There’s More to it Than Just Writing

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Recently I was asked to read a few chapters from a book someone wrote. They wanted to know what I thought and where they could get it published. I’m fine with reading other’s work and offering suggestions, so I agreed.

The topic was interesting and the blurb well-written. Then I started in on the actually book. After I finished the first chapter, I sat back in my chair. I pretended I was on the other side of the industry—an agent. My first thought was, “Wow, I wonder how many of these they see in a day?”

I would call the chapter I read a first draft. The book needed a lot of editing. Even if it had potential, I could see why an agent would turn it down. As the agent, I would ask myself, “Does the writer have the ability to make changes?” and “Is this all he’s capable of or is there more untapped inside him?” Taking on the client would be a long shot, and I have a strange feeling agents aren’t gamblers … anymore.

I want to believe at one time, agents did take chances and worked with new authors. It’s a different world now and the rules have changed. I feel if it can’t be made into a movie, forget about it.

Can this book be published? We all know the answer to that. Yes. Self-publishing is there for the taking. But don’t just write something and think it’s done. Don’t publish it and put it out there. In the “old days” when a writer was rejected by an agent or publishing company they added constructive criticism. Now it’s a form letter. No help there.So where do you get help before you publish?

If you wrote a book (congratulations by the way, it’s not an easy task), don’t assume it is done. You are your first line of defense. Call it your first draft. Now comes the hard part—editing. Read it over at least three times before any other human eyes see it. (Dogs and cats are fine.) Find beta readers. Parents, siblings, cousins, friends come in handy, and they’re free. You can also find many sites that offer (for a price) readers. Listen to them. Be able to handle their critiques of your novel. Take it to heart and work on the book again.

Study up on the English language. Spell check doesn’t catch everything. Know commas, quotation marks, italics and when to use them. Try not to use the same words over and over again. Do not keep using a person’s name in a sentence. Is your head spinning yet?

Yes, you wrote a book. You are excited. I know the feeling. I have been down that road and learned so much. Hopefully, I’m passing along that knowledge.

If you have it in you, you love every aspect of the process and can handle the rejection—then go for it, write that book and don’t look back. But remember, there’s more to it than just writing.

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Working Class Heroes

working_class_heroThis post is dedicated to my fellow writers…whether you write novels, short stories, screen plays, blog or secretly write for yourself…don’t give up. I recently read a sad entry. An author with my same publisher blogged she would no longer write anymore of her series. Her words were from the heart and as I read I felt the pain.

She said she wasn’t in it for the money, she just wanted some interest. I think all writers feel that same way. You want someone to notice your work.

Before I read that post, I had begun to analyze this new world of books. So much is out there…self-published books, books with small press publishers and books with the big guys. The last group gets the most attention and publicity. The little guys struggle to get noticed.

When I started feeling sorry for myself, I thought about the entertainment industry. If you think about it, movies have just a handful of stars. Some of them make two or three films a year. Only those chosen few get to make the big blockbusters. Same goes for music or any creative art. These people are stars because of talent, word of mouth, being in the right place at the right time or just plain luck.

I decided the rest of us are working class heroes. We may have to try harder even though our work is just as good or better.

Creativity is a very solitary thing. You have to look inward to find it but maybe it’s time to look around. Let’s open our eyes. Yeah, I’m guilty of reading the next best seller or watching that blockbuster movie just like the next person.

I recently read some self-published books when I became a reviewer. I never would have if it wasn’t part of the job. Some of those books were quite good, others not so much but that’s how it is for everything, right? I’m glad I was exposed to something I never would have explored on my own. It’s encouraged me to explore some more.

I try to read other author friends’ books and support them. If I feel someone would enjoy those books, I recommend them. Just a drop in the bucket, but any drop will do.

So get the word out. Tell people about new or up-and-coming authors, a blog you like or a small play you went to. Browse the internet for on-line publishers and see what books they offer. Read book reviews of other bloggers and follow through on their recommendations.

Let’s not let another author who is talented and has much to give the world, give up. I know there’s too much information out there these days. We’re in an information overload society and I think we let the media tell us what’s good because it’s easy. We’re forgetting to think for ourselves.

We are the working class heroes and guess what? It’s a very large group. We could make a difference.