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Friday, July 31, 2009

Don’t Write the Cart First

A close friend started writing a book this past month and has completed the opening pages. She took a moment to think of how she would dedicate the book and sent me her ideas.

Her first chapter is not yet complete, but she is worried about the dedication. If writing her book takes a year or more, many things will change in the interim and many people will help her along the way, some of whom she may not even know yet.

I warned her not to worry about the dedication; finish the book first. I know from personal experience. A few months ago, I found some of my oldest files, dating back to the late 1970s and early 1980s. One of the files contained the first pages of my first book. The file also contained copious pages of research I had collected for use in the book. I had written less than one chapter in that first book and quit, but I had already written and polished my dedication.

I chuckled at finding that file. How funny writers are! When I started the project, I felt sure I would finish, but I experienced a run-in with reality. Writing is hard work. The research fascinated me, the idea burned in my brain, and the desire to write a book spurred me to begin. Nothing, however, helped me keep up my enthusiasm. I had not yet learned about critique circles. I did not know the value of scheduling time to write. I did not yet have the perseverance required to stick to a project to the end, yet I had dedicated the book to the people who helped me with a project I barely started before I let it drop.

Write! That’s the only way to finish a book. Writing the dedication before you write the book is caving to that old chestnut of putting the cart before the horse. Write first; dedicate last.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Publishing Missteps

RedRoom.com asked members to write of their publishing missteps, so I wrote the following and decided to share it with my other readers as well. We can all learn from it.

My first book, Write In Style, was very successful, and my publisher's distributor, Simon & Schuster, got my book into libraries across America as well as into bookstores and Web sites around the world. I loved seeing it for sale on sites in India and Australia, and I basked in the glory of having sold a book to a traditional publisher. All that said, the profits on a traditionally published book are so small as to be laughable, so I decided to self-publish my next book, Ask the Book Doctor: How to Sell Your Writing and Beat the Competition, which was an amalgamation of some of my "Ask the Book Doctor" columns that appear in newsletters and Web sites for writers around the globe.

The plan was good; I did not need an ISBN number or distributor, because the book would not sell in bookstores, it would sell only wherever I spoke, and I would reap all the profits.

Selling a book in person, though, requires that it look good enough to buy. My publishing misstep was that I accepted an offer from a foreign printer who wanted to exchange design and printing services for my consultancy services. I agreed and spent hours consulting with the printer who wanted to learn how to bring its services to America. Although it did not implement my suggestions right away, I wasn't concerned, so long as I gave the company good advice.

When my books arrived, beaten and battered from their trip from overseas, the printed and trimmed book cover looked nothing like the design I had accepted online. The back cover was barely legible, with thin white letters on a red background. On the front cover, the title almost fell off both sides of the page. How could I sell a book in person that had no physical appeal? No matter how good the content, the cover sells the book in the end.

I learned not to scrimp on design and printing when you are self-publishing. I found a local designer and printer and all has gone well. I donated the ugly books to a company that needed giveaways. As a free book, it still had appeal, because the content was very educational, but I could never have sold a single copy of the book with its hideous original cover.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Great Seminar Past; More Planned in Future

My seminar for Write Well University went even better than expected. The organizer said we had more people signed up for the event than any other event they had held so far. Best of all, all the attendees will get an MP3 file of the seminar, so they can listen to it again, if they wish.

It makes me feel fulfilled to give information to writers that they can put to use. It's my way of passing forward the help and information others gave to me while I clawed and scratched my way through the muck and mire of trying to make a living with words. Those who held a flashlight for me or even swept away some of the mud and showed me a path are people I could thank a million times, and the best way to thank them is to give the same help to others. That's my mission.

I have several more events coming up, including a small, private seminar in my home in August. To stay up to date on where I'm speaking, subscribe to my free newsletter for writers at www.zebraeditor.com. The newsletter is another way I give back and "pay it forward."

Monday, July 6, 2009

Yes, You Can Make a Living with Words!

AuthorSmart and WriteWellUniversity present a teleseminar that could change your life.

When you make a living doing what you love, you never feel that you're working. Do you love to write? Would you like to add to your income or even make a living writing or editing? Would you like that kind of freedom? If so, tune into this class and get started on your path. Whether you want to increase your income, retire to write or edit, or want to work full-time as a writer or editor, this is the class for you.

Take this telephone-based seminar in the comfort of your home. For this seminar you do not need to travel and do not even need access to a computer.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009, 6:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time
Duration: 75 minutes
Instructor: Bobbie Christmas
Cost: $10, includes audio recording and handouts

Join this teleseminar to learn how Bobbie Christmas has made her living with words for more than three decades. Learn avenues and ways you may never have considered, so you can do what you love for a living.

Sign up today, to ensure your place!

To sign up, click on this link or copy and paste it into your browser: http://www.writewellu.com/authorsmart/you_can_make_living_words.html