Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Truth About Writers' Block

"What are some of the obstacles you've faced and overcome?" That's the question I like to ask when I interview people who are leaders in their communities, companies or organizations. Although the individual replies vary, the majority of the responses reveal that each person has managed to transform some type of adversity into opportunity.

What I have observed in my own 30-year career is that the opposite is true as well. Unsuccessful people not only let obstacles stop or delay their progress, they actively put barriers in their paths, preventing them from reaching their goals. We all are guilty of this to some degree. After all, it is easier to say we don't have time to write because we work and have children, homes and mates to look after than it is to get up an hour earlier, go to bed an hour later, or work through lunch hour at the office.

It seems to me that each time I make a concerted effort to rein in my concentration and focus on the completion of a goal, the Universe sends something to tempt me away. Just when I decide to spend the next two weeks finishing the final edit on my book, something "urgent "or "important "comes up, and gives me reason to put my personal work on the back burner--again.

Without exception, I have regretted my decision each time I placed my goals on hold "just until this next project is finished." And, each time I placed myself ahead of the distraction, and said "no" to stepping off track, I have been rewarded with an inner sense of satisfaction and accomplishment that comes with following my heart rather than my head (or pocketbook).The decision to pursue my true calling has also led to far greater riches in the long run than any project ever pays in the present.

Knowing what is the right thing to do and actually doing it are two different things. Most of us need some support to help us hold steadfast to our goals. Being part of two writers groups provided the motivation and support I needed to finish my novel. If I didn't have that commitment to produce a chapter a month, I'd probably never have finished my novel at all. Today I have two mastermind groups that keep me accountable to my commitments and focused on my goals.

If you've ever felt the desire to pursue your writing dream, don't let obstacles stop you and, above all, don't construct stumbling blocks to your success. First, start visualizing your book signing or whatever symbolizes the accomplishment of your success as a writer. Then set measurable, attainable goals and, finally, find a support system to keep you going when you're tempted to get off track.

Do you need some guidance to help you through the publishing process as well as support to keep you focused on the goal? The Wordy Woman offers three levels of support to writers. See which one is right for you>>>

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Can you copyright a title?

Here's a question that is asked in almost every seminar or workshop I teach:

Q: I have a book title I want to preserve but the book is a good ways from being ready. Is there a way to copyright a title long before the book is published? --James

A: You cannot copyright a title (or an idea) at all. You can only copyright  a work. Even if you copyright a book or article with a given title, that does not prevent someone from using that title for another work, even on the same topic. Of course, none of your written material in an article or book can be used.

Once your book is published, you can (and should) register the the title with Books in Print, but again, that does not prevent someone else from using the same title, although it may discourage use.

Focus on writing your book and don't worry about "saving" the title. No one else can write your book, only you!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Are you ready to send a query letter?

Sending your work out for review by agents and editors is a big and important step in the publishing process. Many times, what you send is the only basis for the big decision that has to be made. In most cases, the person on the other end doesn't know you and can only judge your work by the contents of the package.  So, how do you make a good first impression? Review this handy checklist before you send out your work.

  • Believe in your work. Be able to sum it up succinctly and passionately. If you're not enthusiastic and confident about your project, you're not ready to submit.

  • Prepare your manuscript professionally. That includes using good paper, printer and standard formatting. Then package it per submission guidelines. Send only what is requested.

  • Perfect your pitch/query letter.

    • Don't try to sum up whole book in the letter. For fiction, describe your character, setting and obstacle. For nonfiction, present the problem and how your book offers a solution or new information.

    • Why you are uniquely qualified to write this book? What is your training, education and related experience?

    • Who is your audience? (Tip: Anyone who can fog a mirror is not the right answer.) Be as specific as possible.

    • Why have you selected this agent or editor? Do not send out submissions en masse with the same letter to everyone.

  • Understand what an agent does and does not do. Understand publishing is a business, and the agent makes a business, not a personal, decision.

  • Know the industry lingo: platform, competing books, audience/climate.

Demonstrate that you are knowledgeable about the publishing process. Contacting agents is more than writing a letter. You are expected to know how to format your letter and all the parts of the submission package.

Remember, the agent is not responsible for coaching you in the basics of the industry. The job of the agent is to sell your manuscript to a publisher and then negotiate the best possible rights and deal for you. If you can make the agent's job easier by sending the material he or she needs to get that job done, you will increase your chances of acceptance.

You'll find detailed instructions on how to write a query letter and prepare a submission package in 4Ps to Publishing Success: Get Your Manuscript Off Your Desk & Into Print. Available as a workbook or ebook, 4Ps to Publishing Success is a complete step-by-step guide to getting published. Or, you can purchase only the information you need in Chapter 7 of 4Ps Buy the ChapterGet a full description of all the 4Ps Products here>>>