Books & Such Literary Management http://www.booksandsuch.com Wed, 28 Sep 2016 05:00:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Value of Christian Books http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/value-christian-books/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/value-christian-books/#comments Wed, 28 Sep 2016 05:00:37 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=27845 Blogger: Rachelle Gardner

As an agent in CBA, I frequently hear authors say things like, “I don’t want my book to be exclusively in CBA. I want it to cross over.” I think this comes from a desire to not …

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Blogger: Rachelle Gardner

As an agent in CBA, I frequently hear authors say things like, “I don’t want my book to be exclusively in CBA. I want it to cross over.” I think this comes from a desire to not only have a larger audience, but to reach more people for Christ.

Authors may wonder: What good is it for us to be writing just to other Christians? Shouldn’t we be reaching out to nonbelievers? Shouldn’t we be writing with the purpose of bringing more people into the Kingdom? 

Are we preaching to the choir?

These questions reflect the perception that CBA seems to be a business based on “preaching to the choir.” Most of us, as believers, have a desire to reach nonbelievers with our writing (and hopefully, with our lives). While this is a big topic, I want to make a couple of points about it.

christian-books-rachelle-clientsYou might have a passion to bring people to Christ through your books, but I think it’s helpful to remember that coming to Christ is a process. One step in the process is making the decision, which is usually preceded by various instigating factors: conversations with a Christian, reading books, attending a church service. It can take months or years, or can be practically instantaneous.

But once the decision is made, it’s not a “done deal.” The second step is a lifetime of pursuing Christ, developing spiritual maturity, going deeper in our faith. This is becoming a disciple. We need others to help us on this path. And this is where I believe most of the CBA books come in.

Our books’ purpose is to disciple believers.

In my opinion, the importance of discipling believers is often underestimated. There are many people “making a decision for Christ” and then remaining shallow or weak in their faith for years or decades, with no one giving them direction in how to develop spiritual maturity. This is where we can have the most impact as Christian writers.

Whether we’re writing fiction or nonfiction, our books can take people deeper into what it means to be a person of faith in Jesus Christ, whether those believers are newbies or have been Christians all their lives. This is equally as important as creating believers in the first place. CBA disciples believers.

And we reach nonbelievers too.

Now here’s the amazing thing. If you write a book that disciples believers in some way, it’s likely to be read at some point by a nonbeliever and your book will be part of the process of creating a new Christian. That’s just the way it works.

The books that reach nonbelievers for Christ are not usually books that were planned that way. It just happens, because Christian books can be tools the Holy Spirit uses. And they’re tools in the hands of Christians who are personally leading others to Christ.

It even works with fiction.

As an example, years ago a nonbeliever friend of mine had another friend who was a devoted Christian. The turning point came when the Christian friend gave the nonbeliever Left Behind (a book many Christian writers love to disdain). The Holy Spirit worked profoundly and this nonbelieving man wanted to know more. He read Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ and then Where Is God When It Hurts by Philip Yancey. He was ready for some conversations with a pastor, and finally he made his decision and got baptized.

Your book can be fiction or nonfiction, it can be written toward the believer or nonbeliever, it can be about any aspect of Christianity… and if it expresses truth in a way that people can relate, the Holy Spirit can use it to bring people to Christ.

So that’s why I believe it can be wasted energy to worry that CBA “preaches to the choir.” Sure we do. The choir needs to be discipled too. At the same time, non-choir-members will occasionally find themselves in hearing distance of our “preaching.” And it can change their lives.

Write the best book you can. Make the most well-informed decisions you can about where to publish. Follow advice from trusted sources about marketing and promotion. Then trust God to get your words out there where He can use them to disciple or create believers—or both.

Have you ever worried that publishing in CBA is too limiting? Why? What are some advantages or disadvantages of CBA for a writer?

 

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The End or the Beginning? http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/end-just-beginning/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/end-just-beginning/#comments Tue, 27 Sep 2016 09:25:07 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=27520 Blogger: Michelle Ule

Sitting in for Wendy who is having technical difficulties.

