Nobody Writes Good First Drafts

Nobody Writes Good First Drafts I spend a lot of time working with my clients to edit and revise their proposals and manuscripts. I give notes and suggestions for improvements. Sometimes I take them through draft after draft, until everything seems just right.   I know it’s tiring for them, and sometimes frustrating to be pushed to go over it again and again, especially when they know they’ll go through more edits with their publisher. I admire every writer who does whatever is necessary, who keeps pushing through, who remains dedicated to making the work the best it can be.   This is what it takes to be good. When an editor pushes you to be your best, or when you push yourself, you’re doing exactly what’s necessary to rise above the hordes of regular writers to become a good writer....
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Trust Me, You Need a Good Editor

Trust Me, You Need a Good Editor I just finished reading a self-published book on a topic I’m passionate about, by an author whose blog I occasionally read. As I’ve mentioned before, I regularly read self-pubbed books, and the fact that I work in traditional publishing doesn’t mean I’m biased against them.   It does, however, mean I’m aware of the ways a book could have been better, had the author availed themselves of the best assistance available, whether in design, writing, editing, cover, or even title.   I was excited to read this book—a memoir—and it started out promising. But it quickly devolved into a self-focused, rambling hodgepodge of preaching interspersed with bragging. I did finish the book (luckily it was rather short) but I ended up with strongly negative...
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You’re Too Good to Quit

You’re Too Good to Quit In our house, we’re getting ready for competition season in gymnastics to begin this weekend. My daughter is a USAG level 7 gymnast with some pretty ambitious goals and it takes a lot of the family’s time and focus.   But recently my daughter was convinced she needed to quit gymnastics (after seven years and thousands of hours in the gym). Her coach and I were asking her why and she told us:   She didn’t feel like she was doing well and didn’t feel successful.   She’d had some setbacks (injuries) and was finding it hard to recover.   It felt like it was taking forever to improve.   Her coach just looked at her and flat-out said, “You’re too good to quit. I need you on my team.”   After that, the coach began...
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Focus on Writing a Great Book

Focus on Writing a Great Book It seems in the last few years, dialogue about all-things-publishing has been focused on platform, marketing, increasing output, distribution platforms, technology, and self-publishing. (This blog is no exception.) But as I noted in this post at Author Media , I think it’s important to call our attention back to the work.    It may be easier to get published these days because of self-pub and the proliferation of indie publishing options. But it’s not any easier to write a good book.    In fact, it may be even harder to write a good book than it was in days past, because both you and your reader have more distractions. You’re tempted by the Internet, your ability to concentrate for long periods of time has been compromised, and deep focus is more...
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The Year in a Word

The Year in a Word Happy new year! As we begin 2014, talk is everywhere about our goals, resolutions and plans. Many of you have chosen “one word” that will serve as a focal point throughout 2014. Choosing a word has become popular in the last five years or so, and I like it because it’s a concise way to distill the theme of all my new year’s goals into one simple expression. So I wanted to share my word for 2014 with you. It is: “Vitality” Over the last year, I’ve become increasingly aware of the need to bring my best energy into every aspect of my life. I have to be intentional about showing up with zeal, and approaching every task with the urgency it deserves. I have to keep my momentum going and not allow it to falter. It seems obvious—like it would go...
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This is Just to Thank You

http://www.rachellegardner.com//HLIC/2e73e6a553a755e09bfaa16261fe65f1.jpg Hey… you. Yeah, you, the one sitting alone in your basement hammering out a thousand words every morning before you go to work. And you. The one filling out your registration for a writers conference and terrified to click “send.” And you in the back, there… frantically taking notes in the writing workshop, attempting to be invisible. And what about you, about to sit down at your first-ever meeting with an agent, trembling with nervousness. And you, the writer who’s signed your first publishing contract and suddenly feel the pressure of deadlines and marketing and expectations. And you, the multi-published author, thankful for your good fortune and praying everyday the words continue to flow. I just wanted you to know that I see you. I know you’re...
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Are You a Lone Ranger Writer?

