Living the Writing Dream
by Lynette Rees
If someone had told me ten years ago in 1998 that I would be where I am now as a writer, my mouth would have popped open with incredulity. Back then, I had just joined a local writing group and was completely in awe of all the other writers there. Okay, I was the baby of the group. I was in my mid thirties, whereas the rest were in their 60s, 70s and 80s and included people such as the lady who used to be a head mistress of a girls' school and the man who oversaw a large group of office workers. What was I then? What did I have to offer the group? I was 'just a stay at home mother' who had given up her receptionist job many moons ago to raise her children. My only writing experience was from my school days. Yet, hadn't my stories entertained back then? Of course they had, that's why my English teacher often chose to read them out to the class. I really enjoyed attending that writing group in the bowels of the old library at Dowlais. I learned so much from those people. My ambition back then was to publish my own novel whether it was self-published or by the traditional route, it didn't matter a jot. Just to see my name in print on the cover, knowing that others were reading the works of my imagination, was enough for me.
The first book I started to write was enjoyable. I wrote three chapters but then scrapped it. A few months later I had another idea for a book. I even had a title for it this time: 'Caught in the Web' and it started off very well. I wrote eight chapters and then ran out of steam. But do you know what? Nothing was wasted. The first couple of books formed a learning curve for me. I had learned how to format a chapter and work on plot and characterisation. I even read a chapter or two out to the writing group, who seemed to enjoy it. I took photographs of the locations I used and scribbled down notes. I was learning -- fast.
I set my novel writing aside for a couple of years but then, back in 2002, I became inspired by my boss, Tracey Burke. Tracey runs Cancer Aid Merthyr Tydfil, where I work as a counsellor. It's an organisation that helps clients and their families by providing counselling, complimentary therapies and transport. Tracy is so dedicated to the organisation and so passionate about what she does that I developed a fictional character with similar traits. This book was a romantic suspense, entitled, 'It Happened One Summer'. It was published by The Wild Rose Press along with the follow up, 'Return to Winter'. The proceeds of both books have been donated to Cancer Aid. Next month, my romantic comedy, 'A Taste of Honey' will go into print at Samhain Publishing. As well as going on sale at Amazon.com and the publisher's website, it will retail across the U.S. in Waldenbooks/Borders stores: http://samhainpublishing.com/romance/a-taste-of-honey
And shortly, I will begin edits on 'Watching You', another romantic suspense that will be published by The Wild Rose Press. I truly believe the work that went into those first two books I failed to complete, was not wasted. I've reused the research from both for my published books and one of the characters from 'Caught in the Web' appears prominently in 'It Happened One Summer' and 'Return to Winter'.
Who knows what 2008 will bring? I have two further books in the pipeline which I hope to find good homes for and maybe another ten years from now I'll have achieved something equally incredible.
To succeed as a writer one of the most important qualities [along with talent] I believe is, persistence. If you've got that in spades you'll plod on up the pathway to publication as I have.
Bio: Lynette Rees lives in South Wales with her husband and children. She runs a group called 'Write for Therapy' once a month at Cancer Aid Merthyr Tydfil.
Visit her website here: http://silverlady00.tripod.com and her blogspot here: http://nettiesramblings.blogspot.com
Hurry Up and Fail (continued)
There, blatantly on the title page, I saw the first mistake. To my dismay, I discovered that this was just a hint of what was to follow: misspelled words, typos, punctuation problems and oh so many grammatical mishaps. If only he had taken the time to have a professional look at his manuscript before he scheduled his print date…
But this client, like so many others, was in a hurry. He became so obsessed with his deadline, that he rushed a project that wasn’t quite ready.
Authors, don’t make this mistake with your projects. Avoid serving up your prose or your story before it is ready. Publishing is a process and each stage of it takes time and attention. Following are 6 steps that, if omitted, could mean the difference between the success or the failure of your project:
Before you start writing the book:
1: Study the publishing industry. It is imperative that you know what choices are available to an author and the consequences of your publishing decisions. You must also have a clear understanding of your responsibilities as a published author. Here’s something that many unaware authors find shocking: whether you land a traditional royalty publisher, self-publish (establish your own publishing company) or hire a fee-based POD publishing service, you—the author—are responsible for promoting your book.
2: Write a book proposal. A well-organized, well-designed, well-written book proposal will tell you whether you have a book at all, whether it is a viable product, who your audience is, where you will find them and it will guide you in establishing your platform.
Many an author has changed the focus of his or her book during the book proposal process and, as a result, turned out a more successful product.
After you’ve finished writing your book
3: Assess the content of your book. Review it from many angles. For a nonfiction book, make sure that you have included everything that you need in order to inform, guide, teach and/or educate your audience. Is your book organized logically? Is it easy to follow? Should you break up long streams of text by using headings and subheads? Is your content correct, quotes exact and statistics fresh and precise? Spend as much time as you need to make your nonfiction book the useful tool it is meant to be.
For a novel, does every transition and instance of dialogue work? Are there any areas that sort of grate on you? This could indicate that your story needs more work. Don’t quit writing too soon. But try to avoid stressing over your story to the point that you start changing things that don’t need changing.
4: Hire an editor. Every author needs at least one extra set of eyes before they can call their book finished. Hire a good editor and allow them the time it takes to perform his or her job. How do you pick a good editor? Choose one who is familiar with the type of book you’ve written—if they know the topic well, all the better. Select an editor who has come highly recommended.
5: Proof any and all changes. Anytime you make a change or you ask your book design person to make a change, do a thorough proofing of the entire area that may be affected by this change. Did the designer type the new phrase correctly? When he added it in, did this affect the spacing or the flow from one page to the next? Do you need to make a change in the index because of an addition?
6: Add all of the appropriate amenities. Don’t skimp because of a time constraint. If you forgot to purchase a barcode and decide to publish without it, know that you are making a huge mistake. Now your book is automatically ineligible for most retail store sales. Omit the ISBN and you probably can’t get your book placed at amazon.com. Is your book suitable for libraries? Then obtain the Publishers Cataloging in Publication block. And if yours is a reference book or a self-help or how-to book with many references, resources and tips, please, please, take the time to create an index.
In publishing, time is probably not so much of the essence as is professionalism. Don’t allow yourself to be governed by the clock when it means rushing your project. Take charge. Concentrate on perfecting your manuscript, first and foremost. Deadlines can be changed. Producing a book before its ready can be a costly and embarrassing mistake.
Patricia Fry is a full-time freelance writer, editorial consultant and the author of 27 books including, “The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book” and the NEW companion book, “The Author’s Workbook.” www.matilijapress.com/rightway.html. Visit Patricia’s daily publishing blog at www.matilijapress.com/publishingblog
Workbook for Writers!
Get Your Publishing Project Off the Ground or Out of the Gutter
Finally, someone has developed a WORKBOOK to help you chart your course through the writing, publishing and marketing process. Read Patricia Fry's newly revised book "The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book" (366-pages) and then use her "Author's Workbook" to evaluate the potential for your project and guide you in achieving your publishing goals. Guaranteed to increase your potential for publishing success.
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