Publishing industry veterans know there’s a big difference between making a book available in the marketplace and making readers aware that it’s available. Many first-time authors believe that if their title appears on Amazon or on a bookstore shelf, people will come across it by default, and word will quickly spread. In reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth—and in fact, this usually happens in reverse! While readers can discover books by accident when browsing through Amazon, for such a circumstance to occur in the physical world, Barnes & Noble or a local bookseller must first choose to carry and sell that book. For that to happen, a bookseller must first know about the book themselves, and then be convinced that it will sell. How are booksellers convinced of this? Often, an already existing demand for the book will do the job. Booksellers comb through industry data, which reflects the activity surrounding a title—social media buzz, reviews in printed publications, or a combination of the two. They also take into account requests from people who come to their stores. The more people are asking for and talking about a book, the more likely it is to win a coveted spot on a bookstore's shelf. Often, a perfect storm of these influences is required for a new title by a first-time author to make its way to the shelf. But it might also happen because an author has walked into a bookstore, introduced himself to the manager, and shared his very worthy book, his passion, and his platform directly. Ultimately, there are no secret formulas or magic potions that win the hearts and minds of booksellers or book lovers—but we do know that in all cases, you should start with a professionally edited, designed, and packaged book. We also know that alongside our efforts, a committed, passionate, energetic author who builds an online following can find an audience—though it may take months, or even years. When it comes to publishing a bestseller, only celebrities can boast overnight success stories. The rest of us have to keep our shoulders to the wheel, and never give up. written by Robert Pruett, Publisher
I first began thinking about starting a publishing company while I was working as a freelance writer, reading Writers' Market to search for potential publishers for my essays and articles. In doing so, I was surprised to find so many small presses publishing only one or two books a year. How could a publisher produce only one or two books each year? I thought. Surely it would be easy to publish many more titles. When I founded Brandylane and Pleasant Living magazine in 1985, I quickly learned how time-consuming the publishing process could be—especially production. At the time, after the author wrote their story on a typewriter or by hand, editors and publishers had to type the text into a typographical machine, which printed the text on strips of photographic paper that were then rubber-cemented to flats section by section, line by line, or even word by word! The printer then photographed the flats to produce film, which was then burned into metal plates for the press. A minor grammatical or typographical error meant printing perhaps just two words on the typographical machine, pasting the correction over the error, and producing new film. In my early years as a publisher, I worked many long hours hunched over a light table, meticulously pasting text and photos and measuring every inch. It soon became clear to me why small presses published so few books each year. That was before desktop publishing found a strong footing. Today, the steps from submission review to the release of a new title remain the same, but modern technology allows us to edit, design, and produce books much faster than we could forty years ago—though still not quite as quickly as many authors would prefer. After spending months or years writing a manuscript, authors naturally feel an urgency to get their book to market, and often want to push their editor or publisher to move faster. Unfortunately, in this business, speed can introduce errors. I often ask anxious, eager authors, “Would you prefer to publish a great book, or a fast one?” Usually they relent and realize the benefits of patience. Book production has changed dramatically since Brandylane’s early days. I'm grateful for the advancements that have made my work life easier—but I've also learned the benefits of a slow, methodical, and careful pace. written by Robert Pruett, Publisher
Q: In your view, what are the essential elements of a successful novel? A: It’s actually quite difficult to outline “essential” elements of a successful novel, since the overall scope of novels can be so broad, there is almost always an outlier that doesn’t follow the “rules.” In general, however, most successful contemporary novels possess three elements that are so basically fundamental, they may seem obvious and even reductive: a coherent, logical plot; characters who function well within that plot, and a strong hook or theme. Fortunately, this final element can often emerge on its own from a strong plot and characters. Q: What are a few of the biggest mistakes writers make when writing their first work of fiction? Writing without reading. An avid writer should be an avid reader. As you write your own book, take care not to limit your focus too much to your own effort, and continue expanding your literary horizons by reading other authors’ work. Believing that after they’ve finished their first draft, they can move on to querying publishers without revising their manuscript, or without getting second opinions. Even experienced writers can spend months revising a manuscript by themselves before showing it