Category Archives: Writer’s responsibility

How NOT to Dread Deadlines

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Why are deadlines important? Because publishing is a schedule based business. When a book receives a publication date, everything moves toward the date when that book goes to the printer. If the book isn’t ready, printing presses stand idle, and time is money.

Many authors feel enslaved by deadlines. But what if how they think about them could change that? On his leadership web page, author and motivational speaker, Stan Toler, offers five positive ways to perceive deadlines. He says:

Deadlines are friends. You created them to assist you. Treat them with respect and they will be loyal to you. Ignore them and they may haunt you. They are not there to harass you; they are there to help you. Like a friend, you check on them, give them space, and remember their birthdates and anniversaries.

Deadlines are property lines. They are the imaginary spaces where your ideas and ideals live. As property lines, they need to be detailed, recorded, and guarded from intruders—such as time-wasters or attention-grabbers.

Deadlines are destination points. Like entering a travel location on your GPS, you create a deadline so you can journey toward it. There may be “points of interest” along the way, but their destination is your end goal.

Deadlines are managers. You gave them permission to keep you on the straight and narrow. In return, they give you friendly reminders of neglect, lack of focus, or impulsive behavior. You don’t need to fear them. They are not immovable. And if they are not flexible, they may need to be replaced.

Deadlines are volunteer staff. You appointed them, not vice versa. They are the stagehands, but you run the show. They embody your vision. You are only bound to them by loyalty. They have no overruling authority.”

Incorporate Toler’s suggestions when you write and revise. Remember–you control deadlines; they don’t control you. Meeting, even exceeding, them is a sure way to forge a great relationship with your publisher.

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5 Ways to Keep Your Editor Happy—Advice for First-Time Authors

[Friends: I’m taking a short break from the blog to work on a writing project. In the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy this repost from 2014.] 

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Your manuscript has been accepted for publication.
Yay! You’ve been assigned an editor.
But, now what?

I’ve worked both as an editor at a publishing house and as a freelance writer, so I understand how the author/editor relationship works. Here are five great tips for forming a productive partnership with your editor.

1. Accept Constructive Criticisms. An editor’s job is to edit. You might think that your manuscript is perfect exactly as you wrote it. But your editor views it from a different perspective. Her aim is to make your book as marketable as possible, and she knows the market better than you do. She has edited perhaps hundreds of books and has a keen sense of how changes will make your writing even better. When you receive a marked-up manuscript, don’t panic. It doesn’t mean that you are a bad writer, it means that your editor is doing her job. You aren’t in this alone anymore. Now, you are part of a team.

2. Ask Questions. If there is something you don’t understand, ask. Publishing for first-time authors is a learning experience with unfamiliar language and procedures. Editors are expert multi-taskers, and yours is probably juggling many manuscripts in various stages. He can forget that you are new to the publishing world and that you might need guidance. So, don’t be shy about asking.

 

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3. Respect Deadlines. The publishing industry is deadline driven. Everything works toward getting your book to the printer on time. Printing is scheduled months in advance. If a print date is missed and presses stand idle, it costs the printer and the publisher and also plays with other print deadlines. One of your jobs is to help your editor stay on schedule. When she gives you a due date, you need to respect it.

 

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4. Be Professional. As soon as you sell your manuscript, you are not only an author but also a businessperson. As part of the editorial team you should keep good records. Save all communications (emails, texts, and notes from telephone conversations with your editor). Before making the editorial changes he suggests, refer again to those communications to refresh your memory. In my work with editors, I have found that sometimes we both forget a small, random detail that we discussed. Catching those items early can avoid another deadline-crunching edit.

5. Go The Extra Mile. I understand how busy editors are, so I try to help by doing a few extras like beating my deadlines by a week, or so, and giving my manuscript an extra read for mistakes in spelling, punctuation, and grammar. When I write nonfiction, I use a spreadsheet to keep track of references, important information, and questions. I give the spreadsheet to my editor with my completed manuscript. It can be as simples as this:

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Going that extra mile helps keep things running smoothly, and that makes my editor, and me, happy.

A good author/editor relationship is key to a successful book. Be sure to let your editors know how much you appreciate them. Thank them for their efforts.

[Cartoon credit: Richard Taylor, “The New Yorker”]

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Filed under Editing and proofreading, The Business of Writing, Uncategorized, working with editors, Writer's responsibility, Writing Tips

Writers, Are You Smiling at Your Readers?

In his post “Five Reasons You Should Smile More as a Leader,” Michael Hyatt, the former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing, writes that his intensity when speaking often caused him not to smile. That gave others the impression that he was “ticked off.” He explains that he had to work at remembering to smile. He recognized that smiling:

  •  Helps others relax.Portrait of happy business woman
  • Draws people to you.
  • Enables you to connect.
  • Creates a positive culture.
  • Elevates your mood.

I’d like to add that smiling is important not only when speakers speak, but also when writers write.

Let me explain:

Sometimes, writers forget to smile at their audience. I don’t mean smile in the literal sense, as in beam or grin. Instead, let’s define smile as “writing in a way that always lifts people up instead of shutting them down.” This is especially important when writing fiction.

A fiction writer’s job is to entertain. The writer entertains by making readers feel diverse emotions. But sometimes when writers write a story, their own intensity when writing a scene intimidates their readers. Instead of lifting them up, it leaves them feeling down.

Any intensely written scene— a murder, a break up, a love scene, a reunion—should make readers smile. Why? Because that scene is so well crafted that it sinks deep into the reader’s heart. It does what it is supposed to do; it entertains. It makes the reader say: “Wow, that was really great! It made me feel scared (or it made me cry, or laugh, or whatever).”

Think about your own writing. It should

  • Help readers relax.
  • Draw them into your story.
  • Enable them to connect with your characters.
  • Leave them feeling entertained.
  • Elevate their mood and put a smile on their face.

Michael Hyatt discovered that his goal was to make smiling his “default—an unconscious behavior.”  This, too, should be the goal of every writer.

Are you smiling enough at your readers? What can you do to improve?

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My memoir, An Issue of Blood–Facing Uterine Cancer with Faith, is now available as an ebook for just $2.99. You can also buy it in paperback through Amazon.com, or your favorite bookseller.

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