As I type the glorious words “the end” at the bottom of the page, I know it’s actually just the beginning.

Here are the steps I take when …

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Blogger: Michelle Ule

Sitting in for Wendy who is having technical difficulties.

As I type the glorious words “the end” at the bottom of the page, I know it’s actually just the beginning.

Here are the steps I take when beginning a revision that can only start when I think I’m finished.

Recognize I’m not done yet.

end

Actual manuscript

Sure, I’ve said it was the end, but for the author on a first draft it never is.

The first draft is where I get the story down, in all it’s messy, sprawling brilliance.

Some of the writing is so beautiful I could weep.

A lot of it isn’t.

But at least I’ve got a place to start

Planning the rewrite.

You cannot begin to rewrite until you know what’s in the manuscript, so I start by running a word census on my manuscript.

Using a macro my husband wrote for me, I look at the 25 or so most used words, paying close attention to those I typically overuse like “that, just, back, go,” and so forth.

You should know which words you tend to overuse.

I then examine all the sentences in which those words appear and frequently rewrite them.

I pay close attention to the verb “was” and beef up sentences with a different verb.

This often takes a couple days on a lengthy manuscript.

Of course I run spellcheck–often.

Printing the entire manuscript.

It’s important to get away from the computer screen–to see the manuscript differently and also to rest your eyes and fingers.

There’s something about using your hands to read that activates other corners of the brain and enables you to catch things you might have missed on the computer screen.

As a good ecologist, I bristled at using up all that paper, so I use the backside of an old manuscript I’ve already read.

(As long as the page numbers are in a different font–say bold on the second manuscript–I never get confused).

I read it on paper with my pencil in hand and scribble, write in the margins, cut out sentences, rearrange sentences, reformat paragraphs, and generally make a mess of the whole thing.

It’s so satisfying.

Input the changes

This often takes longer than I expect and yet moving between paper and pencil to computer screen also engages parts of the brain that were lolling around before and not paying attention.

I can see things I missed on the screen AND on the paper when I’m moving between them.

So I make corrections and the writing improves.

end

Multi-device-editing

Read it on an ebook format

I then read the entire manuscript in an ebook format on my Ipad.

There’s something so gratifying about reading my words in what appears to be a book (indeed, it is an ebook).

I read with a notebook and pen at my side. When I see something that needs to be changed, I scribble a few words and the page, then move on.

By this point, I’m confident I can see the problems by just looking at a few words and activating the “find” feature when I return to my Word document.

This often will fill a lot of pages–because your eyes just don’t seem to see all the mistakes!

Not at the end yet

When I get the manuscript to a point that feels like I’m close to done, I ask a few friends to read it.

My ever-loving-patient-saintly-hero of a patron of the arts gets the first chance.

I have a young assistant with a degree in English who has been reading all along and said yesterday as she finished marking up chapter 18, “I can hardly wait until you’re done and I can get a feel for the entire thing.”

Exactly.

Give it time

It takes a while to edit and clean up a manuscript. I’ve just finished one and it’s not due for three and a half months.

That should give me plenty of time to improve it, but in this case, I’m also going to need those months to organize other items needed for a nonfiction book.

In the meantime, I’ll be keeping my (mechanical) pencil sharpened!

What do you do when you after you type “the end” on your manuscript?

Other than celebrate, of course!

Tweetables

6 tips for manuscript help after typing “the end.” Click to Tweet

What to do after you type “the end.” Click to Tweet

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Crafty Tips for Every Writer http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/crafty-tips-every-writer/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/crafty-tips-every-writer/#comments Mon, 26 Sep 2016 01:21:23 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=27808 Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant

If you’re  like me, you’re always on the lookout for resources or creative ways to approach the writing craft or to be at the top of your publishing game. We can use all the help we …

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Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant

If you’re  like me, you’re always on the lookout for resources or creative ways to approach the writing craft or to be at the top of your publishing game. We can use all the help we can get!

