Tuesday, August 30, 2005
5:19 pm edt
Your own personal identity is often processed and developed through your writing whether you compose poetry, short fiction,
or novels. Your characters may invite and lead you into avenues you yourself have never considered or experienced , and their
persons and actions can also open possibilities of insight and imagination you likely would never experience from your
own vantage point. It is a risky business-- learning from within the imagination-- and the consequence may be that writing
and creating can lead you to deeper understanding and knowledge of others, and of yourself, than you have previously known
or thought possible.
Do you need to keep a personal journal to gain insights into yourself? A journal can be a mirror of reflections for further
consideration--an invitation to take a closer look at your situations or your feelings as you wrestle to comprehend and understand
them more completely. The process can be helpful in illuminating your priorities and can guide you in making practical decisions.
Journals of every kind can track and follow one's personal progress and development of self understanding.
Writing leads you through the thickets--the weeds--the high and low times, whatever form or format it takes. In the process,
one may compose oneself.
Saturday, August 20, 2005
Let It Go
2:27 pm edt
How many times do you rewrite, revise and edit your material before you submit it to a publisher or send it to an agent?
A graduate student we know was having a difficult time finishing his dissertation because so many new and important books
kept coming out on his topic that he wanted to be able to cover and analyze each. His advisor told him that he had to draw
a line at some point and finish his own work, acknowledging that it could and would not address or cover newer books. How
difficult to let one's manuscript "go" when there is so much to keep up on; to cover.
Even authors who have contracts for their manuscripts sometimes are not willing or able to send their manuscript
in to their publishers. There is a sense of perfection which holds them back, unfortunately. Fear of published and peer reviews
halts their progress. The risk of putting one's creation out in the public arena becomes more than they can bear.
Sending a manuscript, a story, a poem, or article out for consideration and review involves courage, hutzpah, and a risk.
Its a gutsy enterprise and business. Even a rejection notice is a badge of honor, for an author submitting a manuscript, but
you won't even receive that unless you let it go.
Thursday, August 18, 2005
4:45 pm edt
Most editors would prefer to look at and review a hard copy of your manuscript rather than an emailed electronic document.
A hard copy gives an editor the best overall picture of your project and allows an editor to flip back and forward through
the manuscript, taking a more comprehensive look at your work. While editors' desks often pile up with hard copy submissions,
it is actually easier to keep track of information on each when they are in hard copy rather than electronic form. Ask an
editor what form they would like for your submission to be in prior to sending it, or consult a style guide or listing of
preferences/condions for submission from the publisher's you select.
Expecting an editor to print out a manuscript from a document file may seem reasonable to you, but to a busy editor that
requires an investment in your material they may not have. Sending a hard copy acknowledges that you are requesting their
review and making it as simple and basic as possible for them to take a look at it. Keep writing.
Monday, August 15, 2005
6:56 pm edt
One of the best and most useful references in publishing is LMP, or Literary Marketplace. You
can generally find a copy on the desk of the reference librarian at your local library. LMP includes listings of agents, publishers
of various kinds and various sorts and a good amount of generally helpful information on everything from names and addresses
for press employees to journals and periodicals in various fields. You can find any number of reference books aimed at
the writer, including Writer's Market and other such compilations, but LMP is the most complete and thorough
reference for professionals in the field.
At least take a look at LMP and familiarize yourself with it. If you tell an editor or publisher that you found their
name in LMP it will probably have a much greater significance to them than if you refer to the listings included in other
trade oriented books aimed at writers.
Saturday, August 13, 2005
2:44 pm edt
The people you work with at a press deserve your respect and recognition. They often are not acknowledged and recognized
as the silent unseen or unknown editors, salespeople, and marketing professionals who do so much to shape, develop, market
and sell your book. It may be surprising to know how few authors actually do express a sense of appreciation to those they
work with at a publishing house. When an author does express appreciation, it often comes as a surprise, though a very welcome
As you work with the editorial and other staff ask them their advice and opinions of the current market, the competition,
as well as the positioning of your book. Building a collegial and professional relationship with your editors and acknowledging
and respecting their experience and expertise gives them recognition for their own contribution to the work as well
as an appreciation for your interest in it. Express appreciation and interest. Don't underestimate the significance of positive
feedback. Something good can come of it. It takes a number of dedicated professionals to publish a book.
Thursday, August 11, 2005
1:59 pm edt
At the top of the page on the backad advertising copy of a book you often can find a single brief sentence designed to
attract and engage the reader's attention. This single sentence may be all that a reader looks at, so it is crucial
in catching and encouraging a reader to learn more about the book. The "hook", as it is known, has to include the most valuable
contribution the book makes to its select audience and market. It helps booksellers to know how to categorize the book;tells
them where to shelve it and it helps them to decide whether their customers are likely to have interest in the book.
A press's marketing and sales departments carefully develop and revise backad copy so that it engages the reader's
and booksellers interest. Study some backad copy and particularly the "hooks" when you find them. Note how they are written
and for what particular audience. The power of a single sentence, sometimes a quotation from a well-known authority, can make
a significant difference in a book's saleability.
Tuesday, August 2, 2005
7:50 am edt
Years ago and perhaps still in some places copyeditors used a classic eraser still sold in stores today and called "pink
pearl." Artists no doubt continue to use it in their sketching, but with advancing electronic wordprocessing and easy
deletion of text, pink pearl has not been the critical companion of writers that it once was. There was something wonderful
about the feel, the smell, and the comfort a writer or an editor got from using the eraser.
The sense of working close to the text which a writer gets from using a hand held eraser is gone, too, with the fading
of pink pearl. It gave one something to hold in the other hand, while the pencil in the lead hand created, the eraser in the
other was ready to remove. There was a tangible balance between the act of creating and recreating through removing. It was
one complementary action. Writing was a tangible work-in-progress.
The other day a young girl visited a garage sale with her mother and while she stared at a strange object on the ground
others heard her ask her mother what it was. She had never seen such a strange small machine sitting there on its case at
the side of the driveway. "That's a typewriter," her mother said. "People used to write with it."
Tangibile connection to writing--the physical feel of the work can put a writer back in touch with the basic elements
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