Let me repeat: It’s a Business

Writing is a business word cloud

Writing is a business not just art. Success hinges on more than your well-written words. Unless we view it as a business and dig in to learn how to run it, then our words will always be a hobby and few people will see them. That was the theme of many of the classes and workshops I attended at a recent writer’s conference.

Don’t stuff your ears

It’s been the trumpet call for years and yet writers resist the call. We stuff cotton in our ears and say I just want to write. My words have value. Let’s not sully them with marketing and social media forays.

I’ve been struggling to do what I can to build a platform. Every time platform was mention groans of frustrated echoed in the room.

man in blue and brown plaid dress shirt touching his hair

Photo by Nathan Cowley on Pexels.com

Groan worthy moment

I just discovered the reason I couldn’t post on Instagram on my laptop. Instagram is a mobile app only. That means I can read and follow on my PC, but it limits posting to my cell phone. (Sigh!!!) I’ve still got a lot to learn.

 

Cross-pollination

The key tidbit I took away from the conference was cross-pollination. Writers need to add speaking, coaching and teaching to their toolbox. I’ve been writing for years and speaking on occasion. Expanding my speaking platform makes sense. I’ve made a list of how I need to go about making that happen.

animal bee bloom blooming

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Another part of cross-pollination is writing articles from the content of your books. Write on the same theme in a variety of venues. My heart is to help others. This blog and articles I publish are how-to and helping pieces about writing, and a few other topics near to my heart. My novels have characters who need help to find healing and open their hearts to love.

person holding black pen

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Dreaded paperwork

Another piece of the business of writing is having a tax advisor who knows what you need to sell books at venues in your state. Some authors feel awkward charging customers sales tax. You are selling a product. If you don’t charge it, then it comes out of your pocket. The IRS will not be happy if you don’t pay taxes. You must understand what paperwork they require for your income tax at years end too. What can you claim as a deduction and where to send your sales tax?

Hire help

You can hire accountants, tax advisors or marketing gurus to do these things. My marketing gal does most of my social media, creates memes and tracks results. I choose to do some of it myself too. Numbers and I have never been friends. My tax guy is outstanding, and my hubby keeps the books for free.

Ask others

I wasn’t shy about asking other authors what resources they used to run a successful business. I’ve a lot of work still ahead as I navigate building my writing career. Longing for the days when publishers built careers won’t sell books or grow my income. It’s up to me to make it happen. And that is a tough steak to chew. But chew it I will.

How do you run your writing business? What new things have you taken on to make it a success? Comment below so we can encourage one another.

 

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Tips for Publishing in the 21st Century Part 1

My guest today is author and editor Linda Yezak. Her newest novel Ride to the Altar, the final book in the Circle Bar Ranch series is available. I’m so excited, I’ve already preordered it. I’ve asked her to stop by while on her blog tour to talk about the publishing biz both self-publishing and traditional  She’s a wealth of information so I’m posting part two on Thursday. There’s an exciting giveway too. Look for the specifics later in the post. Linda Yezak

Take it away Linda.

Got your book written? That’s great! Edited? Even better. Now, what are you going to do?

We authors have so many choices these days, but we have to weigh our options carefully. First thing we have to determine, however, is what our goals are.

Common Goals

 

To get rich/famous quickly: This goal is usually based on the misconception that wealth follows publication. On rare occasion, it does. But for 99% of us, it doesn’t. If this is what you’re hoping for, here are a few tips that might up your chances:

  • Write a nonfiction book on a topic in which you are an expert. Even in self-publication, those who sell the most are those who have something to offer. In traditional publication, though, having something to offer isn’t always enough. You have to already have a name for yourself. Prove to the gatekeepers that you have a following, and you’re likely to get a big-name publisher’s trademark on your book’s spine.
  • Prepare to spend money on a publicist. If you don’t already have a big name and your goal is to become rich and famous, you’ll need exposure. A publicist can help you with that. Depending on who you are and who publishes your work, you may not see a lot of promo dollars being tossed out on your behalf. Chances are, you’ll have to make that investment yourself. It takes money to make money, so be prepared.
  • Also be prepared to validate your claim that you have something new and useful. If your publicist does a great job for you, you’ll have plenty of exposure—TV, radio, speaking engagements. You’ll have to prove that #1, you’re an expert, #2 you have something different to offer, and #3 your viewership needs what you have to offer.
  • There are all sorts of cyber-means of attaining the same results, albeit a bit slower, and there are all sorts of experts to teach you how. SEOs, funneling, etc. are things you can learn, often at a price but not always. The best time to learn how to do this is right now—whether you’re finished writing or not.

