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Author: Carin Siegfried

Nine Rules for Writing Dialogue

Writing dialogue can be tricky. Here are nine rules that can help you craft believable and natural-sounding dialogue that will propel your narrative forward:

  1. Use dialogue tags properly.speech bubbles

The first letter of the first word needs to be capitalized all of the time, and there must always be ending punctuation. If the dialogue tag is a lead-in, it must always have a comma such as: She said, “Yes.” Stick to “said” for at least 90% of your tags. You can also use “asked.” Avoid tags like “stated” and “replied” as they mean nothing more than “said.” “Said” eventually blends into the background and disappears (like “the” and “and”), but if you repeatedly pick alternate words, those stand out and pull attention away from the dialogue itself and to the dialogue tag instead. Words like “grinned” and “shrugged” are not verbs that indicate speaking. You can’t “grin” a sentence, so be sure you’re not using it as a dialogue tag.

  1. Mix action in so we know what the characters are doing while talking.

You need to add stage directions, to help your readers envision the scene. Think of it like a movie or play—tell readers what your character is physically doing, not just what she is saying and feeling.

  1. Don’t let your characters say each other’s names too often.

Real people don’t speak that way. In fact, they almost never say each other’s names unless they’re calling to someone in another room.

  1. Consistently format your interior dialogue.

It doesn’t matter if you use italics or quotation marks, but be consistent. If you do neither and just set interior dialogue off with commas, it can be confusing, particularly if the book is in third person and the thoughts are in first person.

  1. The dialogue should be particular to the characters.

Well-written dialogue cannot be exchanged between characters because it’s too unique to each character. Do your men sound like men and women like women and children like children? Do they use language appropriate to their generation? Their education? Their region?

  1. Absolutely do not tart up exposition as poor dialogue.

This is the kiss of death for most readers. You can never have two characters tell each other things they already know as a way to introduce backstory. You may have heard that introducing backstory through dialogue is preferable than through exposition, but if it’s done badly, it’s worse. Effective ways to do it are for two characters to argue about what happened, to ask each other if they remember a particular thing, and to acknowledge that the other character probably already knows this. But…. you still want to keep this to a minimum.

  1. Don’t bury the lede.

People don’t wait to tell each other something important or exciting. They lead off with that. If they are waiting for some reason (for when the time is right, to mentally prepare, for one person to leave the room), tell readers that reason.

  1. No long lectures.

Break up (and shorten) really large lectures. That’s not how actual conversations work—especially between women who give a lot of feedback to each other—instead, have characters ask questions and say things like “Yeah,” “I hear you,” and “That sucks.”

  1. Be careful if you’re using dialect or an accent.

Accents can be confusing, they are very difficult to keep consistent, and it’s easy to fall into the trap of sounding like a caricature or like you’re making fun of people from a particular region.

 

Questions to Ask For Developing Characters

Developing characters in important and tricky. Here are some questions to ask yourself while you’re fleshing out your story, to be sure you’re creating good, believable characters that readers will identify with.characters

  • Main character—is he/she three dimensional? Believable?
    • When did you start to care about him/her?
    • Was his/her problem important-seeming?
    • Are his/her details (looks, age, jobs) introduced early and in a natural way?
      • Do his/her details make sense? Does the job make sense given the personality? Do the personality traits go together?
    • Is his/her backstory integrated well? If revealed in dialogue, does it sound natural? Is too much backstory given?
    • Do his/her behaviors match the described personality?
      • If a character is described as outspoken or strong or brave, yet doesn’t speak up, lets other characters run roughshod over him, and doesn’t stand up for himself, that’s a major incongruity. Readers will believe the actions over the description, but just make sure they match in the first place.
    • Is the main character as strong as he/she needs to be to overcome the obstacles?
    • Does he/she have a goal?
  • Secondary characters—are they three dimensional? Believable? Distinguishable?
  • Tertiary characters—are there too many?
  • Do the characters have appropriate motivation to act on the conflict?
  • If there is an antagonist, is he/she cartoonishly evil or realistically bad?
    • Even bad guys have some good traits—does yours?
    • Why is your bad guy bad? What is his/her backstory?
  • Are there any characters that appear in just one scene? Could their dialogue/action be given to a different character?
  • Do you have any major characters introduced late in the book (past the first quarter)?
  • Do any major characters disappear before the end of the book?
    • Should they really be as major a character in their part of the book, if they’re not important enough to be in the full story?
    • If they really are major and important characters, shouldn’t they appear throughout?
  • Are any of the characters stereotypes? Could they be fleshed out with some shades of gray to make them more believable?
  • Do you have female characters who aren’t wives, girlfriends, or secretaries?
  • Are the names varied enough in syllables and first letters? Are any names conveniently typical (such as “Matt Stoner” for a hippie)?

