free monthly ezine featuring author interviews, columns, articles, short fiction, and resources for authors and readers.
I would highly recommend The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing to anyone with an interest in book reviews and their impact on the publishing industry.
Title: The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing Authors: Marya Calvani and Anne K. Edwards Publisher: Twilight Times Books ISBN-13: 978-1-933353-22-7 ISBN-10: 1-933353-22-8 U.S. Price $16.95
How many times have you been told that a book about the craft of writing is a must have? Possibly too many times to count. While I loathe to say this, I certainly must: The Dog Walked Down the Street: An Outspoken Guide for Writers Who Want to Publish should be read by every writer who dreams of seeing his name on a book cover.
Inspiring while keeping you down to earth and motivating while reminding you of the work ahead, The Dog Walked Down the Street is a small book that is big on practical advice. Based on real questions asked by writers, Glynn shares his wealth of experience with the reader in a no nonsense, straightforward, and often times, humorous way.
From proposals to contracts, from first drafts to completed manuscripts, from cover art to galleys, and beyond, Glynn holds nothing back in helping fiction and non-fiction writers create a sellable product.
Some of my favorite portions appear below:
If your inquiry is turned down, this means the novel is not right for that agent. Publishing is entirely subjective and many times predicated on whether the agent or editor had a good night's sleep. Go to the next one on your list. (Page 12)
Keep punctuation to commas and periods. The em dash is supposed to signal an abrupt change in thought. Why not start a new sentence or paragraph? Only Herman Melville is allowed to use the semicolon in fiction. He's dead, by the way. (Page 23)
Of the many dumb saws about writing, "Write what you know" ranks high. Write what you read. Have everything published by Richard Feynman? You're a science geek. Nuts about Patricia Highsmith? Go for mystery. Writers writing what they know leads to long, dull books about personal hygiene, and no one can make flossing interesting. (Page 23)
Focus on the chapter in front of you, not the one ahead or behind. (Page 57)
If you are a writer who is interested in getting published, run, don't walk, to your closest bookstore and buy a copy of The Dog Walked Down the Street by Sal Glynn. Your writing will be better for it.
Title: The Dog Walked Down the Street: An Outspoken Guide for Writers Who Want to Publish Author: Sal Glynn Publisher: Cypress House ISBN-13: 978-1-879384-66-8 U.S. Price: $13.95
Well, it's Saturday once again. We attended a wedding for one of the cousin's daughters today. Gatherings like this are such great fodder for writers. We can just sit back and observe those around us and oftentimes something clicks and it becomes the basis for a story. Here's this week's motivational quote. It's a good one and it serves to remind the aspiring author that truly nothing is impossible.
"Don't be afraid of the space between your dreams and reality. If you can dream it, you can make it so." - Belva Davis
During our discussion on what keeps aspiring authors from becoming published authors the topic of lack of support came up. How important is support to your writing career? Do you have the support of your family and friends? Do you have the support of other writers?
Let's talk a bit about the need for support. Please share where and with whom you've found support for your writing career. Why do you feel support is important to you or any writer? And what can a writer who has limited or no support from family and friends do to feel encouraged and supported in her writing?
I look forward to your answers. I'll share some of the places I've found support soon too.
I'm in the process of reading Birthing the Elephant: The woman's go-for-it! guide to overcoming the big challenges of launching a business.
It's an excellent resource for aspiring woman entrepreneurs...and let's face it, if you're a woman who hopes to make a full-time career out of writing, then you qualify. As much as our creative side tries to deny it, writing for profit is a business. And while this book is focused on women, the advice authors Karen Abarbanel and Bruce Freeman share about procrastination is good for all aspiring authors.
"Beware of time wasters! Poor organization, misplaced perfectionism, unfocused networking, and unnecessary meetings can all fritter away your hours and days--and deflect your energy...Manage your time strategically, with an eye on both your mission and your bottom line."
Here are a couple of suggestions from the book that will help you stop procrastination in its tracks:
"Planning daily and weekly routines to ensure that you make the most of your time is key to survival..."
