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Book Expo America

In June 2004, a few months after my first novel (www.TheTruthAboutCinnamon.com) was released, I attended my first Book Expo America (BEA), which was held in Chicago that year from June 3-6. BEA is the book publishing industry’s annual trade show, and I remember the 2004 event distinctly for many reasons. One of those was the fact that the four days left me like the cliched deer-in-headlights with respect to the size, scope, and complexity of the industry in which so many of us have decided we want to play.

But I also remember the Saturday of that trip (June 5, 2004), which happened to be the day of the Belmont Stakes–the third leg of horse racing’s triple crown. And that year was the first possibility of a triple crown winner in a quarter century, with a horse named Smarty Jones having won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. The story of that horse was both heart warming and heart-rending and had captured the attention as well as the emotions of the entire country.

I remember standing in the lobby bar of my Chicago hotel shortly before 6:30 pm (after a whole day of being at the convention) as the race got underway. There must have been 200 people in there, all watching the multiple television screens, screaming and yelling for Smarty Jones to win.

And we all thought that’s what was going to happen–until the last few seconds of the race when an upstart horse named Birdstone barely snuck by Smarty Jones to win the race and steal the triple crown from nation’s soul. You would have thought that someone had died in that hotel bar.

And I was so moved that I wrote an article about the whole thing (see topic of Scribd.com publishing later on this post). At any rate, that was the last time since then that there’s been a possibility of a triple crown. But there’s always hope, right? Because the races are run again every year. But I can’t imagine another triple crown season like 2004.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Smarty Jones story, I recommend your Googling him. You’ll have a real treat ahead of you.

But back to Book Expo America … I attended the annual convention every year after that, except for one–and except for this year. Most of the time the event is held in New York City, but there was one in Washington, D.C. in 2006, I think. This year’s event was in NYC, and I was all set to go until the breast cancer thing came up. (Hope my refund gets processed as promised … 🙂 …)

I’ve been doing a lot of reading, though, on the different seminars, panels, and workshops that took place at this year’s BEA–and clearly one of the headliners was the whole subject of e-books. As I’m sure you know from your own reading, that seems to be the biggest hot topic in the industry. In case you’ve missed these articles/posts, here are a few that might be of interest to you as you plot your own direction toward the Dream:

Clearly, whether we’re pursuing the Dream via a traditional route or some version of Do It Yourself, the e-book factor is not going to be optional for any of us who are looking for even a small measure of success. My first novel (The Truth About Cinnamon) is now available on both Kindle and Sony Reader, and the new novel (Separation of Faith) will be as well. Last week I received a note from a fellow whose novel (The Aquarians by Eric Rankin) is one that I edited and that he published using iUniverse. He’s doing extremely well with his sales, and he recently received an e-book royalty check that, as he put it, was “not too shabby.” I’ve spoken with other authors who tell me that their e-book royalties are far exceeding those of their hard covers and paperbacks. Why? Well, the royalty percentages are higher, for starters. So even on a less expensive book ($9.95 for a Kindle title), 50% royalty is higher than a 10 or 20 percent royalty on a $20 hard or soft cover.

No matter which approach you’re taking toward the publishing of your work, please take time to educate yourselves on all the elements of the e-book revolution.

And I highly recommend attending the 2011 Book Expo America, which will be held in New York City again in May. Especially if you’ve never been before, the event will be unbelievable for you. And the day before the convention opens, there will be a DIY Authors Conference. You can find out more by going to the Book Expo site–http://www.bookexpoamerica.com/Press-Information/Press-Releases/BEA-Moves-To-NYC/–and you can be sure that I’ll be there in 2011!

Scribd.com

This free publishing site (www.Scribd.com), which is available to all of us, is where I published the serialization of The Truth About Cinnamon‘s first ten chapters. And this weekend I’m going to publish a number of articles and short stories there as well–things I’ve been keeping to myself, for some reason. One of the articles was mentioned above in the Smarty Jones scenario. I wrote the piece on the train home to New Jersey from Chicago, still emotionally drained from the devastating race the night before.

I’ll do a quick post with the link to all that stuff as soon as everything has been uploaded. Meanwhile, I highly recommend your checking the site out yourselves, if you haven’t already.

Update on the Journey

Separation of Faith is now in the hands of a professional proofreader at the publisher. This is all part of the mandatory element of this Journey that requires a quality book at all levels (development, writing, and editing) in order for the mission of this blog (see November 4 Blog Launch Posting) to stand a prayer of succeeding.

Once the proofreading is complete, I’ll receive what’s called the “galley” and will have one more opportunity to put in my two cent’s worth/make any last minute changes.

