I Am the Very Model of an Unknown Author Immemorial

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I’m very bad at marketing and anything promotional
Even though with books I’m always quote devotional
In short, in matters authorial and even editorial
I am the very model of an unknown author immemorial
(And in this case, a bit of a plagiarist and an awful lyricist)

I know I do plenty right when it comes to my writing. If I thought differently, I probably would have given up a long time ago. But I know I do plenty wrong as well. How do I know that? Because I’ve written two-and-a-half books of writing, editing, publishing and marketing advice and often it’s a case of “do as I say, not as I do” because at least fifty percent of the time, I don’t – and sometimes just can’t bring myself to – follow my own advice. Which undoubtedly has something (probably a lot) to do with why I remain an unknown author (since time immemorial).

Here’s a (hardly comprehensive) list of things I do wrong. Continue reading

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How to Proofread Like a Professional

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You’ve written, you’ve rewritten, you’ve had your manuscript assessed, you’ve rewritten again (and possibly again), you’ve had it edited and it’s finally time for your book to be published. If you’ve already paid a manuscript assessor and editor and you can afford a proofreader as well, then go ahead and do it. A professional will always be able to do a better job than you. But if you’re looking for a way to save a few bucks and you’re confident you have the skills to take on the final stages yourself, then here’s how to proofread like a professional. Continue reading

Should You Set New Year’s Writing Resolutions?

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Knowing that this blog post would be published just before New Year’s, I thought to myself, I should write a New Year’s themed blog post (just like the Christmas-themed blog post that was published last week just before Christmas). I’ve written about new year’s writing resolutions before, setting four goals at the start of 2016 (that I pretended weren’t goals to relieve a little bit of the pressure on myself) and writing at the end of 2016 about how successful I’d been (about 50/50 – I achieved some of them, failed entirely at others and achieved things during the year that I’d never even thought about when I was setting those goals).

I wasn’t sure I wanted to set goals again. Setting goals and then failing is demoralising. And I always fail at goals, especially ones that have definitive and relatively short deadlines. More often than not, I accomplish them but long after any arbitrary time frames I’ve set. That sums me up really. I’m easygoing. I’m laidback. I’m not ambitious. I’m happy to succeed over years rather than months and pressure to do it sooner doesn’t make it happen. In fact, it makes it less likely to happen.

So then I asked myself, Should I be setting New Year’s writing resolutions? Should I be setting goals at all? Continue reading

Why is “Self-Publishing” Still a Dirty (Hyphenated) Word?

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Earlier this year, one of my sisters dragged me along to a game show audition. After filling out a four-page questionnaire that asked such insightful questions as “What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you?”, “Have you ever been caught out in a lie?” and “Do you have an unusual bucket list item?” (presumably so that they could be discussed and laughed at on national television) as well as what we did for a living, we were then grilled by a producer.

“You’re a writer?” he asked me.

“Yes,” I answered.

“What do you write?”

“Books – novels and how-to guides on writing novels.” I could have given him my entire writing résumé – articles, websites, marketing collateral, corporate tenders, ghost-writing, short stories, song lyrics, poems – but I was trying to keep it brief.

“And you’ve published three books?”

“So far.”

“Who with?”

“I’m self-published,” I said.

“Oh,” he replied with a disapproving tone in his voice. “So you just sell to friends and family?” Continue reading

Same Same but Different: Ebooks and Pbooks

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Now that the self-publishing of ebooks (electronic books) and pbooks (physical books) is so easy, many writers choose to distribute both instead of just focusing on one. There are similarities in the preparation processes for both but there are also differences. Knowing them in advance instead of discovering them along the way can help minimise the time it takes to achieve publication. Continue reading

The Five Stages of Writing

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When we first start writing, thinking we might like to have a crack at the caper, we have all the tools we need. A basic knowledge of the language in which we want to write. A computer and a new Word document. Or a piece of paper and a pen. After all, writing is pretty simple, right?

In writing’s defence, it is pretty easy. As long as all you want to do is tinker. As long as you don’t care about ever being read or published. However, if you do, you might be interested to know it’s actually a very long process that can be broken into five stages.

And the hardest stage of writing is always whatever stage you’re at. Continue reading

Deciding Who or What Makes a Writer: Is It a Worthwhile Use of Our Writing Time?

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Recently in a writing forum, a poster asked the question, “Can saying ‘I’m a writer’ make you a writer? If so, is this a positive or negative trend in the context of preserving the art and craft of writing?” One witty response was, “Can saying ‘I’m a doctor’ make you a doctor?”

Of course, the answer is no. Just asserting the truth of something doesn’t make it true. In almost everything in life, it is our actions that prove who and what we are. Writers write, doctors study for a long time and then use that knowledge to help people get better. Even love, which is difficult to prove in the abstract, is almost always demonstrated in the small, everyday, practical tasks people in love undertake for each other.

So what are the small, everyday, practical tasks writers undertake that make them writers? Continue reading