"Finding the work pattern that's best for you...is one of the instant benefits of working on your own...Settling on the right framework may take time--and trial and error...Whatever approach you adopt, creating a work structure to anchor your day, and also your week, is essential."
For more tips on how to kill procrastination, read my article found at Writer2Writer.
Hard to believe but before you know it NaNoWriMo will be here. So, are you going to participate in NaNoWriMo this November? Why or why not? Have you participated in years past? Has this influenced whether you will be participating in NaNoWriMo this year?
Feel free to share your NaNoWriMo writing experiences here!
Some people stated that lack of support contributed to their being an aspiring author. When I had a challenge finding a local writers group, an online chum told me about StoryCrafters. It was just in its infancy then, but this online community of writers offers great advice to aspiring authors and novice writers. Join us at the StoryCrafters forum where we talk about all things important to writers, hold workshops and contests, critique each other's works in progress, and have a grand old time hashing out plots and characters.
These articles and many more from the talented staff at Writer2Writer can help you earn money from your writing. If you've ever dreamed of being a full-time writer, make sure you bookmark Writer2Writer and check back often. And don't forget to sign up for our bi-monthly newsletter.
You'll find more advice from Writer2Writer at our new blog.
We've already discussed how negative self-talk can prevent the aspiring author from achieving success; but what about how others view you and your abilities?
In the Secrets of Spiritual Happiness, author Sharon Janis says, "Others can either help to raise us up into greater levels of awareness, or they can keep us limited to their small views of who and what they think we are or should be."
There will always be people who question your dream of being a published author. There will always be people who don't think you have what it takes to achieve your goals.
Don't listen to them!
Accept honest feedback, but don't allow another person to bring you down. You are in contol of your destiny. You hold the key to unlocking your potential. You lose that control when you allow what other people think to limit what you can accomplish.
Instead of focusing on what others think of you, focus on what you think of yourself. This is why getting rid of negative self-talk is so important. If you're focusing on you instead of others, but doubt your own abilities or put yourself down constantly, then you're back in the same river but in a different boat.
When I found this picture at Despair.com that I used for this blog entry, I thought of so many people in my past who did exactly what the caption says, "...live to crush those dreams."
Do I care why they want to crush my dreams? Not really. All I know is that it's important for my life and my career to not allow their negativity to become my problem.
While browsing online I came across a discussion about whether you should avoid negative people or change them. Depending upon who they are and the significance they have in your life will determine your actions. I don't always believe you can change a person, so I usually go with the avoid them idea. I surround myself with positive people and I feel better about my outlook on life. If I meet someone new and she is more concerned with problems than solutions, I don't usually foster a relationship with her.
On the other hand, negative people can be your spouses, your parents or children. It's not like you can avoid those people. This is where focusing on you, and not them, comes most in handy.
It's hard to keep going when you don't have the support you're looking for, but you can find it in places like writing groups and social networks, where likeminded individuals can offer the positive reinforcement that you need.
Plato once wrote, "The man who makes everything that leads to happiness depend upon himself, and not upon other men, has adopted the very best plan for living happily."
Focus on you and don't let others crush your dreams.
This article originally appeared at my old Aspiring Author blog on 6/24/08.
We've actually touched upon one aspect of fear of success in our first discussion about what keeps aspiring authors from becoming published authors.
Part of fear of success is believing you're not good enough. Negative self-talk is damaging and limiting. It not only increases stress; it limits you by making you believe you can't do something.
So, how can you stop negative self-talk?
Here are some ideas:
Journaling: Every writer I know keeps a journal. Let the words flow, but go back afterwards and analyze your thoughts. Really get a feel for how you see yourself.
Stop that Thought: When you hear that negative self-talk, whether it be in your head or out loud, say, "stop". This will make you aware of your negative thoughts.
Replace Negative Statements with the Positive Questions: Instead of saying, "This is impossible!" say "How is this possible?" When you feel like saying, "How can I be so stupid!" say "How can avoid that mistake in the future?"
Negative self-talk is a bad habit, but it can be changed. Become more aware of when negativity takes a hold of you so that you can replace those moments with positive energy. Focus on all the things you do right, not the areas where you feel you're lacking.
