Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, November 17-19, 2012

Ran out of minutes yesterday to get my usual Monday post out, so here it is, just a little late. Lots of business stuff in this edition, but first…

CRAFT

KM Weiland (@KMWeiland) has been doing a series of posts on what she learned while writing her latest book, Dreamlander. Why Non-Writers Give the Best Critiques is worth passing along. Her point is that while other writers can give good critiques (although they don’t always), they (we) tend to get caught up in the technicalities and techniques of writing, while non-writer beta readers can, if they have the right turn of mind, tell you what’s working and what isn’t. Even better, Katie provides tips for how to choose non-writer beta readers, something I haven’t seen discussed elsewhere.

THE WRITING LIFE

Jan O’Hara (@janohara) continues her Stop Feeling Like an Author Wishbone series on Writer Unboxed by drawing on her medical background to advise you to First Do No Harm. What she’s describing in the long post is the process of deciding what you’re going to do in the way of marketing your book. “Harm” in this case isn’t necessarily physical but it is very personal: it happens when what you’re trying to do is out of sync with your personal goals, values, perhaps finances, etc. So, doing no harm means listening selectively to the “experts” and only doing those things that make sense for you. Wise advice, I think.

BUSINESS

And that provides the nice transition into the business-related posts. We’ll start with Gabriela Pereira’s (@DIYMFA) Four Steps to a Winning Query. This material comes from a series of query letter “bootcamps” Gabriela attended at the Backspace Agent-Author Seminar recently. After a few dos and don’ts, Gabriela gets down to the details of the four components, as propounded by Jason Allen Ashlock, the President of the Movable Type Management agency: “the hook, the book, the look, and the cook.” “The hook” should be obvious; “the book” is the one-paragraph pitch. “The look” is the title, genre, length, and the comparable books, if any. “The cook” is you.

Rachelle Gardner (@RachelleGardner) discusses a too-often-asked question, Can I Make More Money via Traditional or Self-Pub? Rachelle’s too nice to just come out and say this is a dumb question. Instead she politely says it’s too hard to estimate with any confidence what might happen. There are a lot of factors to consider, many of which are out of the writer’s control. (Note: this post is also a plug for Rachelle’s upcoming e-book on how to decide which path to follow, self- or traditional publishing.)

Why do people ask such questions? Well, because of authors like CJ Lyons, who has sold over a million self-published copies. Mark McGuinness (@markmcguinness) tells the story on CopyBlogger of How an Enterprising Author Sold a Million Self-Published Books. McGuinness discusses the seven things Lyons did (he calls her an “entreproducer” and “author-entrepreneur”) to reach this level of success. The thumbnail summary is that she wrote lots of books and did a lot of work (smart work) to market them. (But see the “do no harm” post above—does this amount of work make sense for you? Can you do that much work for that much work and retain your core self? You need to ask and honestly answer those questions.)

Since we’re on the topic of money, Nathan Bransford (@NathanBransford) offers a quick and clear summary of Separate vs. Joint Accounting when it comes to royalties. This has to do with multi-book deals and whether one or more books have to “earn out” (cover their advance(s)) before the publisher starts paying additional royalties.

I know this section has kind of bounced around, so let’s close with Some Perspective on 2012 from Dean Wesley Smith (@DeanWesleySmith). There’s been an awful lot of heavy breathing this year over the changes the publishing industry has been going through so it’s natural to think this year has been one of extraordinary turmoil and upheaval. Not so, Smith says. In fact, he calls this year’s changes “pretty minor and predictable and normal.” Surprised? Check out his explanations. Smith also discusses what he calls “impact events” that might happen in the near future and what might happen if they do. Or not. This is a long post, but a sane and rational one and worth your time.

Have you found anything interesting, stimulating, or exciting about the world of writing and publishing? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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