Working on your Writing Skills

While you may be writing on a regular basis or already developing your first major work, you can always work a little more on your craft.  Here are just some quick suggestions on getting yourself going or improving the quality of work that you are creating. Keep a Notebook on Hand You never know when writing inspiration is going to hit you. You could be in the middle of a movie, having a cup of coffee, or even walking through the park. When that inspiration hits you, you need to capture it so you don’t lose it. Carrying a small notebook and pen in your purse or pocket at all times will help you capture the inspiration so you don’t lose it. Write. Just do it. Don’t just talk about writing or think about writing, you actually need to do it. Just like anything else, the more you do it, the better you will be at it. You will get used to developing characters and plotlines and your speed of writing will actually increase. While it may be slow-going right out the gate, things will speed up and improve as you improve. And it doesn’t have to be anything in particular. Just write in your journal, write a blog, or even just do quick freelance writing jobs. Practice makes perfect. Don’t Give into Distractions When you aren’t feeling particularly inspired, it can be easy to check your email or Facebook, but it is a trap. Social media and the internet can be a time productivity trap. Do not give into it. Tell yourself that you can check your email after you’ve written a thousand words and hold yourself to it! If you are starting at a blank page and just can’t feel the writing mojo, just look out your window and write about the first thing you see. Are there leaves on the trees? What color are they? What season it? It doesn’t matter what you are writing about, but once you can get to describing something, you can get your writing flow back. Change up What You’re Writing You don’t need to write about the same thing every day. If you are feeling tired about a character or plotline, opt to write something else. Work on a poem or short story. Break up the monotony.  Maybe even dabble in a different genre. If you have been working on contemporary fiction, play at writing something historical. If you are working on the next Great American Novel, stop and work on something about aliens in space. It doesn’t matter if it is what you are into, the break will help your creative juices get more under control. Put the Work Away If you have been writing and rewriting the same piece over again, put it away for a few days and return to it. You’ll be amazed at what a couple of nights sleep can do to your opinion on your own work. You will be able to see your work with better clarity and fresh eyes, giving yourself new insight into your work. Don’t frustrate yourself if you aren’t making headway. There’s no need to push yourself unfairly. Slash Without Mercy When you are revising your work, look at the paragraphs and lines. Is everything you’ve written pertinent to the story? Is it helpful? If you have excess words or descriptions, save yourself some trouble later on and just cut out the nonessential details. Unless the style you are going for is long-winded Victorian literature, you need to make sure your work is concise and free of any unnecessary clutter.

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Tips on Self-Publishing

You may have heard the term of self-publication before or even considered doing it for yourself. I’ve compiled a list of things to just introduce you to self-publishing and help you see if it is the right fit for you. What exactly is Self-Publishing? The term is actually more recent. Self-publishing was once called “Vanity Publishing,” where you had a book published not to share ideas with the world, but to support your own vanity. There is no profit in self-publishing as you are the one who fronts all the costs. Essentially, if you have written a book of any sort and have not been able to get a publishing house to pick it up, or perhaps don’t want a publisher at all, then self-publishing is a possible next step. You would be responsible for the entire creation and cost of your book. Is it expensive? I’m not going to beat around the bush; self-publishing can be very expensive. While with the introduction of e-books, you no longer have to front the cost of printing for novels, there are other costs to consider. And if you are not writing a novel or non-fiction standard book, chances are e-book publishing is not a good fit for you, meaning you will have to come up with the costs of printing. A cost breakdown looks like this: Design software: If you are wanting a professional look to your book, you will need to get some software. This is not necessary though. Cover art: You may need to purchase the rights or a picture or have someone draw something for you. Again, not 100% necessary though, even though it would be nice. Editing: If you want to make sure your book is more polished, having a freelance editor review it ahead of time is not a bad idea. Editors can be costly depending on the amount of work your book needs though. Printing: This is where the majority of the expense actually is in self-publishing. Printing costs can be very high depending on the size of book and whether it has pictures. And remember, you will not recoup this cost like a publisher would. Can I put my books into bookstores myself? Getting your self-published work into a bookstore is highly unlikely, at least not in any major chain stores. You may have better luck getting your book into an independent store, but I wouldn’t put any bets on it. You see, bookstores typically work with a book distributor who can provide them with a list of all of the books in each genre that are coming out. The books have been published by professional publishers and have been marketed to meet the end reader. They are reviewed by newspapers and have made a name for themselves even before the book launch. A bookstore is more likely to sell high volumes of books that have been marketed well and produced at a professional level. This means they will want to use their bookshelf space for something that can be sold as opposed to a book that is questionable and written by an unknown author. While you have faith in your book and your writing, a bookstore will not, especially if you were not able to be published by a publishing house. The quality of self-published works is often less than the quality of professionally published works, meaning if you did get your book in a bookstore, even though you may not have any marketing behind it, and someone picks it up, the quality alone may turn them away from considering to purchase a self-published work.

