Tuesday, May 31, 2005
Signing Over Copyright
9:41 pm edt
When you sign a contract with a mainstream publisher you are assigning the copyright of your work to the publisher, who
produces the book and pays for its promotion. A portion of the amount received from sales are typically provided to you as
a royalty in exchange for the rights to the book. You have the right to have the book copyrighted in your own name,
but the rights to the book for publication, translation, serial rights, electronic use, audio and visual generally stay
with the publisher unless you negotiate to retain certain of those rights yourself.
If you have connections with foreign publishers, or audio/visual companies your publisher can probably do a better job
placing those rights with these companies. They probably already have relationships with businesses interested in purchasing
rights for subsequent use.
You owe it to yourself and your publisher to do some investigation about those publishers or companies you believe might
have an interest in your work, based on their previous and ongoing interest in your subject matter. Let your publisher know
you will take an active part in helping them to place the work with a suitable company. Your royalty clause specifies the
amount you would receive if such an agreement is negotiated.
Another reason to read your contract thoroughly. Keep writing.
Monday, May 30, 2005
2:57 pm edt
What are the limits on your writing? What do you aim for in your work? You will often achieve as much as you work toward.
Writing ability is not only a gift one is born with; it is an achievement developed with patience, practice and commitment.
You can achieve as much as you believe you can achieve if you do your research (read widely) and study the work of others
as well as hone your skill through daily practice and dedication.
Set a schedule for writing and completing your work. Develop a plan for your work and mark a calendar with the realistic
deadlines for completing a project. Use this calendar to do nothing but record your writing plan and projects. Be attentive
to and follow the deadlines you set for submission and record the dates you receive responses. If you receive a rejection,
resubmit the project to another publisher or publication as soon as possible. Track your work and responses to it. Once a
month review your calendar to note your progress in meeting the agenda and schedule your have set. Every month on the last
day make a summary statement of your achievements and your goals for the next month. Stay on track with this schedule and
just as with physical exercise, add to the requirements when you feel you have moved to another level.
Set your goals as high as you feel are realistic and let them stretch your productivity. Practice skywriting.
Friday, May 27, 2005
8:35 am edt
It doesn't hurt to expand your vocabulary through various means. In fact, you may actually enjoy practicing the expansion
of your vocabulary. Try to learn one new word at least once a week, and then use the word in your writing or speaking
so that you begin to incorporate it in your daily vocabulary.
Language is a growing, changing thing and we can live in the world of words we already know or expand our worlds
simply by increasing our understanding and use of it.
Our thoughtful use of language in conversation as well as our writing reveals our inner landscape to those who listen
Work on your vocabulary. Let language expand your world.
Thursday, May 26, 2005
The Magic Mountain
11:35 am edt
Read Thomas Mann's wonderful book, The Magic Mountain. It is a remarkable invitation and journey through
writing. The book is what is termed a bildigstromen, or an edifying and enlightening story of character development
and life journey. Entire courses are taught on the book, and endless discussions have been generated by it.
James Joyce's Ulysses is another long analyzed and discussed work. Like puzzles and labrynths the book
must be worked through with some degree of commitment/investment.
Writing may be more than entertaining, or escapist. It can be engaging and edifying. Imagine the journey Mann and Joyce
went through in completing these books. Read them and keep writing.
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
9:19 am edt
We know a woman who is actively involved with a group that produces "Reader's Theatre." The group selects a novel and
members of the group to read the parts of individual characters aloud. They produce three or four readings each year. The
starkness of the stage and set on which these readings occur allows the audience to bring their own creative understandings to
the story and to each character as they speak. The readings allow readers and the audience to participate in a group celebration
of the story in a way that individual and solitary reading does not.
The warmth of communal sharing over a good story is palpable. Perhaps you have heard, in some holiday season, the reading
of an old favorite story to a gathering of friends and companions. The richness of the experience and the sense of shared
journey it provides can linger for years.
"Selected Shorts" on National Public Radio brings one reader to the interpretation of a story with a live audience present.
Years ago we sat behind Eudora Welty at a reading of her story, "Why I live at the P.O." We enjoyed the interpretation
and the presentation, but, even more, we enjoyed watching her marvel at seeing it performed. Silently and attentively,
she formed each word as it was spoken by the readers. The sharing of her story with others in this gathering and presentation
touched her (and us) with palpable enjoyment.
Read and be read to. Enjoy the sharing. Keep writing.
