Monday, May 26, 2014

What is Good Online Author Etiquette When it Comes to Blogging, Twitter, Comments, etc.?

If we’re online, no matter how much we try to hide, we are in the public eye. Our words are forever and there for all the world to see. One wrong move and we’ll become one of THOSE people – Authors Behaving Badly.

Before you run and hide, afraid you will say the wrong thing, maintaining proper author etiquette online isn’t difficult. If you exercise proper manners, a positive attitude, and a generous and thankful heart, you’ll be fine. Really!

Here are some tips that will help you avoid becoming one of THOSE authors:

  • Don’t respond to bad reviews. It’s a war you can’t win.
  • Interact with fans and commenters. If you’re doing a guest post or interview online, interact with those who leave comments. If someone sends a Tweet, leaves a comment, or sends an email, respond. Those people took time out of their day to contact you – be thankful and return the favor.
  • Spread the word when someone features you. Send out Tweets and post it on your social sites.
  • Don’t run down others, especially other authors. Never leave a negative comment.
  • Don’t be a constant ad for your book. Don’t send out endless Tweets with links to purchase your books. Don’t fill your blog with nothing but sales rankings. Be a real person and talk about other things besides your book.
  • Don’t spam. Don’t spam with emails, Tweets, or comments.
  • You’re not the king and everyone else your follower – return follows on social sites.
  • Give back to others. Share in the success of others and pay it forward. Find a way you can show support – highlighting others’ books, buying books, reviewing books, etc.
  • Have a thankful heart. Be gracious in your responses. Send a word of thanks for reviews, blog features, guest posts, etc.

See, that’s not so difficult, is it?

Hot Tamales for everyone!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Value of Editing For Authors

By Bryan Thomas Schmidt

It’s intimidating to hand your precious words over into the hands of another. After all, what do they know about your story? What stake do they have in getting it right? How can you know they will steer you wisely without allowing their personal tastes and opinions to cloud their advice?

You can’t. Editors are human beings. Their opinions and tastes are always going to be factors. But how those influence their work depends on several factors.

First, are they an in-house editor or a freelance editor?

Second, what role have they been hired to perform in regards to your work: developmental (story) editing, line editing, copyediting or proofing?

Third, who hired them?

In-house editors work for the publisher to find and shape the books they buy into products that meet the standards and expectations of that publisher and its audience. The marketing people know how to market certain types of books to certain audiences. So these editors will be looking at how your story fits with that and what needs to be done so it fits well and sells well alongside the rest of their brand.

Freelance editors sometimes work for publishers, but they can also work for authors. A freelance editor who works for a publisher has the same assigned task as the in-house editors to conform the book to the brand. The difference is that someone else usually acquires the book, i.e. chooses it and buys it, and the freelance editor is brought in for the polish and prep.

But freelance editors who work for you have a different job: to help you identify strengths and weaknesses of your book and make it better, the best it can be. They don’t answer to anyone else. They know their advice may be rejected in whole or in part by you, depending on your tastes, opinions, budget, etc. As a result, they try very hard to tell you what you need to hear, not just want to hear. The last thing they want is to have you wondering why you hired them when someone else tears apart your book for something they could have identified and helped you fix. At the same time, they also know they have no authority to push you to do anything you don’t want to do.

Hiring a freelance editor doesn’t guarantee a sale. But it can increase the chances. And it can help you grow as a writer and really help you improve your work. But in the end, the final choices on changes and revisions will be entirely yours. Freelance editors may come in to work on story, plot and characters for a developmental edit. Or they may help with sentence structure, pacing, word choice, repetition, clarity, etc. as a line editor. Copyeditors will help polish grammar, etc. And proofers go through and look for anything anyone else missed just before your book goes to publication.

All of these editing types are valuable to writers. Let’s face it, we get really close to our words, and by the time our books get published, often we can’t read them without our mind filling in gaps or showing us things we meant to say but didn’t. Maybe there are things we know and assume are clear in the text but aren’t clear to a stranger. Or things that got repeated, words, phrases, or even scenes which don’t stand out to us but would to readers. Lastly, perhaps there are things that make sense to us because of our knowledge of the whole story and wider worldbuilding which won’t to readers because we haven’t laid the groundwork. Editors can identify all of these in your work. And most editors are readers who love good stories, too, so they can also tell you things you do well and right and cheerlead you on to success with your book.

I had a client who’d written his book for a specific audience and posted it online. He had no knowledge of storytelling or formatting or structure standards for the industry. But he did have a passion for science, space travel, NASA, and exploration and a great story and character that incorporated all those things.

