Free eBooks This Weekend!

If you love a great short story–and who doesn’t?–you can’t get much better than the ones over at Cold Moon Slivers. And the best part…they’re FREE from now until Tuesday evening for your Kindle!

There is something for everyone…one thriller, one scifi, and one fantasy. Stop by and download a few!

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Friends, Romans, Countrymen, Lend Me Your…eBook?

This week, I found an article on the Kindle Lending Library, where readers can borrow your ebook through Amazon/their local library. 

Amazon to Launch Library Lending for Kindle Books

As a writer, how do you feel about this program? Vote on our poll or leave a comment!

Golden Rules For The Editor/Writer Relationship

At the very best, the relationship between an editor and a writer is an intense balance of two people who want the very best for a manuscript. They both work long hours. And despite the pressure and deadlines, they have a mutual respect for each other and know how to communicate so that, in the end, both leave the relationship knowing the book is brilliant and that there is potential to work together again.

At the very worst, the relationship between an editor and a writer is volatile power struggle between two people who want the very best for a manuscript. Maybe they both have the same commitment; maybe they don’t. And because of the pressure and deadlines, they argue constantly, and the jabs get a little personal. In the end, both leave the relationship swearing that the other is the most difficult type of personal to deal with, and swear to never work with another writer/editor again…at least until next time.

And how do I know this? I’ve been both the writer and the editor. I’ve worked with writers and editors who were a joy, who I adored and maintain contact with still today. I’ve worked with writers and editors who challenged me and put all my negotiation skills to the test. Would I trade any of it? Nope. But before I had worked with anyone, I wish I would have known a few things.

Golden Rules For Working With Your Editor

1. Do your homework. If you are hiring an editor for your book, talk to other writers. Talk to the editor before you hire her. Find someone who shares your vision for your book and has your same philosophies on editing.

2. Send your editor the cleanest, most complete copy of your manuscript. This is true whether you hire an editor or are assigned one from a publisher. After the book is edited and formatted for print, it can be difficult to insert big chunks of text. Inserting even a few paragraphs at the last minute can shift the formatting in your entire book, and it may need to be redone. And sometimes, it even changes the content and other sections may need to be re-edited. This means duplication of work for your editor, and everyone’s time is valuable.

3. Remember your editor is human. You did not hire or were not assigned a machine to edit your book. The beautiful thing about your editor being human is that they can ask questions about the content and analyze your writing in a personal way, just like your readers will. The drawback of your editor being human is that we are all prone to imperfection. No editor wants to make mistakes or miss things in your book; everyone wants a perfect copy. There is accountability for the editor, but the thing is, even with a team of 10 editors, getting a 350-page document to print without one single flaw is close to impossible. Both the writer and editor need to go through the document carefully and more than one time.

4. Pick your battles, and let the rest go. It’s not personal.

Golden Rules For Working With Your Writer

1. Establish up front what you are editing for in the document. If you are hired by a writer, find out exactly what they want from you. Do they have to adhere to specifications and formatting set forth by their publisher? Do they want someone to find content errors or just want a grammar cleanup? Critiquing someone’s content if they don’t want it usually doesn’t end well. Make sure you’re clear about their expectations.

2. This isn’t a firing squad. This is the writer’s baby. They’ve grown it and nurtured it and usually have a deep emotional attachment to it. Be honest with your writer, but be respectful, too.

3. Negotiate, not dictate, as much as possible. Your job is to provide feedback, improve the book, address grammar/punctuation/formatting issues. Think about what things are negotiable so the author still remains in creative control and the work is still in the writer’s voice. Make all the suggestions you want, but understand that not all suggestions about creative content need to be obeyed blindly. Think about what is non-negotiable (like grammar rules, unless they are a consistent stylistic choice for an emphatic purpose), and be able to back up your grammar choices with evidence (there are dozens of great grammar websites and books).

4. Pick your battles, and let the rest go. It’s not personal.

Regardless of whether you are the writer or the editor, this is a relationship built on open communication and trust. What are the most important things you’ve found as you’ve worked with your writer or editor? Any other golden rules writers and editors should know? Leave a comment!

