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Stuck in Book Publishing Limbo

by Betsy Thorpe

Are you stuck in limbo? Book publishing limbo can happen at any time during the writing process. Currently, I’ve got three friends who are waiting…

  • One, under contract with a major publisher, is waiting to hear whether the head of her publishing house likes the book enough to give it a major investment with hardcover, publicity, and marketing dollars.
  • One friend is waiting to hear back from her agent about whether the changes she made for a specific publisher will be enough to get her a deal.
  • One friend is just resubmitting her book to agents after massive re-writes.

I’m in limbo too. My agent currently has a draft of the new opening to a book she’d already submitted to editors. It got nice rejections (yes, there are such things as “nice rejections”), but a few critiqued that it took me too long to get the story moving. So my super sharp agent and I had a story meeting, and we came up with (hopefully) a fun new beginning that will get the reader into the story far more quickly than the novel’s previous incarnation. But I’m in limbo until I hear from her whether I should proceed with what I’ve done, change some elements, or scrap it and try something else. So I wait until she has time in her schedule to look at my schedule.

Still others wait for edits from their editor, like me. Sometimes they have to wait a little while if their editor has a waiting list. Other times I have to wait to get a hold of their book, because clients need to budget their edit, and save up for it.

If we go further back into the process, some are in limbo waiting for the TIME to write their books. One client of mine knew she was having foot surgery later this year and is convinced that that time lying around will force her to spend time on her book. My friend Holly and I, who also angie-pisel-21-c-robin-parish-photographyrecently had foot surgeries, think she will be so sleepy on her pain medication that she will not be able to concentrate enough to get her work done. However, one of the authors we met at Bibliofeast, Angela Pisel, author of With Love from the Inside, actually did write her debut novel when she was recuperating from breaking her ankle, so she has proved us wrong.

cover150x250Others are waiting for the big idea to strike. They know they want to write a book, but what should it be? For those who are in this part of limbo, I highly recommend a book called Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert, which is all about inspiration. (Spoiler alert – big ideas don’t come 99% of the time unless you’re sitting at the desk, already writing.)

How do you best get out of limbo? In all cases: Write. I’m writing this blog. My friends in the scenarios above are thinking and writing their next books while their current books are under submission. The authors who are waiting for their edits should be writing their next book. Stephen King wrote in On Writing, my favorite book of writing advice that you should send out your book to agents and editors (and I’m paraphrasing here, since I can’t find the exact quote) only when you are so invested in your new book idea that you think it’s the most exciting and best thing you’ve ever done, and so you could care less whether or not the old book sells because you’re so convinced of this new book’s merits.
[Update: As I finish up this piece, I got good news. My agent likes my new start. Full steam ahead on the rewrite. Limbo no more – at least, until the next time I turn something in.]

 

In Her Own Words by Angela Pisel

Meet author Angela Pisel: This guest post is written by Angela Pisel author of debut novel, With Love from the Inside, by G.P. Putnam’s Sons. She and nine critically acclaimed authors will be featured at the Women’s National Book Association Charlotte’s 7th Annual “BIBLIOFEAST” Book & Author Dinner on Oct. 17.angie-pisel-21-c-robin-parish-photography

We hear about them more often than we should. After fifteen, twenty, and sometimes even thirty years, a horrific mistake is made right. Camera crews now capturing the wrongly convicted ones, with their overgrown, more-gray-than-not hair and hesitant feet, stepping out into the sunshine. Their heavy eyes, once again meeting freedom, while being introduced to babies they’d never met, from children they didn’t see grow up.

In late 2011, I watched the news coverage of a man who’d spent twenty-five years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit. I stared at him while he wrapped his frail, spindly arms around those he’d thought he’d never be able to touch again. I could almost hear his erratically pumping heart struggling to balance all that had been taken from him with the promise of what was to come.

I dared to ask myself the question I imagine most of us would ask: What if that were me?

Could I have endured?

Could I have forgiven?

Could I move on after so much was taken away from me?

cover-photo-with-love-from-the-insideIn 2012, I began to study women on death row. I read everything I could find about them online and in the library. I wrote 57 of them letters, asking questions about how they passed the time and what their first thoughts were when they woke up in the morning. One woman sent me her picture. She was average-enough looking that she could have worked beside me at the seventh-grade bake sale, carrying on conversations about fundraisers and the high price of school calculators. Would these women, if given the right circumstances— a sober mother to tuck them in at night, a father who kept his hands to himself—now be working in a cubicle someplace, instead of living in a cage with all the freedom afforded to a rabid animal? Or would they have made the same decisions, even with two appropriately affectionate parents—their personalities and their fates predetermined, so to speak? How did these women end up with an expiration date?

