Friday Conversations With A Self-Publishing Writer 9/27/13

Whether you are a novice writer, experienced writer, self-publishing writer, or dreaming of seeing your name on the cover of your book—and haven’t ever submitted a manuscript, anywhere—there is one central piece of advice I was given that I share with you today: NEVER QUIT!

Years ago, when I jumped in to an unexpected teaching position—with both feet and knees knocking—my daughter gave me a poster for my classroom.  In big, bold, bright-colored lettering it read: NEVER NEVER NEVER Quit!  The miracle of learning comes when you least expect it.  The truth of that statement played out many times, and since then, I have translated it into my personal pep-talks when I’m struggling with a writing project.

Ever read any of the stats about famous writers?  Mystery writer Agatha Christie had no formal education yet taught herself to read and eventually wrote at least 66 novels plus numerous short stories, and even movies.  John Grisham’s first novel was rejected 25 times.  Frank Herbert’s science fiction novel Dune was rejected 20 times.  Even Stephen King received more rejection letters than he cares to remember.  And, it has even been documented that Rudyard Kipling received a rejection letter stating: I’m sorry Mr. Kipling, but you just don’t know how to use the English language.  J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter sagas, was turned away by 12 publishers only to be “discovered” by a very small publishing press. 

So, how do writers defeat the nay-sayers and the doubting thoughts that creep in?  We create our own, personalized, Pep Rally points:

  • Listen to your supporters!  Family, friends and other writers from your writing group who know your work and appreciate the story you’ve created can offer you the emotional support you’ll need before you publish and after you publish.Do you read the comics?  Remember when Charlie Brown was trying to kick a football and kept missing?  His good friend, Lucy, held the ball for him so that his perspective changed—just a bit—which helped him succeed.
  • Go to your first outlines and take note of the excellence in your writing! Yes, it really is okay to acknowledge that what you’ve created is well done!
  • Review the research.  If your project is based on a true story, maybe (just maybe) something slipped between the drafts. Then you can enjoy the satisfaction of enhancing the material—on your own—so that you can present the best manuscript.
  •  Re-think your publishing concepts.  If the general, mainstream publishers just don’t “get” what you’re writing, then look to the self-publishing presses. Children’s author, Beatrix Potter was not able to find a conventional publisher who would accept The Tale of Peter Rabbit.  She did not give up.  She self-published!

Someone once told me that “an apparent failure is only an opportunity to begin again; pray, reset, restart, refocus and succeed.”  I haven’t counted the numerous times this has happened in my writing life; however, I can tell you that I’ve never been happier with this gift of writing that keeps my fingers typing.  May you feel this satisfying enjoyment, too.

Royalene ABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene Doyle is a Ghostwriter with Outskirts Press, bringing more than 35 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their writing projects. She has worked with both experienced and fledgling writers helping complete projects in multiple genres. When a writer brings the passion they have for their work and combines it with Royalene’s passion to see the finished project in print, books are published and the writer’s legacy is passed forward.

Friday Conversations With A Self-Publishing Writer 9/20/13

One more thought about partnering with a ghostwriterTwo are better than one.  When you’ve started working with a writing-partner you’ll discover that one person’s idea spawns connecting thoughts in the other person; this collaboration produces a better book.  Much like film-making where writer and director join forces, the author and ghostwriter bring their own unique histories to play in the making of your book.  Thus I have three more criteria for finding that perfect partnership:

1)    Vision:  When you (the author) have formulated your core statement about your book—what it is, what it brings to the reader—does the person you’re interviewing share that vision?  Both you and your teammate should see that picture; have that same goal.

2)    Adaptability:  Some authors think they want a “helper” who will enhance their book by following the manuscript “exactly” as the author has written it.  That is every author’s decision to make; however, they should not waste their money hiring a true ghostwriter.  Employ the Editor who will correct grammar, punctuation, sentence structure; without creative input.

  1. However, the author who wants to explore enhancing their manuscript will be as adaptable and flexible as the ghostwriter they hire.  Their manuscript may, indeed, end up being very close to the original—or—very different with improved plot, character, setting (research required) elements that bring out the author’s inspired ideas.  This is especially true for authors in the Inspirational genre: fiction and non-fiction.

