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Archive for the ‘FAQs’ Category

FAQs 7

Question: How does copyrighting work?

Answer: We touched briefly on this in FAQ 6, but I wanted to give you a little more information. It is always better to go through the US copyright website and safeguard your work. It can cost as little as $35 to copyright a book and takes less than an hour. Small cost for greater protection.

But the truth is that the second you put your work down on paper it is copyrighted. It is your property. No one can take it away. Copyrighting makes it official–harder to challenge. And if you do have to take your rights to court, if you win you will get legal fees (if you have gone through official copyrighting channels). So overall, copyright your work once your finished, but don’t be afraid to share it before it is.

Bonus: As added protection, save each draft copy of your book separately. That way you can prove the progression of the novel.

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Questions: I want to follow the rules of publishing. What do I need to know?

Answer: Good question! Publishing can be an industry that is difficult to learn. We have our own rules, piles of them. Even if you don’t ignore them, we might ignore you. And if you do ignore them, we will most certainly ignore you! Terrible, right?

So is there are place where the mystical realm of publishing is explained for us? Yes! Its called The Everything Get Published Book. I recieved it for Christmas one year and learned most of my basic knowledge from it. It is well worth the investment, if you want to be a writer (even if you don’t feel up to writing a book yet). Get to know the industry through this book. It is worth the time.

Here are the basics I can tell you in the length of this post:

1. Check out the publisher’s submission guidelines. Go to their website. You might have to click on ‘contact us’ or some similar guidelines, but all publishers have submission guidelines. Follow them. If they say submit a querry letter, then do NOT send the whole manuscript. Instead, research how to write a querry letter and send that in. If they say you need an agent and you don’t have one, find one or do not submit to them. Earning their respect is your first mission. Following their rules is how you do that.

2. Never, ever, tell a publisher you will not send them your book because you don’t trust them. If you don’t trust them, don’t use them as your publisher. It frustrates and offends publishers to hear that you would waste their time when you don’t even trust them. It is the mark of a novice. And good news: your work is copyrighted the moment you put it on paper! So be confident.

3. Know who your audience is. This can be easy. Ask a variety of people you know to read it and give you general feedback. See who enjoys it the most and why. You will learn your audience from their reactions. I marketedIssymfor pre-teens because that was where we received our best early feedback.

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FAQs 5

Question: I want to write a book and I have a story idea, but where do I start?

Answer: Starting books is really easy for some people. It is finishing them that is the trouble. For other authors the reverse is true. Starting seems impossible, but once you get going you can’t stop.

Don’t be surprised if you find yourself having trouble starting. This is as a common a writing ailment as writers’ block. But just like with writers’ block it is up to you to fight your way through it. I constantly have this problem. The first 20-40 pages of my novels get rewritten around six times before I finally decide that I will never like my first draft of the book. I then use my newest beginning and force myself to move on. Once I get into the depth of the book, I find my stride.

Why does this happen? Because your first draft of a book is all about getting to know your characters, world, and writing style. You will learn things about your characters in your first draft that you could never have anticipated when you were outlining so fully. You will find that you focus on one of the senses more than another. Enjoy this time. Do not get frustrated that your draft is imperfect or you have said two completely different things about the same character or that the only sense you have used is hearing. Utilize the time to figure out the unique aspects of your novel. When you go back through, then (and only then) can you be a perfectionist.

Honestly, your novel will be better off if you allow your mind to extend to its creative limits and beyond in the first draft. So don’t get frustrated; get writing. (Take this from someone who struggles as you do!)

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FAQs 4: On co-publishing…

So you’re a writer. You recently discovered a passion for words and you want to share those words with the world. You are even willing to invest money and labor into this, if only so someone hears your voice.

I have taken on the role of a consultant to these early writers. Four years ago I was the one weighing my options, trolling for the cheapest way to print my books, hoping to get spotted by a publisher, and blind to the dangerous pitfalls specifically designed to entrap idealist writers like me. Now I try to help these idealists. So if you’re one, listen up.

Do not be entrapped by co-publishers. If a publisher requires money and says they’ll give you royalties, no matter how nice they sound, stay away! If you are willing to give up your immediate cash and a large chunk of future profits, then go ahead and utilize these ‘publishers’. But recognize that if they say they’ll sell you an ISBN, they mean ‘You take the financial risk; we take control; we share the profits.’ ISBNs can only come from Bowker, a government enabled website. They can only be sold to publishers, who have control of the books. So protect yourself: incorporate and get your own ISBN. It may cost more time and money, but it is worth it.