We'll continue our discussion on fear of success soon. Get ready to write down what obstacles are standing in the way of your success and the changes you can put in motion to make it happen.
This article originally appeared at my old Aspiring Author blog on 6/10/08.
"What's wrong with failure anyway? Why do we let it stop us from doing, achieving, and having what we want? Failure just means you've discovered one more way that doesn't work. Thomas Edison worked for more than a year and a half to create a better, long-lasting light bulb that could be used in a mainstream application. During that time he found 9,999 ways that didn't work. If he hadn't persisted, you might be reading this book by candlelight! If you try and still don't get the result you want, it simply means you were willing to risk, it might take longer than you expected, your goal was unreasonable, you have to do something differently next time, or you have an opportunity to start something new which is more suited to you.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could just overcome this fear? We know there's always a chance we will fail, so why worry about it? Everyone else has the same chance of failure as we do. We are not the exception to the rule, but we will never succeed unless we try."
Looking at fear of failure in this way makes writers heroic every time they send out a submission; even if it gets rejected.
I found a few quotes about mistakes which further help to put fear of failure in perspective.
“The man who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything.” - Edward J. Phelps
"It's okay to make mistakes. Mistakes are our teachers - they help us to learn." - John Bradshaw
"The greatest mistake a man can ever make is to be afraid of making one." - Elbert Hubbard
"So go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because that's where you will find success. On the far side of failure." - Thomas J. Watson, Sr.
Terry Bragg, the author of 31 Days to High Self-esteem put together an eight-step plan to overcome failure. I would like to share it with you here:
Step One: Take action
"Action gives you the power to change the circumstances or the situation," says Bragg. What could you achieve if you weren't afraid to fail? Nike has an ad campaign that says, "Just do it." Write this down on a sticky pad and attach it to you computer screen.
Anytime you feel paralyzed by fear of failure, read that quote and heed it's advice.
Step Two: Persist.
How many times have you heard published authors give advice that includes, don't give up? Why do you think that is? Because successful people don't give up! They try something, and if it doesn't work out, they try something else. They keep trying until they get the results they want.
Step Three: Don't take failure personally.
Here's a big one. When you don't get the results you want, it doesn't mean you're a failure. It simply means you tried and it didn't work out. See Step Two for what you need to do next.
Step Four: Do things differently.
This is a no-brainer, but there are so many people out there who keep approaching things the same way and not getting the results they're looking for. Well, stop it! Don't be afraid to try something new. It might make a world of difference.
Step Five: Don't be so hard on yourself.
Raise your hand if you're too hard on yourself. Yes, mine is raised to. I am my own worse critic. I give into negative self-talk. As Bragg says about failure, "If nothing else, you know what doesn't work."
Step Six: Treat the experience as an opportunity to learn.
I'm a strong non-fiction writer, but fiction offers me challenges like there's no tomorrow. The most difficult thing I struggle with is "show don't tell". Luckily, I have a good group of people who critique my work and offer suggestions.
In the writing world they say that practice makes perfect. So I am practicing a lot. And I'm learning a lot. Each time I write a short story, I am improving my craft. Each article I read about "show don't tell" brings me that much closer to mastering this aspect of fiction writing on my own.
Step Seven: Look for possible opportunities that result from the experience.
If you submit a short story to a market and receive a rejection letter, what opportunities or benefits does that provide?
Well, it could provide you with an opportunity to review your story with a fresh set of eyes and revise it to make the story stronger. Perhaps this also gives you the chance to perform additional market research and find a home that is even a better fit than the one you had originally chosen.
Always look for the benefit.
Step Eight: Fail forward fast. According to Bragg, this is a term used by management guru, Tom Peters. It means that the way to learn is to make mistakes. So if we want to learn faster, we must make mistakes faster too. The important thing to remember is to not repeat those mistakes.
With eight tiny steps you can move forward with your writing career, without the fear of failure.
"I said to myself: 'You mean all those people out there that I’ve been envying because they’re not afraid to move ahead with their lives have really been afraid? Why didn’t somebody tell me!?' I guess I never asked."