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How to Become a Publisher

Maybe writing works isn’t for you and you also don’t want to work for a publisher. Maybe you have a dream of producing your own types of books to your own standard. Or maybe you just haven’t seen enough books out there for a topic you are passionate about. It could be time to create a publishing house and publish books on your own. Get a Niche There is no way your new publishing house will be as big as Random House overnight. You need to start somewhere. To get started, you need to think about the kind of books you are wanting to create. What got you thinking about it to begin with? Do you want to create more math books for girls? Or maybe concentrate on green energy? Having a niche publishing house will draw in the writers you are looking for as well as open the door for the end reader. Putting yourself in a specific group will get those group members on board and supporting your new venture and, as a result, will allow you to sell books. You name and logo will need to reflect your niche as well. If it’s a young adult fiction publisher, make your name appearing to the young adult reader. Find your Employees Perhaps you are trained in all things in the world of publishing, but creating a book from start to finish and doing it well can be extremely challenging. See if you can find some interns to help you with the grunt work while you’re getting things going. Doing all of the creation while simultaneously trying to figure out how to make your publishing house profitable will wear you down quickly. Don’t be afraid to get help before you find yourself drowning in work and quitting before you have really had the opportunity to begin. Get a Business Loan Like starting any business, you will need to create a business plan and figure out how you will get to where you want to go. Once you have developed how you will create a publishing house, you will need to find a way to fund it. While it is possible to get things going in your home, remember that printing can be extremely costly. It’s a good idea to get a business loan to get the money to get your publishing house moving. Remember that this will have to be paid back though. Once you get the loan, get to printing and recouping that money spent while making money for yourself. Find some Distributors While you may be thinking all about how to get the books created, you will need the books to sell in order to have any luck in succeeding. You need to get your books into the hands of a distribution company. The distributors provide books to bookstores all over the country as well as informing bookstores about what is the latest and greatest thing out. Bookstores take their distributors very seriously. If you can get in good with a distributor, they will be your biggest cheerleader. Market Yourself Tell anyone and everyone you have started a book company and what books you are selling. Blast it all over social media. Make yourself an amazing website and leave business cards everywhere you can. Let people know that you are out there and what books you are creating. This will get your company’s name buzzing with not only potential future readers, but may attract new writers to you. Take on new authors Since you are just starting out, you will not be able to afford to give your authors much money at all. Signing on new authors usually means that their expectation is lower as they, like you, are just trying to get their name out there and get started. If you are lucky, you will find an author who fits your niche perfectly and be able to market them incessantly. With this, both you and the author can build the company together.s

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7 Tips on How to become a novelist