to any readers, and months revising again after receiving feedback. If you’re a writer tackling your first work of fiction, you will likely make a few big mistakes that will need ironing out before your work can be considered saleable. In fact, in many cases, writers never sell their first novels. Some authors even write multiple novels before finally producing a book that catches the attention of a publisher! These unpublished novels aren’t failures or a waste of time, but rather a tax paid to attain a certain level of craft. Essentially, they’re practice. Allow yourself space to practice, like a violinist before a concert, and try not to get too married to the idea of selling the first novel you’ve ever written. Your concert might be waiting in the form of a second, third, or even fourth novel, and if you spend too much time querying your first effort, you might never get around to writing the work that will eventually make you famous. Including logical inconsistencies. In addition to writing a story, a writer has the difficult task of laying out that story’s entire world for the reader. For the story to have the best effect, that world must be coherent. To ensure their worlds are coherent, authors must be aware what characters know which information when, and ensure that those characters react to new information in accordance with their characterization. Keeping track of the implications certain details and story beats have on the world you’ve created can be a big job, especially for first-time authors. Including irrelevant details, characters, or scenes that don’t serve a function in the story. Every element an author includes in a story should have some purpose; but even for experienced writers, it can be hard to recognize when a line, scene, detail, or character isn’t contributing anything meaningful to the work. Often, first-time authors write scenes because they want to see them—but sometimes, these scenes do not end up being the most effective vehicles to communicate the author’s message. This is why one of the most common phrases you might hear from an editor is to “kill your darlings.” Overusing certain words, literary devices, constructions, or clichés, to the distraction of the reader. First-time writers often lean on comfortable clichés and comparisons, or familiar words and turns of phrase. Maybe you’re a chronic purveyor of ellipses. Maybe your characters constantly “murmur” when they speak. Or maybe you’re a little too over the moon about the phrase “over the moon.” An author can have a signature style and technique, but every choice should be intentional, and authors sometimes unconsciously default to certain phrases. When readers pick up on these phrases, it can make the author’s writing feel stale. Q: How do you recommend first-time authors avoid these mistakes? Read what other authors have written—both their fiction, and what they have to say about their writing process. Reading others’ books will help you absorb new ways to envision the world and new ways to approach the act of writing, both of which will enrich your own work. Before you send out a manuscript, set it aside for a month or so, and then pull it out and revise it on your own. Even better, get a beta reader—or several! The more readers you have before you query publishers, the more you’ll be able to learn about how a variety of people might receive your story—provided you ask a variety of people to read your book. Ask each reader to give you their first impressions of the book, share their favorite parts, and tell you something that confused them about the work. Tell them to be honest, and try not to take offense at anything they might say—chances are if one of your readers feels a certain way about something in your book, so will many others. Use this opportunity to change your work based on their feedback, before you send your book out into the world, and make sure you let your readers know how much you appreciate their advice. Construct a timeline of events for your novel. Some authors find they don’t need to do this, but many do, especially if their novels are particularly long, complex, or well populated with many characters. As you write, make a separate outline, including each scene as a separate bullet point; or create a physical timeline by listing or on a series of notecards. Include each scene, and break it down as much as you need to, including information such as the date and time, new information each character has learned, the characters’ current emotions, and when new characters or important items appear in the work. This may sound more like recordkeeping than writing, but it will help you find inconsistencies in your story more easily. Ask why. As you write, or as you reread your finished book, constantly ask yourself why. Why is this character—this detail—this line—this scene—included at this point? What purpose is it serving in a scene, or even in the novel itself? Sometimes, an author might find multiple characters who serve small but separate functions in a novel can be combined into one. Sometimes, entire scenes that don’t contribute to the story in any meaningful way can be excised to refine a story and make it more powerful. More than anything, asking why will get you thinking like a professional author. Root out repetition. As you write, or as you reread your finished book, pay attention to words and turns of phrase that appear again and again. (Microsoft Word’s Find function can be a big help here, quickly showing you that yes, you did use the phrase “cast her eyes down” seventeen times in your sixty-thousand-word novel.) Of course, an editor can also help you pick out overused phrases, words, and syntax in your drafts, but learning to identify these elements of your writing on your own can help you avoid them before they appear on the page. an interview with Erin Harpst, Senior Editor