I couldn’t help but wonder about their children. What it’s like spending birthdays, holidays, and first days of school separated from their incarcerated mom or dad? Who do they turn to when they have no one to sit with at lunch, or when a stranger knocks on their front door?

Could they endure?

Could they forgive?

Could they move on after so much was taken away from them?

These questions birthed my debut novel, With Love From the Inside. It’s the story of a mother on death row and a daughter left to navigate growing up without her. Both women desperately struggle to figure out how they ended up where they did, and if they will ever find truth and forgiveness.

While writing this story, I interviewed a woman from North Carolina whose father had been in and out of prison for her entire childhood. Most of her weekends, she told me, were spent driving up to three hours with her mom to sit in a dirty visitation room, hoping to hear her daddy say he was proud of her. At the age of forty-one, she finally heard him say “I love you” for the first time. He said those words, handcuffed in a courtroom, right after the judge sentenced him to live his final days in prison. He died of a heart attack shortly afterward.

She promised herself she’d never set foot in another prison, but that wasn’t what happened. God had other plans, she told me. This year alone, she will spend 36 weekends behind locked doors with an organization she founded called Forgiven Ministry (forgivenministry.org), whose mission is to reconnect incarcerated parents with their children. She will teach moms how to tell their kids “This is not your fault” and help dads learn how to say “I’m sorry.” She’s hoping to break the cycle of recidivism, and sometimes she will let me tag along.

A quick Google search will tell you that my new friend’s childhood was not that uncommon: 2.7 million American children are growing up with a mom or dad behind bars. That’s a lot of kids, one in twenty-eight to be more exact, trying to endure, trying to forgive, trying to move on after so much was taken from them….

Angela Pisel was born in the Midwest but has set up homes across the United States since marrying an Army physician. As a therapist and life coach, she has taken a special interest in mentoring women throughout various transitions in their lives. She decided to write her first novel after her obsession with TV trials led her to research women on death row. She didn’t find what she thought she’d find—how people end up where they end up continues to mesmerize her. Angela volunteers with an organization in North Carolina (forgivenministry.org) that seeks to break the cycle of recidivism by promoting healthy relationships between children and their incarcerated parent.

Want to write a guest post for All About the Authors? We welcome guest posts from authors and those who are experts in the book industry. What is your writing process? Where are you in your publishing journey and what advice do you have? Have you successfully marketed your book and do you have tips to share? All About the Authors wants to hear from you! If you’re interested in submitting a guest post to All About the Authors, please send your information and topic idea to allabouttheauthors@gmail.com or priscillagoudreausantos@gmail.com with the subject line “Guest Post”. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet novelist Julia Franks author of Over the Plain Houses

This guest post is written by Julia Franks whose debut novel, Over the Plain Houses, Hub City Press, is a finalist for the 2016 Crook’s Corner Prize for Debut Fiction, the winner to be announced in January. You can meet Julia in person at the Women’s National Book Association – Charlotte’s 7th Annual “BIBLIOFEAST” Book & Author Dinner on Oct. 17.

For me, novels come from questions. You have some question or questions that you can’t stop thinking about, can’t stop worrying over. So you start writing, and you don’t know where the questions are going to take you. I live in the Bible Belt sfranksauthorphoto_credit_holly_sasnetto one of those questions has always been, “How does a person who believes the Bible is literal truth construct a world view around that?”

But the novel really started percolating in my head in 2008. That summer a man walked into my parents’ church in Tennessee and started shooting, killing two people immediately and injuring several others. Like a lot of people, I became fixated on the “Why?” In this case, the church was Unitarian/ Universalist, and the shooter had written a kind of manifesto about his own ideology. But then it came out later that his wife had left him, and that she’d become a member of the UU church. I thought a lot about that. People are so complicated, really, and so fragile.