Passive Voice: Why It’s the Worst

Writers should avoid passive voice whenever reasonably possible, mostly because many agents and editors consider it a pet peeve. In case you don’t know, in brief, passive voice is when you use any version of the verb “to be” including are, am, being, was, is, be, become, etc. with a past participle.

passive: The sentences in the paper were all passive.

active: Kate rewrote her paper in an active voice.

active voiceSometimes passive construction is the only real option, but that’s the case a tiny fraction of the time. Generally writers need to be aware of it and get rid of it whenever possible. It’s boring and, well, passive.

  • It slows action down and you want action in your book. Sometimes it can even cause confusion such as: “Dave was slung back against the wall in a hard thud.” It sounds like this happened by magic—like the way Darth Vader can choke someone from across a room. The writer ought to have a person sling him, hence getting rid of the passive voice: “The intruder slung Dave back against the wall.”
  • In certain situations, such as in business when trying to explain to a customer that they did something wrong without placing blame, you’d use the passive voice: “The orders were transmitted with errors” instead of “You sent orders with errors.”

How to Fix It:

  • The easiest solution is to reverse the sentence. Instead of saying “The company was sued by John,” you’d say “John sued the company.” This happens a lot when the acted upon becomes the subject and the actor is the object. If the actor is the subject, then you’ll always have an active situation.
  • Change your verb tense. There’s no good reason to say, “Erin was standing,” when you can say, “Erin stood.”
  • Try to get rid of as many “That was” and “It was” phrasings as possible. (Often in this construction there is a second “that” which also needs deleting for the sentence to make sense.)

passive: That was the solution that presented itself.

active: The solution presented itself.

  • Even when it doesn’t feel like adding action to you—changing “is” to “seems” for example—it still unconsciously registers with readers as less passive. Go through and see how many passive voice constructions you have in your writing. The exercise will make you think more carefully about word choice.

But passive construction is also okay. It’s a part of life. I’ve used passive verbs fifteen times in this article, not including examples. You don’t want to use them when they’re not necessary, particularly if there are good alternatives. But don’t do acrobatics and make your sentence structures convoluted just to avoid them.

A Few Basic Rules of Grammar, Style, and Punctuation

Some of what I’m going to say here might strike you as wrong. You might be more familiar with AP style, which is commonly used in newspapers, magazines, and some websites. However, book publishing uses The Chicago Manual of Style, and that will account for most of the differences between how you think things ought to be written and what is correct for yooxford_comma1ur manuscript.

  • Use the serial (or Oxford) comma. That means using a comma before “and” in a series of things, so you have “apples, pears, and peaches.” That second comma is the serial comma. It’s the norm for books and occasionally helps with clarity. You do not need a comma in a list of two items.
  • Comma splices happen when you join two or more sentences together just by commas and not by conjunctions or semicolons, commas do not join sentences. (That was a comma splice right there.) You can instead rewrite it to make it into one sentence or make them each into their own sentences. And don’t use more than one semicolon to join sentences. If you feel the need, make a new sentence. Trust me, if you’re wondering about this one, your sentence is too long.
  • When someone is cut off or interrupted, a dash is appropriate. That’s when you should use a dash—like this. It should not have spaces on either side of it and it is actually known as an em dash. Word will create it for you if you type two hyphens and keep typing, or it’s easy to find on the Insert tab. Ellipses imply that someone is trailing off, or has just slowly stopped speaking. Use four if it’s the end of a sentence (period plus three ellipses). Be careful not to overuse either dashes or ellipses.
  • Avoid participial phrases as they do not make for sophisticated writing. Participle phrases are the most common modifier to misplace or dangle. So instead of, “Breathing hard through his teeth, he gained control over the pain,” instead you would rephrase to: “As he breathed hard through his teeth, he gained control over the pain.”
  • Always start a new paragraph when changing speakers. In dialogue, the first word needs to be capitalized every time, and there must always be ending punctuation. If the dialogue tag is a lead-in, it must always have a comma, such as: She said, “Yes.”

Content/developmental editors won’t actually fix up many grammar issues (just their own pet peeves mostly) but a clean manuscript shows you have some understanding of how the English language works, in all its bizarreness, and that you pay attention to detail. It helps editors and agents better see the forest for the trees.

Ten Tips for Self-Editing

To best utilize a professional editor, your manuscript ought to be as perfect as you can get it yourself, first. If you self-edit, you can reduce the cost of editing, as well as allow the editor to see the real heart of your manuscript, when it isn’t obscured by superficial and easily fixable issues. Here are some methods you should try.

1. Use Microsoft Word’s editing options fully

Word has a lot of options to help with your editing. Go to File-> Options-> Proofing-> When correcting spelling and grammar in Word-> Writing Style: Settings-> Style: Sentence length (more than sixty words). Next, run the Spelling & Grammar check and it will give you a blue squiggle underline for every super-long sentence. In the Require section, mark always for the comma before the last item (book publishing uses the serial comma), for punctuation inside quotation marks, and for one space after a period (not two, that style changed about thirty years ago). You can also have Word check for passive verbs, fragments, and clichés. It won’t catch everything by a longshot, but it’s a good starting point.

2. Get rid of time-framing words

If you place one thing after the other in the story, you don’t need to preface it with “then.” Excise these time-framing words such as “all at once,” “began,” “eventually,” “immediately,” “just,” “often,” “proceeded,” “started,” or “suddenly” whenever possible. They are unnecessary, make your writing wordy, and can make your writing feel timid and insecure, like you don’t trust the readers to get from A to B to C.

3. Scrutinize your words

Eyeball every adverb and delete most. Look over nonspecific adjectives like “really,” “super,” and “totally.” Specify or delete any nonspecific words or phrasing like “sort of,” “kind of,” “things,” “something,” and “stuff.” This is when editing online can be helpful as most of these can be addressed using “Find.” Delete every “Being that.” Don’t use complicated words when simple ones will do. Make your verbs active, not passive.Chicago Manual

4. Familiarize yourself with the Chicago Manual of Style

This is the style guide used throughout book publishing. It might be significantly different than what you think are appropriate style choices such as the above mentioned serial comma.

5. Change your font

And do it more than once. Change the font, change the size, change the color. This helps you to be able to see the manuscript in a new context. (But when you are done with editing, change it back to a common serif font su ch as Times New Roman or Garamond and stick to it.)

6. Print the manuscript

While online editing has its advantages, you see things in print that you don’t see on the screen.

7. Read your manuscript out loud

Yes, this will be time-consuming and awkward. However, this exercise will smooth over difficread aloudult phrasing, make dialogue sound more realistic, and highlight errors that the brain fixes for you. Try to read it in a flat voice so you can hear where certain phrasing might be misunderstood without tone. You can also have your computer read it to you which would achieve the same effect.

8. Beginnings and endings

Do read over your beginnings and endings carefully but not just the beginning and end of the book—look at the beginning and end of each chapter. Each chapter should end on a cliffhanger as best you can. Try to keep readers reading. Don’t wrap things up too tightly. And be careful your chapters aren’t too long. Short chapters keep the action moving along.

9. Ask a friend

Ask your most critical, most honest friend for feedback. Assure them of no recriminations. Ask them specific questions, such as, Where did you lose interest? Were you confused at any point? Who was your least favorite character? Did you know why the main character did X? If you had to cut a scene or a character, what would you cut?

10. Put it in a drawer

Forget about the book for a while, as best you can. Put it aside for a monthdrawer or so. Work on other things. Use the time to plow through other responsibilities and your to do list so that when you come back to tackle your manuscript with fresh eyes, you aren’t distracted by other responsibilities.

Write first, edit second. Don’t confuse the creative process with the editing process. And don’t use editing as a way to procrastinate finishing writing. On the other hand, don’t over-edit. Self-editing is a great head start, but even the world’s best writers need a second set of eyes. Learn to know when it’s time to let go.