The initial cover design is complete, and seeing that art work was incredibly exciting. The fact that this is actually going to be a book soon really starts hitting home when you see the cover. The first draft (not the official term, I’m sure) of the cover needs to have some changes made, but we won’t get to that part until the proofreader has finished. Everything happens through a fixed structure in the design process.

Concurrent with all of this, I’m working on my Rising Star application, which is a program I’m eligible for because Separation of Faith has earned the Editor’s Choice designation. As I mentioned in an earlier post, if I’m accepted into the Rising Star program, I will receive assistance with the book’s marketing and promotion. But in order to be accepted, I have to be extremely clear and detailed regarding the marketing and promotion plans I’m already envisioning/setting up.

In addition to all the standard tag lines, descriptions, bio, etc., here are some of the questions on the Rising Star application:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • Specifically, how do you plan to market to your target audience?
  • Is there a local angle to your book? If yes, please explain.
  • What is the one unique thing about your book?
  • How many hours a week do you plan to spend marketing your book?
  • Name three other books that are comparable to your book.
  • What kind of research did you conduct when writing your book?
  • List the professional associations, writers groups, book clubs, fraternities/sororities, churches and/or community groups you are a member of:
  • How many people can you list on your personal contact mailing/email list?
  • Who are you approaching for endorsement quotes, a foreword or other testimonials?
  • List your media contacts (reporters and editors, radio/tv hosts, bloggers, Web site editors, etc.).
  • How many units of your book would you realistically like to sell based on your marketing plan?
  • List the dates and locations of all the promotional events you have scheduled.
  • List all of the outlets (media and otherwise) that you plan to pursue for publicity.

This represents about two thirds of the questions on the application. Fortunately, I’ve been given a deadline extension to June 11 due to my surgery, and I’ve been working each day to fill in all the blanks.

These are questions you might want to keep in mind with respect to your own Journey as well. As we’ve discussed in earlier posts and comments, traditional publishing houses no longer have budgets for marketing and promotion unless you’re a celebrity author. That leaves the majority of us carrying the marketing and promotional ball, even if we manage to find our way to a published book through the traditional path.

I will, of course, keep you updated on the progress of this application as well as the ultimate decision about whether or not I’m accepted. Everything I’m scheduling/planning/explaining will have to be done anyway, whether I’m accepted or not. But I sure would appreciate having a commissioned sales force helping me out by presenting Separation of Faith to elements of the industry that I don’t know how to reach–and that’s what the Rising Star program would do for me.

Social Media Integration: One thing that is already going to happen is that I’ll receive assistance integrating the release of Separation of Faith into all of the social media outlets in which I have a presence. I have a rudimentary idea of how to do this, but I will be happy to have folks who do that sort of thing all day lending their expertise.

There are so many pieces involved with a successful book launch that I’m exhausted after covering just these few. Certainly one of the keys is to focus only on what can be managed in a given day. If too much time is spent looking at the whole process at once, I’m guessing that “frozen in place” might become a possibility.

Sometimes, if I think too hard, I long for those days when I was simply mired in my tenth editing cycle … 🙂 … And I’m already fantasizing about those wonderful hours/weeks/months I’ll be spending in the research and writing of my third novel.

Honestly, we all must be totally insane to do this voluntarily …

One More Link for You

In the May/June 2010 issue of Writer’s Digest, there’s a big section on “101 Best Websites for Writers”–http://www.writersdigest.com/article/101-websites-2009. This is definitely one to keep close at hand, no matter what your goals are for the Journey or how far along you are.

Have a Wonderful Memorial Day Weekend

Hopefully, we’ll all take at least a moment to remember why we have this holiday, thanking and honoring those who have given their lives so we can live freely in this wonderful country, pursuing our dreams in a place where anything is possible.

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Back in the Saddle

Hi! I’m sorry for the 10-day hiatus in posts. My expectations for the early days of recovery were a little out of line with reality. I wish you could have seen the amount of work I took with me to the hospital. Pretty hysterical upon retrospect. The mini would have been sufficient since that little thing really did keep me connected.

This blog is all about the publishing Journey launched through my post on November 4, 2009, though, so I want to get back to that mission rather than chronicling the details of my surgery and reconstruction. However, if anyone out there is facing a similar health situation and would like to talk, ask questions, or share stories and support with me, please let me know. We can have those conversations separately.

Also, I’m keeping a journal of the experience, starting with the date of the diagnosis (April 1, 2010), and I’ll publish that journal on my www.FiledBy.com and www.Scribd.com sites once the process is complete (before the end of the year).

Update–Publishing Status for Separation of Faith

The novel is now in the design phase at the publisher. This is where the cover will come to life and the manuscript will become a book, and this is where I’m happy that I’ve chosen this particular avenue in the alternative publishing arena.