Crafty Writing Tip

This audio CD on fiction writing, The Hero’s 2 Journeys, consists of the content from workshops presented by Michael Hauge and Christopher Vogler. Here is how Amazon describes the CD’s premise:

MAKE YOUR STORY THE BEST IT CAN BE — ON 2 LEVELS
Hear each superstar teacher present his unique approach to . . .
A) The OUTER JOURNEY, the essential structural principles driving every successful plot. Each brings years of practical experience and extensive research to 1) Story Structure, 2) Character Arc and 3) How to Give Your Story Greater Commercial Appeal. Full of specific examples.
B) The INNER JOURNEY, the deeper storyline that makes a story truly great. HAUGE’S VIEW: The Hero moves from hiding within a protective identity to experiencing his or her true essence. VOGLER’S VIEW: The Hero’s inner need is invisible at first, but is revealed to the Hero by the end of the story.

Sometimes those who develop these paradigmsorigami-writing to help writers to think about their stories overstate how the concept works for all manner of writing (which I think kind of happens here), but nonetheless, the ideas presented are stimulating.

Crafty Organizational Tips

Looking for organizational ideas that will make you more productive? Read this article.

Crafty Perspective on Being Daring

Hesitating to dip in and try something new? Seth Godin has a thought-provoking perspective on that.

Now it’s your turn to share.

What craft book/webinar have you discovered lately that has your creative juices flowing?

What writerly technique has worked for you to craft a better book? (Reading aloud, starting your novel in the middle to jumpstart the storyline, etc.)

What little organizational discovery has brought some relief to your overstuffed writing life?

What tip has moved you to a new level with your marketing/publicity efforts?

TWEETABLES

Tips on being #productive as a writer. Click to tweet.

#Writing tips exchange going on now via lit agent’s blog. Click to tweet.

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Tips to help you find a blog topic http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/tips-help-find-blog-topic/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/tips-help-find-blog-topic/#comments Fri, 23 Sep 2016 07:57:04 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=27805 Blogger: Rachel Kent

I don’t know about you, but I struggle each week with finding a blog topic. I am lucky to only be responsible for one blog a week on the Books & Such page. I know many of …

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Blogger: Rachel Kent

I don’t know about you, but I struggle each week with finding a blog topic. I am lucky to only be responsible for one blog a week on the Books & Such page. I know many of you run your own blogs and you need to post multiple times each week. I’ve found a few methods that help me to come up with topics and maybe these will help you, too.

1) Watch on loops and in groups, like ACFW, a Facebook writing group, or your critique group, for common questions or concerns that other writers are having. Use these topics and questions to spark a post.

2) Get personal. Connect something in your life to publishing or to your books. A lot of readers would love to hear little details about their favorite authors so even if the personal story you are sharing doesn’t have much application to your story, it might still be a good idea to share it. (Just be careful to be safe with the details you are putting online.)

3) Read magazines to find articles about current events and respond to them in a way that connects to what you write about. Talk about the current event based on your worldview. That will usually overlap with your writing voice and style.

4) Think about what you do daily. Is there anything there that other people will connect with and enjoy reading about? What makes you interesting? As writers you are sure to have specific routines that you follow that other writers could be interested in. If you are a parent and a writer other writer parents might be interested to hear how you manage your days, etc.

5)  Think about having a guest blogger, a contest, or blog a book review. You don’t want to have these too often because you want your blog to really be your own, but they are always good fillers for those days where you are swamped and can’t think of anything to write about.

What are some methods you use to find blog topics? 

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Controversial Issues: Engage or Avoid? http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/controversial-issues-engage-avoid/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/controversial-issues-engage-avoid/#comments Thu, 22 Sep 2016 07:01:30 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=27798 Blogger: Mary Keeley

Most writers and bloggers are averse to broaching controversial issues. We would prefer to avoid polarizing subjects because we want to be popular, and writers surely don’t want to lose followers, especially readers. But the truth is …

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Blogger: Mary Keeley

Most writers and bloggers are averse to broaching controversial issues. We would prefer to avoid polarizing subjects because we want to be popular, and writers surely don’t want to lose followers, especially readers. But the truth is people love controversy. We only have to recall the newsy items our eyes were drawn to on our browser this morning for confirmation. This topic came to my attention from several different directions this week, prompting me to bring it up with you for discussion today.