If you love books, like I do, you may have wondered at one point or another if you would be a good novelist. After all, why not? You’ve read thousands of words, sentences, and plot lines. You know how to tell a main character from a secondary character? Seems so easy, doesn’t it? Well I have a few ideas that could help you along the way. Write every day. You have to make writing part of your daily routine, even if it isn’t all part of a story. Giving yourself a routine of writing will make it a necessary order of things and let you get freer with your writing. Start with a daily goal of 500-1000 words. Once you get the flow of writing, you will have to do it every day. While I’m sure you are concerned about copying your novelist idols in style, reading is still important. You’ll learn a flow of story telling and dialogue as well as increase your vocabulary. And so what if you mimic your favorite author’s style? They’re your favorite for a reason! Accept criticism. This is the hardest thing for any novelist. Your book is like your baby. You created it from nothing. If someone criticizes your baby, you will automatically recoil. But your book is a work in progress. It is not done yet. Take criticism with a grain of salt. Some you will want to take seriously, other criticism you can ignore. Just try not to take it too personally. Follow your plot line. While in the beginning you may not be entirely sure where your story is taking you, once you find out, keep the order of things. Stories have a natural arc that you will need to follow. Lead your readers up to the climax and end the book after the resolution. Don’t kill off your main character in the beginning. This may seem obvious, but sometimes you don’t always know who your main character is until later on in the writing process. If your story has taken a turn from where it began,you may need to reevaluate how the story plays out and who the primary characters are. While creative writing is creative, there will still need to be research done to make the story believable. If you’re writing sci-fi you may think that it’s all made up, but it has “science” in it for a reason. The story and characters may be fictional, but laws of space and physics still apply. Same for fantasy stories; you need to make sure knights are dressed appropriately, ride horses the right way, and behave correctly. Changing up historical details, even in fiction, can alienate your reader If you are not careful. It’s best to keep the basics of reality the same. Gravity works, people talk and walk, people eat and communicate. It doesn’t matter where the story is taking place, keep the human characters human. Be brave. I’m sure you have been worried about your skill as a writer and weather you could be successful. But you will never be a great writer by fantasizing about it, you have to make it a reality. And practicing your hobby with hone in on your skill. You will find the stories you most enjoy telling and find your own voice as an author. It’s a scary leap to try something with the fear of failure, but it’s better to tell people how you worked on your first novel than tell people you always wanted to write one.

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How E-Readers Have Affected Bookstores

As e-readers have become a staple in the publishing world, they have had a profound effect on everyone. From the writers themselves to publishers, to the readers, e-readers have changed the game of books as well as the future of publishing. With all of the availability of instant book downloads, book stores are not being frequented as much as they used to…or are they? While independent brick and mortar bookstores have been thought to be the underdog in the book world, this is not actually the case. While e-readers have taken away some of the aspects of book shopping, they really haven’t taken the place of printed books. Instead, e-readers have given people quicker access to books that they wouldn’t have had before, meaning people are reading more than ever before. And with the reduced price of e-books, there are more books being purchased now than ever before. Independent bookstores have a place in their community. While some have had to shut their doors, the blame cannot be placed on e-readers alone. Independent bookstores that have gone out of business would have been likely to anyway, since they were clearly struggling. And as independent bookstores offer more than the simple act of purchasing a book, they cannot be run out of business by a Kindle. Indie bookstores are part of a community. They often have cafes and readings as well as other events that bring people into the store. And some bookstores, like Powell’s City of Books in Portland, are simply a community staple. What is more interesting, however, is that big box and chain bookstores have been the ones to suffer the most. Borders was completely ran out of business with the push of the e-book. Where Amazon had clearly dominated the e-reader market from the beginning, Barnes and Noble created their own e-reader to not only compete, but to stay afloat. Chain bookstores do not have the same level of nostalgia that indie bookstores have and do not have the same place within the community. People are more willing to let chain bookstores run out of business because there is no personal investment in the company. People have a natural attachment to indie bookstores, because they know where the money is going directly. When you buy a book from Barnes and Noble, most people think of their money being paid to the wealthy CEO’s of the company and could not care less if those CEOs lose money. With an indie store, however, the owners are members of the community and by supporting them, you are supporting your neighbors. There is another war being waged against the e-reader, however. It is not a simple matter of the e-reader killing the bookstores. Publishers themselves have gone to battle against sales giant Amazon as well as their Kindle. With Amazon’s constant desire to keep their prices low as possible, the money is not getting back to the publishers or authors. And the Kindle prices are especially unstable. Amazon will decide what rate to sell an e-book at, again cutting out the creator of the book itself. While the end user may be happy at the deal they are getting, this is killing conventional publishing houses and running them out of business. Why do we need publishers at all? You may think that publishers themselves have become obsolete. But consider this, without book publishing houses, books will lack all quality control. There will be no gauge on whether a book has been screened for readability and whether the topic is what you are looking for. This can kill the craft of book publishing altogether, leaving readers everywhere to the mercy of the unread self-published novel.