This article originally appeared at my old Aspiring Author blog on 6/1/08.
During our discussions about what keeps aspiring authors from achieving published author status, one person gave this as a reason: "They aren't willing to be honest about the quality of their work. Every one can be a writer, but not everyone is willing to learn how to write. Just because you can put together a correct sentence doesn't mean you can make an interesting statement or create drama."
So, how are you on the honesty scale?
Do you accept feedback well or do you start throwing things around the room when someone dare criticize your baby? Can you face an editor's rejection and consider your piece might need some work?
I've been told by my editor that I'm very open to feedback. I like to believe that is true. Who wins if I shut off any and all suggestions on how to improve my work? Certainly not me.
The key is not to take a critique personally. Sometimes harder said than done...especially if the person who provides the feedback isn't too diplomatic about it. But no matter how the feedback is delivered, does the person make valid points? Can he see something you can't because he has no emotional ties to the piece? Are there areas that more than one person points out as needing improvement? If so, then they're probably right.
I'll be the first to admit that I am a non-fiction writer. I'm comfortable with it--probably because I think the whole world is waiting to hear my opinion on things. LOL! But I struggle like crazy with fiction. I can't get the whole show don't tell thing down right for one thing. I'm not always sure what descriptions should be included and which ones aren't important. My taglines usually need some work.
But I refuse to give up. I keep reading, I keep writing, and I figure a writing class or two is in my future. Speaking of writing classes, this is the remainder of what this person wrote when she was talking about people not being honest about the quality of their work: "Taking writing classes not only teaches the craft, but help to make contacts as well."
Hmmm...learning how to write better and networking too. Sure sounds like a win-win situation to me.
This article orginally appeared at my old Aspiring Author blog on 5/28/08.
Here is a guest post that I provided to StoryCrafters last year. It flows nicely into some of the conversations we've been having about what keeps aspiring authors from becoming published authors.
In Heather Sellers' book Page after Page she says in order to learn how to write every day, "writers have to gently embrace ambivalence, anxiety, not-sure-ness."
Usually, I have my blog entry planned a week in advance; not the words, but the idea is formed in my head enough where I can type it up with ease, edit it a couple times, and then hit "publish post." But not this week. I drew a blank. What did I have to offer of value to anyone? There are many members on StoryCrafters whose experience in the field of writing surpasses mine. These peers--can I even call them that since I am so lame compared to them--post in the Bragging Rights section about their latest sales, while I have struggled along for the past three years squeaking out only one sale, a finished novel that might never go anywhere, and another whose progress seems destined to stay at the 15,200 words I wrote for NaNo. And yet, here is Sellers telling me I have to embrace these feelings. What kinds of drugs is this woman doing, and where in the heck can I get some?
"Anyone can start writing," claims Sellers. "To keep on creating and grow as a writer, you also believe you suck." Ok, now I'm sitting here screaming, "She understands me!" but she says it's a good thing I feel this way.
What? How can that possibly be? I must read more.
Then Sellers tells me, I have to start looking at self-doubt and anxiety in a whole new way. "Being unsure," she says, "is one of the things that helps you steer in revision." So, there is a good reason to feel this way. Hmmm...
What do you know, experiencing self-doubt and anxiety doesn't make me a worse writer, it actually helps me. Who would have thought? Now, I'll have to think of self-doubt and anxiety as my friends instead of my enemies. I'll have to be careful they don't move in and take over my house, but without them hanging by my side, I wouldn't be pushed into making every article, every paragraph, every sentence, each word, the best it can be.
I guess, I could hope to be one of those writers whose first drafts are close to their published works. Maybe I would feel better if my resume had a long string of impressive writing credits. But that doesn't make me a writer. The actual art of sitting down and putting pen to paper or typing out words on a keyboard is what makes me a writer. No one can tell my articles or stories the same way I can. And that is the value behind them.
This article originally appeared at my old Aspiring Author blog on 5/10/08.