Full-blown self-publishers take on the responsibility of this design phase themselves, and I admire those who take that approach. But I’ve chosen www.iUniverse.com (a “supported self-publishing” company), where professionals who are skilled in the techical aspects of design and production take over these elements. Of course, there’s a trade-off. Full self-publishers keep more of the book’s eventual proceeds, but they still bear all of the expenses, marketing and promotional responsibilities, etc., in addition to figuring out how to produce, print, warehouse, and distribute a quality book that can compete on the same playing field with traditional publishing releases. And that is no easy task.

If you’re at the point where you’re exploring alternataive versus traditional publishing, I invite you to visit the iUniverse Web site (www.iUniverse.com). At a minimum, that one site will give you an in-depth overview of what’s involved with the publishing process, which might prove useful as you decide how you want to proceed with your book.

The mission of this blog is to prove the following: If I produce a high quality, well-written, meticulously (and professionally) edited novel, and then if I sell the heck of that novel in the first six months after release, I’ll attract the attention of someone in the traditional publishing business years faster than if I go the traditional route, starting with the query process. (You can read about the inspiration behind the mission, as well as many incredibly fascinating publishing statistics, etc., in my blog launch posting on November 4, 2009.)

Each step of this publishing Journey will be tracked through this blog. If my experiment works, we’ll all know why and how. And if things go the other way, we’ll be able to figure that out too–together.

Marketing/Promotion Plan–Separation of Faith 

This will be where my life will become planted for the foreseeable future. Because Separation of Faith has already earned the Editor’s Choice designation (all the steps to achieve that honor have been chronicled in earlier posts), I’m now eligible for something called the Rising Star Program. Acceptance into this program means that Separation of Faith will be presented by a commissioned sales force to national, regional, and local booksellers.

But acceptance into the program requires my outlining every detail of my marketing plan, beginning with pre-release activities such as approaching editors, authors, reporters, media hosts, bloggers, celebrities, etc. for endorsement quotes and other testimonials. And the work I’ve already done on establishing a social media presence will be an important element as well. The Rising Star Application needs to be completed by May 27 (they gave me an extension due to my surgery), and there’s a ton of work involved. Some of the application’s questions involve detail about the promotional events I’ll be scheduling right after release–and in order to answer those questions, I’ll need more definitive information from iUniverse about when the book will be released. Just saying “June 2010” won’t be enough anymore.

As I complete the application, I will post the details of the Marketing Plan in this blog for all of you to share, and your input and comments will be of great value.

This process might prove useful to those of you who have finished writing your book and are ready to pursue the publishing process, whether that might be via traditional or alternative routes. Keep in mind that no matter how we publish our books these days, the marketing and promotional efforts all fall on us–the authors. Traditional publishing houses no longer have marketing and promotional budgets for us, unless we’re celebrities or already have a bestselling book. That’s a hard bite to swallow, but a reality we need to accept. So hopefully my Journey will help you too, as we see what happens between the release of Separation of Faith and the end of the year. Some of my efforts will produce book sales, and others will not. And we’ll figure out why for each.

More Legitimacy Added to My Journey’s Plan

In case you haven’t already run across this article on other social media sites, I encourage you to read “Author Unbound–How the Digital Age is Making Self-Publishing Respectable,” published in the New York Times Magazine on May 2, 2010http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/02/magazine/02FOB-medium-t.html).

That Old “Platform” Thing Again

Having a distinct and well articulated “platform” has become mandatory for any writer who is trying to get published. But as I’ve mentioned in several posts, this is an area where I’ve struggled.

If you’re writing non-fiction, there’s an easier connection to what you’re writing about and the qualifications/platform that attach credibility to you for your particular subject matter. But if you’re writing novels, coming up with a platform is more challenging.

Nonetheless, my platform has finally come into focus. My life has always been about pursuing dreams and accomplishing the impossible (even though I’ve missed the mark on a number of occasions). And then, after first becoming a cancer survivor in 1987, I began reinventing myself from the corporate marketing career woman I’d become into the writer/author/freelance editor I am now, the latter being my passion since I was a young girl. My public speaking of late (see earlier post on my first paid gig) has been on the subject of “Reinventing Yourself at Any Age.”

Combining all of this, my platform has emerged into “The Power and Possibilities behind Personal Reinvention.” My life is a testimony to this subject, and I am, indeed, an expert. Plus, I seem to have some measure of writing talent that has now produced two novels, which are direct products of my own reinvention. And within those novels is a common thread/theme of survival, the pursuit of dreams, and the importance of harnessing the passion in each of us.

I’m just beginning to come up with all verbiage that needs to accompany the platform. But getting this far is a huge relief!

Have a Great Weekend!

