Conversations: 10/6/2017

CONNECT WITH EXPERT ASSISTANTS

Have you ever considered working with a Writing Assistant (Editor/Coach), or Ghostwriter? If you have a novel, memoir, poetry collection, or any other manuscript that is buried in your basement, I hope you will consider bringing it back to life by joining forces with an expert collaborator. Here are two True Stories I hope will encourage you.

True Story: My friend Sue (not her real name) and I met at a writers’ conference last year. Instantly we knew we’d be good friends because we had so much in common. On the last day of the conference we exchanged cards and wished each other well in our writing adventures. Several months later Sue called me and asked to “get together.” We met at a local coffee shop and barely sat down with our steaming cups of caffeine before she announced, “This idea hit me—like an epiphany—and I know it’s supposed to be a book. It just has to be written, so I need your help.” That was the beginning of a two-hour conversation that sent us on a wild ride. I became her “writing assistant,” her editor, writing coach and friend. The manuscript is now with a traditional publishing house.

True Story #2: While sitting at dinner with our neighbors, Bill mentioned that he’d written a little poetry over the years. “When I’m looking at the beauty of nature, words just seem to come to me.” Of course I encouraged him to continue writing because his observations of the world around us are as unique as a finger print—no two are alike. Not long after that conversation, Bill called and asked if I’d like to take a look at some of his work—poetry that he’d matched to his prize-winning photography. To my delight, his extended dining room table was covered with small “prints” of his favorite photographs. Then he handed me a thick stack of hand-written poetry. Over the next three years we worked together to produce two beautiful collections of his photography and verse: From Delicate Lily Pads to Sculptured Peaks, and Impressions of Nature in Black and White by William A. Carlson. Would these books have ever been published without the friendship connection and the TLC of expert assistance? Maybe. “But doubtful,” says Bill.

As my writing life developed into the business of being a “writer’s assistant” I discovered a whole new level of JOY walking through the creative process with another writer and helping their works “find the light of day.” Writing a book (fiction or nonfiction) is a big commitment, and having support from a trained and experienced writer is just what the “book doctor” ordered. Assistant classifications include:

  • The Writing Consultant who can brainstorm the plot/concept with you and help you smash through any writer’s block.
  • The Coach/Editor who reads and offers editing, word choice, and enhancement ideas.
  • The Ghostwriter who develops your original ideas to complete the manuscript. And, like one Ghostwriter is fond of saying: “When it comes to our clients, we are as silent as Jeeves.” Yes, indeed, the professional Ghostwriter never reveals the names of their clients—unless, of course, the client gives permission, places their name on the cover as, written with, or decides the Ghostwriter’s input deserved the co-author title.

How do you find these experts? Most of us are proficient using Google to find any category of experts we’re looking for, including writing consultants, editors and ghostwriters. Their websites may be big and beautiful, however, finding the right FIT with someone you can work with is the real Key to Success.

Most writers’ conference (like the one that I attended with the author in the first True Story—above) set up a panels of experts for writers to talk with which is an excellent way to meet experienced assistants. Even if you’re not able to meet with them at length, and discuss your project, you can at least take their card and contact them later.

However, my go-to place to find professional help is the self-publishing company where I (and several clients) have published. If authors don’t find a perfect fit with one of their Consultants, Editors, or Ghostwriters, they offer other in-house expert connections. AND, unlike traditional houses who hire experts to create books that meet the “projected value” of their business, self-publishing companies hire professional individuals who will listen to each author, and offer their very best help to complete the book that the author has written.

So DIG OUT your old manuscript(s) and find the specialized collaborator who will pump life back into it. You owe it to yourself and your Readers! ⚓︎

 


Royalene

ABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene has been writing something since before kindergarten days and continues to love the process. Through her small business—DOYLE WRITING SERVICES—she brings more than 40 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their projects. This is a nice fit as she develops these blogs for Outskirts Press (OP) a leading self-publisher, and occasionally accepts a ghostwriting project from one of their clients. Her recent book release (with OP) titled FIREPROOF PROVERBS, A Writer’s Study of Words, is already receiving excellent reviews including several professional writer’s endorsements given on the book’s back cover.
Royalene’s writing experience grew through a wide variety of positions from Office Manager and Administrative Assistant to Teacher of Literature and Advanced Writing courses and editor/writer for an International Christian ministry. Her willingness to listen to struggling authors, learn their goals and expectations and discern their writing voice has brought many manuscripts into the published books arena.

