Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Write Way

I bought a new mascara the other day and as I was walking away with my puchase, the saleswoman asked, "Do you know the right way to apply mascara?" I shrugged and motioned up and down in front of my eyes, as if I were actually applying the stuff. She shook her head and said, "First take the tip--that's where most of the mascara is when you pull out the wand--and use it apply the mascara to your lashes. Then use the full brush to lift and extend the mascara from the base to the tip of your lashes. You'll use less mascara and get better results." I tried it the next day, and she was right.

It reminded me of my mother's oft-said advice, "If you're going to do something, do it right."

Paying attention to even small details can make the difference between being published or being rejected. Considering that editors and agents receive far more submissions than they can accept, they look for any reason to say no. Something as seemingly small as how the manuscript is presented can land your submission in the slush pile or on its way back to you in your SASE without being read. Wouldn't it be better to just do it right?

Use these guidelines to format your manuscript.

--Use white bond paper (20 lb. stock minimum)
--Use Times Roman or Courier 12 pt. type only
--Type on one side of the paper only
--Double space (single space poetry)
--Use paragraph indents
--Use paper clips only to secure your manuscript
--At the top each page (except page 1), put the page
number, your last name, book or article title

--Justify the right margin
--Add extra space between paragraphs
--Bind or staple your manuscript
--Put your manuscript in a folder
--Try to be cute or flashy with your presentation

Here's another one of my mother's favorite expressions, "You learn something every day."

Monday, August 20, 2007

What do I do now?

I have completed a book about creativity. I know I need an agent since this is not the only book I want to write. Now that I am in rewrite, I thought of you. Whatever thoughts or suggestions you might have, I would gratefully appreciate.--Warren

I went to your website. My very quick analysis: Your topic is sellable, you have good credentials and the potential for building a solid platform. If you're planning or holding workshops already, that's even better. These are all things an agent or publisher would look for. However, for a nonfiction book, you must have a proposal to send an agent or publisher. No exceptions (unless you are a celebrity or have successful past publishing experience).

Since you are in the revision stage of your manuscript, it seems to me that it's the perfect time to focus on your book proposal. This way you can make any necessary adjustments to the book before the manuscript is finalized.

The proposal will help you answer the questions agents and publishers want to know: What's your book about? How is it different from others on the market? Who will read/buy your book? Why are you the right person to write this book? What are you going to do to promote the book? What additional, if any, books are you writing or plan to write?

Book proposals are recommended even if an author is self-publishing because the proposal is a business plan for the book. As your own publisher, you would want to base your decisions on the same information as traditional publishers--that is, if you want to the book to sell successfully.

Your book proposal is a very important step in the process and must be done correctly to garner any attention. There are many good books to help you with format, etc. Many people come to me for help after their proposals are rejected and end up having to redo the entire project, which is a time-consuming activity. My advice to you is to find out how do it right the first time.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Practicing what I preach

I'm baaaack. It's more than a little embarrassing to notice that I haven't posted in more than a year. Ouch! In order to post this morning, I had to jump through a few hoops because Blogger has changed. (Don't you hate that?) But, I did it: I added a new photo, updated my profile and learned how to upload and download photos using Flickr. There is a real sense of accomplishment in taming the "technology resistance" inclination and overcoming the frustration of figuring out what seems to just come naturally to my kids.

Now that I've gone through all this time-consuming activity, I'm determined to stay on top of the blog and post regularly. Blogging is something I recommend to all my clients who are promoting their books and their businesses. So, I'm going to follow my own advice and get back in the groove (now I'm really showing my age, but I suspect a few of you will know what I'm talking about).

So, check back here regularly. I'll be posting writing and publishing tips, answering questions and waxing poetic at times.