I promise to post again early next week with some details on my marketing/promotional plans for Separation of Faith–just as soon as I think of them … 🙂

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COPYEDIT–SEPARATION OF FAITH

My review of the copyedit is complete, and I’ve been communicating with the editorial board at the publisher regarding a few questions (blond versus blonde being one). Now I have a few little things to clean up, and then I’ll submit the final copyedited manuscript back to the publisher, at which point the book will enter the production phase. The plan is for that to happen today! Yay!

I’ll keep you posted on each of the production steps as they unfold. The development of the book’s cover will be one of the most important tasks to happen first, I imagine. But I’ll let you know.

BLOND VS BLONDE (WHILE I’M THINKING ABOUT IT)

This issue has been driving me nuts, frankly. So here’s what the publisher’s editorial board said to me:

Regarding “blond” versus “blonde,” Merriam-Webster lists the two terms as variants of both the noun and adjective forms; however, “blond” generally refers to a male and “blonde” to a female. An excerpt from Merriam-Webster is below.
 
 
Main Entry: 1blond
Variant(s): or blonde \ˈbländ\
Function: adjective
Etymology: Anglo-French blunt, blound, masculine, blounde, feminine
Date: 15th century
1 : of a flaxen, golden, light auburn, or pale yellowish-brown color <blond hair>; also : having blond hair <a blond man> —spelled blond when used of a boy or man and often blonde when used of a girl or woman
2 a : of a light color b : of the color blond c : made light-colored by bleaching <blond wood table>
 
Main Entry: 2blond
Variant(s): or blonde
Function: noun
Date: 1822
1 : a person having blond hair —spelled blond when used of a boy or man and usually blonde when used of a girl or woman
2 : a light yellowish brown to dark grayish yellow
 
We recommend following the editor’s changes in all of the items you have listed in your e-mail.

So guess what? Because that Editor’s Choice designation is so critical to what I’m trying to accomplish here, I’ve complied with all but a small handful of the copyeditor’s recommendations. (See my original blog posting on November 4, 2009 for my initial outline of “The Journey” and the inspiration for the path I’ve decided to take.)

And I must tell you that, as I was going through the copyedit, I could actually see the transformation of my manuscript from something I had entered in my computer into a quality edited product typical of what we see coming out of traditional publishing houses. Believe me, this has not only been an immensely educational exercise but one that I’m very grateful I pursued!

TRANSITIONING FROM A FOCUS ON WRITING TO A FOCUS ON PROMOTION

If you’ve been to any/many writers’ conferences, you’ve probably heard some publishing professional (usually an author) say that writing the book is the easy part. And, of course, who would ever believe such a ridiculous comment? Well, I do.

In addition to planning the launch of Separation of Faith through all the social media outlets (and I haven’t quite figured out how I’m going to do that yet), here are some of the other things on my “Book Promotion” to do list:

  • Primary Web site updates (including book store)
  • Create new Web site for Separation of Faith that links to my primary site and my book store
  • Keep this blog current and full of things for you to follow and learn along with me
  • Press Release(es)
  • Business cards, posters, flyers, newspaper ads
  • Book Launch Party (which will be at a hotel)
  • Finding willing and credible book reviewers (I already have one committed. Need at least five or six or more.)
  • Creating my video book trailer (I have a great fellow who will be helping me with this. The trailer will be uploaded to virtually every site where I have a presence plus YouTube, etc.)
  • Visiting every chain and independent bookseller in my area to garner interest
  • Schedule bookselling events wherever I can find a willing host.
  • Add information about my public speaking offering to every book promo element.
  • Seek/secure interviews on talk radio, local TV channel, local newspapers

In addition to all of this (and more that keeps popping into my head), I will still need to be involved with elements of the book’s production process–and oh, by the way, I also have to squeeze in my surgery on May 4. So “writing the book is the easy part” doesn’t seem so far-fetched now. Whoo boy. Where’s my nap?

A NOTE ABOUT DOMAIN NAMES 

If you are seriously pursuing this Journey of becoming a published author, securing domain names long before you have a finished book is critical. The first and most important domain name to secure is your own name. I registered for “cherilaser.com” after the pivotal conference last September, amazed that I hadn’t already done so when a speaker mentioned the issue in one of the conference sessions. I was really worried that someone else might have already taken that one (because we’re not the only ones in the world with our same names), but I was lucky.

Domain names are very inexpensive (like somewhere around $10 a year), and you don’t have to create Web sites to go with them until/unless you’re ready. But if you don’t secure the domains, creating the most effective Web sites down the road will become a challenge. In addition to “cherilaser.com,” I have also secured:

  • SeparationOfFaith.com
  • TheTruthAboutCinnamon.com (I have a Web site for this one that links into my primary Web site and book store.)
  • BeauBetweenTheLines.com (title for a potential book)
  • WhoMovedTheMeridian.com (title for a potential book)
  • ReinventingYourPossibilities.com
  • MakingYourWordsWork.com
  • ReinventingYourselfAtAnyAge.com

The last three of those relate to my editing business and to my speaking engagement plans (referenced in other posts on this blog). And when I come up with a title for my third novel, the first thing I’ll do is reserve that name.