Sooner or later you will face conflicting views in comments on your blog or among your social media followers. Maybe in reviews of your books too. Youcontroversial-topic might be challenged to defend your faith and the Christian worldview you weave into your books. Is avoiding polarizing issues altogether the best course of action? If so, your book might be received as a pleasant respite from all the real-time wrangling. On the other hand, avoidance of contentious issues of the day in both historical and contemporary fiction or in your nonfiction book may render your book irrelevant. A book that doesn’t relate accurately to the world your readers live in or want to learn about may have a short lifespan.

God gives us direction in the fifth chapter of the Book of Matthew. Since he never does anything without purpose, it is noteworthy that Jesus follows his teaching on the Beatitudes with verses declaring we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. He admonishes us to not lose our saltiness or hide our light under a bushel.

In other words, we are to engage rather than avoid. Embracing tough issues may actually enrich your book and enlighten readers. A successful example is Charles Dickens’ The Christmas Carol. Using his own demeaning experiences as a child and his compassion for the poor, Dickens wanted this story to illuminate their plight. He found a perfect way to accomplish this: contrast the devastation of poverty and injustice on children with the happy traditions surrounding Christmas. That heartwarming season in Old England provided a plausible opportunity for a redemptive conclusion. This little, emotion-packed story not only influenced social reforms, but the book has never been out of print. Proof that, if done well, books that engage with controversial issues can have long-term success.

“If done well” is the tricky qualifier. Here are some tips on how Christian writers can be salt and light as you engage in controversial subjects, without offense to other viewpoints on an issue.

  • Use a journalistic approach in your nonfiction book. Ease into your discussion by presenting all sides of the conflict evenly and without bias. Your readers will sense you are fair and trustworthy.
  • Offer thought-provoking insight. Approach the topic from a different angle or by using anecdotal or personal experience on the subject to prompt readers to view the controversy from a perspective they might not have thought of before. Charles Dickens did this brilliantly in The Christmas Carol.
  • Create characters on all sides of the controversy that readers can sympathize with. It shows you are respectful of others’ views. Readers will want to continue reading to learn and understand. Be salt and light, but in humility and kindness.
  • Be the voice of reason. Adopt a peacemaker approach.
  • Humor eases tension. A witty comment that pokes harmless fun at the whole topic often serves to reduce the stress of the moment. But be sure the object of your fun relates to the topic and not those holding the opposing view.

If you have found yourself in the middle of a discussion on a controversial topic, what did you do? Do you have any tips to add to the list? Name a literary classic or a more contemporary book that deals with a controversial topic. How well do you think the author handled it?

TWEETABLES:

Engaging with readers means you’ll face controversial topics eventually. These tips will help you. Click to Tweet.

Christian writers should engage in, not avoid, controversial issues. These tips will help you. Click to Tweet.

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Writing Book Reviews http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/writing-book-reviews/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/writing-book-reviews/#comments Wed, 21 Sep 2016 05:00:47 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=27780 Blogger: Rachelle Gardner

Many of you are involved in the writing community, and as part of that, you write book reviews on your own blog or other websites. But writing reviews is not always an easy task, so I thought …

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Blogger: Rachelle Gardner

Many of you are involved in the writing community, and as part of that, you write book reviews on your own blog or other websites. But writing reviews is not always an easy task, so I thought I’d offer a few tips.

1. Primarily review books you’d recommend.

There has been some debate about whether the purpose of online reviewing is to promote books (by giving positive reviews) or to give an honest opinion, even if you hated the book. My opinion is that because you are part of the writing community, the primary purpose of reviewing books online is to help promote them, which means you should choose to review books you’d recommend to your readership. The book review sections of most major magazines and newspapers do exactly this: they choose a handful of books to review and recommend. For example, People magazine features 3 or 4 books every week. They say nothing about the hundreds of books that came across their desks but didn’t impress them.

reviewerOf course, there will be exceptions, but overall I think you should decline to review books you don’t like. There’s no sense throwing a fellow author under the bus. Your review is a valuable promotional hit for the author of any book you feature; why not reserve this gift for the authors you appreciate?

