Things I Wish I Knew Before I Published: Part III

Being an independent author-publisher isn’t for everyone. I chose that path, but my path is mine. You must choose your own path. If you are weighing your options, this “Things I Wish I Knew Before I Published” series may help. Part I and Part II discuss big picture issues to consider. This is part III, the last post in this series.

Photo taken looking down at a manual typewriter with a man's hands at the keys, hope he's read the things I wish I knew before I published so he's prepared.

The full version of this post is on Writers in the Storm.

If you are not a writer and want to read something else, may I suggest you prepare for my late spring launch of If I Should Die by reading or rereading the sneak peek or character reveals.

Things I Wish I Knew About Rules 

The advice you can find about the “rules” of writing and publishing goes from one extreme to another. Some say there are no rules. Others give you a list of rules. 

Image is a view of a circular maze from slightly above it and far enough you can see the opposite edge. A female figure peers in the entrance. The rules of writing and publishing can appear to be a circular maze like this, and are one of the things I wish I knew before I published.

Traditional Publishing

When you consider traditional publishing, remember that these big publishers are corporations and they have both public and more private rules. They call their public rules “submission guidelines.” Often those guidelines are about how to format your manuscript. 

The harder to find or see rules are those common to corporations. Certain departments handle certain things. One publisher may tolerate stories that include guns or sex scenes. The next one won’t. Often these corporations do not share internal policies such as risk tolerance or political leanings or their alignment with causes you care about. 

Even the editors you submit to have rules. They don’t call them rules, yet they have certain expectations. They expect stories to be entertaining, to progress from beginning to middle to the end. Each editor has genre expectations and life events that influence their interpretation of your story. Some editors are flexible and open to having their expectations exploded by a skillful author. Others will not be.

What can you do? Know what’s important to you. Research the publishers and editor you’d like to publish your work. Ask questions of authors, agents, editors, and librarians. Can’t do it in person? Try social media.

Don’t be so eager to be published that you sign your first contract without knowing what it means to your book and to your values. Decide which issues are a no-deal for you in advance.

Rules in Independent Publishing

You may get the impression that there are no rules in independent publishing. You’d be wrong. 

Read the full blog post on Writers in the Storm.

While there are rules for just about anything in life, there are no rules about whether or not you like a blog post here.

What would you like to know about independent publishing or writing?

Image Credits

Top photo by Vlad Deep on Unsplash

Second image by Arek Socha from Pixabay 

Good News During My Most Difficult Year

This year has been beyond difficult. But once in a while something wonderful comes along. I am supremely happy to share that a dear friend recommended me to the Writers in the Storm (WITS) team. And they invited me to join them! So there is good news during my most difficult year.

image of a dark tunnel that ends with the sun rising and a silhouette of a bare tree with the words Good News During my Most Difficult Year printed across the top.

It is my honor and pleasure to let you know that my first WITS blog post is on that site today! I’ve shared a portion of it here, but if you’re interested in learning more, please go to the Writers in the Storm blog (link at the end of the excerpt).

If you’re unfamiliar with the WITS blog, it is a blog created in 2010 by a group of seasoned writers. Its focus is on writing craft and inspiration. And has been in the Writer’s Digest list of top 101 blogs for writers many times. Want to know more? Visit their about page.

Turn Your Weaknesses Into Strengths

Clothespin holding white paper note several clothespins wooden floor. Text on white paper reads Turn Your Weaknesses Into Strengths.

There are writers whose characters jump off the page to live in your head. Lyrical writers can make music on the page that goes straight to your heart. And writers of intricate plots with twists and turns that thrill and delight. Every writer, no matter their experience, has strong skills in at least one area. Every writer also has skills that are weaker. It’s up to you to discover your writing strengths and weaknesses so you can develop more powerful writing.

Why

Your strengths are those things that take less energy to do and do well. You can use your strengths to seek opportunities and work more efficiently.

It’s scary to admit you have areas where your writing is weak. Often we think weak is bad. It’s a problem when we focus so much on our weaknesses that it disempowers us. If we focus on our weakness, we lose self-confidence and enthusiasm. As a result, our performance goes down, which reinforces our negative feelings.

Weak doesn’t mean bad. It simply means that skill takes more of your energy and focus to use. That part of writing is not a thing that will help you stand out from the crowd.

Don’t try to “fix” your weaknesses, but don’t ignore them either. Improving your weakest skills will improve your work overall. Improving your strengths will make your work shine. But before you can improve, you must discover your writing strengths and weaknesses. Unfortunately, you may not be the best judge of your own skills.

To read more of this post go to Writers in the Storm.

Thank you

puppy dog holds Thank You note

Don’t worry, I’m not going away. But I hope from time-to-time, I will post another excerpt and a link to the Writers in the Storm.

This is an exciting development for me. One that you, my readers, are partially responsible for. You’ve helped me grow as a blogger and a writer. (Are they separate? Kind of, but not really.) And if you take a link from here to my WITS blog post, you get an extra big heaping of thank you!