That same year my (then) husband and I bought an abandoned farm in the mountains north of Asheville. There was a house on the property, an old cabin built in 1865, with a springhouse and a privy nearby, but no one had lived there in four decades. The strange thing about it was that it was still full of the residents’ possessions: clothes in the dresser, boots in the closet, hundreds of jars of canned food. And the people who had lived there had clearly been hoarders of a sort. Some of it was boxes of old toys and documents and letters and diaries, hundreds of jars of canned food. But they’d also saved a lot from the natural world: hornet nests, animal skins, mammal skulls and skeletons, calcified eggs. The little boy’s room had a collection of snakeskins pinned to the wall.over-the-plain-houses-9781938235214_583fe

Some of it clearly needed to go back to the family, so we contacted the son of the previous owners—I’ll call him Mr. M.—who was in his late eighties by then. He had been the little boy who’d collected the snakeskins. We brought him all the diaries and letters, and he seemed delighted to have them. We spent the rest of the day with him and his wife, listening to stories. (Unfortunately the way it’s done in this part of the world is that, in a group of two couples, the man will talk to the other man, while the hostess tries to engage the woman. So here’s this lovely lady taking me to the kitchen to show me her method for canning pears, and the whole time I’m straining to hear the stories the old man is telling my husband in the other room about his childhood.)

Meanwhile, back in town, the locals had heard that we’d bought the old homestead, and they started telling us stories too. Mr. M’s parents were a fire and brimstone preacher and his nature-loving wife. He loved God, and she loved the woods, but they were sort of famous for their eccentricities and their attempt to live an older lifestyle right into the 20th century. (Like other mountain women, Mrs. M. wore a splint bonnet right into the 1970s). And one guy was still mad about the sermons. Forty years later he still resented the fact that Mr. M. called out his wife and then came over to eat her fried chicken dinner afterward. But everyone said the same thing about Mrs. M.: “That woman was a saint.”

Anyway, that was my other big question. How does a woman construct her own identity when she’s married to such a charismatic and outspoken community leader? Mrs. M. saved things and labelled them, as in, “This is the hat I wore to Celia’s graduation,” Or “Calvin’s baby blanket.” And we found hundreds of jelly jars with salvaged objects in them. She constructed her own world of saved objects. Whether that was enough or not, I guess we won’t ever know.

Mr. M. did die well in advance of her, and she lived a long time on that farm by herself, until her grandsons took her to live in a facility. I’ve always wondered if she hated leaving her woods behind, and all the things she’d saved over the years, her world.

Over the Plain Houses is a story of a couple much like this one, living in Western North Carolina in the 1930s, when they were young, and they didn’t know yet that the modern world was about to crash in upon them.

With roots in the Appalachian Mountains, Julia has spent years kayaking the rivers and creeks of Tennessee, North Carolina and West Virginia. She lives in Atlanta where she teaches literature and runs loosecannon.com, a web service that fosters free-choice reading in the classroom.

Want to write a guest post for All About the Authors? We welcome guest posts from authors and those who are experts in the book industry. What is your writing process? Where are you in your publishing journey and what advice do you have? Have you successfully marketed your book and do you have tips to share? All About the Authors wants to hear from you! If you’re interested in submitting a guest post to All About the Authors, please send your information and topic idea to allabouttheauthors@gmail.com with the subject line “Guest Post”. 

One Author’s journey from manuscript to publishing

This guest post is written by James T. Crouse who has just published his debut novel, Broken Eagle, a hard-hitting story with a military-legal-aviation theme.

The journey of publishing my first novel has reached the stage which allows for reflection, which I hope will be interesting but more importantly useful to others.EXTRA PIC COVER jpeg

As long as I can remember, I have written. Letters to the editor in my teens, an editor’s sports column in my high school newspaper, and poetry in my 20’s.  Then law school and my litigating career, briefs and memoranda of law, then a highly acclaimed aviation law casebook.

But I still had an itch.  Hearing something on the radio, I would mentally compose a full op-ed piece in five minutes. I concluded that I could do this forever but if I really wanted to send a message, I had to go deeper. Novels were the answer.

For two years I played with what would become Broken Eagle, then I joined the North Carolina Writers Network. At my second conference, fate smiled on me and I met the terrific Betsy Thorpe who became my trusted editor and friend.  Betsy and I worked for over a year and she gave me tough, fair and helpful criticism. We “finished” (I thought) Broken Eagle. I quickly got a great, experienced agent  who pitched the manuscript as a best seller.  Then followed over a year of rejections with no uniform theme.  According to the editors at the big publishing houses, Broken Eagle was deficient in many ways.

