…I’m delighted to run a five-days consecutive series of posts from my terrific pal, Author, Susan Toy, for every author to enjoy and prob’ly learn lots from… here’s PART FOUR :
10 Ways to Kill Your Writing
This 5-part article is from a talk I gave at the Calgary Public Library Writers’ Weekend Feb. 4, 2012.
Thanks to all of you for reading this series that is very kindly being hosted by the ONE, the ONLY, SEUMAS GALLACHER!
- Don’t / do follow the rules
Rules are made to be obeyed and rules are meant to be broken. But you can’t obey or break them unless you first read and understand them. This holds true not only for writing, but also for submitting your manuscript and for publishing it.
Once you know and understand the rules of the business, you may work with them and redefine, to a certain extent.
But whatever you do – don’t think that you or your work are the exceptions to those rules. If you do that, you’ll find you will only hurt yourself.
- a) Listen to and believe advice and criticism from family and friends
I know your mother loves you, but that doesn’t make her the best critic of your writing. Neither are your Grade 6 teacher nor your high school BFF. Yes, it’s great to feel all warm and fuzzy hearing their compliments – I know. I’ve been there.
The one true thing I learned from my years writing and trying to get my work published is that we all need the experts – editors, writing instructors, mentors, good readers – and we should surround ourselves with them.
There’s nothing better than finding a reader with a discerning eye who can see not only what is brilliant about your manuscript, but also how it may be improved.
And editors are worth their weight in gold! A good editor will stand by what they are taught – to not make changes, but to offer suggestions as to how you may improve your work.
The best classes I took were those in editing, and I didn’t learn as much about how to edit my own work as I did about how to work effectively with an editor.
I consult with my own editor on a regular basis, mainly because we have become friends, but also because I know she “gets” me – and she has an eagle eye for mistakes I make! Plus she cheers me on and “encourages” me to get back to work on my next novel. (Okay, Rachel, okay!! I’m trying to write more …) You can’t do anything better for your writing than to find an editor you can work with, someone who can help you make your writing better and your words sing! It may take a while to find that perfect editor, but it’s worth taking the time to search. Begin by checking with professional editing associations for referrals.
Or you can check out this blog post I wrote about my own editor, Rachel Small. It’s in my best interest to keep her working as an editor, so I’m more than happy to share her with you!
I know you’re groaning, “But isn’t a professional editor expensive?” No, not in the scheme of things, and if you want a professional job done you call in the professionals. remember it was Sybil Fawlty who scolded her husband Basil when he hired a cut-rate contractor in Fawlty Towers: “You get what you pay for!” This is true of editors, as well. Fortunately, a professional editor and fellow-blogger, roughsesinthemed, wrote a comprehensive post about what you can expect to pay for various types of editing:
And, just in case you’re wondering what editors actually do all day . . . watch this video
Remember, if you want a hug and a there-there about your writing, go visit your mother. If you want solid advice and help, seek out the experts and the professionals.
b) Argue with readers that they must not “get” what you’ve written
No, no, no, no and no!
Don’t ever argue with a reader. Don’t ever explain the point you’re trying to make that you think they’ve missed. If they’re missing something then it’s not their fault – it’s yours for not writing clearly enough. Listen to what your reader finds to be a problem and fix it.
A friend told me a story about what happened to him when he contacted someone who wrote a not-so-positive review … A reader posted a review in which she complained about the editing in my book. I messaged her back, thanked her for the review, and said how much I appreciated her criticism. She asked if I was being sarcastic, and I said absolutely not, that I really appreciated what she said because it made me go back and take a good look at the book and realize she was justified in her review. She said she would buy my next books because of my response. She liked the story, but the editing was a little rough. So I was able to keep a fan I wouldn’t have otherwise because I accepted what she had said and acted upon the advice.
And whatever you do, don’t argue with readers online and in public. If they’ve taken the time to read your writing, be gracious, thank them for reading and commenting, but don’t argue with them if you disagree. And realize, too, that some people just like to see their own comments in print and there’s no arguing with them anyway.
And when your book is published and receives a bad review you don’t feel is warranted – do not comment! Just accept the fact that this particular critic did not like your book and hope another reviewer will.
- a) Bug everyone about your writing or your published book
This Way refers back to #1 about being too serious or obsessive about your work.
How many authors have you stopped following on Twitter or hidden on Facebook because you were tired of hearing them toot their own horn? You want to say, “If your book is so good then why am I not hearing about it from your readers?”
Remember, you’re not the first person to have written or published a book. And you won’t be the last. If you had done as I mentioned earlier, and become part of a larger writing community, you wouldn’t have any problem finding someone else to toot your horn for you.
So don’t overexpose yourself, especially if your book can’t live up to your hype.
- b) Promote too much / promote too little
On the other hand, there is also a problem with not promoting yourself and your work enough. I get it! Some authors are not comfortable promoting themselves so they should definitely consider calling in the professionals to help them.
So 10B comes into play here – find your happy medium, where you can promote at a Goldilocks’ level – not too much, not too little, but just right.
Because the absolute last two things you want to do is either piss off your audience or never reach them at all.
Be sure to come back for Part 5 and the Three Bonus Ways to Kill Your Writing!!!
Susan Toy has been a bookseller, an award-winning publishing sales representative, a literacy teacher, and is now a published author, publisher, and promoter of fellow authors and their books. Born and raised in Toronto, and after completing a degree in English Literature at Queen’s University in Kingston, she moved to Calgary in the late 70s and immediately found a job in a bookstore, beginning what has become a life’s career working with books and their authors.
Link for Island in the Clouds: https://islandeditions.wordpress.com/2012/08/23/where-in-the-world-can-you-purchase-island-in-the-clouds/
Link for That Last Summer:
…yeez can catch some of m’Lady, Susan’s WURK and links here :
…see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!…
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