So not only did you teach me about writing memoir, you also taught me about reading and thinking about how others write memoir. Thank you so much! Rebecca
Showing posts with label editors. Show all posts
Showing posts with label editors. Show all posts

Sunday, November 15, 2020

I attended a terrific writing conference this past week.

I spent the last few days at a writers' conference. 
The NC Writers' Network held their fall conference online, on Zoom, and I could attend from my home. I used my computer and listened in with my phone. Ed Southern, Charles Fiore, and Deonna Kelli Sayed work for the Network and they put together this fine group of instructors and participants from everywhere.

One of the best parts of online meetings is seeing all those participating. Although we have over 100 members in our NC Writers' Network West, I have not met many of them. But with Zoom, I have met several writers from the northern most county of our group, Henderson County.

I was very disappointed that we didn't have many of our local members attend the conference. It was most informative and one of the sessions that impressed me was Touring and Promoting Your Book on a Budget. The instructor was Lyndsay Hall who was in Los Angeles, her home. Lyndsay is the founder of Savilla Writers House. She is young but so savvy on her subject. 

Lyndsay plans book tours for authors. In her presentation, she gave us many tips on how to promote and reach people even during this pandemic. As I have been saying for years, an author today must get online, use the Internet to find readers. She spoke about community building and much of this is done through online media. Lyndsay spoke about authors she has worked with and has the experience she recommended to us. I will refer to my notes and the recording I will receive from NCWN for classes I teach and to help myself and my students when they need to get the word out about their books.

Another session our local writers would have benefited from was by Betsy Thorpe, an editor, with an impressive background. She explained the duties of an editor who works for a traditional press.

She told us about POD publishing and about small presses. She pointed out that with POD, (Print-on-demand) books never go out of print. The writer doesn't have to order tons of books to warehouse in his home.

Author beware when looking to self-publish a book. It is easy to get conned into an agreement where the author is paying far more than he receives for the service offered. Sometimes a publisher will offer packages for different prices and a list of services for the author. 

I have seen authors ripped off by publishers who help you self-publish. They might promise great marketing and distribution, but when that service is needed, the author finds he is expected to pay for airline tickets across the country to attend some festival he never heard of. Often these companies continue to ask for money from the author. So, we must be careful.

Betsey Thorpe praised Blair Publishing because they do many of the things a big publisher does for an author such as copy editor, line editor, book jacket design and press releases. This company only publishes ten books a year.

Over one million books are self-published each year. I was surprised when she said the 18-29 year olds were reading more than other age groups. I thought over 65 would read more, but not so.
I also learned that the category of books that are selling best are audio books. I know that is what I buy now. Paperbacks are next best selling category.

Another note from this conference. Publishers prefer books under 100,000 words whether it be memoir or a novel. The reason is the cost of paper and all the costs to create a book. The cost of the book must be kept down so the book can be sold at a reasonable price most people feel they can afford.

I appreciate the NC Writer's Network holding this online conference. If life were normal NCWN would have held their annual Fall Writing Conference in a major city in the state. I feel one of the blessings of this horrible virus is that I have found online writing classes and they have made a huge difference in my life. I expect to teach another one in January, 2021.

Have you taken any online courses during this pandemic?
Do you have any positives in your life because of the pandemic?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Pitfalls of Publishing

New writers and amateur writers often fail to see the pitfalls ahead that will keep their book from being the best it can be. They don't understand why booksellers don't want to sell their books. Why aren't their books selling?

They spend months, years sometimes, writing the story they felt compelled to put on paper. They share these stories with family and friends. Mothers, sisters, sons and daughters say all the things they know the author wants to hear. The family encourages the author, and well they should. But few of the author's family have the expertise to help him polish and make the manuscript he has poured over all those months into a finished product that readers can't wait to share with their friends; that book store owners recommend to their customers.

A novice writer often becomes frustrated when he self-publishes his story after it has been rejected a few times by traditional publishers or by a couple of agents. After all everyone he knows has claimed he should publish the book. But only his friends and family buy the book. He can't understand what has gone wrong.

A short time ago I attended a reading by a delightful woman who had written the story of her life. She did not read so much as she told us, the audience, about her exciting accomplishments. As Patricia Fry says, Personality sells books, and everyone in that room lined up to buy the book. A few weeks later when I had time to delve into the memoir, I was stunned and saddened by how poorly it had been put together. 