I was not going to quit—didn’t get that gene. I learned all about self-publishing, engaged in more editing, copy editing, book and cover design, submitted to publishers, submitted eBook formats, formed my own publishing company, developed a website, and now it’s marketing—a 24-hour a day effort.  An audio book is coming. In all of this, Betsy guided me and assembled the necessary people, including the terrific Lisa Kline, another editor who has become my friend.

I am now beginning to reap the rewards.  My beta readers wrote glowing blurbs.  The people to whom I have gifted the book have repeatedly commented, “I can’t put it down.” Press releases are out and reviewers are reading.  I sent marketing copies to bookstores, retail chains, military exchanges, media personalities, law schools, aviation museums, professional organizations and others.  Several interviews have been given, articles have been written in professional newsletters with more planned.  Book readings and signings are scheduled with more to come. Friends are talking to friends, recommending the book.

So let me reflect for a moment about what I have learned in the process.

  1. Write from the heart. You know the adage that you will only be successful at something you care about.  That is especially true in writing.  The whole process takes so much effort you better REALLY want what you have to say to get to the public.

That’s why I wrote Broken Eagle, and in the future will write about the wild horses of Corolla, the flawed aircraft certification process, pollution in the Gulf of Mexico, and the selling of government. Since I can remember, injustice has inspired me to take action. My decision to become a lawyer was fueled by this same motivation.  Representing the families of people killed or individuals injured in aviation disasters and other accidents has only reaffirmed the goal of telling the stories of people harmed by the negligence and intentional acts of people, corporations and governments that often act with impunity.

No group is more unfairly affected than our military men and women.  When the products they have no choice but to use injure or kill them, they find out that they have far fewer rights to recover for their injuries than their civilian neighbors.  Trying to get redress, they face a phalanx of laws, rules and court decisions that greatly narrow their paths to recovery.

So, it was time to tell this story. And others.

  1. Gird Yourself for a Struggle. It’s not life or death, but it seems that way. Editors’ comments sting, publishers tell you that you’re not good enough, copy editors cut the soul out of your manuscript, and the technical requirements of publishing and marketing are like learning a whole new language. Listen to all and work with them to get better—but fight for what you want. Talk to them.
  2. Beware of the Charlatans. I can’t tell you how many books I bought about writing, editing, dialogue, character, setting, marketing, etc. Only a few were instructive and helpful. It reminds me of infomercials preaching how to make a million dollars in real estate. By convincing you to buy their program, they make a million dollars–but it isn’t in real estate.  If I get another opportunity to write a guest post for this site, I’ll give you my thoughts on the best writing guides I found.
  3. Be Creative. Think outside the box in all you do—writing, editing, finding an agent, publishing, and marketing.

Good luck!

For more information about James T. Crouse and his book, visit his website at  http://www.jamestcrouseauthor.com/ ; on Facebook at http://facebook.com/pages/Crouse-Law-Offices-Personal-injury-lawyers-Aviation-Attorneys/208503709164424; on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/user/CrouseLawFirm; on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/crouselaw, on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/james-crouse-552a0526; and on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30374373-broken-eagle?from_search=true&search_version=service

Want to write a guest post for All About the Authors? We welcome guest posts from authors and those who are experts in the book industry. What is your writing process? Where are you in your publishing journey and what advice do you have? Have you successfully marketed your book and do you have tips to share? All About the Authors wants to hear from you! If you’re interested in submitting a guest post to All About the Authors, please send your information and topic idea to allabouttheauthors@gmail.com with the subject line “Guest Post”. 

The Good News About Audiobooks

One of my clients received what we thought was the golden ticket – an amazing agent agreed to represent his thriller. This agent is one of the top sellers in the business, and he immediately submitted my client’s book to the top editors at all the major publishing houses. Days later, the rejections poured in containing all completely different (and sometimes contradictory) reasons for passing on the book. After many almosts, there were just as quickly no more editors and houses to whom he could submit. The golden ticket was no more.

This is more common than you think. While many think that getting an agent assures a publishing deal, the most successful agents sell only twelve projects a year. That’s a pretty small number when you think about it.

But we could go on and on for years about the state of publishing and the subjectiveness of the business, as my writer/editor/agent friends and I often do. The topic of this piece, however, is not about the heartbreak of all that, but of next steps. My client is self-publishing, and we’re hoping that with a great product will come sales.