3)    Passion:  Both author and ghostwriter must share a passion for the subject matter of the manuscript.  Every book on every bookshelf was written to “tell something important.”  If the level of commitment is weak, so will be the finished product.

These three criteria also hold true after you’ve written the words: THE END.  Then the search begins for the right publisher.  Notice I’ve used the word right.  From my personal perspective I see too many authors open that door of “hope-they-will-accept-it,” then send out multiple queries to the “big” houses—and wait.  If you know that your book is ready to meet its readers, then step up and employ the best self-publishing company you can find.

There are several quality self-publishers out there (and some not so great); however, this is where you’ll use the same criteria that I’ve outlined in this and last Friday’s blog.  The self-publishing staff will become your book-making-crew—the cameraman, format editor, printer, marketing director.

  • Talk with them and ask for referrals from their published list.  Search their bookstore for two or three books in your genre, then ask for referral/contact information for those authors.
  • LOOK at the books they’ve printed—either at the bookstore or on the Internet.
  • Compare their publishing packages.  This is a competitive business, so don’t be swayed by the first dollar-difference you see between companies.
  • LISTEN to the Author Representatives.  It won’t take you long to discern whether they have a true passion for their work (helping authors like you)—or not.

Bottom line:  As the author, you are creating an alliance of experts dthat starts with you and ends when you hold your finished book in your hands.  “Two are better than one;” and a team that brings all their talents and skills together to produce your book is best.

Royalene ABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene Doyle is a Ghostwriter with Outskirts Press, bringing more than 35 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their writing projects. She has worked with both experienced and fledgling writers helping complete projects in multiple genres. When a writer brings the passion they have for their work and combines it with Royalene’s passion to see the finished project in print, books are published and the writer’s legacy is passed forward.

Friday Conversations With A Self-Publishing Writer 9/13/13

Today’s blog may sound a bit technical as my thoughts have turned to the importance of having your work published. The old adage is true: Everyone has a story to tell. There is another saying that is equally true: Everyone is not a writer. And, some of the books that reach the shelves and/or the internet—whether published in the mainstream or self-published—should not be there. The author may have had the best idea on the planet, but could not communicate it well, or chose a genre that does not fit the subject material. Thus the positive impact of the book is lost. Here is where a ghostwriter can make a world of difference.

Finding the right ghostwriter to assist you is likened to finding the right marriage partner. Although this writing relationship may not exist for a lifetime, the connection between writer and ghostwriter must be compatible. Here are a few things to look for when discussing your project with a potential writing partner:

1) It is preferred to meet with and interview the ghostwriter in person. However, if this is not possible, telephone conversations can provide you with enough information to make your selection. I have successfully worked with several clients long-distance yet we have never met in person.
2) Ask for information about their past projects. If referrals are available—authors who will talk with you about their experience with this ghostwriter—this is the best resource.
a. Responsibility and reliability are two key components in a writing partner. When talking with referrals, ask about the timeliness of the ghostwriter’s production work.
b. Your budget is important, too. Although the former clients may not choose to reveal their personal payment plan, you can ask them if they felt they received poor, fair, good or excellent value for the amount paid.
3) As you talk about your project, listen carefully to the ghostwriter’s responses.
a. Are they knowledgeable about your genre of choice?
b. Do they actually hear what you are saying?
c. Do you find it easy to talk with them—as if you are already friends?
4) As the author of your project, you have a distinct writing voice. If you have quickly established a comfortable rapport with the ghostwriter, chances are good that they will be able to identify your voice and use it to enhance your project. This is vital to the authenticity of your book. When you are asked to a book signing and/or speaking engagement, it is essential that you speak in the voice of the book.
5) Your writing partner must have an excellent “handle” on the English language.
a. Grammar, sentence structure, and punctuation all hold a valuable place in communicating with the reader. However, I’m one of those people who believe that the concept of communication is the key component in the use of grammar and spelling skills. This skill must be used in maintaining the author’s voice throughout the book.
b. If you are writing a technical document for publication at the university-level of academia, you definitely need a ghostwriter who has that experience.
c. If you are writing in the genre of historical fiction, romance, mystery, science fiction, memoir, pet stories, cookbooks, etc. then the ghostwriter who loves language for its communication value is the preferred choice.

