No one really knows about the future of the current traditional publishing world.
That said, some of you still might want to be a part of this world, so I will give some tips on how you can use it to serve you.
Newspapers and Magazines
You come up with an idea that fits the publication’s template. Then you send to the editor a query, or sales, letter about the idea. If he likes it, he assigns you to write it and you do. You submit it and the publication pays you.
Start locally, then go regional, then national and international.
At the end of your handout I give a link to a sample query letter that you can use as a model.
Know the publication you’re querying, so be sure to read it regularly.
Those of you with a message can use newspapers and magazines to help spread word of what you’re doing.
Books and eBooks
If you write fiction or memoir, or inspirational books, you may want to find a traditional publisher to publish and distribute your book.
There are basically two ways to handle this. First, read books similar to yours and look at the acknowledgements to find the name of the agent who sold the book.
Then research that agent on Agent Query or PublishersMarketplace to find out her submission guidelines. Follow her guidelines to pitch your project. Again, use the link at end of the handout to learn how to write a query letter.
Your second option is to approach a smaller publisher, maybe a regional one. Go to their website, find out their submission guidelines and submit directly to them. The query letter would likely be very similar to the agent one.
The advantage of finding a publisher is you may get an advance on sale, so you might earn money. Also, the publisher will handle much of the publicity and distribution, which are indie publishers’ biggest challenges.
The downside of traditional book publishing is that it is a fairly closed world, and you can spend years trying to gain entry to it.
If you write genre fiction, such as romance, science fiction or fantasy, the doors to finding an eBook publisher are a little more open.
Harlequin and other “commodity publishers,” those who publish books for volume sales, have developed eBook departments. You pitch them in the same way as a regular publisher and they publish your book in eBook form, often paying royalties. You could use the same type of query letter to contact them.
Traditional radio can be a good tool to help develop your audience and send your message out to the world. This involves booking yourself on talk-radio shows.
Check out the Radio TV Interview Report. Be aware that the radio world tends to be conservative and practical. So you will want to evaluate this medium carefully.
Here is the link to the RTIR, in case you are interested in pursuing this: RTIR
Another option worth checking out is http://americanhoperadio.com
Television has a similar sensibility—much of what is presented is not very deep. But if a part of your message appeals to a mass audience, I encourage you to contact the producer at a local station and see if she will book you for a morning or news show.
Once you have that experience and have a tape of it, then you may want to approach a network show such as The View or The Montel Williams Show.
You want to know the show you’re targeting and brush up on the fundamentals of presenting yourself on TV.
The Divine’s Hands and Mouth
Putting your work out to the world is an important part of being a writer. We truly are the Divine’s hands and mouth. When I view publishing this way it removes the ego and makes it a fun experience. Try different mediums and see what appeals to you.
The Final Draft
Fine-Tune Your Writing
In the first class you experienced free-writing a first draft. Then for weeks we worked on building your piece in the second draft. Now we are at the final draft stage, when you fine-tune.
Here you look at
- Words, and use
- Additional Tools
If you are writing for print or eBook, paragraphs should generally be full and complete. If you encounter a very short one—just a few sentences—check to see if it can be expanded into a fuller thought.
The traditional paragraph has a:
- Beginning – introductory idea
- Middle – support for the idea
- End – concluding idea or transition to the next paragraph
However, blogging calls for other rules. Because of the fast pace of online reading, it is better to use many short paragraphs, each with a single main idea, but generally with less detailed support. Your message has to be fast and easy to take in.
These are general rules. The nature of your writing will determine the paragraphs’ nature.
The best sentences are clear and reflect mood and meaning.
Choose simple over complex. When all else fails, choose noun then verb.
- In Jamie’s fear, she realized she couldn’t run the rapid.
- Rewrite: Jamie’s fear prevented her from running the rapid.
Vary the types of sentences you write.
- I got out of bed in the middle of the night. I went to my computer. I opened my Facebook page.
- Rewrite: In the middle of the night, I got out of bed and went to my computer. I opened my Facebook page.
The best writing conveys the most and deepest meaning with the fewest possible words.
So when you fine-tune, look for places where you use too many words. Your job is to simplify, to remove any dross, any phrases that cloud your message.
Be direct. Watch for words that add confusion.
- I generally like what he said, but kind of disagree because his point is basically wrong.