To snag a big-name publisher: These days, this one is only marginally more attainable than becoming rich and famous overnight. If you think about it, it makes sense. There are only so many well established publishers in existence, and with the advent of the computer, there are exponentially more wannabe authors waiting in the wings for their turn. Gaining a huge publisher on the first go-’round isn’t easy, and the first step in the process is to gain an agent. Try these tips (all based upon the idea that you have already studied the craft, written something amazing, and submitted it to critique partners and freelance editors):

  • Find an agent that specializes in your genre. Often you can discover this through the acknowledgment page of books in your genre. Writers Digest also features different agents.
  • Join professional organizations in your genre. Romance Writers of America, American Christian Fiction Writers, Mystery Writers of America—and tons more. Every genre has an organization, and each organization provides an opportunity to network with the professionals in your field. ACFW, for instance, holds agent and publisher panels, during which these pros introduce themselves, what they’re looking for, what they expect from you.
  • Study the agent’s website so you can learn exactly how to present your manuscript. Agents have preferences as to how they are to be approached. Make sure you’ve studied their guidelines, then follow them carefully.
  • Also, make sure your genre is one that agent represents. No point sending a horror novel to someone who specializes in sweet romance. Agents are only as good as their connections. cover size 250 x 386(1)

Stay tuned for part Two on Thursday. Linda tell us about your giveaway. There are two chances to enter. Today and Thursday. How cool is that.

I’m offering a giveaway package during the blog tour. When the two-week tour is over, all those who commented throughout the tour will be eligible for the drawing for the prize. It includes a signed print version of the series, a 16-ounce Christian cowboy mug, a horseshoe picture frame, a Ph. 4:13 stretch bracelet, a cute set of magnetic page markers, and a Texas Rubiks cube.  Visit the next blog on the tour tomorrow for an additional chance to win.  Cecilia Pulliams: https://ceciliamariepulliam.blogspot.com/ 

More about Linda:

Linda W. Yezak lives with her husband and their funky feline, PB, in a forest in deep East Texas, where tall tales abound and exaggeration is an art form. She has a deep and abiding love for her Lord, her family, and salted caramel. And coffee—with a caramel creamer. Author of award-winning books and short stories, she didn’t begin writing professionally until she turned fifty. Taking on a new career every half century is a good thing.

 

Website: http://lindawyezak.com

Newsletter: http://dld.bz/CoffeewithLinda

Facebook: Author Page

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/lyezak/

Twitter: @LindaYezak

Amazon Page: http://dld.bz/LWYAmazonPage

Goodreads: Linda W Yezak

 

giveaway 3(1)

What a great prize package.

Be sure to comment below to be entered in the drawing. Comments on social media where I’ll post this blog won’t count. And don’t forget to follow her tour and enter on those sites as well. You’ll get a chance to win and learn a lot more from Linda too.

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Reading Submission Guidelines: Your Gateway to Publication

SUBMISSION CLOUDI’ve had this blog since 2006. And the last few years I’ve opened it up to more guest posts and author interviews.  Two reasons: I love to give other authors exposure, and I often learn useful things from my guests. Another reason is I don’t have to write every single blog. 😊

I want my blog posts to bring value. The same way publishers of magazines and books want their content to. Which is why magazines and blogs have submission guidelines.

Why I added submission guidelines

This past year I created submission guidelines for Jubilee Writer. My goal was to make it easier for guest bloggers to supply me with the things I need. Over the years, I’ve sent additional emails to upcoming guests requesting headshots and cover art or missing bios. My guidelines are intended to eliminate unnecessary emails. Instead, make my needs very clear from the get-go. There’s a list of possible questions in my guidelines for new author interviews. A time saver for both the guest and me.

