Friday, December 27, 2013

8 Writing Trip Ups To Avoid To Create A Better Selling Book

Good writers are always growing.

When we are new to writing, and are in the process of preparing to find a publisher, or

publish our own book, each of us has some unique challenges.

Let’s assume we have done much in the way of the basics. We have taken courses, we

understand how important the premise, the antagonists and the protagonist are, and

we’re proud we’ve got a basic story outline prepared. We feel we have a viable novel,

with interesting characters, and so we are ready to write.

Thus begins the first ten percent of the growth of our novel. Ten Percent? Who said

that? What does it mean? I’ve written 400 pages and you call that ten percent?

It’s true. Our first draft is just ten percent of the job. The real work begins with the

editing. This means the editing that occurs even before we send our manuscript for final

professional editing.

Whether you travel the traditional publishing route or simply self-publish, the same amount

of editing/work is required.

A publisher invests a great deal of money in each book they launch into the market.

They spend thousands of dollars on the interior design/formatting of your book, for both

print and digital versions. Then there is cost of the cover, including artwork,

photography, the specific design, and the person who brings this all together to create a

selling cover. Add to that figure, bookmarks, book trailers, press releases, book fairs and

some basic internet marketing.

What you may not realize is that these are exactly the same things on which you will

have to spend money, when you self publish.

I hope this emphasizes the importance of having a manuscript that is well written, well

edited, and as free from mistakes as possible, before you submit to your publisher, or

before you self publish.

Let’s assume you have that fine premise, those well rounded characters, an exciting or

entertaining plot, and a book that flows well. Where many new authors trip up is assuming that this is

sufficient. It’s not. A publisher will be looking for well-crafted work before they are ready to plunk down big

up-front expenses.

If you are self publishing, and you don’t prepare your book to the same standard as a

publisher expects, you may get initial sales. However, will you get recommendations

and good reviews so that others will be motivated to purchase your book?

What are these things that trip us up? Glad you asked. The ‘uh-oh’ signs of an

inexperienced writer are:

Sloppy punctuation--using too many or too few commas, exclamation points by the score, and a boatload of ellipsis and m-dashes

Too many font changes and an overload of italics

Misspelled words

Poor grammar in the narrative (It is OK to use poor grammar in dialogue if this is

indicative of someone’s character)

• Dialogue that is too formal (unless it is also part of character trait)

• Too much telling and not enough showing

• Use of too many inactive verbs

• A plethora of dialogue tags and the addition of the dreaded ‘Tom Swifties,’ For those

too young to remember Tom Swifties, an example would be: “Hurry up,” Tom said

swiftly, or “I hate you,” Tom said angrily, etc.

The simpler and cleaner your book, the more likely the reader will become involved,

enjoy it, and recommend it to others.

I know that if people buy my book, are happy with the reading of it, and recommend it to

others, my first ten percent, and my labor-intensive ninety percent are absolutely worth


About the Contributing Author

Marilyn Kleiber is the author of Short Tales from a Tall Person, which was published by Sun Dragon Press.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Creative Writing Tips for Character Development

 Relaxation and inspiration
Everyone loves a good story. As readers, people want entertainment through emotion. Whether it is through laughter or tears, walking on the sunny shores of the beach, or relaxing in front of a cozy fire in the woods; regardless if we are a couple, or if alone. The character in the story introduces us as readers to a life beyond our imagination. We get taken through new experiences, living our dreams and fantasies on pages of ink in times past and through years to come. These stories help complete those parts in our lives that somehow seem familiar to us, yet have never occurred.

Now the goal of the writer seems quite different from the outcome. The writer takes the opportunity to choose a subject and to express his or her thoughts on the matter. The frame of mind is of one person expressing one's deepest sentiments to unite the teacher and student with a similar understanding and passion about that subject. Creative writing forms a bond of emotion between an author and a reader, one that keeps the reader coming back time and again.

Most forms of writing has had some sort of format or style used over centuries now. Maybe it could be verse, or prose; however, it is not dependent upon its genre. There wasn't one form used. With the digital era, multiple versions of office, word and blog forms have developed. I have used multiple forms and I have a blog entitled From the Park Bench. Most of my inspiration is found in natural environments such as parks and meadows. I love the sound of nature, the lakes surrounded by ducks, the trails for walkers and bikers alike. This is a place where the morning sounds of the environment waking up, invites you to appreciate this truly beautiful place. This is an excellent starting point for any creative writer. Find a place that inspires you. The world around you is full of "prompts" for your writing. Your surroundings can help you relax and to free your mind to become engaged in topics, words and phrases to further your writing.

