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Step Two of Writing a Book

  In the last post, I gave hints on writing your book. Now it's time to make sure your work appears in its best form, whether you plan to self-publish or submit to an agent. However you recorded your story, at this point it has to become a computer file. There are two reasons for that: first, modern publishing requires it, and second, it makes editing a whole lot easier. You'll need to get to know your computer's editing aids, which can be frustrating but will pay off in the end. Things like FIND/REPLACE can save you hours of searching when you realize you changed the spelling of main character's name halfway through the story. When you get stuck, ask the internet. There's always a tutorial or a site where someone asked the same question you need answered. There are different ways of going about the editing process , and individuals arrange them to their liking. I do several self-edits before anyone else sees the book. Sometimes I combine a few of the edits listed

How Writing Changes Reading

 Note to audio fans: Deceiving Elvera is in the works for an audio book. The whole industry seems to be slowed by COVID 19, but I'll let you know as soon as I know.                                                                 How Writing Changes Reading  I have a friend who's a book reviewer, and she and I often talk about how reading changes a person's reading (if that makes sense, you're a reader). When you start as a kid and read for, say, five decades, you bring a lot of background to each new book you pick up. It's hard for an author to surprise you or entrance you, because you've seen it all before. I recall my daughter telling me how wonderful the Harry Potter books were, so I read the first one. My thought was, "Cute, but hasn't anyone read The Once and Future King ? Being an author is likely to make a person even more of a picky reader than a past filled with books. Writers see plot lines developing, because we've done that ourselves.

Writing, My Precious

We sometimes hear writing described as precious , which, according to one definition I found, is some combination of 1. self-absorbed – the author inserting his own personality too much in the narration. 2. autobiographical – the story is about something that changed the author’s life, turned into fiction. 3. trying too hard to make the text sound nice/pretty 4. trying too hard to effect a style Last night I dumped a book after about 20 pages for reasons I can't pinpoint except to call the writing precious . I felt like the author was standing at my shoulder, asking, "Didn't I describe that character completely? Isn't she stunningly beautiful?" Every character was described in great detail before he/she ever said a word. In addition, they might just as well have worn signs that said, "LIKE ME" or "DON'T LIKE ME." The "good" characters were perfectly beautiful or incredibly handsome, and the "bad" characters had bea

In Praise of Quiet Authors

I'm going to share something authors talk about among themselves but are wary of speaking openly about. While most authors are great at public events, there are some who shout the rest of us down, claiming what they offer is "the best book you'll ever read!" Examples: A guy who stationed his wife at the door so she could lead people to his table (past four other authors). The one who hollered at each new customer, "Come on over here and let me tell you about my book!" as they came into the room. The woman who practically moved into my space so she could tell my customers about her books. These people ignore differences in readers' expectations and the variety of tastes concerning plot, character, writing styles, etc. Their book fits all, and the other authors present are chopped liver. The saddest part is that it sometimes works. Every other author in the room is offended, but readers are nice people, and once these loudmouths have them cornered, the

Authors in Strange Situations

Nobody tells you that promoting the books you write requires you to be adaptable and have a sense of humor. We picture authors jetting all over the country, sipping champagne and telling adoring fans about their latest novel, but that's not reality for the vast majority of us. I loved the story one author told about arriving at a bookstore where he had an audience of one. The fan told him he'd really liked the book, though he admitted he might not have chosen to read it except, "It was the only one they had in solitary confinement." I haven't met any ex-cons who are fans (that I know of), but I have ended up in strange situations. I want to state here for the record that I am EXTREMELY grateful to libraries and bookstores who allow me to come for a Sit & Sign or, even better, a talk. However, it doesn't always go the way one might imagine. *** There was the library where they'd booked two events at the same time in the same room. The othe

If You Publish...

...you'll often wish you'd spent more time making it better. ...you'll want to keep your day job. ...you'll be surprised how little your friends and family care. ...you'll find out how many people don't read books like yours--or don't read at all. ...you'll learn that typing THE END is only the beginning.

