Archive for February 2008

Where, oh where does it go?

February 27, 2008

GREAT! Someone has shown interest in what you wrote, and you’ve finally gotten something other then a rejection letter. (Note – I say “something other then a rejection letter” NOT an acceptance letter. There is still a lot of work left to be done before you get an “acceptance” letter.)

First you and your editor will probably send a flurry of emails back and forth; you’ll re-write and re-write your article or book piece by piece. Finally, you’ll get the actual acceptance letter – your editor will say ‘this is it’ and you will be done.

But what happens next? You sit back and you wait … and you wait … and it may seem like it’s taking forever,  but you’re piece of writing is going through a long process.

After a piece is excepted, it will go through several levels of editing. You will likely be involved in the general content editing – anything from moving around paragraphs to cutting out chapters (or adding them). Then your manuscript will go to copy-editing where someone will look at every comma or period. Next, it goes to a proof reader, who makes sure that all the copy edits have been input correctly and checks it over one last time.

While these things are going on the design department is busy. They are coming up with a ‘look’ for your piece. For books, this means a cover; for magazine articles this means a page layout. If the piece is a book, the marketing department is also considering the best way to get your project ‘out there;’ they are working on a marketing strategy. The sales team is reading a copy and getting briefed so they can start selling the book to stores.

Once design is done and everything is edited, you will likely receive a final ‘proof’ this is your chance to check it over. Big changes at this point will mean big delays, so try and keep alterations to a minimum. In a magazine environment, the page will pass through a many many hands and everyone will initial. The idea in publishing is that the more eyes that look at something, the smaller the chance of a mistake going into print.

Finally, after what may seem like forever, you piece appears in print. You, my friend, can now say you are a published author.  (Please realize this is a general overview; I didn’t get into the nitty-gritty. If you would like more details on what happens to your manuscript check out Book Production Procedures by Fred Dahl.)

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I thought I’d done the hard part – I wrote it, now what?

February 26, 2008

Many writers spend hours working on a piece – be it a book or an article – but you don’t know what to do with it once it’s done. The process is a little different, of course, with books and articles, but the process is similar enough to give a general over view.

Okay – so you’ve finished your masterpiece (or you have an idea for one). Now you need to figure out how you’re going to get it into print. In the case of a article, the best way is to ‘query’ a potential magazine or newspaper that publishes things like yours. When I said ‘like yours’ you want to analyze similarity based on not only topic, but also length and type – for example if you have a 800 word piece that profiles a cusine expert, you want to make sure that the publication you’re targeting accepts 800 word profiles.

If you’re writing a book, generally you want to draft a book proposal; if you have an agent, they will help you with this. If not, it is a general idea of what your book is about and why the publisher should publish it. Like with an article, you want to make sure that the publishing companies you’re targeting are appropriate. Don’t send a fantasy novel to Columbia University Press! (They don’t do profile books either). Review the companies websites carefully.

An easy way to find appropriate venues that might publish you is to look through Writer’s Market. They list publishing companies and magazines with descriptions of what they publish, who to contact, and an idea how much they pay.

Once you send in you’re piece, be patient. If you don’t hear back right away, chances are your editor is swamped and might not have even looked at the piece yet. They can’t decide it’s amazing until after they look at it, after all.

Just a point to remember (I’m stealing this from a writing book, though from memory and I can’t re which one): Editors WANT to publish you. They want your idea to be amazing when they open it, so that they can be the one to say “look what I found.” They want to discover the next great writer – so give it to them!

Independent Study Update

February 24, 2008

So I sent out my queries like a good little child for my web novel article. Right now it is being considered by the Dabbling Mum. They expressed interest in the article and I’ve submitted it.

I conducted the first of several interviews for my next article on Pet Lifestyles. The article is slowly coming more and more into focus. My original idea, for how our lifestyles affect our pets was nixed. Here’s why – i was reading Renegade Writer and she mentioned having done an article on that exact subject. Opps. At least I know I’m on the right track! I interviewed Dr. Evans DVM, and I sent out an email interview to another woman who has a site on alternative pet health. The goal is to have a finished rough draft by the end of the week.

My next piece is going to be a profile piece on my aunt : she makes wedding cakes as a hobby! So that’ll require a visit… but I haven’t seen her in a while so I’m looking forward to it.

