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 self-publishing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label self-publishing. Show all posts

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Kristen Lamb's advice for self-published authors

Kristen Lamb gives the best advice to new self-published writers in this post. Read the comments as well.

She gives us five mistakes that kill self-published authors. I agree with every one of them. She is giving her readers my talk at the Blue Ridge Writers' Conference in Blue Ridge, Georgia a couple of years ago.

She is also telling us what two small press publishers have told me this week when I interviewed them.

Here is Kristen's number one mistake:
Mistake #1 Publishing Before We Are Ready

The problem with the ease of self-publishing is that it is, well, too easy. When we are new, frankly, most of us are too dumb to know what we don’t know. Just because we made As in English, does not automatically qualify us to write a work spanning 60,000-100,000 words. I cannot count how many writers I’ve met who refuse to read fiction, refuse to read craft books, and who only go to pitch agents when they attend conferences at the expense of attending the craft sessions.

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, July 28, 2013

What is your success?

Charles Fiore writes today on White Cross blog about the controversy of self publishing and traditional publishing. It is a decision writers must make and there is much to consider before doing either.

So much depends on what you consider success to be. I know people who would never think of self publishing anything. They take great pride in saying they have never self published. 

But I teach people who have wonderful stories to share and they are not professional writers. Most of them would never see their books printed and read unless they self published. 

I remember when I paid to publish my family history in 1998. It was a book for my immediate family and, even it it had been well written, it would not be published for me and sold on the market. It just wasn’t that kind of book.

However, I basked in the success of having my family express appreciation and delight in reading the stories of my grandparents and their ten children.
Even young people in the family enjoy owning the book and reading about their family history. 

I don’t entertain any goals of having a novel traditionally published, or even a memoir now. But I feel quite successful when one of my stories or essays reach the public or when my poetry is enjoyed by others. That is why I write. Not for fame or fortune -- just to communicate something to others. And when I do, I feel extremely successful.
What are your views on self-publishing? Traditional publishing?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Saturday afternoon
October 27, 1:00 - 4:00

Ronda Birtha –  

Self-publishing Using Amazon's CreateSpace
We will discuss how and why it may be useful, how it has benefited authors, and how cost-effective it may be, as it has a "built-in" advertising infrastructure. Discussion on E-books.

$25.00 registration fee
Now taking registrations for this class. Mail your check to Writers Circle, 581 Chatuge Lane, Hayesville, NC 28904

Ronda knows her stuff and is passionate about helping others learn.  She's practical, fun and nice too. … Karen Holmes

 I gained valuable social networking information through a class taught at Writer's Circle by Ronda Birtha, a teacher in best sense -- easy to learn from, informed and patient.        Maren O. Mitchell

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Self-Publishing Class with Ronda Birtha

What:Self-publishing Using Amazon's CreateSpace

When: Saturday afternoon
October 27, 1:00 - 4:00 p.m.

 Where: Writers Circle - home studio of Glenda Beall - Hayesville, NC

We are taking registrations Now
Call 828-389-4441 or email

Ronda Birtha – Instructor
Self-publishing Using Amazon's CreateSpace

We will discuss how and why it may be useful, how it has benefited authors, and how cost-effective it may be, as it has a "built-in" advertising infrastructure. Discussion on E-books.

$25.00 registration fee
Class space is limited.



Saturday, August 20, 2011

Robert S. King's post on E-publishing, Sneers to Cheers

Robert S. King, Netwest member and publisher of Future Cycle Press, writes an eye-opening post on E-Publishing. Some of what he says is promising to writers, and some of what he says makes me sad. But I think he is absolutely correct. Click on the link below and tell us what you think.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Five Ways to Get Started Writing Your Memoir

On Tuesday, June 12 and July 20 and August 24, we will hold classes for those who want to write creative non-fiction. (See Writing Classes on Home Page)
This genre includes memoir. Below I have a few tips for anyone who wants to write about her life, but has no idea where to begin.

List the events or dates that were turning points in your life, beginning with your birth
Examples: Birth, 1940; Elementary School 1946 -1950; Mom and Dad divorced;
University of GA – two years; Military years; Early Marriage, 1960 – 1970; Death of my Mother, 1975; My first job; Mary’s diagnosis; Don’s heart attack, 1987;

Label each File Folder with one of the life changing experiences or dates.

For each folder, make a list of things you remember that happened during this period of your life. Keep this list in the folder. Update the list as you remember more stories.

Research – Locate photographs, certificates, articles, letters, newspaper announcements, and diaries, anything that pertains to your memories. Stash these in proper folders.

For example, a photo of you at four would not go into your elementary school folder. A photo of your mom holding you as a baby would go into the Birth, 1940 folder.

Choose one folder with the most memorable events – Choose one memory from that folder that brings back images, smells, sounds, colors, or feelings you can express in your writing. Try to think about how you would tell that experience to your child or grandchild.

As you write your story, remember who you want to read your book. Is it for your family alone or do you want to publish it for a wider audience?
Remember, few of us write well enough or have a story of such magnitude, that New York Publishers will grab up our manuscript from the hundreds they receive every day. You can find many ways to self-publish your book without paying large sums of money, or you can pay a Print On Demand publisher.

On June 12, William V. Reynolds will lead a workshop on self-publishing at Writers Circle. You might want to take this class before you write your book.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Should You Self-Publish or Wait for the Publshing Business to Recognize You

Having visited with a large group of self-published authors and poets on Saturday and wondering how well their books were selling, I pondered the reasoning behind self-publishing. I talked with authors who had hoped to sell books and earn money, authors who had published one book and just wanted the joy of sharing their work with others, authors who had begun a series of books and hoped to interest a publisher or agent, and some who had put together a book of poems and photography their friends thought was worthy of sharing with the public and even might sell.

With all this fresh on my mind, I read with interest the article TENURE VS. FRESH TALENT, by Hope Clark in her recent newsletter. Hope compares tenure for teachers with publishers who stick with well known authors even when their books begin to fall short of the excellence of their first block-buster novels.

She discusses the concept of flooding the market with books published by everyone who thinks his book is wonderful even though he can't get a publisher to take it, versus the writer who works hard and long until he produces a book so outstanding an agent grabs it or a publisher recognizes its worth.
Read Hope Clark's article here.

Self-publish and work, work, work to get the name recognition and market your book until you sell zillions of books on your own.

Or you work, work, work your tail off until you produce that book that a publisher wants.

It seems to me that even those who reach the goal of having that book published by a big company must work hard to market their book, while working on the next book, and the next and the next.

Is it worth it? I think about what Leah Maine, editor of Finishing Line Press, the small press that published my poetry book, Now Might As Well Be Then, said in a recent interview. After her first book was published the craving to have her name grace the cover of her own books faded and now she takes more pleasure in publishing the books of others.

But I look at Peggy Poe Stern, a dedicated writer who will not give up, will not quit even if she never gets that big contract. She writes several novels at the same time. She and her husband David do it all. Each book they sell is made by them from beginning to end. What a prolific writer and her books are presently like little gem stones in the mountains of North Carolina, waiting to be discovered by a master jewelry maker.

More about Peggy in a later post. Come back later and you might become the winner of one of her Appalachian novels.

Among the self-published books we picked up Saturday, my sister who is an avid of reader of good stories, not literary books but fast moving, character driven books that hold her interest from beginning until the end, found one she started sitting at my tavle and could not put down until she fell asleep in the wee hours of the next morning. The writer is a native of Appalachia, from around Boone, NC. She said she is fortunate to have two great editors and she gives them credit for the finalized copies of her numerous publications. Her name is Peggy Poe Sterns.

Some of her books are: