Wednesday, May 11, 2011

But Do I Have Anything To Say?

"The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say." ~Anaïs Nin

I took an interesting step tonight. I accepted an invitation to attend a writer's workshop. The title of the class was, "How To Become Your Own Book." It was led by Jim Reed, a local author as well as proprietor of books and publisher for Blue Rooster Press.

I had no intentions or expectations - just thought I would open myself up to the world of publishing, learn a few new tricks of the trade, and possibly meet some really interesting people.

First of all, Mr. Reed was quite a character! Intelligent, quirky, and interesting. Definitely a story teller - and shameless promoter!  He discussed everything from Carl Sagan to the Pioneer Satellite, Egyptology to the Lascaux caves in France. I was in heaven. It is rare for me to listen to anyone that is about as random as I am. At least, not since I have moved to Alabama. He is truly a writer and definitely thinks like one.

What I thought I would do tonight is share a few tips and tricks I learned at the workshop. Granted, you may already know this, but it never hurts to see what other professionals are saying about the publishing industry.

First thing - Mr. Reed suggests we should all read, "Zen & The Art of Writing," by Ray Bradbury. Of course, I am a HUGE fan of Ray Bradbury, so I can only imagine this book is probably very helpful for the writer.

Next, he tackled discipline. I know, as a Blogger, discipline is key. In Marketing - consistency and relevance is key. Put those items together and you just might finish a manuscript. He stressed, "No one is going to rescue you." Learn to be your own boss, and become brutally realistic with yourself.

After you have gotten in touch with the desire and the discipline, it's time to plan strategically. Ask yourself: Who is my audience? What form do I want to write in? If you can  answer those two questions, you are 1/2 of the way there.

After you have written your piece, you MUST find an editor. Someone who can truly guide you on the process. He went on to mention the famous author (from Alabama), Harper Lee (author of To Kill a Mockingbird.) He said after she pulled her story together, she worked with an editor for 2 whole years to get the story ready. Finally, she was published.

Next, are you writing for the joy or to win a Pulitzer Prize? Joy is a way to guarantee happiness. Getting actually published is like winning the lottery. He suggests self publishing or "vanity publishing." Many writers sort of turn their noses up at this technique, but he reminded us:
Charles Dickens, Ernest Hemingway, John Grisham and Mark Twain all self published. There is no shame in their game. They knew they had something that the public wanted.

Mr. Reed explained he is part of a writer's group that reads 12 novels a year and recommends one. He says it is amazing how many excellent pieces never make it to print. So don't be afraid to try by yourself. Again, an Editor is necessary to really polish your book.

If you want to make it to the big time he says you have to be: Super polished, have a book right for the market, and know what the publishers want. When he talked about polished, he said - most writers can't do that. That's where the editor comes in. That alone made me feel 500% better, as a writer, you guys know I have typos and errors.. etc. Good to hear that most are not the best at the editing part.

The next step is marketing your book. Luckily, that comes easy for me. That's what I do for a living. Sooo... knowing how to self-promote is the next step. Then there is the advice about making a name for yourself. He suggested you "go against the grain," get involved - join groups of writers and really listen to what they are saying.

Other words of wisdom:
- Learn what NOT to do
- Listen and ask questions
- Be humble
- Be willing to compromise

Now I don't know if this is something I will ever do, but it did cross my mind. I know many of you in the blogging community are interested in publishing. Since I have some time, I thought I would gather as much info as possible and share it with you guys.

If you are looking for self-publishing houses - I found a great list:
Go to:

If you have any questions, feel free to ask!


TV's Take said...

Good tips! I've worked with the editor now just need that publishing deal. Waiting on my second rejection any day :-)

Leanne said...

Wow . . . that's cool. And scary. Oh, boy, I have a lump in my tummy now. That whole rejection thing makes me nervous. But I love that you shared this with us, and am so grateful to have you in my life. I have to do more thinking . . . hmmm, who is my audience. Um, you? (Is that enough??) ;) I'll definitely be asking you more questions as work through all of this. Have a great day!


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