At that time, we can help.

Should You Hire An Editor Quiz

Are you on the fence about hiring an independent editor? Not sure you need one yet? Don’t want to jump the gun? Understandable, as it’s not an easy or inexpensive step in the process, so here are questions to ask yourself to help you decide:Bird by Bird

  • Have you edited and rewritten your manuscript until your eyes want to fall out of your head and you’re sick of the book?
  • Have you exhausted all of your beta reader options, from your cousin to your college roommate to your elementary school Language Arts teacher?
  • Have you joined a writing group and gotten critiques?
  • Have you taken a writing class or workshop?
  • Have you applied all of the writing/rewriting/editing advice out there (including mine)?
  • Have you read On Writing by Stephen King? Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott? Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg?
  • Do you want your book to find a wider readership and be read by people outside of your friends and family?
  • Do you want to pursue traditional publishing and try to get a literary agent?
  • Do you want to self-publish but want to be sure you self-publish a great book you can be proud of?

Some of these questions might sound self-serving, but if you are putting together a family history just for a handful of your immediate family, that doesn’t need an editor. If you haven’t read any books on writing and haven’t asked anyone to read your manuscript, you might need an editor, but you’re not there yet. If you answered YES to five or more of these, you can be pretty sure you are at a good place for hiring an editor where you won’t be wasting your time or money. If you’re at fewer than five, you still have some options before going to a professional editor, which will decrease the cost when you do get to that stage.

When you do get there, check out the videos in our Author Resource Center as Nicole has some tips for how to find the right editor and what the different types of editing are.

Happy New Year! What Will You Do In 2016?

On Being Productive in the New Year

2016 new yearDo you want to get your book written? Finished? Rewritten? Submitted? Are you having trouble putting pen to paper and getting it done? Are you a master procrastinator? Here are some tips for finally buckling down and getting your work done:

  • Kill the procrastination tools.

We know how you procrastinate. The same way we do. Facebook. Twitter. Goodreads. Blogs. Find a program such as Simple Blocker which blocks access to certain domains for a given period of time. You can set it up to work all throughout the business day or just for a two-hour window, whatever works for you.

Find someone you know and trust in your network, ideally someone who at least somewhat understands your work and/or someone in a similar situation who could also use the accountability. Tell them your goals, big and small. Check in regularly.

I believe in this tool so much, I do it myself, along with fellow AAAer Karen. We email each other every Friday with A) what goals we accomplished this week (and what we didn’t), B) what we accomplished this week that we hadn’t planned on and, C) what we plan to do next week. We comment on each others’ weeks and goals, and we meet up quarterly to discuss more in-depth.

  • Tell people your goals, publicly.

This is when Facebook can help instead of hurt. Announce your goal. Give occasional (maybe monthly) updates. You’ll get some cheering from your friends and family, and the pressure of not living up to your public promise can help you get to work and make sure you don’t disappoint.

  • Set manageable goals.

Your goal shouldn’t be: “Write my book.” It should be: “Write 1000 words per day.” Or “Send one submission every week.” Make your goals manageable. Break them down into small chunks so you can get a little accomplished every day, and so you can feel that sense of accomplishment even when progress feels slow.

  • Make it a routine.

That doesn’t mean you’ll do something 2 or 3 days a week. Do it every single day. Something that is routine is brushing your teeth. You never think about whether or not you have time, whether you want to do it. A routine is something you truly don’t think about if you’ll do it. You just do it.

  • Try carrots… and sticks.

I had one client who just couldn’t do her rewrite. She’d put it off for a full year after I’d done her edit. She knew she needed motivation but she just couldn’t convince herself to do it. We devised a carrot and stick plan for her. We picked a reasonable deadline goal. We enlisted her best friend. Then she made a promise that if she completed her rewriting by that date, she got to buy herself two new pairs of shoes. If she did not, she had to buy her best friend THREE new pairs of shoes. You’d better believe her best friend was excited about this plan and would hold her to it! We respond better to punishments than rewards, so be sure you utilize both sides of this equation.

Good luck! And if you need assistance with hitting your goals, we can help.

If you want to know more about what editors do, check out my video this week. It’s about editors at publishing houses, not independent editors, but it can be confusing for authors to know just what editors do and why they’re always busy and why it make take some time for them to call back.

