Category Archives: Business of Writing

Business of Writing

VIDEO: 5 Mistakes Every Writer Should Avoid

Posted by September 21st, 2015

Become a savvier author in 15 minutes!

In this video tutorial, editors Meghan Harvey and Christina Henry de Tessan share the 5 Mistakes Every Writer Should Avoid:

  1. Don’t forget your reader.

  2. Don’t fly blind.

  3. Don’t rush the process.

  4. Your editorial team is on your side.

  5. Don’t wait to build your audience.

Take a seat and get schooled on how you can avoid these mistakes as you work to reach your writing goals.

Continue reading

Share Button

What Is a Developmental Edit?

Posted by August 24th, 2015

ThinkstockPhotos-508609021Our guest blogger this morning is editor Christina Henry de Tessan of Girl Friday Productions, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at this year’s San Francisco Writers Conference. She’s here today to break down the nuances of the term “developmental edit,” something you’ve likely heard as you make your way from being a writer to being an author.

***

Editing can serve as something of a catchall term that can refer to anything from tinkering with semicolons to removing entire characters or plot threads. This nebulousness can make it confusing to know what you’re even asking for when you’re in search of editorial help. In an effort to make the entire undertaking less opaque—and hopefully less daunting—here are some insights into that crucial first stage in the editorial process: the developmental edit.

Fiction

Character: For fiction, character is paramount. Your characters can be lovable, flawed, complicated, even loathsome, but no matter what, you’ve got to make us care about them. Do we see their vulnerable underbellies and darkest thoughts? Or are you keeping your characters at arm’s length? Does your main character have enough nuance to keep us interested, or is he/she falling flat or being a bit too predictable in places? Does your protagonist evolve over the course of the story? Do the characters feel real? Do we feel invested in their trajectories? Developmental editors are here to make sure your readers are compelled to hang out with your characters until the very last page.

Plot, pacing, and structure: Does the story feel rushed? Are you doling out information in a way that leaves us wanting to turn the page? Or does it drag right at the moment when we want resolution? Is there enough tension? Is the lush setting or history of the time period eclipsing the main plot? Are there awkward information dumps that could be woven in more naturally? Are there any holes? Are you making any problematic leaps in logic? This can seem obvious, but if you’ve worked on numerous drafts of a book, old material may no longer make sense with more recently added material.

Style: Although a developmental edit doesn’t usually focus extensively on the line (sentence structure, repetition of words or phrases, and so on), a dev editor will point out stylistic issues. One that comes up a lot is the classic “Show, Don’t Tell” edict. Writers will often do a fabulous job of showing and then undermine their own great storytelling by telling just to make sure they got their point across. So if young Rose blushes and averts her gaze when the boy she has a crush on approaches her, you don’t need to then tell us explicitly that she felt nervous. The dev editor is there to tell you that your scene can stand on its own two feet—and if it needs extra support, your editor will suggest fixes. Your dev editor will also look at voice and tone—is your dialogue sounding genuine or stilted? Do all the characters sound the same? Does their word choice accurately reflect who they are?

Memoir

With memoir, a developmental edit can be particularly helpful, as it is sometimes difficult for writers to transform their life story into a cohesive narrative comprised of discrete scenes. How do you choose what to tell and what not to? How do you integrate crucial background information in a way that feels seamless? Perhaps most importantly, how do you nail the voice from the very first page so that the reader is drawn into your story?

Nonfiction

Nonfiction is a bit of a different beast. If you’ve written a book on finance, character development is not your primary concern, and ensuring that the plot thickens at just the right moment isn’t relevant. But a developmental editor can work other kinds of magic with nonfiction. Below are some of the most frequent issues that come up with nonfiction.

Audience: It’s imperative that you know who you’re writing for. But this can be surprisingly tricky when you’re an expert on the subject—after all, when you think about financial planning all day long, it can be hard to see what a novice might not know. A good dev editor can hone your language to make it appropriate for your target audience, using the right level of vocabulary and making the right assumptions about your readers’ background knowledge. Have you assumed a level of understanding of reverse mortgages that will leave your readers flummoxed? Your editor will be the one to point that out.

Organization: When you’re a subject-matter expert, it can be hard to see your material from an outside perspective. You’re so deeply immersed in it that it can be difficult to present your argument in a logical fashion. Who is picking up your book, and what do they hope to get out of it? Have you organized your material in such a way that each section builds on the last? Does it give enough foundational information at the outset? Or have you bogged it down with too much background before getting to your message? A developmental editor will point out the holes and ensure that there is continuity so that your readers never once furrow their eyebrows in confusion.

A good developmental editor is like some hybrid of a detective and a psychologist, sniffing out problems and proposing solutions so that you can polish and hone before putting your beloved manuscript in front of a wider audience. In short, we hope you’ll think of us as your secret weapon.

Christina Henry de TessanAbout Christina Henry de Tessan

Christina Henry de Tessan is the vice president of editorial at Girl Friday Productions, a full-service editorial firm headquartered in Seattle. Formerly of Chronicle Books and Seal Press, she’s also the author of several travel books, including Forever Paris and Expat: Women’s True Tales of Life Abroad.

Continue reading

Share Button

How to Use Facebook as an Author Before You Have Published a Book

Posted by August 11th, 2015

Like

Trust us, you don’t want get started with social media a week before your book comes out. In fact, many writers nowadays have a presence on Facebook and other platforms before they even have a publication date for their title.

Create a fan page. Reference our previous post on how to set up a brand new Facebook fan page. It’s important to reiterate that while you can let people follow your personal profile, it’s preferable to create a page that is exclusively devoted to your author persona, where you can post news and updates about your publications. Put some thought into what you call the page as it will be your online home in the literary community. You can use the title of your book or a variation of your name. We recommend that you simply use your full name and be sure to select the Artist, Band or Public Figure page category and choose the Author designation. Once you do that, the word “Author” will appear under the name of the page as you can see in the below examples. Because of this description and its strategic placement, you don’t need to add “writer” or “author” in the author page name.

Examples

Cultivate good social media habits. Take the time to reflect on what kind of content you want to share on your page. As with any type of writing, you’ll needto fine tune your social media voice and get used to talking to potential readers in a way that feels authentic to you and is a correct reflection on your work as a writer. Figure out how frequently you want to post. Experiment with different types of content and assess the results. Read a book on social media for more ideas! It takes time and consistency to hammer these details out–and you won’t have the luxury to truly focus on building a social media brand for yourself once your book hits the shelves. Continue reading

Share Button

Get Advance Reviews for Your Book with a Goodreads Giveaway

Posted by August 5th, 2015

TheHusbandsSecret

Click on the image to view this Goodreads giveaway example.

Are you looking for a way to spice up your book launch marketing plan? A Goodreads giveaway may be just the thing you need.

With more than 20 million community members, Goodreads is an important book discovery tool for authors. A giveaway on the site is an excellent way to create awareness for your book and garner early reviews. Below, we guide you through the process and offer some rules of thumb.

Start early. Run the giveaway for a month and list it a couple of months to a month before your book is released. To list a new giveaway, simply log into your Goodreads account—hopefully you’ve already set up an author profile for yourself and have added your book—and navigate to Giveaways. From the right-hand navigation, select List a Giveaway.

Fill out the giveaway details, and be sure to read the terms and conditions. Use the Tags field to your advantage to appeal to the right audience. For example, if your book is a paranormal romance featuring vampires, you may want to list some of the following tags: paranormal-romance, supernatural, love-story, and vampires. The tags will determine the placement of your giveaway on the Goodreads site. Click here for a list of tags that you can choose from.

Continue reading

Share Button

How to Host a Successful Live Facebook Q&A

Posted by July 27th, 2015

Facebook-QAOne of the advantages of having a Facebook Page is that you can host a Live Q&A for your fans. It’s easier to set up and moderate than a Twitter chat, and you can get some great engagement out of it. All you have to do is to post a status inviting your audience to ask questions about your book or writing, and then use the Reply feature on Facebook Pages to answer each individual question.

As you may know, only a fraction of the people who’ve liked your author Page see your posts at any given time, so you’ll need to do some pre-promotion to make the most out of your Live Facebook Q&A.

Create a Facebook event for the Live Facebook Q&A. Do so at least a couple of weeks in advance so that you can spread the word early. People who RSVP will get a reminder to join on the day of the event. Choose the start time for it wisely, when most of your fans will be able to join the conversation—for an hour around noon or in the evening. Spruce up the event page by adding a promotional image and some information about yourself and your book to the event details.

