Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Something for Authors to Think About

I have been working on book reviews and manuscript acquisitions as of late, and have noticed something in both.

When an author submits a manuscript for publication, the question is, has the manuscript been edited by a professional editor, of at least read by a person other than the author? A second pair of eyes is necessary when writing. It is too easy for the author to miss small items like typos and more because they are too close to the copy.

As an acquisitions editor it is hard to read and review a manuscript that contains glaring errors in basic grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Writing is a business and authors need to treat their writing as something special, which writing is; make these same errors in your query letter, and your manuscript might earn a rejection letter if you are lucky enough to receive a response.

In today’s publishing environment, authors should not trust the publisher would edit the manuscript for them, especially when using self-publishing houses. With the way publishers are running the houses, it is up to the author to wear multiple hats. Authors of today need to be editor, marketer, and promoter. Many agents and publishers will expect a marketing plan along with the manuscript, it is the author’s job to sell the book and find places to market the book and set up displays in bookstores and other places. A website for the book and a following is also necessary for promotion.

As an acquisitions editor, authors, please do your work to the best of your ability and edit your manuscript before submitting it to any publisher.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Bolster Your Ego

Let's give the ego what it wants--something to be proud of and crow about. This way we can knock the "I'm not good enough" thought block on its ass. Grab your journal, find a comfy spot, put some music on and light a candle. Divide your life into decades. Now put down on paper:

1. Every accomplishment you've ever achieved. Did your painting in first grade art get selected to hang in the principle's office? Write it down. Did you get elected class president in eighth grade? Write it down. And so on, through the decades.

2. Write down everything you're good at--writing, knitting, gardening, hiking, taking care of kids, airplane mechanics, social media--anything. Really think about this and write it all down, no matter how small.

3. Find a way to bookmark this page, either turning the corner down so you can access it again, or copying all these accomplishments to the computer, where you can either print them out or have ready reference to them.

4. Every time your energy flags and you start to tell yourself you aren't good enough, refer back to this list immediately. Revel in how fantastic and cool you are. And now go back to your writing.

Writer, mentor, and coach Charlotte Rains Dixon is passionate about helping writers, coaches, entrepreneurs, and creative professionals succeed, achieve, and profit in their careers and lives through writing. Visit her for more tips and techniques on writing--and living--at www.wordstrumpet.com.

Seven Thought Blocks That Hold You Back--And How to Smash Through Them

By Charlotte Rains Dixon

Thoughts are things. Or more to the point, thoughts create things--like finished books and articles and web copy. One thing I love about writing is that it's so intangible. A thought occurs to you, you write it down, and then add another sentence and another, and sooner or later you have a finished piece of work. You make something from nothing, literally manifesting a product from your thoughts.

And so, it stands to reason that for we writers, the way we think is vitally important. Allowing ourselves to wallow in negativity can be suicide for writing success. So, herewith, seven common thought blocks and ways to get around them.

1. I'm Not Good Enough. Have you ever heard that little message as you are writing away? I know I have. A sneaky variation is, its not good enough, it being whatever you are working on, of course. Don't give into this insidious thought, that which has stopped more masterpieces from being written than any other. You'll never know how good it can be until you finish it--and rewrite it several times. Make a deal with yourself that you'll get the project into as good a shape as you are capable of, and quit the judging until then.

2. It's Already Been Done. Well, of course it has. There's nothing new under the sun, truly and all. But there's only one you. And you+old, tired idea=wonderful fresh new novel. Or memoir. Or article. When you put your personal spin on something, it will be shiny and new. Trust me.

3. I Don't Have Time Anyway. None of us do. Yet novels and self-help books get written every day. Blog posts get written, copy for websites gets posted...you get the idea. Get up earlier, use your lunch hour, do whatever it takes--and quit using time as an excuse.

4. I Don't Know How to Do It. That's what makes it fun! The wonderful thing about writing is that it takes a lifetime to master, and there's always going to be something you don't know how to do or some aspect of your work to improve. Just think--never will you fight boredom again. Plunge in and see what happens, or buy a book on the subject. You should be reading voraciously anyway.

5. I'll Just Take a Quick Look at my Email. Don't do it! I'm the worst email slut on the planet, and still it is the bane of my existence. If I'm working on a project and I hit a snag, I think, I'll just hop on over to my inboxes and see what's going on. And fifteen minutes later, I'm still composing a message. Email is a time killer (and remember, a few minutes ago you were whining about not having any). Shut your inboxes down and give yourself regular interludes in which to check them.

6. Oh, Why Bother? This lament is actually a lack of commitment in disguise. Why bother implies that it is simply too much effort. Yet, anything worthwhile takes effort, consistent, diligent effort. And c'mon we're talking about writing here--it is fun effort. So of course you should bother, because legions of people are waiting to read your work. They simply don't know it yet.

7. It is Just Too Hard. Anything worth doing is challenging. Fess up--if writing were easy, you wouldn't be so interested in it, would you? If writing were easy, the bookshelves wouldn't be full of how-to books on the topic. If writing were easy, every single fool on the planet would write. Wait, I forgot--many of them do. So you be the smart one who knows writing is hard and embraces it precisely for that reason.

You can see that many of these thought blocks require a bit of tough love to get yourself through. You can be sweet and gentle to yourself until the cows come home, but sometimes that just doesn't work. So don't hesitate to get a little rougher when there's a need. It is all in the service of your writing, and you can apologize to your poor little bruised ego when you hit the bestseller lists.

Writer, mentor, and coach Charlotte Rains Dixon is passionate about helping writers, coaches, entrepreneurs, and creative professionals succeed, achieve, and profit in their careers and lives through writing. Visit her for more tips and techniques on writing--and living--at www.wordstrumpet.com.