After four decades of working with authors, I still believe writers must keep two key elements in mind when composing nonfiction: purpose and audience. As you write, it’s important to ask: for what purpose am I writing this chapter, and to whom am I writing? As passionately devoted as you may be to the end goal of your book or chapter, it can be easy to drift off the path and/or forget your audience. To combat this, an editor can determine whether your work is fulfilling its originally intended purpose. An experienced, sensitive developmental editor can help you define and sharpen your manuscript's essential points. Developmental editing is typically the first step in the editing process, so a developmental editor is often the first line of defense against a blurry big picture, misdirected voice, lack of focus, disorganization - and waste. Ultimately, every sentence, paragraph, and chapter should focus on the intention driving the piece you are writing, and its anticipated audience. All else must be cleared away, so that what remains is only the clear and pointed fulfillment of your intended purpose. To repeat E.B. White’s endless refrain, “Omit needless words!” Cutting carefully written passages from your manuscript can be agonizing, so you must be brave and patient. In the end, if you follow your editor’s guidance, your purpose will have been fulfilled, and your audience will know it. written by Robert Pruett, Publisher
At Brandylane, we invite authors to submit manuscripts of almost all genres and featuring almost all subject matter. But we're especially interested in submissions that teach, promote, and encourage understanding, tolerance, peace, and social justice, as part of our publishing house's personal efforts to combat hate and injustice. When we review and consider a manuscript for publication—and during the editing process—we're especially sensitive to how an author treats issues of gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, and other aspects of culture in their work. Manuscripts that are clearly offensive and can't be salvaged by a developmental edit are rejected outright. For those submissions that can be rescued by one of our skilled editors, we make recommendations for further development, clarification, cuts, or changes to word choice that can bring the manuscript in line with our mission. Historical fiction and memoirs can sometimes present an interesting dilemma, because these works speak to a time when language and social mores were different than they are today. We understand culture evolves and language is dynamic, so we do our best to consider the nuances and anachronisms that may be featured in manuscripts concerning the past. Ultimately, not every book we publish must meet our mission head-on—but all of our books must meet our high standards, and avoid giving a voice to narrowmindedness and inequity. We love to hear from readers and authors, so don't hesitate to write us and submit your own work! written by Robert Pruett, Publisher
Authors face two important questions when they complete a draft of a manuscript: who shall I engage to edit my work, and how can I evaluate an editor to assure I’m making a wise choice? Frequently, submitting authors tell us their manuscript has been professionally edited. In many cases, however, we discover that the editor is not a qualified professional but a good friend of the author who offered to help, and that the work is poorly executed. (Telling your potential publisher you edited your own work is also a bright red flag!) I discourage authors from engaging a friend who may be easy on you to edit your work. Becoming a book editor requires much more than loving books, reading voraciously, or majoring in English! Much like a lawyer practices law or a doctor practices medicine, professional editors practice editing, and I can assure you, one never perfects the art. Finding an editor you can work with cooperatively can be challenging, as can finding one with the right credentials who offers their skills for a reasonable cost. Be cautious, and don't settle. Look for an editor who has demonstrated a high level of skill in editing previously published work—as recognized by respected reviewers or publishers—and who is well versed in the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS), the industry bible for book editors. Price is of course a big concern; depending on the condition and complexity of the manuscript, great editing can be expensive, but standard industry rates usually apply. I recommend avoiding editors who bill by the hour rather than by the word. Although engaging the services of a slower, meticulous editor can be a plus, the cost for a word rate is more predictable. At Brandylane, we follow industry standards and rates, and we always work hard to make the syntax sing while preserving what makes a book truly memorable: the author’s voice. written by Robert Pruett, Publisher