And yet

There are times I still need to ask for missing items. Authors sometimes send me their media kit, which makes more work at my end. I would need to cut and paste, change fonts and in the end request they resend photos and book covers as attachments because I couldn’t pull the pictures from the word document.

Now that I have guidelines, I’ve stopped doing the extra work. My instructions are clear. Photos must be attached. I ask the guest to do the work and I explain why. For new authors, it’s a learning experience. I’ll take the time to help newbies get the components right. But magazines and book publishers won’t bother. They may not have time to request missing parts of your submission.  It will more than likely end up in the trash file.

But I have a media kit

If a publisher requests a media kit—send it. If not, please don’t. I recall taking pains to create a job resume only to have to fill out a handwritten application. Every blank had to be completed. No “see attached resume” was allowed.  That’s the same philosophy with guidelines. Give them what they want, how they want it.

Many job resumes and submissions are online where every space must be filled in. No attaching a media kit. You can’t cut and paste from your media kit into blanks. If you don’t know what a media kit is and didn’t read Tuesday’s guest post from Paige Boggs on Media Kits, click here.

I repeat

Always send what the publisher, editor, or agent wants IN THE FORMAT they want it. I was surprised when Women’s World magazine’s guidelines required a hard copy of a short story mailed with an SASE. They refused to take emailed versions. Chicken Soup for the Soul is an online submission form only.

Most guidelines contain a disclaimer like: “if you do this instead of that, we will delete your email without opening it”. A retired literary agent told a story at a conference I attended about a persistent author. Guidelines on the agent’s website clearly stated he only took proposals and manuscripts via email. He had very specific steps involved in creating the kind of proposal he wanted. This particular author hand delivered his manuscript to the agent’s door. Without skipping a beat, the agent wrote across the manuscript a rejection note and handed it back.

And Again, I Say

Read the guidelines, then read them again. Follow every step. If you aren’t computer savvy when it comes to attachments, ask someone to teach you. Unless a publisher states they want your submission in the body of an email—always send it as an attachment. (Side note: clearly title the attachment i.e. Short Story Title, by Authors name and make sure your email subject line is clear as well.) When you think you have all your ducks in a row, count them again. It’s embarrassing to send off your email and forget to attach your manuscript, catch the mistake and send another email. Some publishers may glance at the subject line and think you are violating the guidelines of not sending a corrected manuscript after submitting. They may push the delete button without opening the email and miss your cute “Oops! I forgot to add the attachment.”

Get in the habit of reading submission guidelines thoroughly even for lowly blogs like mine. That habit will improve your publishing chances and show you as a professional even if it is your first ever submission.

What are some unusual submission guidelines you’ve run into as an author?

 

Ten Point Checklist for Conference Attendees

conference word cloudThis week I’ll be attending Write to Publish, the writer’s conference I’ve attended every June for over a decade. Today I’ve decided to post a conference checklist. Thought you’d find it helpful.

  • Business Cards

Take 50. You may not use them all but you won’t run out. Give them to the people you have appointments with and exchange them with those you network with at the conference.check list-tiny

 

  • One sheets (sell sheets) of the novels or books you are pitching. One sheet per book. You can also create a sell sheet of article ideas you have. Present these at your appointments with an editor.

 

  • Clips- photo copies of your published work. This gives editors a taste of your writing experience. Or have copies of your completed short stories, articles and devotionals to share during your appointment if requested. Samples of your best work can lead to a request for your stuff.

    clip and samples-2

    I carry my clips and samples in a three ring binder with plastic sleeves.

 

 

  • Fresh notebook or laptop. Whether you prefer to take notes with pen and paper or on your PC be sure you have enough paper, extra pens and the power cord for your laptop. If you have a larger laptop like me, you might prefer to leave it at home or in your room. It gets heavy and cumbersome to tote. I can check emails etc. on my phone so I opt for pen and paper.

 

 

  • Pitch cheat sheet. I hate memorizing a pitch. I get frustrated and nervous. A cheat sheet helps me remember my pitch just before my appointment. I may not say it word for word but at least it’s fresh in my mind.

 

  • Pictures and names of agents, publishers and editors I want to meet. I may not get an appointment with them but mealtime is a great time to pitch your stuff. If I have a picture I might recognize them in the cafeteria or in the hall.