I often wonder what makes writers aspiring authors instead of published authors? For myself, I know a lot of it is lack of time. Yet, I also know, I waste time here and there that I could more wisely use to concentrate on some of my works in progress.
So, why don't I do it? Hmmm...that is a good question.
I promised that I would be bringing you some new stuff soon. And here I am delivering on that promise. I would like you to comment on why you feel you haven't become a published author yet? I'll start you off:
1) Time 2) Lack of support from family and friends 3) Haven't found the right market 4) The shoulder vultures named self-doubt and anxiety keep me from submitting my work 5) The editors I've submitted to don't recognize good talent when they see it
Okay, that last one is supposed to be funny. But seriously, I want to know what you think is holding you back. Then we can talk about some of these reasons you haven't been published yet and possible solutions in future blog entries.
So, let me hear ya!
This article originally appeared at my old Aspiring Author blog on 4/24/08.
Here are some of the responses we received at the old blog:
Cheryl, I think all of those are the reasons I haven't been published yet, although, I really think it is because I haven't found the right niche.
Dorothy Thompson said...
Can I answer even though I'm published? I think the #1 reason is the competition. For the aspiring author, he or she is having to compete against the established authors for publisher's slots and there aren't enough to go around. So, they either pay to be published or they self-publish. It's like a catch-22 situation. If you want it now, you pay for it. If you want to wait, there's too much competition. It's no wonder half the writers give up.
Theresa Chaze, Wiccan Writer said...
I think there are several reasons why authors aren't published.
1. They are insecure about their work so they don't put the hard work behind it that it takes to succeed. Nearly every writer ever created has a wall of rejections. The key is to look at them objectively, learn what you can from them and move on.
2. They are holding out for the big traditional houses to snap them up and make them millionaires over night; that only happens in the movies. Even JK Rowling had her share of rejections. It was always a crap shoot with the big houses. More often than not they will not put their money and time in to a new writer; usually they will let them prove themselves in another venue before considering them.
3. They aren't willing to be honest about the quality of their work. Every one can be a writer, but not everyone is willing to learn how to write. Just because you can put together a correct sentence doesn't mean you can make an interesting statement or create drama. Taking writing classes not only teaches the craft, but help to make contacts as well.
4. They don't have an honest understanding of the business end. It is a creative forum, but it still is a business. You have to know what the market is looking for whether it be fiction or non fiction. You wouldn't send a science fiction novel to a publisher who only publishs romances.
Dorothy Thompson said...
Agree, Theresa. I think more and more people are turning to their own publishing companies to publish their books. I know a lot of people who have chosen that route. I still say hold out for the big publishing houses but don't expect to become a millionaire if it happens, and then on the other hand, be very very prepared for rejection because 9 out of 10, it's going to be a rejection and after so many rejections, that's when the aspiring author turns to other means of publication. LOL, I think we're not helping Cheryl at all.
allison pittman said...
When I first became serious about writing, I had a great conversation with a well-established novelist, James Scott Bell. I remember just bawling and telling him I didn't want to be some cliche washed-up English teacher who never followed her own dream. We were in the dining hall at a writers conference. He took a napkin, drew a triangle on it, and he said the whole realm of publishing is found within that triangle. At the base are all the people who say they might want to write a book someday. At the very top is Max Lucado (author of hundreds of books!). Every step you take moves you higher, and puts you with a smaller group of individuals who have accomplished something. At the time, I'd written about 7 chapters of my novel, and he made a little mark a wee bit higher than the base and said, "See? Look how far you are already."
That little mark represented my first novel. Now I'm writing my fourth.
I still have the napkin.
I have something to add. Learning to write marketable fiction is very difficult. It can take years and then learning how to edit your own work can take more time. Many writers are not willing to put in all that work. They think they should sit down, write a book, get it published and become famous.
I think that's why some people self-publish, but I've read a lot of that work and it is sorely in need of editing and revision, for the most part. Yes, there are exceptions, but that's why they're called exceptions.