61VrXXqyR-L._AA160_What Jim learned in doing his research on the subject was the rise of audiobooks. It turns out that Andy Weir, self-publishing author of the widly successful book The Martian, was discovered thanks to his audio book. A small audio book publisher found Andy’s book online, and acquired the audio rights to his book and produced a great product.

Audiobooks is the fastest growing segment of the book publishing business. I recently have become a convert as well, discovering audible.com through a Groupon. Thanks to smartphones and digital audio files, the days of old books on tape and carrying around packs of cds are no longer necessary, although libraries and other places still offer them. I downloaded a Great Courses twenty-two hour class on Medieval History, and Mindy Kaling’s book Why Not Me? As a person who works all day and is a single parent, I don’t have a lot of time for books until bed, when I can manage about fifteen minutes before I fall into a coma. But with audiobooks, I can take the dog for a walk and listen to a book, make dinner while listening to a book, and do everything else that needs doing around the house and garden. There are free apps too through the library (OverDrive) and other servers including audiobooks.com

According to Marketwatch, some books are selling better in audio than in print, sometimes by as much as four times.
61QXHDkPucL._AA160_To me, the narrator is key. I am a huge Bill Bryson fan, however, as much as I love the man as writer, I found his actual voice, when reading his own audiobooks, grating (sorry Bill!). So when his latest book came out, The Road to Little Dribbling, I checked it out on audio to listen to a sample of the book, and I saw and heard that this book has a narrator named Nathan Osgood. His voice is delightful and he conveys the author’s irascible and grouchy nature charmingly– the perfect match to the author. Another great narrator is Caroline Lee, who reads Kate Morton’s The Lake House.
So now Jim is looking into not only self publishing his book with a print edition, but getting an audiobook as well. I connected him with my former neighbor, and former Charlotte news anchorman Alan Taylor, who now has with a booming business narrating audiobooks through ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange). ACX in an online marketplace that connects authors, narrators, and producers. You can upload portions of your book and narrators can give you a sample. Publishers Weekly 51PAt8O-8CL._AA160_  has a very useful article on how to indie publish an audiobook, associated costs, and royalties.

Check it out, and let us know what you think about audiobooks.

 

 

 

You Can’t Please Everybody

This morning I was taking a look at the recent book publishing deals that have been made on Publisher’s Marketplace. The information listed is very short: title of the book, author name, a one-sentence description, the name of the agent who sold the book, and the editor who bought the book.

You can do a search by genre, and since my women’s fiction/romance book is being submitted this week by my agent, I wanted to see what books had been sold in the last two months, and who some of the editors were who were buying them. What first came to mind is: Who knew Cattlemen were so sexy? It seems like fifty% of the books sold in this genre in the last two months featured cattlemen and Texas. Having spent three years in Houston, TX, I can assure you I have no desire to romanticize anything about living there. However, a bunch of successful romance writers clearly feel differently.

My fear is that an up and coming writer may take a look at that list, and slap herself in the face, moaning, “Oh no! Cattlemen? Why was I writing a sweet romance that takes place in a bakery in Virginia! I’ve missed the boat! Cattlemen are what’s selling now.”

You may remember this phenomenon happening when the Twilight series came out, and suddenly everybody thought: “I must write books about moody vampires!” And then The Hunger Games, “I must write about a dystopian future world with a strong female lead!” This is the wrong road to go down for two reasons:

  • The publishing cycle is long. Unless you write very quickly, all the editors who just bought books on cattlemen have pretty much filled up their lists with these books already. By the time you finish your book, find an agent, and submit, these books are already published and the editors have moved on to another hot topic.
  • Don’t write on trend. Write what you want to write – the book you want to read. Your heart won’t be in it if you are writing for a rapidly moving market. And given that you’re probably writing in your spare time, is this a project you’re really interested in?

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  • You Can’t Please Everybody. I submit this to you if you’re in a book group: How often does everyone love the book that was picked out for that month’s read. I can count a handful of times (in my book group, we all loved The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, Where’d You Go Bernadette? And the list ends there.) People have different tastes. You may love dystopian books, while your best friend loves only realistic literary fiction. Some love history books, and others purely escapist cozy mysteries. The world of books and reading is large, with enough great books to cater to every type of reader.
  • Even agents don’t agree on what works. Agents and editors turn down books all the time that go on to sell a lot of books. My first boss in publishing turned down Like Water for Chocolate, and used to say, “What do I know? I’m the schmuck who turned down Like Water for Chocolate?” But he was also the schmuck who published Hilary Mantel, Reynolds Price, and Isabelle Allende. So you win some, you lose some. It’s all about taking a risk on a project you’re passionate about.

