Is Your Heart in it for the Long Haul?

There you are…smack dab in the middle of a long project. The electric that was in the air during the thrilling newness of it has the spark of, well, a sock with static cling attached to a pant leg. And the finish line seems a million miles (or weeks, or words) away. Here is where you have a choice to make: do I have the heart to stick this out for the long haul, or do I move on?

This feeling is normal in many jobs but especially so in our field. Whether you are a writer, an editor, or a publisher, you are constantly challenged to stay motivated. Many of our projects take months, often up to a year or more, to complete. Couple that with the fact most of us do this work as a second job or a hobby and it can be hard to not only find time but also stay interested and motivated.

If you decide to stick with the project, here are a few things you can do to keep going.

  • Set smaller goals to meet on the way to project completion. Write them down with a firm deadline date. Then, once you’ve reached the goal, do something to celebrate.
  • Get other people involved. This field tends to get a bit solitary. Get interaction (and accountability!) through writing groups or other types of peer review.
  • Take a break. If you need to step away from a project, take some time to research, do some planning, or begin your marketing. That way, you’re still moving forward.

What other methods do you use to keep motivated over the long haul? Leave a comment!

E.B. White & Planning a Sunday Afternoon

I get up every morning determined both to change the world and to have one hell of a good time. This makes planning the day difficult. ~E.B. White

I started writing this blog with the good intentions of making it a technical piece, a nuts-and-bolts guide to something dealing with the business of writing. When I saw this quote, I knew that today was not the day to write such a thing.

As a (new) publisher, I like the idea that every morning is a new beginning, my “do-over” from the challenges of the day before. There is a whole new day ahead of me where I can make better choices and be creative and do something for someone else—even in my very own, tiny way. Maybe those things sorts of things don’t change the entire world, but it’s awfully nice to see the look on a writer’s face the first time they see their book in print!

There are also a lot of other good times that come with this new endeavor. I’ve met some amazing people I might never have met, attended events I might never have attended, and taken risks I might never have otherwise taken. Last Sunday alone, I spent a day with writers, musicians, artisans, and dozens of Fair Folk.

All this does make it tough to plan a day. I have a four-page to-do list on any given day and a calendar full of nearly illegible scribbles. Lucky for me, while I love having some routine in my life, I also thrive when no two days ever look exactly the same.

My plan for today? Spend some time with a few of my favorite little people, cross a couple things off of the ever-growing Cold Moon/Book Mark It to-do list, and let the dogs walk me before it rains. And maybe I’ll grab my tattered copy of Charlotte’s Web before I change the world.

Published in: on March 20, 2011 at 12:43 pm  Leave a Comment  
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National Letter Writing Week

January 9 marks the beginning of National Letter Writing Week. Never was there a better time to celebrate it than at the start of the year, when many of us are sending out query letters to jump start our New Year’s resolutions for our writing.

The query letter can be quite challenging. Authors who have been able to write 300 pages of a novel freeze at their keyboards as they attempt to fill paragraphs in a meaningful way. Here are a few links to help you get started!

Writing World – How to Write a Successful Query Letter

Agent Query – How to Write a Query

Writer’s Digest – Advice on Writing Query Letters

Inspiration for ALL Writers!

We ALL love to see those wonderful acceptance letters arrive in the mail (or email!).  But when one of those rejections arrive, remember…a rejection does NOT necessarily mean your work isn’t good!  There are a million reasons work gets rejected that have nothing to do with the quality of the work (perhaps the publisher has recently accepted a work similar to yours, perhaps the editor likes a different style of work, perphaps the theme of a magazine or anthology has shaped itself in a different way than originally intended, etc.). Write your best, edit your best, and think of all the great writers of today who were rejected multiple times before their work took off.

30 famous authors whose works were rejected (repeatedly, and sometimes rudely) by publishers

Published in: on May 19, 2010 at 5:17 pm  Comments (1)  
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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!