The Skinny on Author Appearances

Muskegon Book Festival 7/17 Some might have a mistaken idea of how author appearances go. I know I did way back when. I thought I'd sit at a table at the front of the bookstore and people would come in, see me, and say, "Oh, my, what have you written?" I'd tell them a little about it (it's called a pitch, and you practice it) and they'd say, "Sounds lovely. I'll take one--no, make that two. My sister likes mysteries too." As the girl says in A Chorus Line , "That ain't it, kid." Some ask you where the bathroom is. Some ask if you can recommend a good children's book for their granddaughter. Some ask if you carry the Wall Street Journal. Some walk in a half-mile circle to avoid passing close enough for you to speak to them. Some tell you about the book they're going to write when they get time. Some tell you about their second cousin, who wrote a book about her near-death experience and her talk with Jesus, wh

Oh, Those Publishing Snobs!

I read a very snarky article yesterday about how self-published authors just don't "get it right." The author explained that as a book reviewer she felt it was her duty (yes, she really did use that word) to point out the failings of those who have the nerve to go out on their own. I'll say at the outset that self-publishing availability does allow writers to publish work that simply isn't ready. A reader can figure out who those people are by perusing sample chapters on Amazon (or the book descriptions, written by the author in most cases). I have to admit from listening to readers and writers for years, there seem to be readers for every book, good or bad. I object to someone who sets herself up as a judge of good books based on what the industry says and does. For example, the writer of this article claimed self-published books use the wrong fonts and improper layouts. Her wholesale condemnation and her contention that big booksellers always get it right

Help for Wanna-be Writers

This is an excerpt from my presentation on publishing. It's by no means exhaustive, just a little help to get you started.   There’s a book that tells you EVERYthing about the self-publishing process. It’s around $15.00 but worth it. Let’s Get Digital - https://www.amazon.com/Lets-Get-Digital-Self-Publish-Should/dp/1475212607 Before you get too excited about all the money that’s going to roll in, you might want to read this article: “Everything You Wanted to Know about Book Sales but Were Afraid to Ask”- https://electricliterature.com/everything-you-wanted-to-know-about-book-sales-but-were-afraid-to-ask-1fe6bc00aa2d#.a3ar05u8a Site to find free-lance editors, cover artists, etc. Reedsy. You tell them what you need, they match you with someone who can do that. https://reedsy.com/#/freelancers To make Kindle E-books : Kindle Digital Platform- https://kdp.amazon.com/ To make paperback books through Amazon : CreateSpace - https://www.createspace.com/

How Much Is Enough?

Thanks, George Michael! My version of that question doesn't apply to "Star People" but rather to series books. How many books can a series contain before it gets stale? I guess it depends on the writer, and to some extent on readers. Some series characters I have stuck with for a long time, like Lee Child's Jack Reacher, Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone, Sara Paretsky's V.I. Warshawski, Dean Koontz' Odd Thomas, and Michael Connelly 's Harry Bosch. Some books are more memorable than others, but in the end it's the main character that brings me back when the next book is released. I will admit in at least one case above I recently reached my limit. I'm tired of the character and have no curiosity about what the next adventure is. Some series characters grow and change, and some don't. Harry Bosch moves through time, falling in love, gaining a daughter, rejecting change, and recently retiring from the police force. Grafton takes a different a

People Ask Cool Questions #2

My first release, now in audio: Macbeth's Niece This month I'm answering questions I often get at personal appearances. Today's question is "How long does it take to write a book?" That's a little like "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?" It's part practical, part philosophical, and mostly unanswerable. We all know authors who take years to write a book. Some of them are quite self-righteous about it, copping a "you can't rush genius" attitude. I'm no genius, so I can't say if that's true. I've noticed, however, that the rest of us are writing as fast as we can, and while it used to take two years minimum to get a new book out, most publishers are fine these days with more than one a year. That can lead to some loss of quality, and readers with an editor's eye bemoan the modern tendency to rush to get a book out. Still those same readers go on Facebook or Goodreads and wonder when Author X is

An Author's Bucket List

Panel at Printers' Row 6-16  In the preface to Iberia, James Michener explained that he'd conceived the idea for the book decades before, made a bunch of notes about it, and then put it on a shelf because he had too many other things going. I think many authors have the same experience: too many ideas, not enough time . I always tell people I'll die with ideas for more books in my head. It takes time to make an idea into a book, which is why, though we all might have "a book inside us," we don't all write it down. It's a daunting task, and even if/when you do write it down, it needs editing and reworking, over and over. Even books that seem light, like cozies, require multiple draft s. (I know there are authors who claim to write it down only once. A: I don't believe them and B: if it IS true, I'm guessing they work it over many, many times in their heads before they make that one draft. The rest of us can't keep all that stuff inside