Other than being a park walker and a park writer, I am most of all a park listener. Many of the people at the park have become characters in my writing. I have learned to use their conversations, including their own words, their dialect, the way they speak using slang, their body language, the way they move and walk – their "swagger." All of the things that define a person in life, these same effects create a character in writing. This character can walk through the park in front of me on a Monday morning and my mind sees them walk through a Farmer's Market smelling the peaches on a Monday afternoon. The dialog between people in a relaxed setting is most entertaining. Depending on the relationship, just the back and forth banter can have you wishing you had a paper and pen tucked in your pocket. Most walkers at the park either have a partner, or a set of headphones. For me, it is all about the person in front of me, the next character who will travel the world, yet never leave the park.

The most important thing about creative writing is understanding you can bring such life into a character. The influence this character has in the lives of your readers can effectively create an emotional connection that touches their heart so much, that should tragedy befall your character, the reader experiences a sense of loss or grief. In turn, if something exciting occurs then the reader experiences elation along with the character. That is creative writing and characterization at its best.

I remember walking behind a couple of women one morning at the park. One was talking about her husband and herself having went to New York to visit their daughter for the holidays. Their daughter travels all over the world and she was so glad to go see her. Her daughter showed her photographs of the places she had been. "It was so exciting!" she had exclaimed. The women walking with her remarked that her husband had some health issues, so their son had to come and see them. They never traveled much to begin with, but now, she did not think she would leave the state before her time came. I just smiled, when I walked past, as she was the perfect character for my next short story. I was thinking, "Oh, yes! You will go!" "Yes, ma'am, the places you will go." I even cut my walk a little short that day. I could not wait to get her on her way.

About the Contributing Author: 

As a fulltime freelance writer and blogger for the Ruston Daily Leader, Faith Filled Family Magazine and Faith Filled Youth Magazine, Brenda has published weekly columns and quarterly articles. Brenda has also worked as a technical writer for J.P. Morgan Chase Financial Institution and as a creator for the Louisiana Tech University Center website and newsletter. Continued educational commitments are being pursued through Louisiana Tech University in their graduate certification program in Technical Writing and Communication.  Her blog, From the Park Bench, holds past and current postings and can be viewed at the following website The blog will be functioning daily as of January, 2014.

Friday, December 13, 2013

How To Get A Book Deal With A Mind, Body, Spirit Publisher

There is the book you want to write and a book a Mind, Body, Spirit publisher wants to buy and they may or may not be the same book.

If selling your book to a Mind, Body, Spirit publisher is your dream, here are some actions I suggest you take and some information you need to know before you ever write your first word:

1) Go to a bookstore

Find the exact shelf your book would sit on. What other books are already out there that are similar to yours? How is yours different? Write down the names of the titles that are similar to yours. You will use all of these titles later on when you are putting together your book proposal. A formal book proposal is always presented to literary agents and/or publishers along with your manuscript. One of many sections of the book proposal is called, "About the Competition." Alternatively, it is called, "Comparable Books." You will need to compare and contrast your book to others that are similar to it to convince a publisher that yours is a worthy contender.

2) Look on the Mind, Body, Spirit shelves to find trends

"The Secret" spurred on a bunch of Law of Attraction knock-offs. But are those books still hot? See if you can spot an up and coming trend based on what you see on the shelves. (Hint: according to agents and publishers, right now, books on happiness are out).

3) Take note of who is getting published and where

Most publishers are publishing the same authors whose names are already famous. How many newcomers are getting published? Notice who those publishers are.

4) Build your platform (your publicity reach)

Your platform is the deal maker or the deal breaker! Your platform is perhaps the most crucial element in your book proposal. Where are you known? Publishers will buy books from authors who are top-platformed, meaning they are highly visible in the media, are in front of people all the time and have strong social media connections and followers. Get yourself out in front of audiences and start doing it now! I don't care if your book isn't out or isn't written. Develop your platform and you will have more clout.

5) About Louise Hay and Hay House

So many Mind, Body, Spirit authors approach me wanting their books shopped to Hay House. Hay House is a wonderful publisher, but please know that they typically only accept books that come to them via literary agents, and they tend to go for top-platformed authors. Once they accept a book, it will also typically take 2 years before that book comes out.

