Friday, March 29, 2013

Co-Authors? How Successful Are Partnerships on Books--and What Are the Pitfalls to Watch Out For?

When my first book was contracted by a publisher, I was assigned an editor who also wrote for Men's Health magazine.  This editor, being a writer too, knew how scary it was to have a first book.  I knew very little about how to structure a book; my editor showed me the ropes.

Not long after that book got published, I got a call from the same editor.  Would I like to partner up with him on authoring another book? 

We proposed a topic that we were both passionate about.  An agent got interested and we signed a contract. 

The agreement for our co-author partnership was very like our author-editor relationship for my first book.  I would provide the "talent" or the content.  My co-author would help me shape it.  It was a journey we'd travel together--one of us deciding where to go, the other deciding how.

Friday, March 22, 2013

All about Publishing Excerpts from Your Book to Build a Platform: An Interview with Memoirist Mary Collins

I met Mary Collins in a workshop I taught at Grub Street writing school in Boston a few years ago.  Her writing--and her enthusiasm--stayed with me.  I was fortunate to have Mary join me again in an online class later that year and a weeklong retreat on Madeline Island in the summer.   

I watched her memoir take shape, change, and reform.  She is writing about her growing-up years in England, and her brother's untimely death.

Recently, Mary was honored by the illustrious Brevity  magazine when "Leap," an excerpt from her manuscript won second-place and was published by Brevity.  You can read it here.  
I knew Mary was keenly interested in getting her work out there, to build name recognition and a platform before her memoir is finished.  
Here's an interview with Mary, explaining her unique way of approaching memoir and how she won the Brevity contest.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Five Common Obstacles to Finishing and Publishing Your Book

Choosing vulnerability in your writing. Always being open to learning more.  Embracing the support of a writing community.  Being willing for writing to be a priority.  Knowing how to break a project into steps to keep from being overwhelmed.

Sounds like a magic formula?  It is.  But more, it's a toolbox of skills and choices that professional, published writers use to get a book project finished. 
They're not the same skills as writing great dialogue or crafting a strong plot.  But without them, there's little hope that your book will be published today.

Obstacles to these skills are below.  Read on.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Most Amazing Guide to Self-Publishing: A.P.E. (Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur)

Most writers know at least one self-publishing success story.  A famous one, almost an urban legend by now, is the story of Amanda Hocking, of Minnesota.  She needed a couple hundred dollars one day, so she decided to self-published her paranormal romance.  In twenty months, she sold 1.5 million copies of her e-book and made $2.5 million.  Not only that, but she signed a huge deal with St Martin's Press. 

Self-publishing used to be called "vanity press," because only the vain would consider it.  Now it's earning more and more respect from both authors and publishers.  Agents regularly scout the self-published books on to find new authors who are making it big there.

My indie-released songwriter friends never understood why writers are so hung up about self-publishing.  Musicians have long separated from the labels and ventured out on their own, releasing their own CDs and working with indie distributors like cdbaby.
But we writers have been told that unless we get an agent and go the traditional route, we'll never be taken seriously in our writing careers.

Now, everything has changed--and we'll never go back, I believe.

This allows writers much more freedom and many more options.  It's all good news for us.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Lesson from Argo: Why Storyboards Are Great Tools for Building Great Books-- And How You Can Make Yours Unique

I recently watched the movie Argo, which was just released on DVD.  Movies like these I prefer seeing at home, so I can study their structure.  This one was amazing.  As most people know, it's about a classified mission that took place during the Iran hostage crisis, where six Americans were secreted out of Iran on the pretense that they were part of a film crew scouting locations.
At one point in the movie--and I won't give any more away, in case you haven't seen it--there's a great episode with storyboards.  In Argo, these are half-sheet sized poster board, with drawn-in scenes.  Each shows a different pivotal moment in the movie, what the outer story (action) is, where it takes place, and who is acting in the scene.

Put together, these boards give us the "essence" of the movie's high spots.  Which is exactly what a storyboard is designed to do. 

And these small boards, surprisingly, help win the happy ending for Argo.

 In my classes, I propose they will do the same for any book.