41HGJKFdW3L._AA160_So don’t fall for beating yourself up about what’s hot, what’s selling, what’s marketable. Write the book that’s important to you. Not everyone is going to love it, but for the people who do, it will be something they can spend time with during a long commute, a lazy weekend day, or up late at night, turning the pages. Your work will be a companion, an escape, a glimpse into another world, an eye-opener, and maybe in inspiration.

 

 

 

 

Author Names = Author Brands

As a writer, your name is your brand. I know, I just said brand, and you’re thinking that brands belong to businesses, not to writers. But you’re wrong. If you want to make money as a writer (and who doesn’t?), then you need to have some business savvy. And that starts by creating a strong author brand.

Priscilla Goudreau-Santos wrote a great blog post about ways to build your author platform. You can read it here, so I won’t rehash those details. Instead, I want to talk about your name.

The name you choose to write under will be your author brand. A lot of writers get hung up on whether or not they should use a pen name. Sometimes they’re concerned that their writing could impact their current careers. Sometimes they don’t want to upset their grandmother. And sometimes they think it sounds cool to have a nom de plume. That’s a fancy way of saying pen name. So is pseudonym.

There are some great reasons to write under a pen name. A few of these include:

-Your name is the same as an already published author.

-You do need to maintain some privacy (i.e., you’re a high school English teacher writing erotica).

-You want to tackle a different genre and you want to give your readers a heads-up that this book will be something different (think Nora Roberts writing as J.D. Robb).

There are some terrible reasons to write under a pen name, too. A few of these include:

-In today’s information age, it will be hard for you to maintain your privacy (J.K. Rowling learned this the hard way).

-You already have a following on a popular blog or social media. Using a pen name means you start from scratch.

-You want a name that is cooler, more you, more something. A pen name isn’t going to make you cooler or make readers more likely to pick up your book. The opposite might be true, especially if you choose something outlandish.

Your Name = Your Brand

Regardless of the name you decide to publish under, know that your author name equals your author brand. Your author name is what you want to use to build your platform: your website, your social media accounts, your blog, etc. You want readers to connect with you the author, not with one particular title of your book. If you make the mistake of choosing your website’s domain name as your book title, what happens when you write another book? Always stick with your author name.

Creating your author brand around your author name has another added benefit. It builds your confidence as writer. When you have an entire website devoted to you and your words, you get a little boost. So the next time you walk into a crowded room, you can say, “Hi, I’m So-and-So, and I’m a writer.”

The Gift of Inspiration

It’s the season of giving. Giving thoughtful gifts to loved ones, friends, and those who make our lives easier.

 

But do you ever give yourself a present? Sometimes I’ll see a pair of gloves or a top I’d like while I’m out shopping for others, and decide to get it for me, wrap it up, and label it: “From Santa.”

This week we’re featuring great books on our Facebook page that are essential reads for aspirin41X1HeR9ZVL._SX301_BO1,204,203,200_g writers. Send the list out to loved ones, or if you happen to be near your favorite independent bookstore, pick one up for yourself and wrap it up in pretty festive paper. After all, what could be more fun than getting advice from some of the best writers in the world on how to do what you want to do?

 

Another gift to give yourself is the gift of inspiration. The inspiration of a new book idea. The inspiration that leads you to figure out how to solve a major plot twist that’s been bugging you for days. The inspiration in finding the right words to show exactly how the protagonist is feeling when the man of her dreams is standing next to her and has no idea she exists. The inspiration that hits just as you’re falling asleep, that gives you the brilliant idea of how to structure your memoir in a way that nobody else has done before. The inspiration of how to find two extra hours in every day that you can devote to writing.

Inspiration is everywhere, but your mind has to be open to it. A writing friend and I just had a wonderful weekend together attending a writers’ conference in Asheville, and were inspired throughout by all the workshops we attended with talented authors. But perhaps the most fun was bringing our laptops down to her parents’ living room (our gracious hosts) and reading passages aloud to each other from our works in progress. My friend couldn’t figure out a plot for her new book, and suddenly, inspiration struck through collaboration, and twenty minutes later we had a really cool plot worked out, and a fun career for one of her protagonists that would provide many laughs. That hour we spent together inspiring one another was priceless.