There are lots of sites where you can secure domain names, but I’m using GoDaddy (www.godaddy.com).

AND SPEAKING OF MY 3RD NOVEL …

For the past month or so, I’ve been worrying about the next book. Why, you ask, when I’m still so wrapped up in the second one?

Well, what if someone who pops up as a result of all that promotional work asks me what my next project is? Being stuck for an answer would not be very comfortable.

There is one project I’m considering–a memoir that I started a few years ago that I’m thinking about fictionalizing. And then there’s the possibility of a sequel to Separation of Faith. But whatever I’m going to do needs to take shape pretty quickly. I can’t dilly dally around and take any more six-year segments of time to write a book. I need to get this process down to a book every year (or maybe between one and two years, she said, trying to imagine the improbable 🙂 ).

A couple of things need to happen in order for me to finish book #3 in somewhere around a year:

  • The story needs to arrive in my head already in outline form, for the most part.
  • The setting needs to be here in the New York City area so I don’t need to travel beyond a normal commute distance to accomplish my research.

The two ideas I mentioned earlier didn’t meet either one of these criterion. So every trip I’ve made into Manhattan recently for this health/surgery situation has found me studying every person and situation crossing my path for a potential storyline. (I keep waiting for someone on the subway to say to me, “So what are you staring at?”) And I guess my subconscious must have been working on this more than I realized because last night I had a dream where I met my new protagonist (a man). He was so real and vivid that I remember everything about him, and I’m rarely able to remember details about my dreams. Then this morning the “outline form” of the story started showing up in my mind.

So I just finished taking an unscheduled hour to capture everything I was thinking into a new file on my computer. I had decided that I was ready to try a novel that included some sort of crime, but I didn’t want to do a murder. So this story has an interesting twist that feels comfortable to me. And I think this one could come together pretty quickly. I’ll post the story’s tag line as soon as I figure out what that is  … 🙂

That’s all for now. Have a fun and productive day! I hope I’ll run into you while tag surfing (planned for tomorrow morning).

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Checking In

Hi! Although I’ve been commenting on other blogs and doing a little tag surfing, I haven’t published a new post since a week ago yesterday. But I have been doing a huge amount of reading, and there are a number of things I want to share with you today. First, though …

Copyedit Update–Separation of Faith

On Monday (the 12th), I received the copyedited manuscript (returned to me electronically, with the edit done using Word’s edit tracking) and a letter from the editor. This edit is a lot easier to manage since the issues highlighted are no longer addressing structural issues in the novel, or point of view, or any other storytelling elements. Instead, the editor went line by line to ensure the manuscript’s adherence to publishing standards printed in key references such as The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS), the primary source of correctness for publishing professionals.

My own (and seemingly endless) editing of the manuscript had produced a fairly clean copy. But my specialty is developmental editing rather than copyediting. I wouldn’t even pretend to have anywhere near the level of knowledge and recall as this copyeditor with respect to what’s inside the nearly 1000 pages of the CMS. So I’m finding the review of her edit to be extremely valuable in terms of this novel’s quality. My future writing will also benefit from the new information I’m picking up.

In addition to CMS issues, the copyeditor rearranged my words in a few places to either meet a standard or provide clarity. And in her letter to me, she pointed out a small but important plot “hole” that can easily be filled by my adding a few sentences.

She’s the first one who’s noticed that little plot blip, and I’m very grateful that she did. Some voracious fiction reader (or perhaps a lot of them) would certainly have noticed the issue as well, but that would have been after the book was printed, and nothing could have been done at that point to fix the problem. Just one more reason why we need to submit our work to an experienced, professional editor before we start sending things out through queries or moving into the final production stage of a self-publishing process.

Here are several examples of the comments she made in the manuscript margins using Word’s edit-tracking:

  • CMS 8.21: Civil, military, religious, and professional titles are capitalized when they immediately precede a personal name and are thus used as part of the name (usually replacing the title holder’s first name). Titles are normally lowercased when following a name or used in place of a name.
  • Switched [these words] around to avoid passive construction.
  • A word, abbreviation, phrase, or clause that is in apposition to a noun is set off by commas if it is nonrestrictive—that is, omittable, containing supplementary rather than essential information. If it is restrictive—essential to the noun it belongs to—no commas should appear. CMS 6.43 My older sister, Betty, taught me the alphabet. but My sister Enid lets me hold her doll. (I have two sisters.)
  • CMS 7.63: Individual letters and combinations of letters of the Latin alphabet are usually italicized. I need a word with two e’s and three s’s. He signed the document with an X.

