Monday, July 18, 2011

Book Publishing From A Book Publisher's Point Of View

Many writers aspire to write books. Writing a book is a long, involved, difficult process. Book publishing is harder. A writer may submit his book repeatedly only to be turned down. The writer may eventually succeed. Wouldn't it have been easier to get published the first time? Is that possible?

You can improve your chances of a publisher accepting your book manuscript if you understand more about what happens at the publisher's desk. Book publishers are busy people with several projects bombarding their desks every day. They must decide quickly about what will sell. They must also delegate their time efficiently to keep the business running. Only occasionally do publishers actually seek out work. Let's look at a typical work day of a publisher to help you understand book acceptance and book publishing.

PERSIST AND PERSEVERE

Writers must be persistent. Regardless of how many times a publisher rejects your book manuscript and throws your ideas in the trash, you have to keep going back for more discouragement. Eventually you'll make it in the door. If you can get all the way through, you will finally get to a place where publishers accept more of your work. When working with a book publisher, the rule is the same. If you have a book that you know will sell, you must persevere to get the publisher's attention. Most likely, you will be sending excerpts of your book, not the entire book, to a publisher. As you continually send your manuscript or book excerpts to publisher after publisher, you should try to market it in different ways. Publishers seek a particular kind of writing; they will dismiss anything that doesn't meet their criteria and high standards. Variation in your marketing techniques may turn a rejected book into an accepted book.

WHAT DO BOOK PUBLISHERS WANT?

Book publishing is a strange business. People's tastes are somewhat fickle. A book publisher has to keep up with what kinds of books will sell. It seems mysteries will always have a place on the bookshelves. Crichton and Grisham may tie up the book market until they are finished. That is just one example from one genre of books. Publishers have to keep track of what is selling in all areas of literature. The best way for you to get your work noticed is to make it look similar to what is already selling in the marketplace. Be careful not to imitate style or voice of another author. Write with your own unique words while imitating the use of popular public opinion. Another way to improve your chances of getting published is to find out who's publishing what.

ARE YOU MARKETING TO THE RIGHT PUBLISHER?

Some publishers specialize in a certain kind of writing. If you are writing a novel, you'll look stupid (and get rejected) if you send it to publishers who publish technical manuals. How do you find out who is the most likely candidate to publish your work? There are reference manuals, such as Writer's Market, at your library that will tell you who's publishing what and what publishers are seeking. It will contain valuable information leading you to children's book publishers, novel publishers, and textbook publishers. If the handbook at your library is not up to date, your next option is to check out the new releases and best sellers rack at the bookstore. Buy a few books and read them. You'll have a much better feel for the book market as a consumer first, and book writer second.

Book publishing is difficult to break into. It can be helpful to approach the issue from the direction of the publisher. Before you submit your manuscript again, improve your chances of acceptance by following these tips:

1) Change your marketing style so that you grab attention;

2) Make sure you are a book consumer yourself. You'll get a better feel for what's selling and what a publisher will buy. You'll also find out who is publishing which types of books.

3) Finally, by buying the product you are trying to sell, you will improve the book economy all together. Publishers need to see people buying books before they can commit to publishing more.

Many authors begin their careers with the single goal of getting their book published by a reputable publisher. Book publishing is difficult to accomplish. It takes many months of work and extensive preparation. Writing a book involves intricately woven ideas. A book is a project, and it may contain many other projects that involve research, development, and marketing. Most authors are disillusioned about the intensive process of creating a full, coherent book. Writing a book and finding a publisher is like nothing you have ever done before. It will take extensive and intensive work and development. It will also probably include much of everything you know, and more.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Book Development: How To Create Tantalizing Titles And Sensational Content

Years ago when Napoleon Hill's famous manuscript on building wealth was ready for publication, it had no title.

His publisher called and said, "If you don't come up with a title by tomorrow morning, I'm going call it "USE YOUR NOODLE AND MAKE A BOODLE." Distraught, Napoleon Hill began playing with words and throughout the course of the night came up with the classic title, "THINK AND GROW RICH."