It is a conflict that plagues all booklovers: the adaptation. With the surge of YA adaptations in the last ten years, any booklover knows the feelings that can come with seeing your favorite book heading to the silver screen. Through cast announcements, poster reveals, and trailer drops, you feel your anticipation (and expectations) rise. Then you watch it, and you’re left with disappointment at a movie that seems totally different from your treasured read. Why would they leave out that one character? What about that one scene? This frustration is why many continue to advocate for the scene-by-scene remake that every reader dreams of. As promising as this dream may sound, in my opinion a good book adaptation is not the unwavering dedication to accuracy that many desire, but the ability to translate the essence of the book into the film. What Is the Purpose of an Adaptation? Before you protest, it’s important to look at the purpose of these adaptations. While a lot of these adaptations are made for money, these adaptations are made for many other reasons. Adaptations can ultimately bring a story to a larger audience, expanding the fans of the franchise past just those who love the book. To appeal to this larger audience, adaptations must be made to entertain the general public. They are able to translate this story into a new medium, which can open up a lot of opportunities. However, this means their priority isn’t making a good adaptation, it is making a good movie. To be fair, they sometimes fail at even doing that. These motivations lead to many adaptations compromising the source material. Looking at The Hunger Games franchise, to be able to market it to larger audiences, they pushed the love triangle between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale, often ignoring that the most important relationship in the books was that between Katniss and her sister. And that isn’t even the worst betrayal an adaptation has committed! Which is why it is understandable the frustration people feel towards adaptations. Looking at these criteria, you can start to see how the scene-by-scene remake might fail to reach the core goals the adaptation was made to accomplish. Beyond this, there are even more reasons why what we seek isn’t obtainable. The Complete Remake Won’t Be Satisfying It is easy to understand why people advocate for the adaptation that sticks entirely to the book. It is fascinating to see the story you love translated in exact detail from how it was laid out in the book, breathing life into how you’d always envisioned it. However, the remake of your dreams will never bring satisfaction due to one core reason: medium. Books and movies are different, they work within different methods and systems. A movie can’t convey inner dialogue the way a book does or explore the intimate feelings of the characters. A movie has limits of imagination where a book has none. On the contrary, a book can’t have background music or a color palette. They express stories in different ways, meaning that a book could never be fully expressed through film. Along with that, these different media often have different audiences. Opening the door for an adaptation to apply the methods of filmmaking to a book’s story also opens that story up to a new audience. An accurate remake that isn’t altered to fit its medium wouldn’t expand its audience much, which would only serve to hold back the story you love so dearly. Even when only fans of the book are considered, the key to reading a book is the power of your imagination. Everyone pictures a book differently, which only complicates the idea of a complete remake even more. It would be impossible to create a movie that satisfies the expectations and imaginations of every single person who has loved that book. Expectations must change, because if our expectations are too high, we will never be able to enjoy the beauty of a book on screen. So What Is the Answer? I offer alternative expectations to booklovers for these adaptations. Expect the book to expand itself through film and reach new audiences while still satisfying the fans whose passion originally brought it to screen. Achieving this solution lies in identifying the essence of the book. “Essence” means: What made you love this book? What made this book unique and captured the hearts of its fans? It could be dynamic characters, real or figurative magic, heart-wrenching relationships, the fascinating settings, or the theme behind it all. To make a good adaptation, writers and directors must be dedicated to celebrating that essence–the core of the book. The Harry Potter franchise is a great example of this. While storylines were changed, inaccuracies developed, and things left out, the movies conveyed what originally made people fall in love with the books: the magic of being at Hogwarts, the friendship, the triumph of good over evil. While people might still complain about certain things, most would agree that the films were a satisfying depiction of the soul of the original books. By capturing what made this book matter to you and what swept you out of your own world, the film can be a success for both the reader and filmmakers. This satisfaction can open the adaptation up to more possibilities and allow for it to expand on the source material. Telling this story through a new medium lends itself to a new creative vision. In Greta Gerwig’s 2019 film adaptation of Little Women, you can see that she was able to take many creative liberties with costumes and lighting and editing. Gerwig added her own interpretation and meaning to the movie while still allowing the original story to shine through. Many films have found ways to use the medium of film to enhance their stories in ways the books couldn’t. In the Perks of Being a Wallflower 2012 film adaptation, the iconic tunnel scene includes the important final lines of the book through voiceover, but it also has the background song swelling over the dialogue, breathing more life into the scene. By letting the audience hear the evocative music they couldn’t have heard in the book, the movie is able to add meaning to this scene and make it even more poignant. This compromise is becoming increasingly popular as more and more adaptations are being picked up as TV shows. With a