Traditional publishers (who will be taking a look at this book if this Journey is successful) put every single one of their titles through this sort of meticulous copyediting. Consequently, they not only understand the importance, but they recognize the quality level of the editing the moment they see it.  So we need to do everything in our power to make sure that our manuscripts (if we’re trying to pursue the traditional route) or our printed books (if we’re taking an alternate path) measure up to the standards expected in the traditional publishing arena.

Once Separation of Faith is in the final stage of production, I realize now that I will also need to use a professional proofreader prior to signing off on the end product. Traditional publishers put their titles through several rounds of proofreading before the book is printed–and as we all know through our own reading, there are still typos and other mistakes that manage to show up in books by even the most prolific and highly paid authors.

As I’ve been saying since I began blogging about the steps of this Journey last November 4, the first priority for all of us is to create the highest quality book possible, regardless of what that takes.

Writing Competition

Entering our work in competitions is a great way to collect feedback, grow in our writing craft, get noticed, and add to our following. And there are boatloads of competitions out there. But Writer’s Digest sponsors several that have a high level of legitimacy. They have one that includes a wide variety of writing categories, and the deadline for that competition is May 14. Here’s the link that will also show you WD‘s other contest:  http://www.writersdigest.com/competitions. Hope you find something that inspires you. (See later in this post for more on Inspiration.)

Building a Following/Web Presence before You Have a Book

There is so much more being written on this subject every day that keeping up with everything is tough. But here are a couple of links to articles/blogs that I found of particular interest while reading the past week:

  • http://robinmizell.wordpress.com/2010/04/10/awp-panel-discussions-and-lesprit-descalier/ I found this comment by Ms. Mizell to be especially interesting: “In considering whether to work with authors, I prefer to see they’re already capable of handling themselves in what can be contentious online conversations. Without an existing Web presence to examine, I can’t rapidly assess how a writer will behave publicly, online, or in an interview, particularly in the heat of the moment. My clients need to be better at it than I am!”
  • http://www.calebjross.com/awpblog/2010/04/08/320/ At the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Annual Convention earlier this week, a panel of agents and editors answered questions about the importance of an author platform. This link takes you to a summary of that panel.

A Few Other Highlights

These are links to articles that touch on other issues we’ve discussed through this blog:

Journey Update

Separation of Faith: As soon as I go through the copyedit and accept/reject each of the changes/notations, the manuscript will finally enter the production phase. I’ll let you know when that long-awaited moment arrives. (You’ll probably be able to hear the cork pop!)

The Truth About Cinnamon: News flash! I’m still working on the reduction edit. Target for completion now: late May. 

Stats: This blog–1947 (last posting 1796)

Diagnosis Update

My surgery will be on May 4, and I’ll be in the hospital overnight. I sense a new use for my mini coming on … 🙂

Seriously, this has been found very early, and even though the next couple of months will be a bit bumpy, the prognosis is extremely positive, taking me way out into my 80’s. Hopefully, I will have found my way out of publishing obscurity by then …

Have a great weekend! I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

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Editing Our Work–And Getting Carried Away

Good morning! Late yesterday afternoon I finished editing a manuscript for the 12-year-old girl I mentioned in an earlier post this week. (I think it was this week. Maybe last week.) Anyway, her father has hired me as his editor on five of his books (four of which are published and one in-process). So when his precocious daughter wrote her first lengthy piece of fiction, I was honored to be called last August for that edit as well.

A full developmental edit was conducted on her “novel” at that time. Her word count is 13,000, which isn’t really a novel. (Needs to be 40,000-50,000 words at a minimum to officially be a novel.) But I’m sure for a 12-year-old, her book feels like Gone with the Wind to her. And rightly so. I cannot believe the tenacity of this kid–and her writing is unbelievably well-developed.

Following the edit last fall, she went back to work and began her revision/self-editing process, and then I received the updated manuscript a short while ago. What I discovered during the editing process was something I wanted to share with you.

As she began looking at her words and the input from her edit, she started to second-guess herself. And suddenly, a whole bunch of terrific writing, character development, and fabulous dialogue from the original manuscript was eliminated. As I was reading along, I found myself saying, “Hey, I remember a lot of other stuff being in here that was really good.” And every time that happened, I went back to my copy of the original edit and found passages that were brilliant (and had been labeled as such in the edit) that had, for some reason, been taken out of the new version. And the holes left in the story were dramatic as a result.