- Rewrite: I like what he said, but disagree because his case lacks evidence.
As a first step in reducing wordiness, identify instances of “this is,” “there are,” and “it is” at the beginning of your sentences, and ask yourself whether you can eliminate them.
- There are a number of ways to improve your sentences, such as eliminating clichés and wordiness.
- Rewrite: To improve your sentences eliminate clichés and wordiness.
Prepositions can signal weakness
Watch for “of” and “on”
- “He had an influence on my development.”
- Rewrite: “He influenced my development.”
- “You waste the time of your readers.”
- Rewrite: “You waste your readers’ time.”
Passive Voice (Using helping verbs)
In most instances, use direct, active verbs, rather than “to be” verbs.
- Jamie was courted by Cole.
- Rewrite: Cole courted Jamie.
Eliminate repetitious words. Sometimes you have to rephrase and then find new ones.
- Word repetition slows down action. The repetition lulls the reader to sleep.
- Rewrite: Word repetition slows down action. The echo lulls the reader to sleep.
Clichés are phrases that have become meaningless through overuse.
- A kind soul
- A pain in the neck
- Back against the wall
- Easy as pie
Also beware of trying to RELY on metaphors, rather than doing the heavy lifting of specific, sensory writing.
Spelling, Punctuation, Grammar
Don’t feel as though you should know grammar completely. Instead consider your relationship with it an ongoing exploration.
If you have any questionable spots, stop and look them up online. A good resource is GrammarBook.com.
You can easily Google the question you have and find a few good explanations. This is what I do.
Most Common Errors
- your and you’re
- it and it’s
- there and their
- affect and effect
Semicolons & Dashes
If you want to use semicolons, study up on them. One could live a happy life without ever using one.
Dashes – know the difference between an em-dash and an en-dash and how to make them on your keyboard
Em-dash – is used for an interruption in a sentence, like parenthesis but softer. —
- You are the friend—the only friend—who offered help.
En-dash – is a little longer than a hyphen. It is used for periods of time when you might otherwise use “to.” –
- The years 2001–2003
Some Handy Tools
- Headings – Can help guide your reader through time shifts or other complexities, and can also help draw your reader into the whole piece, so always make them interesting and inviting.
- Photo Captions – People read these most.
- Quotes – A great way to draw the reader in and add credibility to your point.
- Colored text – This is a way for readers to peruse and receive your message without reading the whole post. Color the most critical sentences.
Finally, fine-tune for inspiration. Beware of telling too much in a kind of, “The moral of the story is…” way. The story itself should deliver the inspiration.
Often at this stage I delete the “moral” and let the story itself do the work.
Read through your essay sentence-by-sentence from the end. This will slow you down so you can SEE clunky sentences, grammatical errors, clichés and repetitious words.
- Go through your piece and check the paragraphs, sentences and words. Also look for repetition and clichés. Change them. It helps to read aloud.
- Do a backwards edit to catch anything else you may have missed.
- If you are interested in traditional publishing take a look at the link below. It explains how to write a query letter and offers some effective examples. Try writing one yourself, either for the piece you just wrote or for a larger project you are working on. Narrowing a project down to a short “pitch” can help you define the piece’s direction. The same template can be used to write an article query: Agent Query
Creativity: Trust Your Flashes
- Rather than THINK about your project, let it percolate and see what “flashes” come in.
- Let the flash sit for a few days or weeks to see if it sticks.
- Take a step and see how it feels.
- If it feels right, continue.
- If not, be willing to change course.
An important part of your platform
- If you would like to, please write a short paragraph recommending the course.
- Be as specific as possible about how it might help the reader.
- Supply a photo of yourself.
- Or, use your computer to do a video testimonial.
Write Your Way to Freedom Coaching
The Write Your Way to Freedom course showed you a broad landscape of possibilities. Now it is time for you to see what aligns best with your purpose and put that into action. At some point you may want to go deeper into some of these areas. That’s what Write Your Way to Freedom Coaching does. During a one-hour phone session I will help you
- Maximize your social media presence
- Better implement sensory details and action verbs in your writing
- Sharpen your storytelling tools by working with a story arc
- Create a one-pointed website with a valuable gift to build an email list
- Offer teleseminars and webinars
- Own your identity as the creator of your work life
What you seek is seeking you.—Rumi