Conversations: 4/29/2016

THE MUSIC OF WORDS part FIVE

Well, here we are—at the point where you’ve decided I will not talk about the REAL elements of poetry: forms, genre and techniques. I’m not a fan of suggesting that poets lock themselves into specific formulas. However, I do see the value of practicing these forms (within their accepted genres) to increase an individual’s personal writing voice and form. Here are brief definitions of some of the forms utilized today:

poetry

  • Ghazal: common in poetry from Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bengali, Persian, Turkish and Urdu cultures this form has from 5-15 rhyming couplets that share a refrain at the end of the second line. Each line is identical in meter.

 

  • Haiku: a very popular form of unrhymed verse containing three sections in a structured 5-7-5 pattern. This form originated in Japanese poetry and often contains a “cutting or seasoned word” at the end of the poem.
  • Ode: This form comes from ancient Greek culture, having three parts: a strophe, an antistrophe and an epode. The strophe and antistrophe often offer conflicting perspectives and the epode looks at both intending to offer a clearer perspective. Odes were often sung as creative minds attempted to influence peoples of their time.
  • Shi: the main type of classical Chinese poetry with variations of folk song, old style, and modern style each with rhyming elements. They are most often considered folk ballad poetry and delivered in song.
  • Sonnet: This is the most commonly known form of poetry in modern times. It is a “set-rhyme” containing exactly fourteen lines with a logical structure. The first four lines introduce the topic, the second four elaborates and the third puts forth a perceived problem (usually a couplet or two lines) giving a twist to the logic-lines. The very distinct rhyme pattern is: a-b-a-b-c-d-c-d-e-f-e-f-gg.
  • Tanka: widely used in today’s Japanese poetry, this form is unrhymed with five sections totaling 31 “units” structured in a 5-7-5-7-7 pattern with a shift in tone and subject between the first three lines and the last two.
  • Villanelle: This form of poetry could almost be called an American/English form because of its popularity with poets such as Dylan Thomas. It contains nineteen lines made up of five triplets with a closing quatrain. There are two refrains (attractive as a musical form), concluding with two refrains.

 

 

It is my hope that reading these short definitions will not discourage “the poet within” you. If you’re just entering the world of poetry, remember that these forms can be bent a little by the author to be useful in multiple genres that look for the unusual. These genres include: Elegy, Epic and Dramatic poetry; Light verse and Lyric verse; Narrative, Fable and Satirical poetry; Prose and Speculative poetry.

Each of these forms and genres will also contain the basic elements of writing skills such as: rhythm, meter, metrical patters, alliteration, rhyme and rhyming schemes—and—the visual form of lines and stanzas. It is up to the poet/author to intrigue reader/editors and leave them demanding MORE of your work. Let your light shine and poetry fans will snap up all your published works! ⚓︎

RoyaleneABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene has been writing something since before kindergarten days and continues to love the process. Through her small business—DOYLE WRITING SERVICES—she brings more than 40 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their projects. This is a nice fit as she develops these blogs for Outskirts Press (OP) a leading self-publisher, and occasionally accepts a ghostwriting project from one of their clients. Her recent book release (with OP) titled FIREPROOF PROVERBS, A Writer’s Study of Words, is already receiving excellent reviews including several professional writer’s endorsements given on the book’s back cover.  

Royalene’s writing experience grew through a wide variety of positions from Office Manager and Administrative Assistant to Teacher of Literature and Advanced Writing courses and editor/writer for an International Christian ministry. Her willingness to listen to struggling authors, learn their goals and expectations and discern their writing voice has brought many manuscripts into the published books arena.

In Your Corner : Three Ways to Celebrate YOUR Poetry This National Poetry Month!