I wrote a Children's story for the little ones in my church years ago and read it during the morning worship service a few weeks before the holiday. I then shared it with family, friends, AND CHERYL, and many people said that I should look into having it published. I however know nothing about the process at all. I guess that is the reason why it hasn't happened for me yet. I wrote it to share a lesson with the children, one that they could remember throughout the year, not with publication in mind. It might happen yet, who knows.
Maureen Fisher said...
I was very lucky to find a small publishing house (via networking) to publish my first book -- Lachesis Publishing. I put my success down to a great plot and characters (I know, I know, that's immodest), luck, and PERSEVERANCE.
A lot of aspiring authors I know either get bored or discouraged. I spent three years writing, submitting, receiving rejections, re-writing, attending workshops, re-writing, re-writing, re-writing. Many people were surprised that I could persevere with the same manuscript, but believe me, persistence paid.
I want it bad enough but have recently discovered how important support is. All just excuses aren't they? ~Elizabeth aspiring not for long
For me, I think it's that I have no confidence that anyone wants to read what I write.
If I could believe in myself more, I think I could solve some of my own problems.
Donna McDine ~ Children's Author said...
Cheryl...what a great idea! I am published with a couple of short stories and several non-fiction articles. And I feel myself getting pushed towards the niche of writing non-fiction. I especially like working off a theme list for a mag and I tend to gravitate to the non-fiction pieces. I have several queries out there and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I'll get at least one interest.
This comment is from a friend of mine. It brings up, once again, the issue of support and also discusses money:
"I fall under reason 6: Lack of resources in my area and my own coffers. There is pretty much nothing at all to help aspiring writers out here in the Coachella Valley (Palm Springs Area). All I have is what's online, and I haven't gotten the kind of help I need from those sources (only recently though). Instead of answering me directly, they refer me to books, blogs, and articles, most of which I have to pay to get, or don't make sense to me as I am still new at this.
I'd go to a conference, but I can barely pay the gas to go to and from school. The money it would take to go to a conference is WAY out budjet for me. So I'm stuck out here with little or no help but my own determination."
Rachel Newstead said...
I think in my case, it can be boiled down to lack of workable ideas and lack of life experience. I'm disabled and for much of my life I've led an extremely cloistered existence--there are probably ten- and eleven-year-old children who are more wise to the ways of the world than I am. So what do I write about?
The "write what you know" school of thought wouldn't work for me, obviously. I'm an animation geek and interested in old music. Not much to draw from.
I also could only write the sort of book I'd want to read, and I'm not interested in most genres of fiction--and don't feel qualified to write in the one genre that does interest me, science fiction. So you can see my problem.
There are some really great responses to this question - lots of brave ladies willing to put it out there for all to see! for me, I think part of it is fear of success - and the pressure to do it again. Right now, writing is still fun. Will it still be fun when I have to meet a deadline? What about criticism? How will I react if my book gets a bad review? Am I just a one-book wonder? All of these things add up to Fear of Success.
Lea Schizas - Author/Editor said...
The difference between aspiring authors and published authors is passions, determination and perseverance. I keep stating this, over and over.
I find many authors concentrate too much while they write, going back into their work and editing while writing instead of allowing the story to move forward and then worry about the editing stage.
We need to wear the writer's hat first, finish our stories, then wear the editor's hat.
For me, what slows my work, is my involvement with many groups and reading emails. These two areas need to come under control so I can move my work faster.
Before I left the corporate world to raise my growing family and concentrate on my writing career, I spent nearly twenty years in business. While we writers hate to admit it, writing isn't only about creating; it's also a business. We must perform market research to find the best place to submit our work. We have to pitch our ideas to overburdened, stressed out editors. We must network with other writers and people within the industry. And, we have to know how to promote ourselves to make sure we stand out amongst the thousands of other aspiring authors doing the same thing.
I am fortunate to work with an awesome group of people at Pump Up Your Book Promotion, and if everything our founder, Dorothy is telling me is true, I have a knack for the biz. Dorothy asked me one day how I quickly came up with ideas for a guest article that I wanted from one of our clients who is promoting a business book. I sarcastically replied, "You do remember that I started working when I was 16 and I'm almost 40, right?"