These co-publishers (or whatever name they use) may provide you with sub-par editing and designing services, but in the end it is your financial risk that gets the book afloat. You are much better off doing the work yourself of finding an illustrator (use someone local–whom you can see, communicate with, and keep on track) and a printer (I strongly recommend Instant Publishing) then letting a ‘publisher’ do the work for you.

We are writers. We often do not want to be business people who self-publish. And as getting truly published grows harder and harder , we are tempted to give up our rights to our work. Yet if you go with a co-publisher, when a real publisher wants your book, you won’t be able to sign with them. Or when profits start rolling in, it will take three times as long to pay off your initial costs and you will gain less in the long run.

Getting your work out to the world may sound easier than ever because of the changing technology and market, but there are still plenty of barriers between you and fame. So take several big steps back, run away from anyone who wants your money until you have done the research, and decide how tough your skin is. Mine was fragile at first, but I have put on my battle armor. Now I find the game of publishing fun. It may be harder at first to do the work yourself with the support of those co-publishers, but your chances for success go way up! So get tough as nails. Determine for yourself if you are are a good writer, ignore what critics say, and get your words out to the world. If that’s through a co-publisher, as long as you’ve thought it through, that’s fine. But know what you’re getting yourself into.

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FAQs 3: Names

FAQ #3:

How did you come up with the names for your characters and books?

I hear this question a lot. Naming characters is sort of like naming infants. You have the same pressure of a life-time commitment to a name that everyone who meets your kid is going to hear. If you pick something ridiculously strange, your kid is going to get made fun of. Personally, I’m afraid of my kids rolling their eyes and explaining, “Mom’s a writer…” My characters are currently my kids and I pick their names with increasing carefulness.

This naming process is also unlike naming infants, because you can’t often tell who the infant will become when you pick out their name. My parents thought I was going to be a boy, and only picked out Jessica a few nights before I was born as a ‘just in case’. Jess, Jessica, Jessie Mae, (Muffin, as my sister calls me)–each name fits different sides of me. My doctor calls me Jessica and laughed at the southern-bell ring my author name ‘Jessie Mae’ has to it (as everyone did in South Carolina as well). My brother-in-law calls me Jess. I’m known at school as Jessica. I tweak my name just a little to fit the person I am representing in each group.

Similarly names in the drafts of books are frequently temporary until the author knows more about the character. Sometimes the name is what is the guiding-star to who the character becomes. I have a few names I won’t waste on less than ‘epic’ characters. So names can be temporary, or they can evolve. Add a syllable, drop a syllable, have them called one thing by friends and another thing by parents… You get the idea.

But I still haven’t answered the question (dodging the point is something I’m getting very good at for college…). Where do the names come from? Once I’ve got my personality type, I have a few options. I have a mental list of names that I’ve heard or thought up. Some characters are ‘born’ with that name and it doesn’t change. Other characters (usually small characters, or characters I thought were going to be small) get their names from books. I frequently drew from the Bible for Xsardis characters–as Seth and Rachel would have done in their imaginations. For the truly unique and lovable characters I have been creating lately, their names come from my picking out a starting letter or syllable and trying additions on until I find a name I adore.

Again, for fellow writers out there, I urge caution in your choice of names. Too boring and you’re characters will be forgettable. To exotic, and people will roll their eyes and skip over your pretty title as they shorten it to something else. If you’re the only one on planet Earth who can say the name, you need more than a pronunciation guide, you need a better editor. (There are exceptions to this, as any, rule.)

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FAQs 2

Another entry in the frequently asked questions department:

Question 2: Which was the hardest book to write?

Answer: Xsardis was the longest and I was sick while I was writing it. I jumped over a lot of writers’ block hurdles and I poured sweat and late nights into it to get the manuscript finished on time. Wrapping the chronicles up was difficult. If we’re talking leg-work, then Xsardis was definitely the hardest.

But Issym was my first book. Writing was new to me. It required a lot of trial and error. So I’d go with Issym.

As for Asandra, it was probably the scariest. Unlike with Issym, I knew people were going to be reading Asandra. It was a middle book, filled with a lot of hard stories that I thought were going to make people dislike the book. And for the first time, I let my personality come out on the paper. So scary? Yes. Am I proud of it? YES!

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FAQs 1

So the more I speak, the more I’m hearing the same questions–which is good because it makes the answers easy. All the same, I’m opening up a new category of this blog to answer these frequently asked questions for those of you who might never get to hear me speak.

Question 1: How long did it take you to write your books?

Answer: About three-and-a-half years from start to finish for Issym, but that involved a lot of research, learning, editting, and–oh yeah–starting a publishing company. Asandra took me about a year and a half. Xsardis took me one crazy year. But remember, I was writing while in school and establishing my company.

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