So I pulled a lot of those passages back into the manuscript, creating the necessary linkage between her new writing and the original section(s). The combination of the new things she’d written and the old parts pulled back in resulted in a balanced and enjoyable kids’ spy story (the first of three in a series … 🙂 …)

After a few of those sequences, I began thinking about the edit of Separation of Faith that followed my beta readers’ input. I had been so concerned about word count, that I was taking shortcuts to my storytelling instead of letting the strengths of my writing flow. Those dipping points in the novel were so noticeable that there was almost a “what were you thinking?” tone to the beta input (and to my own thoughts once those issues were brought to my attention). And I found myself saying the same thing as I was editing the manuscript of my young, blossoming client.

The message to be shared here is: Go with your initial gut instinct, and don’t get too scissor-happy. Sort of like that old advice we’ve all received with respect to test-taking: Always stick with your first answer, and don’t start erasing things.

Naturally, editing and cutting are essential skills that we need to hone. But there needs to also be another instinct at work–knowing the difference between what’s really amazing about what we’ve written and what’s not so great. Second-guessing ourselves to the point where brilliant sections are replaced by sub-standard revisions only sets us back.

So, whenever you receive input from anyone–a friend, a professional editor, a beta reader, etc.–where something has been marked as really terrific, have some faith in yourself, believe that input, and don’t change those parts!

Hope your day is beautiful and productive!

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Reading Update

Last night I did a lot of catch-up reading on all sorts of writing information I’ve come across over the last week. Not only did I find a bunch of stuff that I think will be of use or interest to you, but my to-do list has expanded considerably. So, thank you very much to me for all the extra work I’ve added to myself … 🙂 Hopefully those new tasks will help you as well as I chronicle them in this blog, learning as I go.

Giving Stuff Away for Free

Because I spent ten weeks posting a free chapter per week from my first novel, The Truth About Cinnamon (http://www.filedby.com/author/cheri_laser/2721580/documents/24081497/), an article titled “Giving it away for free: Obscurity vs. Making Money as a Writer” caught my attention immediately.

Pros and cons are listed in both the post and the comments. Let me know what you think: http://www.bradsreader.com/2010/03/giving-it-away-for-free-obscurity-vs-making-money-as-a-writer/.

If You Love a Little Controversy … 🙂

Since the whole experiment of this blog is to see if a high quality, meticulously edited, self-published novel can get the attention of traditional publishers, the article “Self-Publishing Pro and Con(temptuous)” jumped right off the page into my lap. And since I’ve already had a number of conversations with some of you on the subject, here’s another perspective. And the blog by Alan Rinzler (referenced in my post #30 on March 19) is also addressed again in the article.

If you check this one out, please read all of the comments as well to get the full picture being presented: http://www.thebookdesigner.com/2010/03/self-publishing-pro-and-contemptuous/.

Using Video as Part of the Book’s Promo

I’ve been thinking a lot about this subject because I will soon need some sort of trailer for Separation of Faithand I have absolutely no clue how to do one. I also have a video of a television interview done with me at a small, regional Connecticut TV station after The Truth About Cinnamon was released. There’s undoubtedly a way to fit that interview video into my plan as well, to help people find out who I am.

So the article titled “7 Reasons Why Writers Need To Start Using Video For Book Promotion” could not have been more timely. Not only did I pick up some great ideas, but I began considering which of my tech guru friends I can tap for assistance (in return for a case of beer or something … 🙂 …)

I might start experimenting soon with the interview video that I already have, maybe posting it here in my blog or on my FiledBy site (where I have the free chapters of Cinnamon). I also have a slick webcam on my mini, and the article said that YouTube has a recording site where you can create your own videos using your webcam.

This is where some of that extra work I mentioned at the beginning of my post is coming from. But I’m getting sort of excited about this video thing–especially if I can find yet another use for my mini.

Take a look at the article if you have a minute:  http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2010/03/08/7-reasons-why-writers-need-to-start-using-video-for-book-promotion/. And I’d love to hear about any of your own rookie experiences with the video element of this dream journey.

Your Own Writing Retreat

Here’s one I almost forgot to include. Several of you have commented on the difficulty of finding time for our writing as we juggle families, jobs, and life in general. So this article, “Create Your Own Mini-Writing Retreat,” might inspire some ideas: http://writersdigest.com/article/Do-It-Yourself-Writing-Retreats/?print=1.

I also discovered several other links on the subject by Googling “Create Your Own Writing Retreat.” I guess lots of us are in search of solutions to this dilemma.

Editing Update

Separation of Faith is still undergoing the copyedit at the publisher. I probably won’t see those results for another two or three weeks, so I’ll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, I have a client who’s asked me to edit two more books for him. Actually, one of the books is by his daughter, who is twelve and has already written a novel! I know! How can that be possible? I did a development edit on her book last August, and she is so tenacious that she’s now coming back for more. I’m so impressed with her! Not only impressed with her writing skill, which is quite amazing for one so young, but also with her drive, her courage about seeking input, and her willingness to write beyond her own personal experiences. When I was twelve, I was writing short stories but never even considered writing a whole book! The idea of doing research to fill in the blanks for things I hadn’t yet experienced hadn’t crossed my mind at that point.