Setting Goals For Your Book

What would you say if someone asked what your goal was for your book?  To get it published and have people enjoy it? To sell a million copies and get rich?  To have the book featured on a daytime talk show? Everyone has a slightly different vision of what they want after the last word is typed on the page.  But getting from that last word to reaching your goal takes time, effort, and planning.

I recently spent time talking to an acquaintance who works in a corporate environment and does a lot of career coaching.  We started talking about goal setting, and although many writers don’t write in a corporate climate, the more I listened, the more I realized that the principles of goal setting are the same for most careers, including writing.  And once I realized that, I learned a few things.

The first part of goal setting must be to figure out what the true goal is.  It is wonderful to want to buy a beach house, travel the world, and be recognized when you walk down the street at “the person who wrote that book.” But really, in order to have any of those things, your goal is actually to have a great book that is successfully promoted.  Without that, it’s unlikely to earn the things which are a result of having that successful book…such as the house, the travel, the recognition. 

After you have an idea of what your true goal is, the rest of the approach is different than what most of us have been taught.  Using his approach, you write your goals on paper and keep them accessible.  The trick, he said, was to work from right to left, not left to right.  So instead of starting on the left side of the paper, writing down your current situation and trying to figure out how to reach your goal by adding to it as you go, you start on the right side of the paper and work your way backwards.  That is, you put your goal down first, then bridge the progression of necessary steps back to where you are at the moment, giving you a clearer idea of exactly what you need to do to be successful with your book.

Once the basic progression of steps has been mapped, then it is time, once again, to make each step specific and manageable. Moreover, the outcome of each step should be measurable and have a deadline.  This gives you a certain amount of accountability towards the success of your book and reaching your goals.  And yes, things happen to sidetrack us, and life doesn’t always function according to our plan.  But these bumps and delays do happen and offer us an opportunity to dig our heels in and get creative with our problem solving; more importantly, they help us learn what we need for the rest of the journey.

Until that conversation, I hadn’t thought much about the setting specific goals for books, but the more I thought about it, the more sense it made to have a plan for success.  And everyone’s plan probably looks different.  So what kind of goals do you set for yourself and your work?  What process works best for you to reach them?  Leave a comment!

Published in: on February 17, 2010 at 10:50 am  Comments (4)  
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How Much Time Should You Spend Marketing Your Book?

You write. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do?  As an author, the rules used to be very clear:  you dream it, you write it, you publish it.  And because it’s so good, word of your accomplishment spreads, and soon, people are excited for your next release.  And this is all still true enough.

But these days, the market is saturated with great books, both in traditional print and in ebook format, and it’s harder to rise out of the stacks and be heard.  So the solution for savvy writers is to market their work. 

I recently spoke with an author who made a full-time commitment to writing and promoting her work.  It’s hard to remember that this is a job, just like any other, and it takes a lot of time and dedication to be successful.  How long would any of us be employed if we showed up to a traditional 9-to-5 job only when we were motivated or in the mood?  I’m guessing not too long. So instead of waiting for her muse’s divine inspiration, she makes a choice to spend time most days doing some writing.  And equally important, she spends time every day marketing herself and her work.  She balances it with the rest of her busy life.

During the course of this conversation, we were discussing how much time it takes to do all this leg work.  At best, it can take a long time doing the things you’re “supposed” to do.  And at worst, you can get sucked into social networking vortex, where you find yourself browsing more for fun than making the networking a useful endeavor.

After this conversation, I went online to see how regular writers do this—the ones without multi-million-dollar publishing companies footing their publicity bill—and to search for a standard time amount that people spend marketing.  After only viewing a few pages, I found numbers ranging between 40 hours a week and 85% of your available writing time.  Other sites state to spend only as much time as you can, as long as it doesn’t interfere with your writing.  But that doesn’t seem like much of a commitment.

Somewhere between 40 hours per week and no time at all, I know there is a middle ground.  If writing is going to be your job—your business—you need to devote some time daily to marketing or hire someone to market for you.  When you market, you’ll sell more books, gain more recognition, and likely, you’ll make yourself more marketable for future publications. How much time do you spend now? And what is the “right” amount? Leave a comment!