Have you read Think and Grow Rich? [If not, you need to head to your local bookstore, or library, and pick up a copy.]

It is one of the most best selling books of all time – probably due to its name.

Hey, it's a great book because of what's inside the book. The contents are incredibly powerful ...but, I'm not sure how many people would have bought it with a title like Use your Noodle and Make a Boodle.

Would you have? Not me.

There are many, many other examples throughout history where books were written and published unsuccessfully... until they changed the title of the book.

In fact, some authors have ONLY changed the title of their books and have become best sellers after their first printing sold just a few copies.

I know it's crazy. I know it's not right. But that's life. I'm sharing this with you so you can work it to YOUR benefit.

I'm not proposing that you can put together horrible content for your book, slap on a great title and make tons of money. Although I've personally seen it done (unfortunately), I am not suggesting you do that.

I'm suggesting that once you've got quality content inside your book, let's get a great title on the outside of your book and add tremendous potential on your road to success.

Ok, so how can you get a great idea for a title?

Simple: start looking at the Best Seller lists at Barnes and Noble or Amazon.com.

When Jason Oman and Mike Litman wanted to publish their book they modeled a popular book called "Conversations with God" and published "Conversations with Millionaires." Their book went to #1 on Amazon.com

Another great place to look for outstanding titles is the tabloids in the checkout isle. Those papers and magazines don't sell millions of copies because they write unique and wonderful content – it's because their titles are just SO compelling you've got to read it.

Now that you know how to brainstorm a book title, here are some tips to help you research content for your book.

Most people know about Google.com as the largest search engine in the world... however, few realize how powerful it is as a research tool.

The key is knowing how to tap into Google's research powers. One of the best ways to find content for your book is by using the search string called "allinurl." (pronounced all-in-u-r-l)

You can go to Google.com and type your keyword phrase in after allinurl: – and search its database for sites that have that keyphrase in their URL, either in the domain name or in a file name.

For example, if I was writing a book about Dog Names I could use something like:

allinurl: dog name articles

allinurl: dog name

allinurl: beagle dog names

You should find some excellent content ideas using this method.

Let's check out the real world examples and take a look at what we would find.

#1) allinurl: dog name articles

• "A Dog Name is Something To Be Chosen Carefully"

• "5 tips for finding the right name"

• "Puppy dog name meanings"

Looks like great content for the book. Simply decide which section (from your outline) would be the appropriate section for it to go in.

HOW can you organize your search findings? Put the name of your idea and the Outline Section at the top of a piece of paper.

In the section below put...

Name/Title: The name and/or title of the content you've found

Link: URL to the content

Expert (Owner): Who wrote the content

Type: Is the content text, audio, video, etc.

If you have 6 sections to your outline, you should have 6 of these sheets with content information – one for each section.

After collecting all the content you want for your book, you have four options.

#1) You can contact the content owner and ask permission to include their content in your book.

The benefit of including other experts' content is that when it comes time to market it you've got ‘built-in' partners to help promote it and you are leveraging other people's credibility as experts in the subject.

#2) You can hire a ghostwriter to write on similar topics to those in your outline.

#3) You could research and write content following the outline yourself.

I've come to realize the power and the effectiveness of using existing content from experts.

Unless you have to have the entire book be your words, I'd suggest mixing in expert content with some of your own content. This might be as simple as finding a public domain book on the subjects you outlined and using some of its content as well.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Blogging Beyond Leaps And Bounds

Blogging is a passion and the same time an opportunity to get places. People who often find themselves searching for identity and purpose would be surprised at how blogging can make a difference for them. Indeed, it is something worth checking and people who love to write about anything should very well check it out.

And now for the one qualifier. Content may be king, but content alone is like a figure-head king who talks a lot but doesn't get anything done. For the monarchy to be effective, you have t actually write good and appropriate content.