April is National Poetry Month!  This poses an interesting challenge for those among us who are poets: while the rest of the world is celebrating the works of poets they admire, writers of poetry must themselves rise to the challenge of becoming the wordsmiths they wish to be.  This challenge is not perhaps specific to April––but it is pushed to the front burner, so to speak.

So what is a poet to do in a month set aside for celebrating poets and what they do?

I have three suggestions:

1. Set yourself a writing challenge.

The first thing to do, as a person dedicated to a specific craft and art form, is to continue working to improve your skill set.  And as my creative writing instructor in college used to say, “You will never be so good at this that you can afford to stop practicing.”  (Which might explain why she gave me her copy of Baking Illustrated, now that I come to think of it.)  Regardless, I’m grateful to her for never letting up, never allowing me to relax into the assumption that I’d learned all I was going to learn and raised the bar as high as it would go.  (I’m also grateful because she introduced me to loose-leaf lapsang souchong tea, but that’s entirely beside the point.)  The old adage “Practice Makes Perfect” is dead wrong.  To strive for perfection is to set ourselves up for failure every time, but to strive for improvement–to challenge ourselves to get better–is worth ten of that.  So set yourself a writing challenge, one that fits your routine and schedule and needs, and use it as an opportunity to hone your form.

2. Go digital.

Many of my friends who went on to be poets–and there are many–have an aversion to social media.  I’m not entirely sure why there’s more of this tendency among my poet friends than among my friends who write prose and nonfiction, and I know that my cohort is not quite a representative statistical sample, but the tendency seems common.  It might have something to do with the intimate nature of poetry–it is, like much writing, a deeply private act that aims to generate a public–or semi-public–product.  So this April, I’d like to challenge you to go digital.  Not just as a person, but as a writer.  Experiment with a variety of social media options–Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Goodreads, Tumblr, Snapchat, and more–and do so as a poet.  Find your readers where they live, and meet them there.

3. Create a following.

But you know, not in a creepy way like in the television show.  Once you’re on social media, take advantage of the opportunity to post snippets of your work, updates from behind the scenes as you write, and generally work to create the cult of personality that surrounds books with that oh-so-important “buzz” factor.  This will help generate interest in your book, once you’re ready to publish–and will form a rock-solid foundation for your marketing strategy.

writing poetry in the woods, national poetry month 2016

If you’re not comfortable projecting yourself as a poet into the digital sphere, that’s okay.  There are reasons for those feelings, for reticence.  I simply hope, in my own small way, to encourage you with this reassurance: your work deserves to be read, and admired.  You are a poet, even if you haven’t yet published your book of poetry.  You’ll get there, in your own time, and when you’re ready.  Most of all, I want you to know that you have a community here who supports you all the way.

You are not alone. ♣︎

ElizabethABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

From the Archives: “The Book Doctor on Poetry and Publishing”

Welcome back to our new Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years.  What’s stayed the same?  And what’s changed?  We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.

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[ Originally posted: July 1st, 2010 ]

Q: How would I go about publishing an original one-hundred-page poetry book? Generally how much would the profit be from such a book?

A: You have quite a few options and potential paths when it comes to publishing. Before you decide to self-publish or try to sell a book to a publisher, first you must know your goals and assess your abilities. My fifty-minute seminar on CD called “I Finished My Book; What Should I Do Next?” covers the decision-making process, so you’ll know which way to go, whether you want to self-publish or attempt to find a publisher, and if you self-publish, whether you want to use a traditional printer, print-on-demand (POD), or a company that helps in the publishing process. I crammed the seminar with information and included many pages of supplemental printed material, so you can understand why I can’t answer your question in detail in only a few paragraphs.

Here’s a little information to help, though.

If you already know you want to self-publish, your next step depends on whether you want to handle all the pre-printing details, such as editing, internal and cover design, ISBN numbers, and finding a printer, or whether you prefer to rely on a company that handles those details for you—for a price. Read a good book on self-publishing and learn all aspects of it before you make your decision. Also carefully scrutinize the company you choose as a printer or publisher—know there is a difference—and carefully ensure that the services the company provides are the services you need.

You also asked how much profit to expect. Let me first ask a question: When did you last buy a poetry book? If you are like most Americans, you have not bought a single poetry book in the last ten years. Although millions of people write poetry, not many write it well, and even fewer buy poetry books. Poetry books rarely make any profit at all.

Although few Americans make much if any money from poetry, it is the highest form of literary art. Once writers master poetry, they can apply those skills to their fiction and nonfiction and increase their chances of making money with their prose.

My news should not discourage you, however. If you put a great deal of time and effort into marketing, you might make some money after all. At least one poet I know used POD for his books and travels the country giving readings. He writes excellent poetry and performs it well, and he has sold close to a thousand copies of his book. He chose POD, which gives him less profit per book than if he had chosen a traditional printer, but he did not have to invest a huge amount of money up front or store thousands of books, so the tradeoff suits his needs.

As you can see, the answer to both questions—how to go about getting a poetry book published and how much you might profit—are the same: It depends on what you are willing and able to do, and none of the paths are simple. Educate yourself first and then decide what works best for you.


When Bobbie Christmas (author of Write in Style, printed by Union Square Publishing, and owner of Zebra Communications) first wrote this question-and-answer post for us back in mid-2010, the self-publishing market was still young enough that authors could rely on readers to purchase the big “staples” of the book market––meaning fiction, and especially genre fiction––but the so-called “niche” markets and genres were still somewhat a) underdeveloped, b) undiscovered, or c) the data wasn’t available to analyze their profitability.

Luckily, we have on board our Tuesday “From the Archives” vehicle a time machine which allows us to jump five years forward from 2010 … to 2015.  (Please allow me to pretend there’s actual time travel involved!  It’s a Tuesday, after all.)  And when it comes to self-published poetry, we have a great deal more information at our fingertips today than ever before.

First, I might point you to the experience of Mirtha Michelle Castro Marmol, whose book of poems (Letters, to the Men I Have Loved) has not only done moderately well––it has done so exceptionally well as to remain on Amazon’s bestseller lists for months.  MMCM published through Outskirts Press, a hybrid publishing company based out of the Denver area, and OP ran a feature and interview piece with her on their official blog.  “The most rewarding part [of being published] is and will always be the ability Letters has to touch people,” says MMCM. “It’s crazy because I didn’t think people really read books anymore. But for me, having these girls go and buy my book, and spend their twenty dollars or so on Letters––it’s amazing, that someone believes in things still.”  Readers have been snapping up copies of her book, both in physical and digital forms, at such a rate as to firmly prove that people still “really read books”––including poetry.

Secondly, I might point you to this blog post by self-published poets Terri Kirby Erickson and Michelle True.  (Every day there are more and more useful online resources like theirs that are sent out into the aether, and now the greater struggle is not just to find information, but to determine which information is actually useful.)  This particular post is handy, not because it provides a template or how-to guide to put you on a path to success (though it might also do that, in a sense) but because it provides an anthology of the ways in which these two self-published poets have already found ways to sell their books.  If you needed affirmation that you can be a poet, and a self-published poet at that, and find your readers––well, take a look.  Articles like the one Denise Enck wrote for the Empty Mirror is much more prescriptive, and may help fill in the gaps.

Lastly, I might also point you to a bit of anecdotal evidence: Yesterday, I was in my local library, browsing the new additions, when I overheard a patron talking with one of the librarians at the front desk.  “Where would I find the poetry?” she asked.  “I don’t see much of it here.”  The librarian pointed out that the poetry was mixed in with poetry, nonfiction, and even young adult, junior fiction, and junior nonfiction.  “But why?” asked the patron.  “All I want to read is some poetry.  It’s the only kind of book that I actually enjoy!”  The library did happen to have a section dedicated to local authors, many of whom were self-published.

What Bobbie Christmas wrote back in 2010 still holds true: “none of the paths are simple.”  But today we have the benefit of knowing that, while writing remains a highly personal and sometimes borderline crazy endeavor, writers of all types and creeds and genres and niche markets are finding success, finding readers, and finding their true voice.  Keep writing, dear readers.  And keep publishing! ♠

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.