How can you find inspiration? It can be through tossing ideas together with a friend, but that time is hard to get, especially as a working parent. I find that my most inspiring moments come from:

  • Taking a shower – I can’t tell you how many times a shower has solved a plot problem. I don’t know why hot water and soap helps, but I know I’m not the only one.
  • Going for a drive – You may make fun of me driving around town and singing out loud to Todd Rungren’s “Hello It’s Me,” or Bruno Mars “Grenade,” but there’s something about driving and tunes that will unlock a vault of ideas.

For more eco-friendly ideas,

  • Reading amazing books. If I can’t figure out a way to solve a problem, I’ll turn to the masters. How do they describe their protagonists? How does their dialogue read? How much backstory do they have to start their books?
  • Watching documentaries. There’s nothing like pure facts to get you going. I had the pleasure of speaking once with Debra Dean, who wrot51H8A2ZHIGL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_e the The Madonnas of Leningrad. She was inspired to write her book when she saw a documentary on the Hermitage Museum in Leningrad. A book idea was born, and even though she never got to see the actual museum until after she got a book contract, she poured herself into the research of her book thanks to that PBS documentary.
  • Taking a walk. There’s nothing like nature for inspiration. The wonderful humorist/essayist David Sedaris walks many miles a day and writes about his experiences in a journal, which he then turns into brilliant essays. And there’s nothing like a walk in the city for observing human nature and hearing some interesting conversation. I once heard, “Maria, my bikini days are over!” That line still makes me laugh.
  • Spending time with little kids. They have the most amazing imaginations that they have not yet repressed. I once took a walk with my little one when she was about six, and she merrily told me about all the fairies and their special skills, based on what color they were (green, blue, pink, red, white). I wish I’d had a voice recorder to capture what she said that morning, but it was lost to my poor memory and the pine trees around us. But I can tell you that it was amazing, and a morning I’ll never forget.

I hope these ideas help you with trying to nurture your creative gifts. For more inspiration, please subscribe to All About the Authors and watch our videos on subjects like this, and so much more! We hope to inspire you to succeed and fulfill your dreams to be an author.

 

Ghostwriters – Not Just for the Infamous

You might know about ghostwriters from when a famous reality star has her fifteen minutes of fame, and is asked to write a book about her life. Remember Snookie? The naked guy from 51eHkxgZWNL._SX413_BO1,204,203,200_Survivor? A Real Housewife? Most of these people are not writers.57cadcd00ab945ecb4d1722a3518c132.1500

 

How about the football star who is the winning quarterback in the Superbowl? Everyone wants to know his story, how he went from scrawny eight year old to multi-talented (and super-model-esque) to seemingly invincible hero.

Or, you may have heard that when a politician is running for office, he signs a deal to write a feel good story about his all-American upbringing hi51DV+gcn-6L._AA160_s rags to riches tale, his manifesto of how he wants to make America right again. Most politicians are not writers, or they simply don’t have the time to sit down and write it.

What these scenarios have in common is that the “author” needs to hire a ghostwriter. But ghostwriters aren’t just for the famous (or infamous). A lot of my clients are doctors, psychologists, retired professional athletes, nutritionists, people who have overcome adversity and have a tale to tell, or people who have a great idea that they want to share. Many are speakers and businessmen and women who want to share their ideas in book form, and leave the listeners at conferences where they speak a lasting reminder of their day with them.51HvjG7mukL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

Many people on the speakers’ circuit actually need a book in order to get bookings. Businesses and charities who book speakers like to have books as a give-away (ensuring sales) and it gives the speaker cache that they are published authors.

So many dream of writing a book, but do not have the time or ability. Enter the ghost-writer. We come from various backgrounds, but many of us come from either journalism, or have always been authors, or are former book publishing editors, like me. We work in a variety of ways, but generally we spend time interviewing the author, read their papers, listen to their speeches. We try to capture the voice and the vision of the author and turn it into the best it can be.

To find out more about the costs of a ghost-writer, the time you need to spend with the ghost-writers, and tricky topics like who gets credit and where, become a subscribing member, and watch my video, which will post this week.