Check me out –

February 8, 2008

I recently wrote a guest post for Lindsey Pollak’s career blog – be sure to check it out here!

I’m doing an independent study this semester that is based on the idea of becoming a part time writer. As such, I am writing articles and submitting queries to magazines and ezines. I recently finished an article on Webnovels, what they are and the pros and cons of having one. I am going to start sending out queries – I’ll be sure to keep you all updated.

My next article is going to be on pets.  I’ll let you know when I’ve selected one of the specific ideas I came up with.

I’m also going to make a point in the next week to post on several books I’ve found particularly helpful on starting my ‘freelance career.’

A Writer’s Walmart

February 8, 2008

A friend of mine who works for a major book publisher recently said something very interesting to me. We were talking about independent publishers and sites like Pages Unbound and he said that publishing companies are a Walmart for writers. They are one stop shopping.

You spend your currency – your idea or manuscrip – and in return you get an editor, a designer, a producer, a production manager, a marketing director, someone to sell your book to bookstores, to take care of shipping, warehouses, etc.

The disadvantage of self-publishing is that the author has to do all these things themselves.

That, of course, is the advantage of e-publishing. It cuts out several ‘steps’ along the way. They cut out manufacturing, shipping, storing – the majority of the work of actually producing a physical work. This makes it much easier for an author to self-publish electronically.

As one of the speakers in our Book production and Design class said, you have to consider: A book that is 99.99% accurate allows for 3-4 mistakes per page; there are several thousand characters on every page. Many publishers manage to make far fewer mistakes then that. This is because every document gets checked and rechecked by multiple pairs of eyes.

When you consider that, you can begin to truly appreciate the work for an author who wants to self-publish. Especially since they don’t have the expertise in all the necessary areas. Most self-publishers are doing so for the first time – they need to learn and establish marketing bases, self-edit and do their own design work. It is a monumental task.

Is the Inverted News Story “old news?”

February 8, 2008

Critics says the inverted pyramid news story is “old news.” TV and broadcast media deliver news much faster then newspapers. Therefore newspapers should not be as concerned with getting information to readers quickly; instead they should focus on conveying information more completely and more accurately.

In order to form an opinion you have to look at the benefits of this structure.

First, it allows the reader quick access to important information. They can then judge for themselves if it is relevant and if they want to continue reading. Without a clearly defined ‘lede’ readers would have to read the majority of the piece to discover if it affected them.

Magazines generally don’t require their pieces to be written in inverted format; but you have to consider: a reader knows the type of stories in the magazine when they pick it up. They are reading because they are already interested in that topic.

Newspapers, on the other hand, cover a wide variety of news. If a story started out with “Even in the West, the scandal would be juicy” (Newsweek, 1/28 p9) it would be much more difficult to establish if the topic was one of interest to a reader. We don’t know from that opening sentence that the story is about newscaster Hu Ziwei denouncing her husband publically for an affair at a gala for the Chinese State-run TV network’s Olympics coverage. It could just as easily be about anything scandelous, being done by anyone anywhere (outside of the “West”).

The format also allows for easy editing. Because important information is listed at the top, editors can assume that information at the bottom is ‘less important’ without having to know everything about the topic. It also allows a reader to move easily and quickly through the article.

Now, the big question is how do TV, Radio and other broadcast media influence all this?

My opinion is they haven’t. TV, Radio and other broadcast media may deliver news quicker – but TV and Radio news shows run at certain times, while a newspaper can be picked up at any point during the day. Newspapers can be referred to multiple times. They can be skimmed. TV and Radio broadcasts require the viewer or listener to watch/hear the whole program. Often, individual stories are only given short time slots, and if you miss it it’s gone. Newspapers allow readers choices. They are tangible. You can cut out a favorite or interesting story: you can’t do this with TV.

I don’t think there is anything to be gained by giving up the inverted news format, except that writers could be lazier. It would be easier for them to just organize their stories any which way. Readers would lose the ability to quickly skim the tops of articles to decide what interested them.

I think that if papers gave up  the inverted structure they would be giving up the one advantage they have over other media forms. Readers LIKE having choices. They like being able to skip things that bore them to tears. They like being able to read the story about their neighbor’s cousin’s sister now and the story about Iraq later. The strict structure of newspapers gives the readers options – it is the newspaper industries biggest strength.