6) Selling New Age Fiction and Channeled Material

I was pitching to a publisher at a national book convention for one of my clients with the then President of Hampton Roads. He told me, "I love fiction but I just can't sell it." 

I do not know Mind, Body, Spirit publishers who buy fiction or channeled material. Yes, we all know Esther Hicks and her books on the Law of Attraction are channeled. But Esther already had a HUGE platform when she signed with Hay House, so she is an exception. The vast majority of New Age fiction and channeled material is self-published.

A book is more than a book; it is your dream. Make it so!

About the Contributing Author:
Randy Peyser is the author of The Power of Miracle Thinking and Crappy to Happy as featured in the movie, Eat Pray Love. She edits books and helps people find agents and publishers. She also writes for Awareness Magazine and is the former Editor-in-Chief of a national New Age magazine and a Bay Area New Age magazine. Her interviews include: Wayne Dyer, Caroline Myss, Deepak Chopra, Esther Hicks, Doreen Virtue, Neale Donald Walsch, Marianne Williamson, Marci Shimoff, and others.,

Saturday, December 7, 2013

6 Tips For Accepting Rejection (or Constructive Criticism)

I recently had a request to review a book. This book was already published in ebook form. Now I was not being paid to write this review and I was receiving no other compensation, which was fine. This was a new, young writer and I wanted to encourage him. Keep in mind, I have written a lot of book reviews. I am normally paid to write what the book is about, not necessarily give my opinions of the content. That is what I did with this particular book.

Since he was a brand new writer and very young, I thought I would include some advice in a private email to him. The advice I gave centered around getting a professional editor and allowing some distance between him and his writing, as some of the events were very recent.

The review I wrote and the advice I gave were both nice. However, he did not take it as such. A return email came very quickly, “No thanks, for the review and the advice.”

I have to say I was quite shocked at his response. He came to me, wasn’t paying me for my time or expertise, and yet he refused to listen to me.

It bothered me for quite a while, until I thought of other writers I have known. Some were open to criticism and willingly reworked their writing to make it even better. Others…not so much. Some writers take criticism as a personal offense when everyone doesn’t immediately fall in love with their new work.

How can you take advice about your own writing? In the words of Winston Churchill, “Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.” And in your writing, criticism is necessary.

1.      Be choosy in who you ask to read your work.
You want someone who will be honest, but will offer legitimate criticism. Your mom, who thinks you can do no wrong, may not be your best option. Keep in mind this quote from Benjamin Franklin, “Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain and most fools do.” When choosing people to give you feedback on your writing, think about what you are looking for. Ask an English teacher if you want someone only to look at grammar. Choose a book club group if you want to know what readers think.

2.      Keep an open mind. 

Not every piece of advice is something you will want to take to heart. However, you should at least thoroughly examine your work upon receiving advice and consider it. If it is something you realize you should change, then by all means change it.

3.      Set the work aside. 

This is a very important step in your rewriting/editing process. Once you read your work so many times, you skip over things you should change simply because you don’t notice them. Use this same idea with criticism. Keep the notes from other people with your work, put it away for at least a week, pull the work out, read the suggestions, and then reread the work with those suggestions in mind.

4.      Don’t quit. 

Don’t allow a little constructive criticism make you forget your dreams. Yes, it may take you a little longer to become a published author, but the more you work on your story or article, the better it will be.

5.      Choose multiple people to read your work. 

Use people that preferably don’t know each other so they can’t discuss your work. When you get feedback from multiple people you can see if there is one particular problem with your work when more than one person points it out. If more than one person says it, you definitely need to consider it. If you hear the same criticism repeatedly, then you will know it is a real problem.

6.      Learn from rejection. 

As painful as it is, sometimes you just need to scrap what you were working on and start over. If your story or article has been rejected over and over and over again, this is a clue that something just isn’t working. Try a different approach. Write from a different character’s point of view. Change your writing from fiction to non-fiction. Or just scrap the idea all together and move on to something else.

Keep in mind, rejection isn’t always a bad thing. It can be a great learning tool to help improve your writing.

About the Contributing Author:
Ruth O’Neil has been a freelance writer for more than 20 years, publishing hundreds of articles in dozens of publications. Her first novel Come Eat at My Table came out earlier this year. Her second novel, Belonging, is on its way sometime this next year. Ruth sees everything as a writing opportunity in disguise, whether it is an interesting character, setting, or situation. When she’s not writing or homeschooling her kids, Ruth spends her time quilting, reading, scrapbooking, camping and hiking with her family. You can reach her at her website –

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