Monday, October 14, 2013

Writing Basics: Writing for Publication

Writing For Publication - Cheryl St.John

Authors often hear comments like, “I have a book I want to write too,” or “Let me tell you about my life.” Some people have the impression that it’s ridiculously easy to write, sell and publish a book. Writing a book is hard work and getting it published the traditional way is no guarantee.  A lot of writers have several books under their belt before they’ve learned to write well. A lot of good writers are still waiting for a break.

Some people think their book deserves to get published because they had a wonderful idea or because their mother loves it.  Or because they spent a whole two months working on it.  I’ve actually had people say to me, “I’ve always wanted to write a book, so I’m going to do it when I get a few free weekends.”  That’s like saying, “I’ve always wanted to play pro football, so I’m going to scrimmage with Tim Tebow on my next summer vacation.”

Writing is an art.  Art takes training, sacrifice and dedication.  Of course writing involves talent, but much of writing is learnable, and the learnable parts require study and self-evaluation.  To write well and sell in today’s tough market, you must learn the craft.

There are a million books out there to help you learn to write, so how do you choose?  The books that writers find valuable are as varied as the writers themselves.  I started at the library and read everything my local branch had on fiction writing, then I expanded to monthly periodicals and purchasing how-to books.  See the list at the bottom of this blog.

If writing is going to be more than a hobby, you need to learn the business—and it’s an ever changing and evolving marketplace.  If you want your work published, you must commit to both the craft and to learning about publishing.

First you need to figure out what genre you’re writing in.  Genre is a marketing tool used to distinguish types of stories.  Go to a bookstore and compare which books are the most like yours to figure out where your books will be shelved.  There’s so much to learn.  How do you get help deciphering all this stuff? 

Find a national support organization for your genre.  Browse their websites.  There are national groups such as Science Fiction Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America, Western Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, Sisters in Crime.   You might find a local statewide writers' organization. 

You are not looking for a writing group.  You are looking for an organization designed for advocacy and information.  Most have membership fees on national or local levels, and you must consider this an investment in your career.  Dues are tax deductible.  Membership provides you with market updates, editor and agent information, submission guidelines, online mailing lists, conference information, writers groups and critique groups, just to name a few benefits.

I wouldn’t have been published when I was if I hadn’t found Romance Authors of the Heartland and learned the techniques of writing with the support and encouragement of fellow writers.

More reasons to join a local chapter:
Market updates
Local writing retreats
Monthly support meetings
Critique groups
Online support and brainstorming
Teaching programs by professional writers
Research help and tips
Yearly goal setting program
Conference information
Editor and agent tips
Submission guidelines
Recognition for writing achievements
Meeting other people who have as many characters in their heads as you and therefore don’t find you a bit odd

How To Books:

* Techniques of The Selling Writer, Dwight V. Swain
   University of Oklahoma Press: Norman   ISBN # 0-8061-1191-7
* Writing the Breakout Novel, Donald Maass, Writer’s Digest, ISBN # 0-89879-995-3
* The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes & Heroines, Tami Cowden, ISBN #1-58065-024-4
* GMC, Debra Dixon, ISBN # 978-0965437103
* Writing Active Setting, Mary Buckham ASIN: B009MRLXQW
* Building Believable Characters, Marc McCutcheon, Writer’s Digest ISBN # 0-89879-683-0
* Creating Characters, How To Build Story People, Dwight V. Swain, Writer’s Digest
   ISBN #0-89879-417-X

Books on the Basics:

* Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary
* Random House Dictionary of the English Language, unabridged edition
* Roget’s International Thesaurus


* Writing on Both Sides of the Brain, Henriette Anne Klauser, ISBN # 0-06-254490-X
* Thinking Write, The Secret to Freeing Your Creative Mind, Kelly L. Stone  
   ISBN# 1605501328
* On Writing, Stephen King, ISBN #064853523

Writing With Emotion, Tension, and Conflict: 
Techniques for Crafting an Expressive and Compelling Novel

Today's highly competitive fiction market requires writers to imbue their novels with that special something - an element that captures readers' hearts and minds. In Writing With Emotion, Tension & Conflict, writers will learn vital techniques for writing emotion into their characters, plots and dialogue in order to instill that special something into every page.

"...essential knowledge and practical exercises which combined, create a tool-kit that no aspiring author can afford to be without. Everything you need to write your novel can be found in these pages."
    - Kelly L. Stone, author of THINKING WRITE: The Secret to Freeing Your Creative Mind

Wow! Where was this book when I started my writing career?

"A must-have compilation of rock-sound advice from a writer who knows what she's talking about. A book you'll want to inhale whole and then return to time and time again to improve your craft and go deeper in order to write YOUR story. Not only does this book embrace some of the most complex elements of story construction in a clear, easy to digest format, it acts as inspiration for the writer. Sentence upon sentence of outstanding advice!"

- Mary Buckham, author of the Amazon best-selling WRITING ACTIVE SETTINGS series for writers.


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