Tag Archives: writing

Will You Self Publish?

Used to be, self-publishing was known as vanity press. It was the course of last resort for authors who couldn’t get a legitimate house to publish their work. These days, thanks to Web 2.0, self-publishing is the choice of a number of authors who used to call the brand name publishers their home. This article in the NY Times explains why.

When writers ask me about self-publishing, I direct them to Guy Kawasaki’s book APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur. It’s my guide of choice for laying out what you can expect if you go that route. Turns out, Publisher is probably the easiest part of the process, thanks to the multiple avenues for actually getting your manuscript into book form. Author, angst-ridden as it may be, is not far behind in the process. The hardest part, then, is the Entrepreneur end of the deal, and it’s the one that trips up many writers. Being an entrepreneur for your publishing effort calls for marketing savvy that is often beyond the ken of those not actively involved in the world of marketing.

Thus, as part of my working with writers on the Entrepreneur part of their publishing, I’m always on the lookout for information on this rapidly growing field. Today I’m sharing Book Marketing Techniques That Don’t Work Anymore to add to your file folder labeled Publishing Info.

If you want to talk to me about any part of the self-publishing process, here’s the way to contact me: 

Quotable Writers: Roger Angell

Oh yes, is it ever! When I first saw this quote from New Yorker writer and editor, Roger Angell, it said perfectly what I had been thinking just that morning.  Which was: I don’t want to have to think before I write something. I wanted it to come burbling out of my unconscious, preferably via an app that creates a conduit between my brain and my fingers on the keyboard. Is there an app for that–ya think?  

While Roger Angell, who has spent a lifetime writing award winning essays and as the fiction editor for the New Yorker, uttered these words of advice, I’m sure he has never felt the angst of sitting down to write and–blank, there’s nothing there. Of course not. Real writers, of which Angell is certainly one, never face a blank page without a veritable fountain of words–superb, multi-syllabled, emotionally evocative words pouring forth.

I, on the other hand, am obviously am not a real writer since I face the blank page syndrome on many occasions. Usually when I’m poised at my desk full of grit and determination to write something. I’m not sure what, but something articulate, meaningful, and, yes, wonderful. Then I remember Angell’s words and realize that my problem is one of form and not content. That is, I can picture the printed page, but have no idea what the words on it actually say. And that, I’ve learned over the years, means I’m not done thinking about this particular piece of writing. It’s back to the drawing board–the notes, the research, the talking it out in my head, and so on–that I must go.

It gets down to what is the bottom line of writing: that it is essentially a tool of communication. So if you haven’t put in the thinking time, then you really have little to communicate.

How do you handle the blank page syndrome? Do you ever sit down primed and prepped To Write and–nothing happens? So what do you do? 

 

#1 Rule To Better Writing: Learn to Love Your Process

How do you actually do this thing called writing? What are the habits, quirks, must haves and cannot do’s that are an essential part of your productivity as a writer? And do you allow yourself to have them? Or do you reject them as Not Right?

Interviews with successful writers almost always include some version of the question: how do you write?  People make careers (if not fortunes) out of parsing their particular process and then spinning it into a formula.  

However, the fact is that the writing process is not a One Size Fits All.  Do you get up early? Or stay up late? Do you write in huge chunks of time? Or spit it out paragraph by paragraph?  Are you an outline person or do you just follow your inner guide?  Do you write in pencil? Pen? Computer? Yellow pad? Loose leaf? Napkins?

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What Real Writers Know

The first thing I know about writing is that it’s a process. Writing is not something you have done; it is something you are doing.

Sound nitpicky?  Actually, it’s a radical idea, which is blasphemous to the mindset of our culture. Think of it: inherent in my statement is the assumption that the product of your writing should not be the singular point of your writing.

Unfortunately, we in the Western world have been trained otherwise.  We are a product-centered culture.  Our tendency is to think that the things we do don’t matter until and unless they’re finished.  Even more, for many of us, the things we do don’t matter until someone else values them.  So we focus on our product, on getting it done and making it worth someone else’s approval. It doesn’t really matter what it means to us, whether we value it. Our opinion is not enough to count. It’s like when our mothers told us we were pretty.

So if that product, that piece of writing, turns out to be less than we imagined?   Or, it doesn’t achieve the end we intended, get the comments, provoke the compliments, make the sale?  Then we’re dealing with the soul-sucking notion that our whole effort was a failure.  Our goal was not met, our time was wasted, we let ourselves down. Clearly the fault is ours: we’re not talented enough. Or we didn’t work hard enough. Or….

…Maybe it’s that we weren’t inspired to begin with. Maybe real writers are always filled with inspiration. How can we ever be real writers if we have such trouble being inspired? That leads to magical thinking that involves lucky pens and shaman-blessed stones, maybe some incense as well. It also leads to a work ethic that is choppy at best. We don’t sit down to work unless we’re sure the inspiration is there, waiting to flow over us. As a result, we never get into the groove of writing. We never learn that some days are inspired writing days and some days suck, and some days are just mediocre. We never learn the secret of the “real writers”, that the aggregate of your writing practice is what counts, the median, not the high and not the low

It’s called putting in the time. Writing

  • …no matter what you’re feeling
  • …no matter whether you want to
  • …no matter if you have nothing to say

Who among us hasn’t been there?  I dare you to raise your hand if you’ve never sat in front of the screen or paper and just thought, shoulders slumped, I don’t wanna.  Fact is, however, that those of us who are writers do it anyway.  It’s our job, and if it sometimes feels like Monday morning on the assembly line, well, so be it.  That means, deal with it.

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