spread out story, fans are more open to giving creators the time to pursue their creative interpretations of a book without having to compromise the accuracy. This seems like a good step in the right direction for merging the fans of the book with new audiences and growing the franchise. Let’s be clear: You do not need to accept every adaptation as it is simply because it is a different medium, as there are definitely adaptations that deserve criticism regardless (looking at you, Percy Jackson movies!). However, we can evaluate our expectations and question whether they’re the best option or even realistic. This contemplation can allow us to open ourselves to different expectations and find new ways to appreciate adaptations, even when they don’t exactly match our original perceptions of our beloved book. Will the movie ever be better than the book? Maybe not, but we can open ourselves to enjoying the two separately and allowing ourselves to love the story no matter what medium it is in—because the story will always be what matters most. written by Corinne Martin
The current discourse for productivity in Quarantimes has been focused on doing, and not the space in between the doing. Tweets with thousands of likes on twitter about writing sprees and bingeing shows, Facebook posts about summer reads . . . I fell prey to that, as I’m sure many others did. This is a time where people feel like they need things to do. Work has been slowed or reduced or cut off completely, and people are forced to be sequestered away in the house isolated from family and friends. So what to do with that time? There’s exercise, sure, but one cannot exercise the entire day away. Many people have turned to activities that sharpen mental acuity. Bingeing on shows and podcasts, after all, does cause a sort of burnout. As do writing sprees. So what’s left to further productivity? How about the TBR pile? That’s a good idea, sure. Books are incredibly varied, each depicting different tones and featuring different subject matter and spanning different lengths. That’s why I turned to reading—and reading outside of the research I was conducting for my thesis, for once. I have a TBR pile of 50+ books, so why not start cracking down on them? So, I did. But one thing I hadn’t expected to happen was a different type of burnout. My venture with the TBR pile started out promising. I picked up Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir, and was all set to read it after Sabrina Orah Mark’s Tsim Tsum and The Babies. I devoured all of P. Djeli Clark and Kai Ashante Wilson’s novellas and Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s Friday Black. I was on a roll. I started with Edwin A. Abbott’s Flatland. I knocked out Rivers Solomon’s The Deep, I feverishly studied Anne Carson’s translation of Sappho’s fragments, If Not, Winter, I pored over Wislawa Szymborska’s View with a Grain of Sand. This was in addition to the books I read on black spirituality for my thesis, including three of Toni Morrison’s books. I was getting things done. I was being productive. Like so many others, I was getting through my TBR pile. I wasn’t falling behind everyone else on productivity. It was late May before I realized I hadn’t gotten past twenty pages in Gideon the Ninth. I couldn’t figure out what it was. My eyes would skip over paragraphs, or I would have to reread the same paragraph five times just to remember it. I couldn’t get past page twenty even though I adored the book instantly. Gideon was an amazing main character. Hilarious, probably fun to get a drink with at a local bar. Just fun to read. And a purely fun character is rarer than it should be in sci-fi and fantasy. I couldn’t figure out what my problem was. So I thought, Maybe I’m not in the right headspace to read about Gideon. So I tried Max Gladstone’s Empress of Forever. And I couldn’t get past the first page. I couldn’t figure out my problem. At first I thought I was burnt out on genre, so I tried reading a thesis - Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition. Couldn’t retain a thing. But I looked up people’s experiences with Deleuze, apparently that was often the case, so I tried rereading a YA fantasy book I loved, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black. Couldn’t get past the first sentence. I was burnt out on reading entirely. That was hard to accept. Reading is a leisure activity, right? And it’s one of the few activities I can do as a person with a chronic illness that doesn’t wear me out within 45 minutes of doing it. Reading had defined me for a long time. Teachers in school called me a “voracious reader.” I used to spend two-thirds of my summers in libraries during my high school years. Reading was a favored escape, one I thought was perfect for taking space away from the mental strain of isolation. However, I hadn’t considered that the strain of isolation took more of a toll on me than I thought. I felt like part of me had been stripped away. And I was angry that I was stymied by my overarching emotional needs. The trauma of having everything else but housing and food stripped away took precedence. The trauma of being forced to confront myself and my memories and things I hadn’t realized I never addressed came first. That felt ruinous. I had no escape from my isolation, then. I needed rest, yes, but what I specifically needed was mental rest. I needed to give myself time to do nothing in between chores and walking my dog. No medical history podcast, no audio-fiction. Just me. Sitting outside with my dog at my feet listening to cars go by. Letting my mind go blank. Doing some yoga in 93-degree weather (which is actually really great, but you feel like a raisin