Please note: I’m NOT saying you should only say good things about the books you review. I’m saying: only review the books you can honestly say some good things about.

2. Judge the book, not the author.

Some might disagree with me on this, but I’ve noticed a trend, particularly in reviews of Christian books, where the reviewer trashes the book based on a difference in theological or doctrinal beliefs. The reviewer is judging whether the author has represented Christianity appropriately—according to the reviewer’s specific brand of belief.

If you’re going to judge the author’s beliefs, their morality, their theology, or anything else that is personal, give it context by saying something like, “This aspect of the book made me uncomfortable because it doesn’t square with my beliefs.” You might notice in the thumbnail reviews that Publishers Weekly does every week, there is sometimes a line such as, “More conservative readers may find some of the language offensive,” thereby acknowledging that there are different preferences among readers, as opposed to saying the author was “wrong” to use such language. I recommend you keep this in mind as you write reviews. Be aware of how your own beliefs and assumptions color your response to someone’s work, and be honest about it when writing a review.

3. When reviewing fiction, don’t give away the story.

It’s not okay to say “spoiler alert” and then give it away. It’s not fair to the author, and as a writer, you should put yourself in their shoes and remember you wouldn’t want someone to do that to you.

4. Acknowledge the author’s purpose and/or intended audience.

Every book isn’t going to appeal to every person. Make a recommendation as to who would enjoy the book. For example, you may not enjoy science fiction, but you can see that the book has some positives. You can acknowledge that “readers of science fiction should find this enjoyable.”

5. Concentrate on the most important questions:

»Did the book keep you turning pages?

»Were you satisfied at the ending?

»If it was non-fiction, do you think the book accomplished its purpose?

Within this framework you can talk about the characters and whether you related to them; whether the theme was well-developed; if the plot was suspenseful and interesting; your thoughts about the author’s style; whether the setting was important and how it affected your interest in the story. For non-fiction, address how well the author made their point and how the book affected you.

These are just a few ideas for writing book reviews. Anybody else have advice gained from experience?

 

 

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Small Spaces http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/small-spaces/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/small-spaces/#comments Tue, 20 Sep 2016 06:06:01 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=27788 Blogger: Wendy Lawton

Confession time: Every time somebody posts a photo of a gorgeous private library or a writing enclave overlooking woods and a stream, I have to check my green-eyed covetousness. I often wonder what it would be like …

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Blogger: Wendy Lawton

Confession time: Every time somebody posts a photo of a gorgeous private library or a writing enclave overlooking woods and a stream, I have to check my green-eyed covetousness. I often wonder what it would be like to have an expansive space for an office or a huge separate room for my library– preferably with a 2nd story mezzanine all the way around the room. I can just picture it.

wendys-studio

My studio in the country

Of course, the reality is that I do much better in small spaces. For years my studio was the first floor of the tank house on our farm. I rarely worked in the large workshops we had in the next town.  I sculpted and designed over 350 different doll editions from a space that was 11′ x 11′. I learned that I had to be organized. Everything needed a permanent place and had to be put away when the day was done. I think my love of systems and organization was born in that tank house.

The same has always been true of my offices. When we moved to town we had two rooms for our offices– a large room on one side of the house and a tiny, 10′ x 12′ room on the other side of the house. The small one had french doors and could be seen from several main rooms in the house so we knew it needed to be mine. (My husband, Keith, is what we call a vertical filer. He works from stacks all over his office. His system with french doors? Not a good match.) So I help manage the careers of dozens of the finest writers in the CBA– along with all the paperwork that entails– from a mere 120 square feet.

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A panoramic shot of my tiny office.

And that expensive library? Well I have one wall of books in my dining room. It’s like eating in a library. Another wall of books in my office. Those are the books I’ve sold for my clients. I have a wall of children’s books in the guest room and two long floor-to-ceiling walls of books in Keith’s office. You might say the whole house is a library.