In editing, the book needed things I mentioned: knowledge he’d omitted because he knew it so well, grammar and spelling checks, smoothing of sentences, format and structure to make it accessible to a wider audience, etc. The client took a lot of my advice but not all. Later, he sold it to Crown and Hollywood for a lot of money. A movie is in the works, and The Martian by Andy Weir has been on the New York Times Bestseller list since its release last Spring. An editor at Crown still went through the book and made him add things he hadn’t followed from my advice. But in the end, the book was much stronger as a result of our work together. And now he’s a bestselling author.

Finding a good editor can be tricky, but inevitably, good editors will have stories like this to tell, and clients who rave about their work. And those are signs that the editor would be a good choice to help you tell your story better. Because those kinds of editors are always on your side and rooting for you. They love helping good authors make good stories come alive.

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and editor of adult and children's speculative fiction. His debut science fiction novel was The Worker Prince, received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases of 2011 and was followed by sequels The Returning and The Exodus. His childrens' books include 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter--Land Of Legends. Schmidt’s anthologies as editor include Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6, Beyond The Sun, Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age and, with Jennifer Brozek, Shattered Shields for Baen Books. He has several more anthologies forthcoming from publishers like Baen and Edge. Schmidt hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer's Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Hard Work + Patience Versus Instant Gratification?

I subscribe to the hard work + patience = success school of thought. The idea of becoming an expert the old-fashioned way still appeals to me. But for the instant gratification generation? No thanks. They want to be ahead from the start. More often than not, they are not too certain what they want, but they know when they want it. Immediately. Pronto.

Due to technological advances, everything has become faster and more accessible. Instant gratification has permeated all layers of society. It’s now the primary way of life. We now gratify many of our needs with just an internet enabled device. A perfect example is the one-click ordering via Amazon. In this world of rapid change, fast turnover and quick fixes, the self-publishing and e-book revolution means that anyone can now write and publish a book. 

But in the “rush” to become a “published author” can a writer really deliver a high quality product? Maybe. It’s not impossible. Many have accomplished this. Thousands of e-books flood the market every year. I’m wondering, how well have these books sold? And is there a realistic way of telling good self-published novels from bad? But I suppose the notion of “good and bad quality” is arbitrary...

What about the controversial rule that states, in a nutshell, it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate focus to become proficient at something. Where does it fit in? If we do the maths, forty hours per week over five years equals ten thousand hours. But who has so much time available to devote to writing (unless you are a full time writer)? In short, to become a really successful writer, you have to work your butt off. It requires determination, perseverance and patience. Forget instant rewards or instant success.

No matter which publishing route you take, at some point you have to ask yourself:  why am I publishing? To add the title “published author” to your credentials? To sell books? To connect with people? Remember, words written for commercial value will fade away. Words written with passion can make a lasting impression!
                                                                             *      *      *      *      *

Some important news: The IWSG Facebook group has reached the 1,000 member mark!  Congratulations!

Just a reminder about the Facebook guidelines:

Since the focus of the IWSG is support, the Facebook page should reflect this ideal.

You are encouraged to support your fellow IWSGers who share their writerly-related experiences, which include accomplishments/disappointments/challenges. Keep in mind that writers are at different points of their respective writerly journeys. Some may lurk for a long time before finding the courage to share with the rest of the group. Since the IWSG is all about community, a word of encouragement or advice may be just what somebody needs. Or even just a smiley face/thumbs up...

News & Promotional Saturday is your opportunity to add a link. The IWSG administrators reserve the right to remove promotional links, especially if they are posted haphazardly.

Saturday is also the day when we tweet each others' news. Look out for the 'tweety bird' and add your pre-written tweet to the thread. Feel free to tweet for others.

Thanks for your co-operation!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Legal Issues for Writers

Most days as a writer, I don't want to think about anything but working on my current WIP.  But there are a lot more things to think about as a writer. With more and more writers self publishing or working with smaller presses, more responsibility for the legal issues surrounding publishing fall on the author.

One of the first legal things writers think about in the Copyright issue. Many professional writing groups are glad to give you some advice on doing that and why you should. Check out this article from SFWA. Once you take care of your first copyright, you'll find it simple though irritating when you have to pay for it.

Writer's Digest has a great article about making sure you don't infringe of someone else's rights or privacy.

Writers Write shares a general description of the types of rights you own as an author and that you can sign over to a publisher. Lit Reactor shares a list of five things you need to consider including using other peoples' work within yours. That can be tricky.