Promote the event link on other social media channels. Don’t forget to mention the time, including the time zone, date, and social network (Facebook) for the event. Send a couple of additional reminders right before you kick off the Q&A. Continue reading

Share Button

6 Takeaways from the PNWA 2015 Conference

Posted by July 21st, 2015

Seattle skyline

Seattle, home of the PNWA 2015 Conference

It was a great weekend at the PNWA 2015 Conference in Seattle, talking with agents, editors, and writers about Book Country, social media, and the publishing process. (PNWA stands for the Pacific Northwest Writers Association.) I want to share these six big takeaways from the conference with the rest of the Book Country community:

  1. Finding beta-readers is as important as ever. However you choose to work with beta-readers–whether in a real-life writing group, remotely via email, or on a workshopping site like Book Country–no one can dispute that a writer needs feedback on their manuscript prior to a successful publication.Technology that makes finding beta-readers easy has become indispensable to in-the-know writers.
  2. Feedback can be wide-ranging, but ratings are also revealing. The more feedback a writer gets on their book, the better informed revision decisions they can make. Getting reviews on your book from beta-readers is a great way to seek suggestions on how to revise. But different readers give different suggestions, sometimes contradicting one another. Your overall ratings can be a powerful way to aggregate your readers’ opinions. On Book Country, for example, your overall rating–so long as you’ve spent the time and energy to garner a large number of peer reviews–will help you gauge whether or not your book is ready to be published.
  3. Distribution is everything. Writers have gotten savvier about this since the last time I was at PNWA. Back then, I met a lot of writers who had self-published but their book was not widely available. It’s rare these days to find a writer who isn’t planning to publish their book electronically, and it’s also common for writers to make sure their book is available for many different types of eReader. On Book Country, for example, authors can publish once and simultaneously distribute to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Scribd, Kobo, iBooks, Google, and Flipkart. It’s essential for writers to stay on top of book retail trends.
  4. Social media takes time. Writers at PNWA knew how important it is for them to be growing their social media audience. It’s key to start building a following early, so that when your book does launch, it has somewhere receptive to land. Learning how to use social media tools like Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, and others now rather than later is a good use of an aspiring writer’s time.
  5. Social media takes time. Wait, didn’t I just say that? To be clear, it’s not just building a social media that takes time. Doing the real work of social media–writing posts, creating engaging images, reading social media feeds, and conversing with followers–takes big chunks of your day-to-day. So not only do you want to start early, you also want to get organized. Writers I met at PNWA were figuring out how to carve out time for social media tasks. One tip Andrea Dunlop shared in our “Dos and Don’ts of Social Media” session was to be realistic about how much time you will be consistently able to devote to your social media. It’s easy to sign up for a lot of accounts, but it’s better to be selectively active than to have a bunch of abandoned online profiles. (Go here for more tips from Andrea.)
  6. Professional author services are the author’s best kept secret. More and more writers–both those seeking self-publishing and traditional publishing–are hiring professional developmental editors, copyeditors, proofreaders, book publicists, marketers, designers, and more. The competition to get noticed is stiff, so figuring out what you need help with to make your book stand out is becoming a bigger part of the publishing process. Many writers are using editorial firms like Girl Friday Productions to develop and polish manuscripts. Authors who find social media either too daunting or too time-consuming are learning how to hire it out to professionals. While these services can be expensive, many writers and authors are finding them to be valuable. I predict that we’ll be discussing this aspect of the publishing industry much more here on Book Country in the next year.

Continue reading

Share Button

How Authors Can Dramatically Grow Their Email Lists

Posted by July 20th, 2015

Stand-OutDo you spend a lot of time promoting your book on social media but feel like it hasn’t reaped the results that you were hoping for? It may be time to focus on building an email newsletter following instead. Stand Out author Dorie Clark thinks that reaching your audience via email is one of the most effective ways to increase book sales. Read on for her advice on growing your subscriber list.

***

My first book, Reinventing You, launched in 2013. I tried to prepare, but despite my best efforts to interrogate fellow authors who had gone before me, I still didn’t fully understand what a book launch entailed. I was diligent in my execution yet vaguely disorganized—constantly staying up late answering interview questions, crafting guest posts, and enduring a punishing and hastily-assembled travel schedule. These were things I should have planned better, yet somehow didn’t know how to.

Two months ago, I had another opportunity to do it right with the release of my new book, Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It. Here are the key things I learned in the last two years of almost nonstop book promotion.