The first step to write a marketing blog is to set your goals and know why you blog. What this means is that you have to understand that a blog is not an open invitation to post sales material and self congratulatory tripe. The purpose of your blog should certainly be to inform, but it is also an opportunity to communicate with your clients. Search engines may like blogs because of constantly updated content, but customers have come to trust blogs because they feel like this is a chance to “get to know” the company – not subject themselves to more mindless sales material.

When you are writing content for your blog you need to keep a few things in mind. First of all, a business blog, while not exactly creative writing, is not really technical writing either. Everyone has their own style and, depending on the subject matter of the blog, different styles are appropriate for different industries. But in general, a blog should be written in a more conversational tone. This will help you avoid the marketing-speak that can otherwise creep into a valid article.

Next, make sure that your grammar, punctuation, and spelling skills are regularly exercised. All you have to do is spend some time visiting forums or reading blog replies to know that most Internet users don't have the best grammar or vocabulary in the world. This does not, however, mean that you can allow your blog to slip down to the same level. You are being held to a higher standard as a content publisher than you would be as a normal visitor. And visitors will recognize poor grammar in others, even when they don't practice it themselves.

Now, what do you write about? Obviously a marketing blog is going to be heavy with articles about products or services. This is the perfect place to discuss your new endeavors, as long as you remember to keep it a discussion. People can get advertisements anywhere. They don't need them and, more importantly, they don't want them from your blog.

Ideas are hard to come up with these days because every writer wants to be unique in order to stand out and it seems like someone has already conveyed your idea to a site or several sites. Even if you write about something different, sooner or later someone will copy your work. Also, there are times when you do not feel like writing but you have to produce something at the end of the day.

If you have faced any of these situations, what can you do about it? You can browse online to get ideas. There is nothing wrong with having the same topic as someone else as long as you tackle it on a different angle.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Blogging: A Writer’s Journal

A novel way for a writer to keep prospects and fans in the loop on their progress as a writer is through the use of a web log or ‘Blog’.

“This notion of self-publishing, which is what Blogger and blogging are really about, is the next big wave of human communication. The last big wave was Web activity. Before that one it was e-mail.” – Eric Schmidt

This online tool has allowed many writers to share thoughts, humor, politics, and more with any and all who would visit. Since the Internet is a device of connectivity it also allows for immediate feedback in ways standard publishing cannot offer.

Essentially the web has created a means for someone who has not been discovered to find an audience who is interested in what they have to say.

For some, a blog is intended to be private in that they do not promote the blog for mass consumption, however with the growth of blogging it has become more difficult to ensure your blog will remain essentially a private journal.

As Eric Schmidt pointed out, blogging has become a form of self-publishing. In this case the author becomes the editor and publisher and has total artistic control. The use of Google Adsense can also provide residual income to help pay for any costs associated with your blog.

A blog can be very useful to a writer. It provides an outlet for regular writing, but it also allows people who enjoy your work to take in your regular posts and feel a greater connection to you. Some random blog-thought has been transformed by their owners into long form articles and stories.

“At its best, blogging is all about change. The format suits writers who want to move fast.” – Naomi Darvell

Many blogging sites allow the use of photographs and audio. For instance, if you had a book signing you could use photos from the event in the body of your blog. If you have a recording of a portion of your book that you are authorized to rebroadcast it also can be placed in your blog. Links can be provided to encourage visitors to check out similar blogs by other writing friends – and best of all a blog can assist visitors in finding where they may find other work you’ve produced along with information on how to purchase any available books you may have.

People who enjoy reading blogs will find a circle of blogs that entertain, inspire, and make them think or laugh. Having a blog that is tied into a personal website can go a long way in connecting with those who may already have an appreciation for your work.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Benefits of Journal Writing

The benefits of journal writing are fairly well established due to the long history of journal writing. From Anne Frank to Di Vinci, journal writing has proven itself.