 

  • Proposals and manuscripts are optional. Most editors and agents want an email version. Having a copy or three is good if you plan on getting input from freelancers or participating in critique sessions. Have copies of the first chapter of your book. If an agent or editor marks it up or takes a copy, you have more clean copies.

 

  • Clothes for conference. Being sure you have all your outfits and all their components is important. I once forgot to change out of my sports bra. A pink sports bra under dress clothes was …I made an emergency run to a nearby Walmart to buy a new bra. Another year I bought a sweatshirt because the temp dropped. Be prepare for any contingency. Wear comfortable shoes if the conference you’re attending is on a large campus. Blisters and limping are just oh so fun when you’re trying to get all you can from a conference. Lots of people wear tennis shoes at these events. So, leave your classy uncomfortable footwear at home. If your conference has a formal dinner then pack dress shoes for that event only.

    black open toe

    Leave your uncomfortable shoes at home.

 

  • Double check your spending budget. There will be lots of books and CDs available for purchase. Decide what you absolutely must have. If it exceeds your budget copy down the title and purchases them later.

 

  • Be sure to have registration confirmation, hotel confirmation and if you’re flying tickets, boarding passes and proper ID.

 

  • Books for sale. This is my first year to bring my novel for the sales table. Only bring a reasonable amount. If you’re flying you’ll be limited unless you shipped them ahead. Even though the conference has hundreds of attendees they are not going to all buy your book. You will be in competition with lots of other authors along with myriads of craft books. Better to run out than haul boxes back home. Have lots of bookmarks or postcards available so interested readers can take them home and order your book later.secret-charades-front-cover

 

What items would you add to this list?

 

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Why So Many Rounds of Edits After the Contract?

Today and in other posts until my book is published in March 2017 I thought I’d share the many behind the scenes activities that take place after the contract is signed. This is not a time to set back and relax. Oh no. Whether you publish traditionally or self-publish, there are many steps before you see your book on the shelf.

Rounds of edits

First, is edits. Even though my book was professionally edited before I submitted it, there are still things that need changing.

Pansy O'Hara Did you know that Margaret Mitchell called the heroine in Gone With The Wind, Pansy? The publishers didn’t like her name. So it was changed to Scarlett. And if you’ve read the book or seen the movie, she is Scarlett. The name Pansy doesn’t have the power and sensual premise.

 

For me, my first round of edits included rewriting a couple of scenes. I needed them to be from my main characters’ points of view not the minor characters. I actually found them more powerful after I was finished.

The first edit found typos and grammar errors that were missed  during my final rewrite. We found overused words and mannerisms. I liked Jake to run his fingers through his hair when he was frustrated, nervous or thinking. Well, needless to say it was a lot.

So, the editor’s job is to point those out so I can find new mannerisms. A repetitive mannerism can get on a reader’s nerves and pull them out of the story.

The second edit is to double-check what I fixed and find new stuff like character names interchanged. I recently read a book where the character’s name was Joel and his late brother was John. But in one scene the tagline John said was used. This was not a ghost story.  It should have been Joel. The editor may also question your research. And you may be asked to go back and fact check.

There are two more edits after that. Why so many? You don’t want a reader to review your typos on Amazon.

Beta Readers

Next, Beta Readers read through looking for typos and anything that might take the reader out of the story. I’ve had the pleasure of being a Beta Reader. You receive a PDF file of the book and open another document to record any boo boos you find. I understand you can have as many as 30 Beta Readers. This way, any blaring problems are fixed as well as the miniscule ones.

There will be one more round of Beta Readers. They might receive an Author review copy or an e-book version to read. In the new format other mistakes are found. The goal is a really clean copy. The reputation of the publisher is on the line along with yours.

Read it again

Here is the key for you as a writer. Every time you receive edits. Read. Read the sentence being edited. The paragraph. The page. The chapter. The whole novel. Read as much as you need to be sure the change flows. Read enough to ensure the edits have not changed the story.

You are the author and not every edit is the right choice. Please do accept typos, misplaced names. POV shifts, things like that. But there are other things you might say no to.  If someone felt a scene needed more sensory beats. The smell of the hot asphalt. The chirping of a robin. The snoring of the old man. You are the one who decides if that would add or distract from your story.