What exactly should be in a contract and what don't you want in one? Check it the list by Writer's Digest.  Savvy Writers and e-book Online advise you to look for The Traps in Publishing Contracts. And this blog or on our Facebook page is a great place to ask the online community if you have a specific question.

More and more writers are finding their own paths and doing things their way. But we still have to understand the legal twists and turns of the business. Any legal issues that give you pause when you sign a new contract? Have you ever renegotiated a contract? Do you know some one who hired a lawyer to protect their work? Have you ever worried about violating someone else's work because you used a copyrighted product of the name of a famous person in your writing?

I might be a little late today responding to comments. I'm on the road to Colorado.

Susan Gourley is published in epic fantasy and also published in romance under her pen name, Susan Kelley. Visit her blog here. Like her on Facebook here. Follow her on Twitter here.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

IWSG Post Day and Just What is the IWSG?

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

The awesome co-hosts for the May 7 posting of the IWSG are Mark Koopmans, Joylene Nowell Butler, Elsie, and Lisa Buie-Collard!

We just came off the A to Z Challenge. Some of you have been following along and some are new to this website. The IWSG is three things:

1 – A blogging support group - The first Wednesday of every month is the official post day. Members post their insecurities, frustrations, and concerns, and others stop by to offer encouragement and advice. Every member who actively participates and visits others benefits and becomes a blessing to the group.

2 – A database of information this site is filled with information. Topics include writing tips; publishers, agents, and queries; self-publishing; marketing; contests; publications; and services. We also post information to help writers every Monday with a guest post from a top person in the industry once a month.

3 – A Facebook group - The IWSG is now also on Facebook. Members can ask questions and get instant feedback. There are themes for certain days, including Motivational Monday, Wow it’s Wednesday, Fun Friday, and News & Promo Saturday. A thousand members strong, it’s a great way to connect, find answers, and spread news.

So there are several ways you can get involved – and ways we can serve you. As the IWSG continues to grow, we hope you are along for the ride.

What insecurity plagues you today? How can we help?

Monday, May 5, 2014

A to Z Challenge Reflections

The administrators of this site pulled together to participate in the A to Z Challenge as a team. We’ve decided that our reflections should also be done as a team.

“It’s been awesome seeing the new faces coming by for a dose of writing knowledge and inspiration. I hope everyone continues to benefit from the site and the group. A big welcome to all the new followers and members!
“I’d also like to thank my fellow admins for the awesome job they did with each letter of the Challenge. You ladies rocked!”
- Alex J. Cavanaugh, IWSG Founder

“The comments during the A-Z Challenge were diverse and inspiring. I see writers who are willing to go to any length to improve their craft, yet never waver in their desire to support others. That attitude embodies the spirit of IWSG and makes me proud to a part of such a generous community.”
- Joylene Nowell Butler

"Every year the A to Z Challenge reminds me of the wide variety of bloggers sharing their expertise and thoughts with the world. Those generous bloggers offer encouragement and wisdom without a hint of snark or superiority toward their readers. The warmhearted community feeling of A to Z lasts for one hectic month but that wonderful camaraderie lives on each month on IWSG."
- Susan Gourley

“While I only did three of the letters—Apply Yourself as a Writer, Good Habits of Successful Writers, and Observation: a Writer's Tool—I still got to see what an amazing impact the challenge made here at the IWSG. I even made some new friends, some of whom expressed what a great and helpful site it is here, which I found hugely encouraging. A big thanks to everyone who took part.”
- Lynda Young

“A big thank you to the IWSG admins for the amazing team effort during the A to Z challenge. There are lots of newcomers and the Facebook page now stands at 925 members. Thank you also for the great job with the daily posting on the Facebook page. I know that lots of FB members discovered that linking their blogs during the challenge was a great way to pick blogs to visit.”
- Michelle Wallace

“Although I've participated in the Challenge for a few years, I'm still awed by the thought of so many people coming together to blog and interact for a solid month. I've 'met' many interesting people from various parts of the world and consider it an honour to have been allowed to share my thoughts on the IWSG blog during April. Here's to old and new friendships, thanks to Arlee Bird's brainwave that resulted in the Blogging from A-Z Challenge.”
- J.L. Campbell
“I didn’t participate in the A to Z this year with my own blog, but it was nice to remain connected here with the IWSG site. There were a lot of new faces in the comments and new followers. I think it was a great idea that we participated this year. We’ll have to do it again next year!”
- L. Diane Wolfe

Did you enjoy our A to Z posts? Did you participate?