I know a number of writers who write extraordinary books from a desk in the basement or in a corner of their bedroom. My friend, Debbie Macomber, started her career with a rented typewriter on the kitchen table. Every evening she had to break down her “office” to set the table for dinner. I know authors who keep the research for each book in moveable totes. And we all know writers who claim a table at Starbucks as their office.

So let me speak in defense of small spaces.

  • Small spaces require us to be organized.
  • Small spaces allow us to develop the habit of neatness.
  • Small spaces can be decorated for a song and become a lovely retreat.
  • Small spaces encourage an environmentally-friendly paperless workspace.
  • Small spaces help us remember that work is just one part of our lives.
  • Small spaces can be filled with creativity and dedication– just think of the work that has been done in a prayer closet or a rat infested jail cell (St. Paul, John Bunyan, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and others).

So while we may salivate over the libraries, studios and writing ateliers that pop up on Pinterest, our small spaces and make-do corners may actually be a blessing.

How about you? What is your dream workspace? What does reality look like? How best do you work?

 

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Deadline Disaster and How to Avoid It http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/deadline-disaster-how-to-avoid/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/deadline-disaster-how-to-avoid/#comments Mon, 19 Sep 2016 01:12:49 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=27763 Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant

Today I’m in a mood. Thunderclouds have gathered over my office, and I’m not feelin’ groovy, even if I do live in California. I’ve observed that authors express less and less concern about making the deadlines …

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Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant

Today I’m in a mood. Thunderclouds have gathered over my office, and I’m not feelin’ groovy, even if I do live in California. I’ve observed that authors express less and less concern about making the deadlines they committed to in their contracts. Here is a case in point.

One of my clients, let’s call her Sandy, casually mentioned to another client of mine that she had never made a deadline on any of her five contracted books. Hey, it was no big deal.

My second client, whom we’ll call Ray, a new author with his first contract, called me to ask if deadlines are taken casually by everyone in publishing.

I clarified to Ray that deadlines are to be taken very seriously. Sacrifices need to be made to make deadlines; one’s professional reputation is on the line (speaking of lines); publishers pay attention when deadlines are missed. (And I’m pretty sure Sandy’s publisher won’t want to publish her next book since she’s caused such mayhem by missing her deadlines.)

Note: I’m not writing about justifiable reasons for missing a deadline. We’ve all experienced the unexpected that makes a tossed salad out of our lives. Instead, I’m writing about those instances in which the author put off doing the work of writing the book until it became inevitable the deadline would be missed.alarm-clock

Someone pays for your missed deadline

The bottom line (another kind of line) is that someone pays the price if you miss your deadline. The further from the deadline you turn in your manuscript, the more people pay the price, and the higher the price.

The first person is your editor. It will fall to your editor to make up the time you consumed. Because the editor’s projects are lined up by the production department, if your project comes in late, the editor still has to finish your manuscript on time or the next project (which might have come in on time) will release late. So the editor burns the midnight oil the author failed to burn. Under this kind of pressure, the editor won’t give your book the editorial work it needs. The editor’s mindset will be to attend to the most obvious areas but to ignore the more nuanced editing.

Marketing has committed to a marketing/publicity plan that will have to be trashed because the book is no longer coming out in the season it was scheduled for. Most of your marketing dollars have been committed and can’t be retrieved. So your book now has little or no marketing budget.

Bookstores have placed orders, but now the publisher’s sales reps have to explain that the book will release later. The sales reps’ efforts are lost. When your book does release, the reps need to present your book again, but buyers might well decide to pass on it the second time around. If you end up writing the book of the century…too bad, the publisher and the book buyers won’t be able to gear up for the big burst necessary to get your stunning book noticed.

The publisher becomes less and less likely to garner enough sales on the project to make a profit. Not to mention that he has been carrying the first portion of your advance as a loan to you and he has no hope of that money being earned until your book releases.

So what’s with this callous view toward deadlines?