Are You a Lone Ranger Writer? In publishing, we’re constantly asking writers—typically a rather introverted bunch—to get involved, to engage, to network, to join groups and go to conferences. I often find myself wondering how many of you cringe every time you hear that kind of advice.   Maybe you’re not into the whole publishing “scene.” Maybe you don’t enjoy being in a critique group where people discuss your work.   Maybe you don’t want to be part of a crowd, you don’t want to go to workshops, you don’t think of writing as a group activity.    Maybe social media is not your thing. The thought of promoting your book gives you hives. You don’t want to be a speaker or a blogger or a Facebook expert.   Can such a person find success in...
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When a Writer Becomes a Target

When a Writer Becomes a Target Once you’re a published author, you’re going to have a target on your back. You will offer up your words to strangers, and not everyone will like what you write. You’ll be naked and vulnerable in front of the world. You’ll make mistakes, you may offend people. And you may not feel safe.   They will write things publicly about you, on their blogs, on your blog, on book review sites, or on Amazon. One of my friends recently received this review online: “I couldn’t even finish this book… Confusing and in my humble opinion, pointless.” Ouch.   Everyone has a right to their opinion. In fact, diversity of opinions is something that makes book publishing so dynamic and interesting. But sometimes those opinions hit us like flaming...
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Living in Paradox

Living in Paradox Last week I wrote a post about following your passion as a writer, versus trying to write what the market wants. I concluded that it’s a false dichotomy—you need to to both. It’s not easy living in two worlds, and it got me thinking of all the ways writers and publishing professionals have to live with the tension of being pulled in two directions.   It’s almost paradoxical, the way we need to embody characteristics that seem diametrically opposed to one another. But maybe if we acknowledge the conflicts and contradictory requirements, we’ll be better able to navigate them with aplomb and without frustration. Here are a few ways in which we writing/publishing types function in the midst of paradox.    1. We are at once creatives and business...
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What Doesn’t Happen When You Sign a Book Deal

What Doesn’t Happen When You Sign a Book Deal Guest Blogger: Addie Zierman (@addiezierman)   The contract will come in the mail with the publisher’s name on it, and for a few minutes or hours or days, you’ll feel on top of the world.   Here you are, at the beginning of a dream come true, at the precipice of all you’ve been waiting for.   You’ll sit down at the kitchen table. You’ll lift your pen to sign the papers.   You’ll be trying to have a moment, but your kids will be screaming at you from the living room. “Mom! I don’t want this show!” or “Dad! Get me a granola bar!” Because to them, you’re not an author, you’re their parent, and nothing here has really changed. * Although you’ve always been a writer, the book deal will make you feel legitimized in some ways – like someone else...
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Discussing Authors and Privacy

Discussing Authors and Privacy I’m blogging at Books & Such today. We’re talking about privacy when it comes to authors. Is privacy possible?   Here’s a snippet:   I’ve been talking with a potential client—a staggeringly talented writer and thinker—about her goals and her writing career. At a certain point, we got caught up on a particular issue that had nothing to do with her books or her writing: privacy.   The author writes her blog using initials, rather than her name. She uses an avatar and avoids posting any real photos of herself. She doesn’t reveal personal details in her writing. She hoped to continue in this vein as she entered publishing.   We talked about her desire for privacy, and the need to keep her family safe. And we talked about the fact that...
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Minimize the Obstacles

Minimize the Obstacles I’m blogging at Books & Such today. Here’s a preview: When you’re a debut author trying to break in to traditional publishing, one of the most important things to remember is this: Minimize the obstacles. You already know it’s not going to be easy to break in, so you want to avoid making it even more difficult on yourself. This is why agents give so much advice on their blogs. Not every piece of advice applies across the board to every author, but we’re trying to help you have the best chance of attracting an agent and publisher. Assuming you’ve written a terrific book… What are some possible obstacles to finding an agent and publisher? Read the post at Books & Such to find out. Click Here.   Be Sociable, Share! ...
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The Brave New World of Publishing

http://www.rachellegardner.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Technology-e1318977602695-150x150.jpg Today I’m ranting a little, but I figure you know me well enough by now, you can take it.   Here’s the deal: I don’t like the fact that you have to “build a platform” these days, any more than you do. But I get weary of writers complaining about it. I get frustrated by hearing that publishers are “abandoning writers” and “bringing nothing to the table.” I know it’s hard to market your books — I feel your pain — and yet I dislike it that people saying that publishers are shirking their duties by “leaving it all up to the author.”   REALITY CHECK:   Publishers did not create this brave new techno-world we live in.   It is not the publishing industry that has created this society of ubiquitous...
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What is the Opposite of Success?

What is the Opposite of Success? I’m blogging at Books & Such today. Here’s a preview: The business of publishing gives us frequent opportunities to feel like a success or … not a success. At every step of the journey, we receive feedback and results that tell us whether our efforts are working. It’s an uncertain path riddled with possibilities for disappointment. → We pitch our book at a conference and nobody seems to want what we’ve written. → We search for an agent, to no avail. → Our book is being submitted to publishers, but none are biting. → Our book is available for sale, but the numbers aren’t good. → We arrange a booksigning event at a bookstore, and nobody shows up. When things happen that don’t make us feel exactly like a “success,” the...
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