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E-Publishing vs Print Publishing

We have officially moved toward a digitized society where everything is completely available on your smartphone. You can google anything in an instant, removing the mystery or answering the previously unanswerable questions. With that, you also don’t need to carry a book around anymore. By carrying your smartphone, you have access to books anywhere you have a cell signal. But really, what is better between e-publishing and print publishing? Cost Electronic publishing is substantially cheaper to produce and purchase. Instead of the costs of printing, digital formats of books removes the physical from publishing, mean there are no actual materials that need to be paid for. As a result, the books are cheaper to buy. Since the publisher doesn’t need to charge for the paper and ink that is used in printing, the end buyer can reap the benefits. The books still cost money to produce, of course, as the author needs to be paid for her work and the editing and design staff also needs to be paid. While self-published books may be cheaper, there is not quality control in the world of self-publication, as they have removed the professionals from the book. Weather If you have an e-reader, you can take it anywhere you are. To doctor appointments, to read on your lunch, or to even read on vacation, an e-reader can go with you. But when it comes to weather and humidity concerns, e-readers need more care. Reading in the bath, for example, is more hazardous with an e-reader. If you drop a book in the bath, you may get a few wrinkled pages. If you drop an e-reader in the bath, you may have ruined it. The same could go for beach reading. E-readers are not meant to handle dust and sand. As they are electronics, they can definitely be ruined easier than a book. Space E-readers can hold thousands of books in one location. Printed books can take up quite a lot of shelf space in addition to weight. If you are not big on clutter or perhaps are an avid reader, having an e-reader with thousands of books as opposed to a thousand books on your shelf will be easier in the long run. Eyesight Reading off of paper is always easier on your eyes than reading an e-book. While the Kindle has come up with one model of e-reader that does have the ability to adjust the brightness to make it easier on the eyes, most e-readers are backlight and are hard to read for long periods of time. And they are worse to look at in dim lighting, putting excess strain on your eyes. Looking at ink on paper, however is far easier on your eyes and your eyesight. Access to books Imagine that you are on a long trip and get stranded in an airport or on a train. Maybe you don’t want to stray too far from your gate at the airport in case your flight begins boarding. You could have run out of things to read while waiting as you were not anticipating the stop. With an e-reader, you can download books instantly from anywhere that has a Wi-Fi connection, or cell connection, depending on your reader. Even at home you no longer need to venture to a bookstore in order to purchase a book, you can download a book from your house. Maybe you heard about a hot book and want to get started right away, but can never get to a bookstore during business hours. E-readers make the accessibility of books easier than ever.