These authors lunch with their friends, blog, Facebook, and tweet endlessly, take vacations, make sure their houses are decorated just so and that their gardens are pristine–but never manage to fit in time to work on their manuscripts until a couple of weeks before the due date. Then, they madly dash to the deadline, which often is missed. And the work most certainly is less than it could have been.

I can only conclude three reasons, from my observations, as to why deadlines are seriously missed:

1) Procrastinating is a common ailment among writers. Any activity is more appealing than putting butt in chair and actually working on the manuscript;

2) Authors are inherently optimistic (and sometimes unrealistic) when they commit to a deadline by signing their contract;

3) Advances have lost their meaning. Why did advances come into existence? So authors would have sufficient money to set aside other financial pursuits, enabling the writer to concentrate on producing the book contracted. If the author can’t meet his deadline, why does he think his publisher should pay him an advance? Or offer him another contract?

Publishers do ask themselves those very questions. As a matter of fact, a number of publishers have amped up the punishment inflicted for a late manuscript–severely reducing payment when the manuscript is turned in or even cancelling the contract. (These measures are spelled out in the contract.)

So some authors receive a nasty surprise when they turn in their late manuscripts. The publisher says, “No thanks. We don’t choose to publish your book.”

What should you  do when you realize you’re going to miss your deadline?

As soon as you know that the manuscript just can’t be ready on time, call your agent (or call your editor, if you don’t have an agent). The longer you wait to confess, the more repercussions for the publishing house. Phoning the day of the deadline won’t do. Confessing a month before the due date is better. (Come on, if you haven’t started writing it with one month left, and you know it takes you three months to complete a manuscript, you really can ‘fess up earlier.) Publishers won’t be happy the deadline will be missed, but with advance warning, they can adjust the production schedule and have some flexibility to figure out what to do.

How to avoid missed deadlines

Aside from the obvious point of starting to work early enough to actually write the book, I’d suggest these straightforward solutions:

Estimate how much time you’ll need to devote to research. This will keep you from becoming heady with the joys of searching through piles of facts and keep you pressing forward with a set date when you must start to write.

Give yourself a word count diet. How many words must you write everyday to meet the deadline?

Allow time for the manuscript to sit, undisturbed, before you return to it for at least one round of revisions.

Count on life to interrupt your productivity. With months or a year or more to write your manuscript, life will bring the unexpected–illness, a major move, the loss of a loved one. Plan for at least one month to be lost to unforeseen circumstances.

Now, talk to me:

What do you do to make sure you’ll have your manuscript in on time?

If you’ve missed a deadline, did you see any fallout from it?

Now that you’ve read my blog, do you think there was some fallout, but you hadn’t realized it?

What keeps you from writing?

TWEETABLES

What happens when you miss your deadline? #writing Click to tweet.

How to avoid missing a deadline. #publishing Click to tweet.

 

Image courtesy of Pong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Motivation for the Publishing Journey http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/motivation-publishing-journey/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/motivation-publishing-journey/#comments Fri, 16 Sep 2016 07:01:25 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=27760 Blogger: Rachel Kent

Many writers seem to think that the only milestone worth celebrating is publication, but many milestones occur along the publishing path. Taking time to celebrate can help to keep you moving forward.

One of my best friends …

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Blogger: Rachel Kent

Many writers seem to think that the only milestone worth celebrating is publication, but many milestones occur along the publishing path. Taking time to celebrate can help to keep you moving forward.

One of my best friends participates yearly in the 5K Color Run in Sacramento. The Color Run is a national event, and many different cities host the races year round. It’s not a very competitive race, but all of the runners wear white, and at each kilometer marker a group of volunteers pelts the runners with color packets. By the end of the race you are covered in five different colors, and you look like a sweaty rainbow. Here’s the proof. Knowing that something exciting is waiting at the next kilometer marker helps the runners to enjoy the race more, they stay motivated, and the time passes more quickly. The same friend does a fall “race” in Sonoma County (California wine country) where they give you wine at stops along the way and at the end of the race you get a wine glass to fill up with unlimited tastings. That’s huge motivation for some people. 🙂 And it’s a race where you can actually gain weight by the end, rather than lose it.