Eight Tips for How to Take Criticism

If you’re lucky and if you look for it, during the writing, rewriting, and submitting process, you’ll get some feedback and advice. In my video this week, I talk about why agents don’t often give any feedback (or even a rejection) these days. So if you get some, it’s valuable. It can be hard to take criticism, even when it’s constructive, so here are some tips:

1. If you can’t take criticism early and in private, you’ll get it later and in public.
If you have a hard time hearing where your book might be flawed from your friends, beta readers, and your editor, pause, take a deep breath, and vow to dive in and deal with it anyway. Because if you don’t fix those flaws, they won’t magically disappear. It’s much better to hear this feedback now, when you can still address the problems, then to read about them in a review, after your book has been published, when you can’t fix it, and everyone can see the criticism.

2. Take it with the intention it is meant
Editors only want your work to be the best it can be. We have no skin in the game if you don’t take our advice and don’t address your manuscript’s issues, so there is no incentive for an editor to make bad or erroneous suggestions. Your friends and family don’t want to see you be embarrassed. Your writing group just wants to help you improve and to give equivalent feedback to what they’ve been receiving from you. No one is trying to demoralize you or put you down. This isn’t about you; it’s about the story (even if it’s memoir). If someone does make personal pot-shots, cut them out of the loop permanently.

3. Get multiple opinions—do they all agree?
One of us had a client who had a big flaw in his book. He didn’t take her advice. But he mentioned that another reader had pointed out the same problem. So he ignored two readers’ suggestions to fix it. He was later taken to task for this error in a review. Moral of the story: if multiple readers are pointing out the same problem, then it really is a problem and you need to look at it more closely. If more than one person isn’t getting something in your story, you haven’t made it clear regardless of how you meant it to read. Feel free to get a second opinion. Multiple readers are a great idea. What more than one of them points out is something you need to pay particular attention to.

4. Do not respond in the heat of the moment. Do not.
Sleep on it. Sit with it for a few days. The immediacy of hurt will fade and you’ll be able to see the issue more plainly and without the clouds of emotions. This is especially true if the criticism is something in public such as a review or an online comment. Don’t address those at all. They never end well. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion.

Letters From People5. Do not awfulize.
Criticism does not equal “I hate it.” The longest editorial letters I write are for the books I really love. There’s a thin line between love and hate. The opposite of love is indifference. That’s where the real danger lies. But if I have a hundred issues I pointed out, that doesn’t mean you’re awful or the book’s awful or you’re never going to get published. It just means you have a hundred issues to look at and think over.

6. Listen to this podcast about dealing with criticism

7. Read this book about hate mail: Letters From People Who Hate Me by Steve Almond 

8. Rone_star_amazon_reviewsead these scathing reviews of books that are now classics.

Appreciate that there are people who want to help your writing improve. And it will. Writing is a skill and it gets better with practice, and with coaching. No one is born writing like Shakespeare, not even Shakespeare himself.

Is a Small Publisher Right for You?

Most writers, when they think of publishing through traditional channels, think of the big guys: DalkeyHarperCollins, Random House, and the like. And to get in those doors, you do need a literary agent. But what happens when you start hearing a lot of “No” from agents? Or hearing nothing at all? Is your reaction, “Well, then I guess I need to self-publish!” Hold off, because there is a vast area in between. In my video this week, I talk about three reasons you should very seriously consider going with a small press before turning to self-publishing.

There are an estimated two thousand publishers in the United States. Many of them belong to the Independent Book Publishers Association (which is why it has been confusing for self-publishing to John F Blairstart calling itself “indie publishing.” There already have been independent publishers around for decades.) Many if not most small publishers do accept unagented submissions. Many have very targeted publishing focuses, which can make it easy to find the right publisher for you. They can take more risks, and you can be a big fish in a small pond instead of the reverse. Small presses might haveMilkweed a regional bent, might be not-for-profit, might be affiliated with a university, or might be on the verge of growing into a major player.