afterward). I needed time away from time and space for my brain to breathe. This is something that needs to be addressed—America’s attitude toward productivity—especially in academia. One is praised for being driven and devoured by their own research and work. We culturally share a belief that there’s always more to be done. And there isn’t much time allowed for mental rest. Not like there should be. Oh, to be sure, people are advised to do what they can and pace themselves, but does anyone actually? Do we not push ourselves to see if we can go past our limits? Do we not try to be better and better? Rest is something that is often equated with laziness. This is something I struggle with as a disabled person living in a capitalist country where productivity is equivalent to worth. You can’t do nothing, right? Wrong. It’s perfectly acceptable to do nothing. Take time. Breathe. Give yourself space from your own thoughts and your chores and your fears. Meditate. Stretch. There’s always time later to do more. written by Kwame Daniels
So, you’ve been staring at a notebook or computer screen, waiting for divine writing inspiration to strike. You’ve tried to think of something, anything, to put down on paper, but it all seems wrong. You’re in a writing slump. Luckily for you, you’re not alone. Many writers go through the exact same experience, and we’re here to give you a couple tips that could help you out. Write, Write, Write As you’ve probably heard before, writing is a process—a messy one. The first step? “Fart it out,” as one of our authors, Caley Cantrell, would say. Seriously though, to get out of a slump, just start writing. Put anything on the page. Make yourself do a ten-minute free write, and don’t let yourself stop to think or edit. Betty Flowers, a professor at University of Texas, says that to start writing, you need to let loose your “madman.” Your madman is the creative voice in your head that is full of passionate, fun ideas that are the heart and soul of your work. If allowed, your madman could let you go on for pages and pages on the same topic without any judgement or restraint. As a result, your work may seem a bit messy to begin with, but that's okay. When you let your madman take center stage, your own unique voice is able to finally emerge through your writing. So, worry about structure or cleaning up your masterpiece later. The key here is to let out all of your built-up creativity without tearing yourself down or calling your work “not good enough.” Of course, not all of the content your madman creates will end up in your final draft. However, writing with your madman in mind allows you to start somewhere by finally getting your thoughts down on paper and bringing life and playfulness back into your work. And hey, you might just end up surprising yourself. So, let your inner creativity loose and come back to patch up your work later! Write Writing Into Your Schedule If you’re in a writing slump, chances are you’ve consistently pushed off working on your latest project. While you make promises to yourself that you’ll work on it tomorrow or sometime in the near future, you find other things to consume your time to avoid feelings of frustration regarding your craft. It’s okay, we’ve been there too. With a mentality like this, we recommend that you start scheduling writing sessions into your everyday routine. Of course, setting aside large portions of time each day for writing isn’t always realistic on a day-to-day basis, however even on the busiest days, writing for an hour or two can make a big difference. Scheduling time for your craft will not only make you feel obligated to sit down and write, but it will give your latest project the time and attention it deserves. Phone a Friend When writing, you’re often flying solo. Because of this, being a writer can seem like one of the loneliest jobs out there. Though there are benefits to being your own boss, sometimes it may be hard to find the motivation to sit down and write. With this in mind, we recommend that you find someone to talk to about your craft. Discussing your work with a trusted friend or community member can give you helpful feedback, inspire you with new ideas, and give you the encouragement you need to keep writing. You could even go a step further by setting deadlines with them—send them a couple of chapters a week, or more! This will not only provide you with consistent, constructive feedback on your latest novel, but it will also help compel you to stick to your writing schedule. Discussing your work with someone can also allow you an outlet to express any concerns, frustrations, or anxieties that have prevented you from feeling enthusiastic about writing. Finding the root cause of your lack of motivation can hopefully prevent it from happening in the future and allow you to easily jump over any mental hurdles in your way. Do Your Research If you find yourself scratching your head and coming up blank on who to send your work to, don’t fret. There are helpful resources online and in your local community that can also motivate you on your writing journey. For example, try enrolling in a writing class. If you’re currently in high school or college, fill one of your elective slots with a writing course the next time you’re able to sign up for classes. If you’re not a student, a quick Google search can show you community centers, or writing centers, near you that provide helpful writing courses, tutors, or workshops you can use to your benefit. By researching the resources in your local community, you can still have that one-on-one experience to discuss your craft. If you don’t have the means to enroll in a class, try joining an online