Your email list is paramount. What sells books? Not social media. Atlantic journalist Derek Thompson shares an indicative story in which—despite one of his tweets becoming a viral sensation, with nearly 1,500 retweets and 155,000+ impressions—only 1% clicked the link to actually read his story. Note that this is a free story—not something that costs nearly $30, like your book. So what does work? Your email list. Blogger Chris Brogan famously said, “To me, the hottest and sexiest social network right now is your inbox,” and he’s right. Even if people are overwhelmed by their inboxes, they still read email, and an opt-in relationship with your readers is the most powerful force for communicating your message. I’ve used free (and freemium) tools like AppSumo’s ListBuilder to dramatically enhance my email subscription rate.

Continue reading

Share Button

Ask a Literary Agent: Amy Cloughley Answers Your Questions

Posted by July 13th, 2015

Amy CloughleyPlease welcome literary agent Amy Cloughley of Kimberley Cameron & Associates to the blog today! Amy’s in the market to acquire the following types of books: Historical; Literary; Mainstream; Mystery and Suspense (all types but NO paranormal); Thriller (legal, grounded, psychological); Women’s Fiction; Adult Nonfiction (pop culture and humor, sports, narrative, memoir–travel). Like Book Country, Amy will be at the Pacific Northwest Writers Association Conference at the end of this week. If you’ll also be at #PNWA15, you’ll be able to find Amy at the Agent Forum on Friday, July 17, at 10:00am, and at Power Pitch Sessions A, D, & E on Friday and Saturday.

When do you need an agent?  How do you know when you are ready as a writer to take this step? – Claire Count

There are a variety of great options for publishing your work, but if your goal is to be traditionally published, your odds of success increase quite a bit if you work with a qualified agent. Although many small/mid-sized publishers will consider unagented work, most of the larger houses will not, and the publishers who do often give priority to agented submissions.

You will know you are ready to take this step when your manuscript (or book proposal for nonfiction) is your best, most polished work. Although an agent will often provide some feedback to clients, an agent is typically looking to take on projects/clients who are as close to ready for the marketplace as possible. So be sure to do your research and due diligence. What is the typical word count for your genre? Is your POV clear and consistent? Are your main characters fully developed? Is your pacing appropriate for your genre? Did you have quality beta readers provide feedback? Did you identify a few current comparable titles to include in your query? There are numerous websites such as WritersDigest or here at BookCountry, as well as countless books and classes, that cover how to prepare your manuscript for publication. Applying this information will help your manuscript get an agent’s attention. Continue reading

Share Button

Book Country at ThrillerFest and PitchFest

Posted by July 7th, 2015

Headed to ThrillerFest X this week? So is Book Country!

ThrillerFestCome visit the Book Country table on Thursday, July 9th, between 2-5:30pm on the Ballroom Level of the Grand Hyatt NYC. We’re going to be tabling during the PitchFest event, where hundreds of thriller writers will giving their 3-minute novel pitch to dozens of agents.

ThrillerFest is the annual conference of the International Thriller Writers, a writers’ organization that represents professional thriller writers from around the world. Continue reading

Share Button

Upcoming Q&A with Book Country Member Marshall Ryan Maresca, Author of A MURDER OF MAGES

Posted by June 30th, 2015

Q&A with Book Country Member Marshall Ryan Maresca, Author of A MURDER OF MAGES

Book Country member Marshall Ryan Maresca’s new fantasy novel, A MURDER OF MAGES, comes out July 7th! A MURDER OF MAGES was picked up by DAW Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

Marshall’s debut novel, THE THORN OF DENTONHILL, was workshopped on Book Country and published by DAW Books last February.

Marshall has been wonderfully supportive on Book Country. He shared awesome tips about the world-building process on the Book Country blog.

Marshall will be answering questions about querying, writing, and the publishing process on July 8, 2015. This is a great opportunity to learn what it’s like being a published author!

Post your questions in the discussion thread: Q&A with Book Country Member Marshall Ryan Maresca, Author of A MURDER OF MAGES.

***

About Marshall Ryan Maresca

Q&A with Book Country Member Marshall Ryan Maresca, Author of A MURDER OF MAGES

Connect with Marshall on Book Country and on Twitter. Visit him on the web at blog.mrmaresca.com. Marshall is represented by Mike Kabongo of the OnyxHawke Agency. THE THORN OF DENTONHILL is on sale now. A MURDER OF MAGES comes out July 7, 2015.

 

Share Button