When looking for a small publisher that might be right for you, keep these three questions in mind:

  1. Who does their selling and distribution? There are a number of distributors for small presses, and those distributors are very important in allowing the small presses to get appointments with and sell into the bookstore chains, major independent bookstores, and libraries. Their warehousing and shipping consolidation makes your publisher seem more like one of the big guys. You want to be sure your publisher’s relationship with their distributor is strong and firm—and not likely to change right after your book has released.
  2. What other books do they sell? Who will be the other books in the catalog next to yours? What books will your book be next to? Is their publishing philosophy one your agree with acrCoffee Houseoss the board? This isn’t the time to get desperate and go with the first offer that comes your way—check out their other books and see if you think the editorial and production values are what you want, that the website is up to snuff, and that they give the professional feel you are looking for.
  3. Is this a stepping-stone or are you looking for a lifelong relationship? Plenty of authors stay with the small publisher that believed in them and gave them a chance, while others move on to greener pastures when they have the clout to do so. Which future you prefer should affect the contract you sign with the publisher. If you will be unagented, read carefully the options clause and see if you’d like it to be more narrowly defined. Or you can try to get a two-book deal. When you don’t have an agent you need to read up on the aspects of a publishing contract and fully understand the various clauses and what they will mean for your career.Forest Ave

So before you give up on your dream of being traditionally published, you need to fully understand everything that falls under the umbrella of traditiGraywolfonal publishing. This is not a business for the impatient; keep submitting, keep researching, keep trying, as there are hundreds more options than just The Big Five. Small press publishing just might be right for you.

Traditional v. Self-Publishing

Whether or not to self-publish is a big decision as you can’t undo it once it’s done. Yes, there are always stories about wildly successful books that started out as self-published but later were traditionally published, such as:

What Color is Your Parachute by Richard Nelson Bolles

The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans

The One-Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson

The Joy of Cooking by Irma RombauerLife's Litt

Life’s Little Instruction Book by H. Jackson Brown

Juggling for the Complete Klutz by John Cassidy (actually this author then started a publishing company, Klutz Books)

Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

The Shack by Wm. Paul Young

But what is rarely noted in these stories of amazing self-publishing success, is that the prize at the end of that road is: traditional publishing. Like Amanda Hocking has said, running a publishing business is not for the faint of heart or for those who want to focus on writing, even if it is financially successful. (She started publishing with St. Martin’s Press once her books became bestsellers.) There are both pluses and minuses to both routes that ought to be fully considered before making a decision. And the fact that traditional publishing is a slow process shouldn’t be the deciding factor (have some patience!) Many books were rejected a lot and went on to be huge hits, such as:

Chicken Soup for the Soul by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen was rejected 140 timesZen and

The Help by Kathryn Sockett, 60 times

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Persig, 121 times

Carrie by Stephen King, 30 times

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde, 76 times

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle, 26 times

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, 38 times

And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street by Dr. Suess, 27 times

So you may have to have persistence and you will certainly need a thick skin in this business.

Where to Self-Publish

The hows of traditional publishing will be covered in a later podcast and video, but a few details about self-publishing for now. First of all, Amazon is not the only game in town. And you really need to think twice before going with Amazon as that will exclude nearly all other book outlets, even if you don’t do an exclusive deal with Amazon (independent bookstores and chains like B&N do not like to purchase from a competitor, which Amazon is, and frequently will refuse to carry books printed by them.) There are a lot of companies to look into with a lot of options, here is a sampling of some of the larger ones:

Many of these companies offer package deals that may include editing, copyediting, ISBN, cover design, and marketing.

Other Questions to Ask

And a few other decisions you will need to make:

  • Will you be publishing an ebook? A print book? Both? Will print books be printed in a large quantity (offset printing) or one at a time (print-on-demand)?
  • Doing your own marketing and publicity:
    • What are blogs that review self-published books? Should you pay for a book blog tour?
    • What traditional review companies accept self-published books for review? How much does it cost? How much advance time do they need before the publication date?
    • How can you target your audience?
    • What social media outlets work best for you and for your book? How can you raise your level of visibility?
    • Should you hire an independent publicist?

It may sounds like I think everyone ought to go with traditional publishing and that’s certainly not true. I self-published a book myself in fact! It’s called The Insider’s Guide to a Career in Book Publishing. And you can read a post on my personal blog about the cost of that process. I just think the majority of writers make this decision without all the facts in front of them, and it’s a decision that needs to be fully explored and thought over carefully.