The ideas I gave her seemed like common sense...but maybe they aren't to a lot of people. That got me to thinking, what can the aspiring author learn from the world of business?
Here are five things that I thought of right away:
Number 5: You never get a second chance to make a great first impression.
Well, this one applies to more than just writing, but it applies to the aspiring author in so many ways. Think about the books that you've read. What are some of the adjectives that come to mind: outstanding, fabulous, mediocre, good, atrocious, and god awful. I'm sure there are others, but I want you to think about those books you liked and those you didn't really care for.
What did you like about the book? Were the characters well-developed? Did the hook draw you in right away? Did you stay up late at night reading it until the last page was turned?
Why didn't you care for that book? Were the characters portrayed in an unrealistic light? Were the good guys just too good to be true? Did the villian have no redeeming qualities at all--nothing to make him seem human? Did it take you until page 5 to get hooked into the storyline? Did you pray for the darn thing to end?
You only get once chance to win over a reader. Don't waste it. Make that first impression the best it can be.
But it starts much earlier in the process than with the reader. How about the publisher? Did you polish your manuscript until there wasn't a thing you felt you could improve upon? Did your critique group and editor give it the green light?
Did you pitch it to the right publishing house? You didn't send your romance novel off to a nonfiction publisher in the hopes you can convince him to start a new line, did you? And that query letter--was it your best stuff? Did you keep it brief, but still provide what he asked for? Did you check the query over and again for typos? Did you follow all their guidelines?
Get it right the first time.
Number 4: Listen more than you talk.
This has always been a tough one for me, because I love to talk and I like to provide my opinions. Active listening skills are crucial for an aspiring author. Those skills will allow you to listen to a good critique of your work without defending your position. Active listening will allow you to silently decipher which feedback is valid and will give you the time to fully understand what the person providing constructive feedback is saying. Those skills also make the critiquer feel that you truly value his opinion.
Number 3: If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.
Have you ever pitched a good idea and see it not implemented? I sure have. Did I let that stop me? Hell no! I used appropriate opportunties to pitch my idea again and again. I finally found the right person who thought it was just as good as I did. It was certainly a big thrill to get the recognition I deserved.
As long as you know that the manuscript you've put together is the best it can possibly be, then don't let rejection stop you. Do more market research and query more publishers and/or agents. There is bound to be someone who is as excited about your manuscript as you are.
Quitters never prosper.
Number 2: Build strong, healthy relationships within the industry.
At my last job, I had a real hard time...and it was my own fault. I had just left my position as Office Manager at a local manufacturing firm. I had subordinates and was used to being in charge. I came into an entry level position expecting to control things, just the way I used to. I alienated my co-workers who felt threatened by my ambition. And worse, I blamed them for my troubles.
It would take 18 months before things began to improve. It took me that long to realize I was sabotaging my success. Once I started acting like more of a team player and recognized the talents of those around me, I was able to network easily and be appreciated by my co-workers, my superiors, and others in the department.
The same thing goes for writers. We need to build strong, healthy relationships with other writers, editors, and publishers. Without networking, our struggle is an uphill one on both sides.
Many of the authors who tour with Pump Up Your Book Promotion ask what else they can do to promote their book. I stress the importance of networking. The more people who are impressed with you, the more likely you are to catch someone's eye. This writer always knows someone, who knows someone, who knows someone...
See what I mean?
And the most important thing that an aspiring author can learn from the business world is...
Number 1: "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." - Eleanor Roosevelt
I can't say it any better than this former First Lady, so I won't even try. I've had bosses who demeaned me because of my sex or my age. I've had superiors who haven't liked me because of what I stood for. I've had co-workers who disliked me for reasons I never even knew. But in the end, if I knew what I was doing was my best work, I was okay.
The same logic can be applied to aspiring authors. I've read some of the rejection letters my fellow writers have gotten and there are times I want to shoot back an email to the editor asking him what crawled up his butt. I've also read some heavy-handed, overly harsh critiques from writing groups.
Writing isn't for the faint of heart. I think we all know this going in. But, don't our own feelings of self-doubt and anxiety fill up enough of our time without us being made to feel like someone else thinks we stink?