Benefits of Journal Writing

When considering the benefits of journal writing, it is important to set a few parameters. First, there is no age limit to using journals. There are distinct benefits for children of all ages, but journal writing is equally valuable to adults. The reason for this is journal writing is an act of personal reflection. Whether it is a teenager reflecting on the social nightmare of high school or an overworked parent taking twenty minutes a night to write is irrelevant. The point is, all age groups benefit from stepping back from their life for a few moments and reflecting on things.

Whether you recognize it or not, journal writing provides you with an anchor in your daily life. In the journal, you are free to write what you want without restrictions, to truly address the issues in your life without fear of criticism. Put another way, one of the benefits of journal writing is it acts as a self-help psychiatrist, but for MUCH cheaper!

As you write in your journal over time, you’ll also start to ascertain a second benefit to doing so. This benefit is one of self-criticism. Inevitably, you’ll read through past entries and review your life. Doing so will lead you to self-reflection as well as thoughts on how you might act differently should certain situations rise again.

Of equal importance, journal writing has health benefits. Before you click away from this article, consider a time in your life when you were extremely frustrated. Hopefully, you spoke to a friend to “get things off your chest.” Didn’t you feel a lot better afterwards? Getting things off your chest helps relieve stress, one of the biggest killers in our modern society. Journal writing acts in much the same way since you are able to write your thoughts without fear of criticism.

There are other benefits to journal writing, but all boil down to one simple fact. Writing in a journal allows you to express yourself without being judged. With the lack of privacy in our modern, digital world, that is hardly a small benefit.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Benefits Of Creating User Documents In-House

OVERVIEW

For small companies, creating their product's User Documentation in-house, provides benefits to the company, to (idle) staff, and to the product. This article describes the benefits and some downsides of producing User Documents in-house.

THREE OPTIONS

If you have no in-house writing staff you have three options:


1. No User Document for the product. This is NOT a valid option. Every product needs User Documentation. It completes your product package, and enhances the User's experience with your product. Here are two examples of non-existent User Documentation:

* Tomatoes. Most people don't know that before use, tomatoes should not be refrigerated. Refrigerating tomatoes before use will reduce their flavor and nutrition value.

* A Manual Can Opener. This can opener clamps on the can, thus the user does not have to squeeze the handles while operating the can opener. It came with no User Documentation, as "everyone could probably figure out how to use it." This is wrong. After a few uses, the blades become slightly dulled, and the handles are very difficult to clamp and lock.

The simple tip of turning the knob while squeezing the handles makes the can opener easy to use. That tip could form the basis of a User Manual for the product. The manual should include instructions for care of the can opener. The absurd situation is that this clamp feature was the unique aspect of the product; but the feature becomes unusable because of no User Document.

How have you felt about products that came without User Documentation? Were you confused about the product and getting the most from it? User Documentation adds to the value of the product. Let's look at how we can get it created.

2. Use an outside writing service or consultant. Technical writers may be an excellent choice to create your User Documentation. However, there may be downsides to using them.

* When documentation changes have to be made, the company has to re-hire the writer. If the writer were unavailable, then you have to wait or search for a new writer. When the new writer gets hired, a new orientation to the company and the project would have to start. Delays, delays, delays.

* An even more horrible thought is that the outside writer used some fancy piece of software to create the User Document, and you do not own that software. Thus you could not make any changes until you bought and learned that software, or hired an outside writer who uses the same software. (Most technical writers are enamored with a particular piece of esoteric writing software.)

Using the outside writer will force you to batch your documentation changes, making the literature out of date. (How many times have you seen product documentation that does not match the product? This happens because the company was waiting for the next major upgrade to update the User Documentation.)

3. Using idle employees in your company to create the User Documentation. The remainder of this article will focus on this option.

STAFFING BENEFITS

In most organizations, there is some staff down-time. By assigning these staff to create User Documents you benefit from effective use of this down-time, and the employees benefit from experience in a new field.