The punctuation was correct. Grammar was good. Anecdotes were amusing, but within the first three chapters, she had repeated one scene two or three times. A good editor would have caught this and made sure those repetitions were removed. 

It isn't uncommon for a writer to repeat himself when he is writing his first draft. Pat Conroy, author of Prince of Tides, says that is one of his worst traits, but his proof readers find those places for him and they are removed. A good editor will catch mistakes such as calling the neighbor boy Ed in the first chapter, but calling him Ted in the eighth chapter. 

I talked with a man who is in process of writing a historical novel set in our local area. He is excited about the book and his story seems like it will be a page turner, but I hope he will invest in his writing by having a number of proof readers and then hiring a professional editor if he plans to self-publish as many are doing today. A content editor knows when material is redundant, when it should be moved into another chapter or left out entirely. That is what they do.

All writers do not know how to punctuate dialogue. Where do the quotation marks go? Writing convincing dialogue is not easy. The reader must hear the character speaking and not be bogged down by trying to decipher what is going on in a conversation. 

If the author wants to publish in the traditional manner, hires an agent and then gets a publisher, his manuscript should be polished and in good form to impress first the agent and then the publisher. Publishers will edit a manuscript before it is printed and put out for public consumption, but even Pat Conroy wants his book at its best before he mails it to his publisher. Luckily for Pat, his wife is a successful author and she helps edit his books. 

We don't all live with successful writers and we must depend on our writer friends or writing teachers who can help us with the proofing. We still need to invest in a professional editor, or a book doctor, who can take the book out of the amateur stage and make it into the polished gem we want to present to the world.

On October 19, 2:30 p.m. at Moss Library in Hayesville, NC Writers Circle is sponsoring a panel discussion on Prepare to Publish. On this panel will be Kathryn Magendie, author of a number of books published by Belle Books. Also on this panel will be Maren O. Mitchell, author of a non-fiction book, Beat Chronic Pain; An Insider's Guide. Nadine Justice is the author of I'm a Coal Miner's Daughter But I Cain't Sang, a memoir that takes us from the coal mines of her youth to her success as an Interior Designer in Atlanta. 

My experience in publishing books began with a family history book in 1998 and a poetry chapbook published by Finishing Line Press in 2009. None of us are experts in the field of publishing, but we can tell what we learned along the way - what we should have done and what we would do better next time. We will have a question and answer session and hope our audience will come ready to take notes. 
There is no charge for this event. Much appreciation to Moss Library and Mary Fonda, librarian. Refreshments will be served during break.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Scott Owens, Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Writing and More

Scott Owens, Saturday, May 12, 10 AM - 1:00 PM

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Writing and More

Poet, editor, critic, and teacher, Scott Owens, will lead students through an exploration of a variety of topics and issues regarding the writing process including strategies for invention, revision, and publication. Participants are asked to submit a poem to by May 4 for possible use in the revision workshop.

Recipient of awards from the Academy of American Poets and the Pushcart Prize Anthology, Scott Owens is the author of 10 collections of poetry, including his latest For One Who Knows How to Own Land from FutureCycle Press and over 1000 published poems in journals including Georgia Review, North American Review, Chattahoochee Review, Southern Poetry Review, and Poetry East among others. He is the founder of Poetry Hickory, editor of Wild Goose Poetry Review and 234, and vice president of the Poetry Council of NC. Born and raised in Greenwood, SC, he teaches at Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory, NC.

Registrations are already coming in for this class. Fees: $30

Send Check to Writers Circle, 581 Chatuge Lane, NC 28904

Include contact info: name, email address, telephone number and Mailing address.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Blue Ridge Writers Conference in Blue Ridge Georgia

You don't want to miss the Blue Ridge Writers Conference in its fourteenth year.

The Blue Ridge Writers’ Conference is back for its 14th year, featuring literary agent Sally McMillan as keynote and speakers Robert Brewer, editor of Writers’ Market, Scott Owens, editor of Wild Goose Poetry Review, Jennifer Jabaley, 2010 Georgia Author of the Year in the YA category, and Hope Clark, editor of Funds for Writers website.

April 1 and 2, 2011. Please note a location change – this year the conference will be at the Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association in downtown Blue Ridge, Georgia. For more information call 706-632-2144.

For anyone who hasn't attended this conference in the past, April 1 is the Friday night event, and Saturday, April 2, is the all day conference with workshops, etc. If you want to learn about publishing, this conference should be on your list of events for 2011.