Author Review Copies

By the time you get to the second set of Beta Readers there’s very little to be pointed out. Possibly nothing at all. These readers are good candidates for pre-release book reviews.

Some publishers might not edit as thoroughly. They might only use one round of Beta Readers. I don’t know that there is a set formula. And if you self-publish you are going to have to find your own Beta Readers.These should be people who notice details and grammar errors.

Beware of editors who go through a minimal of steps. A wonderful story can be ruined by those little grammar, spelling and POV shift errors. I’ve seen them in printed copy of wonderful books. An e-book can be fixed. But a paper copy will hold on to those errors until a new print run. Not what you want at all.

In between receiving your edits to work on, you will be doing a lot of other things. Next post I’ll tell you what I learned about cover design.

What has been your editing experience?

 

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Copyright factoids for writers

Copyright symbol-2

Copyright symbol from Microsoft publishing

It never ceases to amaze me the fun facts or should I say unbelieve facts I learn at writer’s conferences. One I’d never heard of before is making me rethink a line in my latest novel.

Did you know?

We should all be aware that you need to check for copyrights for photos used in our materials. Don’t want to get sued. And if you’ve done your due diligence you may also know that you often have to be sure you have permission to quote from other sources. There’s a percentage formula. And you need to double check what percentage. The information can be found in the front of your source book under the used by permission disclaimer. Song lyrics have the same rules.

musical score-2

Copyright symbol from Microsoft publishing

Hard choice

Here’s the fun fact making me rethink my dialogue. Lines from movies not only need permission but you have to send a copy of the page of your manuscript where the line appears and the page before and after. This is a snail mail process with a SASE. No emailing here. And any and all of this asking permission could cost money.

So, I think I’ll just change the line. It can almost sound the same but it can’t be a direct quote. However, I’m free to mention a title because they can’t be copyrighted.

Other foot perspective

Some people think it is terrible for authors, musicians and scriptwriters to insist on permission. And to have to pay them no less. Well, if it was your words being used by others for free you might feel differently about it. If you invented a product and someone was stealing it off the shelves without paying … The flip flop is on the other foot and not so comfortable now is it.

rejection figures-lawsuit-2Be Proactive

Get your permission before you submit. Publishers are trusting you to do it. Add a line in your proposal mentioning rights have been granted. It creates huge problems to discover the material you quoted can’t be used in any form after the submission. The publisher may not be willing to give you the chance to rework your manuscript to exclude it, instead they may return it. How embarrassing. Be professional and get permission.

How have you waded through the copyright quandry?

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Ten years in the Making: A Book Contract

contract

 

If you follow me on Facebook, you saw my recent announcement. I received my first book contract. It only took 10 years to get there. Oh, let’s not forget 20 rejections, many rewrites and several edits. Years of improving my writing skills through online writing courses and writing books.  Ten years of attending conferences. Submitting to magazines and websites with both success and failure. I’ve made the acquaintance of many writers, both newbies and seasoned pros. During my ten year journey I have added agents and publishers to that list of acquaintances.

Help others on the journey

I’ve written over a hundred book reviews and supported my fellow-writers anyway I can. I enjoy helping promote their books and sharing words of affirmation when they were discouraged. I have purposed to invest in others while I worked toward the illusive contract.

Keep learning

Actions such as joining critique groups, following writing blogs and reading a lot propelled me toward the goal of publication. This has been ten years of perseverance and determination. I’d confess “I am a writer” when I wanted to keep that proclamation to myself. Established writers encouraged me to learn how to use social media.  Then I started this blog, Writer’s Patchwork, where all these writerly parts are sown together into the bigger quilt of gaining a contract. (Clever play on words.)

Cindy's Editor's Choice Award-2

My award. I am so blessed.

Never give up

Anyway, the point I’m trying to press home is don’t give up. Don’t get discouraged and keep helping others in the industry. Keep focusing on your goal and over time you’ll get that book contract.

Come follow me

It will probably be a year before my novel will be available for sale. During that time, I will be posting the next stretch of my journey. Even though I have a contract, a mountain-load of work remains to be done before I see my book in print. I’ll share my experiences in hopes of inspiring all of you to keep going. And give you a glimpse into the process of contract to book shelf.

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