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How to Plot a Book

You have had an idea for a novel for years. You know what you want to write about and you are passionate about it. Now you want to do it. But, where do you even begin. Here are some ideas to get you started on your book. Develop a Plot To begin with, you need to know what your story is about. Here are the decisions you need to make about your book so you can really get started with it. Where is your story going? The plot in any story involves a sequence of occurrences that lead to fixing a problem or achieving a goal. The plot is the explanation for how the problem ultimately gets fix or the main character achieves his goal. The plot should impact nearly every character in the book. What happens if the goal isn’t reached? If the problem is not solved by the characters, what is the consequence? What is the story riding on? This lingering fear or concern is what will keep readers hooked onto a book and dying to know if the characters succeed or fail. Keeping the readers on the edge of their seat will make them more involved and concerned about the outcome. What has to happen to reach the goal? You need to figure out what steps the main character needs to perform in order to reach their goal. Think of the different possibilities that the characters could attempt, no matter how silly or how they may fail in the process. Foreshadowing can help. While you never want to give the entire book away to the reader, giving them hints or clues to how things will go will pique their interest. This will make them more emotionally invested in the book and keep them reading. And it’s even more fun to make the hints wrong and give a bit of a plot twist. What do the characters have to lose to win? As in, they can reach the goal, but at what cost? Will they have to kill their dog, lose their job, or abandon their children? How important is achieving the goal to their moral character. What does it say about the characters? Maybe what the characters give up isn’t such a bad thing. Perhaps the main character just needs to lost pride or gain humility. You need to keep your character interested as well. If the character is constantly struggling over every marker throughout the entire book, book the character and the reader are going to get worn out. You need to give your character small wins, even if they have little or nothing to do with the ultimate goal achievementof the book. This can give the reader a break from the goal and let them know a little more about the character. And this will keep the character, even though he is fictional, from getting discouraged in the process. It is never fun to read about a character who is losing all of the time. Think of the specific steps that will lead to the goal of the story. Does the character need to discover the treasure map for everything else to happen? What has to happen to the character before the journey can begin? Who are the antagonists in the book making the main character’s journey more difficult? While the character will have personal challenges and maybe physical challenges while working toward the book’s goal, there usually is a villain, however minor, who is making life even more difficult for the main character. With these thoughts in mind, physically lay out your story. This will give you a plot arc to follow and keep you on task when you have begun writing.

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Book Publishing 101

A lot goes into the production of a book. From start to finish, there is an array of professionals skilled at a publishing task that go into taking a book from manuscript to print. Here is a list of all the people who create books. Acquisitions Editor Bet you didn’t know there are more than one kind of editor. But there is. The acquisitions editor reads the manuscripts that are sent to the publisher. The “slush pile” is what they call the unsolicited manuscripts, meaning they were not presented to the publisher through an agent. While the slush pile is frustrating and time consuming, when an excellent manuscript is found, everything else pales in comparison. The acquisitions editor is also in charge of writing up your book contract and negotiating payment. Developmental Editor A developmental editor is not always necessary. Their job is to take a book that has some major issues and work it into a sellable book. They will work on storyline problems, plot arcs, as well as character development. It is the most involved process of any editors and requires the most patience from both the editor and the author. Not every novelist will need help with the development of their book, but, if it’s your first book, it is definitely ok to consult with one. Most publishing houses will not have a developmental editor on staff. The task is time consuming and can be a money pit if the book is not worth the effort. As a book that needs developmental work needs a big overhaul, the publisher does not know how the final product will come out or if the writer will be willing to make the necessary changes to make the book marketable for the publisher. Writers in need of a developmental editor should be able to find one at an independent company or find a freelance editor. Line Editor This is the place where most books end up at the publishing house out of the slush pile. Provided that they are not lacking important structures, books will go to the line editors first. A line editor will still work on the structure of the book, but it is not substantial issues. Mostly a line editor works on the language of the piece, where the chapters fall, and minor character and plot details. This will ensure that the book is cohesive and will remove anything that could potentially alienate a reader. Copy Editor This is the type of editor that people think of first when they think of editors. This is the end of the editing road for a book. The copy editors ensure the work is clean and tidy and ready for printing. They will make sure the punctuation and grammar is correct, look for any spelling issues, and put out the book. The copy editor actually looks over the proof of the book as well to make sure there were not any errors that were missed or introduced during the design process. Design Once the copy editor has approved the manuscript, it will be sent over to the designer to be laid out for printing or e-publishing. The designer selects the type, the type size, book size, and even the spacing between each line and each letter. The designer makes sure that the book is easy to read and the layout is attractive to the eyes. The design team also takes care of the creation of the book cover and the layout of the wording on it. They will usually consult with the marketing department to make sure that the design of the book is keeping with the genre the book is being marketed as. Marketing The marketing team is who is going to sell the book. They will send out press releases, write the marketing copy for the back of the book as well as all promotional materials. They go to book events and announce that the book is coming. They also arrange the author signings and appearances to let people know about the book and how exciting it is.

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