I’ll let you know when this young lady becomes famous.

After I finish the edit for her, I need to get busy again with the reduction edit on The Truth About Cinnamon. Every time I turn around, something else seems to be getting in the way of that. So the moment has come to get firm and stay focused. (Of course, I also have to do my taxes and my dad’s before the 15th. Oh brother.)

Health Update

My appointment with the surgeon is on the 14th in Manhattan. I will, of course, be taking my mini. Not sure if I’ll be working on my book, my client’s book, or my taxes–but with the mini on hand at that sort of appointment, I’m surely going to be working on something.

Meanwhile, I’m too busy to worry about the details of the diagnosis. After receiving a copy of the pathology report, I took a half day to do research on the various facts and options. But I won’t really know the whole story until I see that surgeon. So I’m not allowing myself to fret too much until then.

Stats

Hits on this blog: 1796 (1625 at last report). Definitely moving in the right direction!

Take care. Hope to see you while I’m tag surfing over the next few days.

Cheri

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Book Expo America–the Publishing Industry’s Gigantic Annual Event

This is a gargantuan 3-day event held by the publishing industry in massive exhibit halls around the country once every year. And there’s always been a writer’s conference held the day before the main tent opens. That conference was typically hosted by Writer’s Digest. But WD recently announced that they are not going to participate so they can prepare for their own 2nd annual conference in New York in January 2011. (Their 1st annual last September is the one that changed my writing direction and launched this blog last November 4, so you can bet I’ll be at the next one!)

In lieu of the BEA-WD conference, Book Expo America has just announced that the writer’s conference slot/day will now be filled with the new BEA DIY Authors Conference and Marketplace at the Javits Convention Center in New York on Monday, May 24. That’s Memorial Day, but I don’t think I care–and there won’t be any commute traffic. 🙂  The full Book Expo America Convention and Exhibits will run from Tuesday, May 25-Thursday, May 27. And I’m already registered.

After I published Cinnamon in December 2003, my first BEA and BEA Writer’s Conference were in Chicago in June 2004. And I attended each year thereafter (in Washington, D.C. and New York) until just a couple of years ago when what I was experiencing and learning there became sort of static.

But then the world began changing over night with social media–and then came the conference last September–and now, lo and behold, the opening act for Book Expo America is a DIY (stands for Do It Yourself) writer’s conference! Who would have ever believed it?

This feeds so beautifully into what I’m trying to accomplish here, and the fee is only $199. If you’re out there and trying to accomplish the same thing, I highly recommend your checking out the possibility of attending. Here’s the link: http://www.bookexpoamerica.com/en/Conference/DIY-Authors-Conf-Marketplace/. If you do decide to go, please let me know. I’d love to share a beverage with you there.

Note: You don’t need to attend all of BEA in order to attend the conference on the 24th. The conference is a separate event–but if you’re able to go to BEA as well, you’ll learn more about the scope of the publishing business than you ever dreamed possible. During my first one in Chicago, I was like a deer in headlights.

One More Conference for Consideration 

This one is for all of us but seems a better fit for those who are actively pursuing the query process and meeting with dead ends. Nothing helps us more than having someone tell us why we’re being rejected–giving us specifics that we can actually work on and fix. So Writer’s Digest is holding what they call an “Editor’s Intensive” in September. (They just finished one in March.) The program guarantees that the first 50 pages of your manuscript will be read, and that there will be a 30-minute session with an editor who will offer specific information about what can be done to improve the manuscript and the chances of publication.

Let me know what you think: http://writersdigest.com/events

Update on Biopsy

Well, the news was not what I wanted to hear at 11:00 yesterday morning. I do have breast cancer–but the pathology is uplifting, if there can be such a thing. The spot is small; the discovery is early; and no one seems overly anxious about this–except me and my family.

But I’ll be seeing the surgeon on the 14th unless I can get in sooner, and I’ll let you know what comes next. I’m in the best place in the world for this–Sloan-Kettering’s new 16-story breast cancer center in Manhattan.

So, I’ll be fine–and fortunately, I’m so busy right now with all the elements of this plan, along with my editing work, that I don’t have much spare time for fretting. Plus, I started a “My Breast Cancer Journey” journal last night. If I think I’ve written anything particularly profound as we move forward, I’ll share those words with you.

Meanwhile, thanks so much for all the thoughts and prayers that have already come my way. Hope you all have a wonderful holiday weekend.

Cheri

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