Bottom line: Harmony between author and ghostwriter is essential and produces excellence.

Royalene ABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene Doyle is a Ghostwriter with Outskirts Press, bringing more than 35 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their writing projects. She has worked with both experienced and fledgling writers helping complete projects in multiple genres. When a writer brings the passion they have for their work and combines it with Royalene’s passion to see the finished project in print, books are published and the writer’s legacy is passed forward.

Friday Conversations With A Self-Publishing Writer 8/30/13

From my perspective—over 50 years of living with the writer-within—I’ve come to greatly appreciate the freedom that self-publishing offers.  When ideas, plots, characters and scenarios flow so quickly, there are literally flying pages circling around you.  That is the time to slow down and find a home for at least one of your favorite pieces; the time to develop a relationship with a publisher or self-publishing press; the time for readers to have access to your best work.

The majority of writers I know seem to possess an extra DNA molecule, a dominant genetic inclination to create volumes of pages that literally bleed their ideas onto paper.  Yet only a few—within this circle of friends—are published.  Instead, most have a large file of politely phrased reject letters.  For some, this file has created a trapdoor in their minds; when they fall into it, they wonder what—if anything—will ever happen to all those masterpieces.

Enter the self-publishing press—stage right.  Gone is the stigma of self-publishing.  A new pride now comes to the authors who take that step and release their books to the readers of the world.  The doors are now wide open to every author in every field of writing.  And, other creative industries are watching, especially agents looking for the next Stephen King, Ted Dekker, Dan Brown or Debbie Macomber.

Sometimes when I talk with writers I hear a slow release of energy as they express their doubt that their particular project(s) will ever be published.  Then we leave the topic of publishing behind for a while and share the stories: the stories of their writing lives, the development of their manuscripts and the heart behind the imaginings that push them to write the stories.  Once a writer realizes that their works are meant to be published, the progress to reach that goal becomes much easier.

Personally, I enjoy working with new authors or writers whose lives took a turn and they are just returning to their projects—writers who present me with artistically written materials in the genres of children’s books, young adult fiction, historical fiction, science fiction and especially Christian fiction and nonfiction.

Have I ever had to respectfully decline a project?  Only twice.  The gift of writing does not come to everyone in spite of the old saying that “every living soul has a great book manuscript in their desk drawer.”  The words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, pages, must flow and offer the reader either excellent information or a moment of vision into another perspective, another life, another world.  What a gift to the ghostwriter who can be part of that!

Royalene ABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene Doyle is a Ghostwriter with Outskirts Press, bringing more than 35 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their writing projects. She has worked with both experienced and fledgling writers helping complete projects in multiple genres. When a writer brings the passion they have for their work and combines it with Royalene’s passion to see the finished project in print, books are published and the writer’s legacy is passed forward.

Top Four Reasons to Self-Publish: Part 4 – Rights

Last month, I did a series on the most popular questions self-publishing authors ask. The posts were such a hit, I’ve decided to do another series this month. Each week in August, I will discuss one of the top four reasons why you should self-publish your book.

This week, I’ll discuss book rights. (In case you missed the last three reasons, be sure to go back and view those posts: Control, Money, and Trade and Distribution.)

As a self-publishing author, you maintain all rights to your book. This gives authors the freedom to sell or keep the rights as they see fit. However, it is important to note that self-published books will be considered “previously published” if the author later chooses to sell the book to a traditional publisher.

Owning book rights such as translation rights and film rights can have a significant impact on an author’s profitability.

Authors who use traditional publishing firms often give up most of the book rights but are usually entitled to a small percentage of the profit if the firm sells the rights to someone else. Self-publishing authors have the opportunity to choose if and how to sell their book rights to ensure they are getting the best deal possible.

I’d love to know, how has owning the rights to your book influenced your publishing decisions?

ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order 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, Jodee Thayer can put you on the right path.