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
11:21 am edt
You will never know what lives your older relatives have lived, perhaps, unless you encourage them to write their stories--their
memories. In memoirs there is the freedom to just put it down--what you have lived--as a recollection and a remembrance for
those who will read about your life experiences.
One elderly man we know began writing his story after his longtime partner and wife passed on. Without his written story
we would never have known of his childhood adventures and escapades along a river that flooded his home every Spring; of his
Air Force pilot days flying a Spitfire over Africa during WWII; of his award of the Purple Heart; of his years managing forests
for his state; of his magnificent memory for every detail of his days.
Before he wrote his story, he was just the man who got out for a walk (with the help of his walker) every day.
The man who grew and gave the neighbors tomatoes from his garden.
Memoirs are an invitation and open door to sharing experiences, thoughts, and feelings about life. A memoir is a net
for catching and keeping the most salient of those. It is a treasure box containing elements of one's life and learning.
Invite someone you know to write their story. Help them put it down. See the world through their eyes, their heart and
Monday, May 23, 2005
8:49 am edt
If you have produced or published a book which does not seem to be selling as well as you had expected or believed it
would, you might want to consider suggesting the names of some book distributors who specialize in the market for which your
book is intended. Let your publisher know your findings.
Through special interest groups and associations and a publication entitled, The Encyclopedia of Associations you
may be able to locate information on distributors who focus on your market. You may also want to contact Ingram Books
in Tennessee and ask for their suggestions. Ingram is a major distributor and supplier of books
to the major chain bookstores such as Barnes & Noble and Borders. Other distributors you may want to contact and ask for
suggestions are: New Leaf, Yankee Peddler, and Bookpeople.
Doing your research to locate the book distributors who are familiar with the market your book is intended
for is sometimes critical for its sales success. Do your part and communicate with professionals.
Saturday, May 21, 2005
Grants and Subsidies
8:27 am edt
When the market and audience for a book are limited and sales of the book might not support its publication, there may
be subsidies and grants available to underwrite the expense of production and/or other aspects of its publication. These funds
are generally available through associations and organizations interested in furthering research and writing in areas of their
interest and concern. Each has its own conditions and set of terms under which grants are made available as well as its own
ways of selecting projects and manuscripts for their support.
Do some research on line with organizations you believe might be supportive of the work you are doing. Your local library,
bookstore, or even telephone book may provide addresses for those in your immediate community who can give you some guidance
on places to seek out support for your project. If a publisher tells you the market for your book is limited, indicate that
you are willing to look for a subvention (subsidy) to assist in its publication. Whether they express further interest or
not, you will have demonstrated and communicated your commitment to and belief in your project and your intention to see it
published. Keep writing.
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
11:32 pm edt
Some things cannot be put into words. The language of music goes beyond the ability to express through words, though
words join and add immeasurably to music at times. Music speaks its own language and invites the listener to follow its path
into uncharted territories and deep, strange waters. Music touches deeply if we can allow and receive it's voice and expressions.
Time with music can be nurturing, disturbing, inspiring, encouraging and more. Cultivate your listening. Listen to music.
Monday, May 16, 2005
11:27 pm edt
One of the best sources of information for current developments in the field of publishing is Publisher's Weekly.
Each issue contains brief notations and reviews of what the editors have selected as the most outstanding books published
in a variety of genres.
You don't have to subscribe to PW, as it is called in the industry. Your local library probably has
a subscription to it, though you may have to ask the reference or acquistions librarian if you can see a copy.
Recent news about publishers, editors, book fairs, interviews with authors and others make PW a great
resource for writers of fiction, nonfiction, children's books and poetry. Take some time to check it out.
Keep reading. Keep writing.
Sunday, May 15, 2005
4:07 pm edt
As an exercise in form and expression,take one topic or subject and make a study of it from the approaches of poetry,
short fiction, nonfiction and essay. Do some in depth consideration and expression on the subject, which could be as simple
as an event you remember well, a person or subject you know, a sound, a color, a season, or even something as basic as light.
Allow yourself to know this subject in more depth and understanding than you have ever given it before. Allow the subject
to speak to you about its qualities and essence. Practice savoring the subject and presenting it to others as you see and
Make this kind of study your way of knowing from time to time. Giving something our open attention and appreciation allows
insights we can share with genuine understanding and warmth. Keep writing.