I think your publishing journey should be like the Color Run (0r the Wine Run). At each milestone–publishing an article; finishing your manuscript; putting together your proposal; writing and submitting your query letter; getting manuscript requests; finding an agent; signing a publishing contract; seeing your book on the shelf–celebrate somehow. Hopefully your form of celebration doesn’t end in your looking like a sweaty rainbow, but if that’s what you enjoy, go for it! 🙂 Building in celebrations, big or small, will help you to stay motivated and to enjoy the sometimes-grueling publishing process.

 At what publishing milestones do you celebrate?

Are you motivated by setting goals, completing them and celebrating in some way?

How do you celebrate your publishing achievements and who do you celebrate with?

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The Simplification Mindset http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/the-simplification-mindset/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/the-simplification-mindset/#comments Thu, 15 Sep 2016 07:01:49 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=27753 Blogger: Mary Keeley

Recently, I read a Harvard Business Review online article by Jeff Rodman, a corporate co-founder. The title, “How I Built a $2 Billion Company by Thinking Small,” is what first caught my eye. This type of topic …

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Blogger: Mary Keeley

Recently, I read a Harvard Business Review online article by Jeff Rodman, a corporate co-founder. The title, “How I Built a $2 Billion Company by Thinking Small,” is what first caught my eye. This type of topic always intrigues me because, as we know, writing is a business and most writers start out small. Plus, let’s face it, blending life and work is demanding and complicated. Maybe he would offer simplification tactics writers can apply to their craft as well. I kept reading, hoping to find some gold nuggets to share.

We agents at Books & Such try to set aside time each week for what we call “deep-thought.” We use it in several ways: to stay up to date with what is new in the industry or to research ways we can serve our clients better or to grow professionally. My time pondering this article was well spent. I saw interesting parallels for writers that extended beyond the business side to craft issues as well. Applying a simplification mindset to areas of your work and writing might pay off in a big way. I’ll offer two examples here, and then let’s talk.simplification

Your Writing Craft

Which number connects with your brain quicker from a reading perspective: 104.99999 or 105? Of course 105 is simple and clearer, right? Now let’s apply this to your writing. The newer you are to the craft, the more you’ll hear about tightening your work by eliminating every word that isn’t absolutely necessary. This is true and good advice. But many writers seek to accomplish this by using too many exotic, descriptive, unfamiliar, eloquent sounding adjectives after every noun and how-when-where-why-adverb. So many descriptors that the reader has to stop reading and take time to process the meaning.

It’s easy to fall prey to this approach. I’m guilty of doing it myself. But this interrupts the flow and, at best, irritates readers. At worst, they put the book down because they have to work too hard when the reading is supposed to be a pleasurable pastime. Instead, by applying the simplification mindset, a well-crafted sentence or two may illuminate the passage without interruption and also re-enforce the tone in the process.

Your Business as an Authorpreneur

The author of the article talks about “doing more with less” and how small innovations lead to big breakthroughs. Practically speaking, small innovations for writers might be to:

  • Clean out your filing system, electronic and hard copy.
  • Write and schedule social media and blog posts weeks ahead.
  • Clear your work area of clutter. An orderly space lends itself to an orderly mind.
  • Keep up with the industry and what publishers are publishing.

When your work environment functions efficiently, your mind is clear to dream. To plan reachable goals one step at a time, which prepare you for a big breakthrough.

I encourage you to set aside your own deep-thought time and read the entire article. It isn’t long. You might want to select one or two of the author’s catchy phrases to post on your computer monitor (giving him due credit). Take notes on insights you glean for how and where you can employ the simplification mindset.

Now let’s share insights. In what areas of your writing space, schedule, craft, and WIP can you envision simplifying for better results?

TWEETABLES:

Writers, adapt the simplification mindset for better results in your craft and your business. Click to Tweet.

An innovative approach to business has applications for writers too. Here are two examples. Click to Tweet.

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