community for some writing inspiration, such as The Isolation Journals created and hosted by Suleika Jaouad. By signing up with your email, you’ll receive a fresh writing prompt in your inbox every morning. Online resources like this exercise your imagination and allow you to free write to your heart's content. Who knows, maybe one day one of these prompts will surprise you and end up contributing to the latest novel you’re writing. For other online writing resources, check out this article by NY Book Editors titled “11 Top Writing Communities You Should Join and Why.” Don’t Mentally Beat Yourself Down This one is perhaps the most important tip of all. We know that writing is a very personal and emotional experience. Your work is your baby, and because of this, you want it to be perfect. However, remember that you also need to take care of yourself and your mental health. Even if you’re unable to produce much during your scheduled writing time, that’s okay. Walk away from your work and try to come back to it tomorrow after a little TLC. Who knows? Instead of your writing desk, you may actually find the divine inspiration you seek in the most random of places. Because of this, always keep a notebook handy for when your brain randomly gifts you good ideas. (Did you know that waterproof notepads actually exist for your shower thoughts? Something to think about…) All jokes aside, it’s good to be critical of your work, but don’t become your own worst enemy. Remember that consistently associating your craft with negative feelings and emotions is not good for you or your work. Too much stress could possibly cause your passion for writing to slowly slip away from you, and we don’t want that to happen!
Each one of you has been published or is in the process of publishing a book. Congrats! You’ve experienced firsthand how arduous and exacting the process can be, but hopefully you’ve also reaped some of the rewards. It's important not to lose steam, so start thinking about releasing your second book. Your momentum is building, and your authorial fame is just starting to grow! If you published your book some time ago, don’t worry--it’s never too late to publish your second book (just ask Harper Lee!). This email is directed toward people who have written one book and are considering a second, but please note that this also applies to your third or fourth or fifth book! You Already Know How to Do This Do you remember how scary publishing your first book was? Putting yourself out there to publishers and agents; navigating the publishing contract process; passing your book over to your editor, hoping they will do it justice; finally holding that printer’s proof in your hand; and ultimately, marketing and selling it. For a first-time author, this list is daunting! But you’re a pro now. Either you’ve already done all of this, or you’re somewhere in production. You have gained many skills and experiences since you started this process. Think about how much you’ve improved as a writer since having your work professionally edited. Think about the things you could do differently the second time, knowing what you know now. Think about how nervous you felt on the first run, and how far you’ve come in championing your book and yourself. The whole process is often much easier the second time. Use all of your resources from your last book to inform your marketing plan for your new project. You likely already have lists you can use: an email newsletter list, lists of media contacts, a list of local and regional bookstores, a list of local venues for appearances. Start from the top and use all of these resources again with your second book. Keep Your Name Active Nothing will help to retain your online and other media presence more than releasing a second book. When your first book came out, we sent out a press release to media all over the world, and we continue to post about your book on social media and our website, not to mention all the wonderful promotional work you’ve done yourself! Launching a second book, you show your followers that you are an actively writing author with more than one book in your head. Use the Success from One Book to Drive Sales to the Other When people search for your first book, they may be directed to your second book, and vice versa. For example, if a person buys your first book from Amazon, they may click on your name to see what else you’ve written. Some online retailers have options for “More By This Author,” “Related Titles,” or similar buttons. Even on our own website, a person can easily travel from one of your books to another. Having multiple books increases your visibility for all of them. If You’re Writing a Series We mentioned earlier that it’s never too late to write your second book; however, if you’re writing a series, timing becomes infinitely more important. You don’t want the first book in a series to go cold when there are important sequels to come. If sequels are not released within a couple of years from the first installment, people can lose interest in your series and may not come back for a second. Imagine that by the time people read your book, you’re already posting information about its sequel. You may see an increase in followers who want to stay up-to-date, and you’ll likely see an increase in preorders for that second book as well. Final Words Like we said above: We want authors with more than one book in them. Since we’ve worked with you before, you don’t have to submit your work through our website submission system again. Instead, if you have a follow-up manuscript you’re ready to share, send it directly to Robert Pruett or your former project manager, and we’ll give it special attention.