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
8:25 pm edt
When you quote from or use material from other sources, such as books, journal, magazines, and other media, you should
not presume that they are free for your use. While there is body of material you can include under "fair use" and "public
domain" much is copyrighted and covered by the copyright laws. Copyright law protects the work of artists and authors from
inappropriate and unfair use.
Using material under copyright without written permission and failing to meet the terms specified by a copyright
holder can create legal challenges. Review the Chicago Manual Of Style published by the University of Chicago
Press for a thorough presentation and discussion of "rights and permissions." Should you have questions or concerns beyond
what the Manual covers, you should seek the guidance of a lawyer familiar with copyright law.
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
8:30 am edt
A friend of ours is a children's librarian at a local branch of the main library. She knows every new book published
for children and can make recommendations thoughtfully. She provides children with a colorful, bright and comfortable space
in which to browse and select books for personal reading, and she enjoys sharing her life with readers and writers. She smiles
The library is often the first unstructured learning space a child experiences. It is the first place, often, where a
child can begin to make her or his own decisions about what he or she has interest in. It is a place for exploration and contributes
to the development of identity and a connection with learning through one's own initiative.
Children's literature opens doors and invites in possibility. The range of stories, subjects and issues addressed through
children's literature has dramatically shifted and changed the landscape of the field. Spend some time acquainting yourself
with contemporary children's literature and open some new doors and invite in some new possibilities for yourself. Give it
some thought. Keep writing.
Monday, May 9, 2005
8:18 am edt
Book fairs are a wonderful way to meet people who write, read, and love books. Local, regional, national and international
book fairs gather together wide varieties of writers, publishers, book salespeople and readers to survey the published
landscape of writing.
An air of festivity and excitement meanders through a book fair, whether it celebrates mystery, nature, photography,
travel, nonfiction or fiction works. Watch local news and national for announcements and coverage of upcoming book fairs where
celebrated authors, knowledgeable editors, and publishers gather to discuss the most recent trends and developments in their
Try to attend as many book fairs as you can. You have an opportunity to learn from everyone there. You may gain
some information, some contacts, and some inspiration in the process. Keep writing.
Tuesday, May 3, 2005
8:39 am edt
The craft of writing used to be taught in elementary schools. Above the blackboard were the letters of the alphabet neatly
drawn in script, or what some call cursive. Both capital and small letters of each and every individual letter of the
alphabet graced the room and floated above the small student desks. There was and is an elegance in that appreciation for
and recognition of the values and benefits of fine handwriting.
Thoughtful attention to detail and care of creation may be reflected in handwriting. Personality expresses
clearly through the written word both in choice and selection of words as well as in style of handwriting.
Now handwritten letters are nearly a thing of the past. In antique stores you can find old postcards addressed to recipients
in whispy graceful elegance and with brightly colored stamps which have also gone by the wayside. Handwriting was an art and
an essential manner of expression then and it could still be so now.
Now we sign credit card receipts, checks, legal documents, and privacy agreements rather than expressive letters to friends
and colleagues from vacation spots and journeys. We rarely "drop a note", which is hardly the same as a long, newsy, thoughtful
letter with carefully selected words and beautiful cursive handwriting. We could still. Penmanship and handwriting can convey
the spirit of the times as well as the author.
Remember the book, Griffin and Sabine, beautifully illustrated and presented as a correspondence between
lovers? Much of the charm of the book was in the handwriting. Take a look at it sometime for a journey back to a more gentle
and lovely manner of expression and consider the possibilities.
Monday, May 2, 2005
What's In a Word
8:30 am edt
Words. We work with them because they are the most amazing material we have. Words are containers for thoughts, feelings,
communications and expressions. They also seem to have a life apart from that. Words are chameleons, changing meanings depending
on their contexts, and yet having some basic truth about who and what they are.
Words blend, twist, mellow, turn upsidedown and circle back to themselves depending on their use. Words work with one
another and complete themselves in community and in solitary confinement.
A friend the other day said that it is important to remember that
Is a complete sentence.
Words take us out of our present reality and into the past or future with a simple shift in tense. They open and close
doors and define reality as we see it. Find an old dictionary or catalog or encyclopedia and note the language. Note the words
and the language. Dwell a bit on the words no longer in use. Like drawers in your Grandmother's house, when you pull them
out and explore them, they tell stories of their times; those who used them. They give you their and our history.
Words give us his story and they give us her story. Words give us treasures and glimpses of life--any time; any where.
Words are life. Keep writing.