These staffing benefits include:

* Use staff who may be idle between projects
* Your staff know the company's culture and their fellow staff
* Your staff use existing company-wide writing tools (your word processor)
* No time needed to get oriented with the physical aspects of the job
* You have created a new resource within company

BENEFITS TO YOUR USER DOCUMENTS

If you have in-house writers (even if they are not formally trained as "technical writers") you can just say "Sue, could you or Tom update the document where the sign-in window is presented." Much faster and more flexible then having to go to an outside source. Sue and Tom have ownership of the document, and would work to improve it. They would use software resources available in your organization.

The benefits of in-house writers to your User Documents include:

* You can make corrections as you find the errors.
* You are able to update your User Document when you update your product.
* Better control of timing and resources
* No fear in dealing with the User Document in electronic form. From your word processor or add-ins, you can publish your User Document as a portable data format (.pdf) file, or as HTML for display on the Internet.

DOWNSIDES OF IN-HOUSE WRITING

The primary downsides of in-house User Document creation are the attitude and emotions of your newly-appointed writer. These include:

* Fear ("I don't know how to write")
* Anger ("Why me? This is unfair")
* Uncertainty ("I don't know what to write")
* Isolation ("I've been cast into this writing thing")

You can reduce these negative emotions if you encourage and support your New Writer.

SUPPORT YOUR NEW WRITERS

It is unfair to assign a non-writer to create a User Document without supporting him/her. You have to support your writer with:

* Training;
* Access to the development and marketing teams for product information;
* Use of the development team to evaluate their writing (small chunks);
* Access to the product, industry literature, and marketing materials;
* Style manual;
* Editor -- your writing expert;
* Time to do a good job.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Beginning Your Memoir Despite Family Guilt and Critical Voices

When we first decide to write, we feel good about it—we have memories and stories that form who we are. We want to explore ourselves, to capture times long gone and preserve them in story form. To leave a legacy about our lives. But other voices compete with our writing—“what will people think; you should be ashamed; you will embarrass the family. Don’t air dirty laundry; you know only part of the truth, so be quiet. Your mother will roll over in her grave if she found out you wrote that.”

We all know these voices. They make us throw down the pen, sit back and turn on the TV. We don’t want to lose our family. We don’t want to make them angry. Writing a memoir is an act of courage, even defiance against powerful family dynamics. We need to find a way out.

As a family therapist, I have worked with many families, and because of my background, I’m in a position to help my coaching clients understand the source of their resistance to writing their stories, and the source of the critic voice inside.

When we write memoir, we reclaim our own voice, we stake a claim to our version of the story. Every family has multiple story lines. There is the “official” version, controlled by the most powerful people in the family, usually the parents or those who have the most to lose. The “lesser” points of view—most often held by the children or those lesser in power—are often not believed or accepted as true.

Who decides what version of a story to believe? Who is not listened to? Whose point of view is unwanted? The answers to these questions will be decided by family dynamics and power.

In most families there is a “scapegoat,” or a clown, or the most sensitive. People in these roles may hold a unique, and unpopular, view of the family stories, and those with the most power may try to suppress it.

A memoirist must begin by writing her story in a protected bubble so the story can evolve. Take care of your writing environment, and protect you from forces that will derail your efforts.

1. Figure out the power dynamics in your family. If the critic voice stops you, write down what it says. Try to find the original source of those voices in your background.

2. Begin with an image—a photograph is often a good prompt. Write in your own natural voice.

3. If the voices say: “I don’t know how to write; my family will hate me; how do I know I am writing the truth.” don’t stop. Write anyway. Your critic/family protector will try to silence you. If you were silenced when you were growing up, you will need to work through it now.

4. DO NOT hit the delete button when you feel critical after writing. DO protect your writing from curious family or friend invaders. Treat your work like a young plant that needs protection.

5. Find supportive people to write with. Write in caf├ęs, in writing groups where you feel support or at least no attack.

6. Remember: if you’ve been abused, neglected, forgotten, or silenced, you likely learned not to value your own point of view. Writing your own story can change that. Keep “telling it like it is.”

7. Write for five minutes. Another 15 minutes. Stretch your ability to stick with a story. When you feel like stopping, write for five minutes more. We are tempted to stop as we get close to the core emotion of a story.