There is only one way to deal with tough rejections and critiques. Walk away from them for a few days. Then approach them with a fresh set of eyes and a prepared heart. Can you find something useful to take out of them? Probably. Maybe your characters were as flat as a cardboard cut out. Perhaps the point of view is as shallow as the trickle of water running through an almost dry stream.
That doesn't mean you can't take that feedback and improve your manuscript before you send it out again.
I know I've concentrated on aspiring authors but any writer can put these five points to good use. The business world is ripe with ideas that writers and aspiring authors can use to make the business side of a writing career almost as enjoyable as the creative side.
Good luck and keep writing!
This post originally appeared at my old Aspiring Author blog on 3/29/08.
I'm often asked where I find time to write. The answer is simple--I find it whenever and wherever I can.
As a wife and mother of three children--two of them under age eight*--there is little uninterrupted time in the day to concentrate on my writing. But, if you want something badly enough you "make" the time.
How do you do that?
First, I had to sit down and assess exactly where all my time goes. Every day I wash, dry, and fold two loads of laundry; I get three people breakfast and lunch; I cook supper every night so that the entire family can spend time together; I make my husband's lunch for work each night; I read to the girls at night, we say prayers together, and I sing to them until they fall asleep.
Those are all things that must be done in order to keep the house running smoothly. Gee, looking at that list it seems like I should have plenty of time to write.
The house still needs to be cleaned every once in a while; I spend one night a week at church; I teach the children in our AWANA Club; I am a member of a town committee and sit on the church council and I like to stay in touch with family and friends either by email or at parties. Plus every once in a while I would like a few minutes of "me" time.
And let's not forget the unexpected: illnesses, accidents, and errands that steal precious moments away from what I should be doing.
When I sat down and seriously considered everything I had to and wanted to do with my time, I knew I would need to cut some things out if I was ever going to have a writing career.
The first thing that went was uncessary emails. I have no willpower. If someone sends me a joke or a Power Point presentation, I am going to read it. So, I emailed everyone asking them to hold off on sending them my way. Then I canceled my membership to several Yahoo Groups. Once again--no willpower. And finally, I made a conscious decision to limit all my online time so that I would have more time to write.
I also use every spare moment to do something writing related. I read trade magazines while waiting for doctor appointments. I read or write while my husband drives us to church on Sunday mornings. And, I carry around a small notebook in my purse to jot down ideas or words for a story I'm working on as they come to me.
But the thing that most of my friends get a big chuckle out of is when I tell them I read and write while soaking in the tub.
If you want to be able to balance your family life and your writing career, figure out where all your time goes, decide what must be done and what can be cut, and use every free moment you have to make your dreams come true!
This article was originally at my old Aspiring Author blog on 8/8/07.
* Age has been changed to reflect 2008 as the year.
Welcome to our new blog, The Aspiring Author. I'm in the process of moving things over from the old Aspiring Author blog and will eventually delete that one. The old template did not allow me the flexibility of this new one and I tried several times to change it, but was unsuccessful.
So, here we are in a new spot, with a new URL, but with the same focus: the aspiring author. I'll be adding a blog roll soon--one of the things that wasn't easy to do with the old template--that will include resources for writers, we'll touch upon topics of importance to aspiring authors, and because I think published authors give some of the best advice I'll be posting the upcoming visits by authors to my other blog, The Book Connection.
I hope you'll come along for the ride and see what happens.
Cheryl C. Malandrinos is a lifelong resident of Western Mass and an award-winning REALTOR® with Real Living Realty Professionals. Her background in management, financial services, and social media marketing served as an excellent foundation for her real estate career.
Ms. Malandrinos is also a freelance writer, children’s author, editor and blogger. A 2005 graduate of Long Ridge Writers Group, she writes articles about time management and organization. She is the author of Little Shepherd, A Christmas Kindness, Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving, and the upcoming Amos Faces His Bully. She has edited numerous manuscripts in a variety of genres and ghostwritten a Christian chapter book.
Above all, Cheryl is an imperfect Christian wife and mother doing her best and hoping she makes a difference.