Resources for Writers
NOTE: Mention on this page does NOT constitute a recommendation from Meredith Sue Willis. These are things that looked interesting to me-- please check for yourself, and let me know of any broken links or information that needs to be updated.
A Short TED talk on world building in fantasy and science fiction.
One writer's story of his MFA program experience (on Laura Treacy Bennett's blog)
This page has various pieces of information and links to other sites that I hope will be helpful to you. If you come to this as a complete amateur-- and keep in mind that amateur means you do something for the love of it-- you will find some basic ideas about getting published and the book business. For others, there are lots of odds and ends that you can find by scanning the topics in the column at the left.
The ideal publishing situation, which has become increasingly hard to achieve, is to get a literary agent to represent your work. The agent sells the finished book manuscript to a commercial publisher, and the editor at the publishing house works with you to perfect the book. And you, the writer, get paid. Usually, you get 10-15% of the cover price of each book that sells, and your agent gets 10% of everything you make on the book. This scenario has become more and more difficult to turn into reality. Even a published writer often discovers that if the first book doesn't become a best seller, then the publisher may turn down the second book.
More and more people have begun to pay for their own editing and even publishing their own work-- often before it's fully ready. Before going to a book doctor or private editor, and certainly before self-publishing, I'd strongly suggesting taking a class or joining a writing group for mutual critique, or just getting friends to read your manuscript for reactions and suggestions. I've belonged to a group of writers for about 25 years who get together every two weeks to critique one another's work. But non-writers can give excellent suggestions, especially about what seems to be missing or if there are things that don't make sense.
There is a lot of good material on the web and also lots of good books about writing. Explore, have fun, and good luck--
The back pages of the following two publications have information about contests, literary magazines, and many other matters of interest to writers:
Poets & Writers Magazine
Poets & Writers
72 Spring Street
New York, NY 10012
Associated Writing Programs
Tallwood House Mail Stop IE3
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030
For more commercially oriented information, try:
The Writer Magazine
1507 Dana Avenue
Cincinnati, OH 45207
Also useful is Writers Digest's yearly publication Writer's Market.
Start with the listings at NewPages: http://www.newpages.com/writing-conferences/
Or the Associated Writing Programs list at http://writersconf.org/
Here's information on one specific conference about Pitching your book. It's the New York Writers Workshop "Perfect Pitch" workshop.
Suzanne Rahn recommends the Algonkian conference in San Francisco. She says, "I enjoyed this conference very much. I stayed at the Fort Mason Hostel which was a 5 minute walk to the conference and 20 min walk to Fisherman's Wharf. I would recommend the hostel as an extremely affordable place to stay. There is even a small cafe in the building where you can overlook Alcatraz Island sipping a cup of chai tea. Very nice area.
"[Workshop leader] Michael Neff's credentials are listed on the website and his style is that of a literary 'Simon Cowell' but not so heartless. His workshop is designed to help a writer improve but he also won't sugar coat his opinion. His goal is to further a good story or help rescue a terrible story. I met several agents and publishers during the week and established a cordial friendship with Michael and the owners of the Larsen/Paloma agency.
"I would highly recommend this conference to any writer who wants to take a serious step towards firming up and pitching his or her novel."
Here is the government's information: Copyright
For a quick primer, look at the copyright article from the American Society of Journalists and Authors.
Richard Hooker's Mash
Thor Heyerdahl's Kon-Tiki
James M. Cain's The Postman Always Rings Twice
Patrick Dennis's Auntie Mame
Frank Herbert's Dune
Laurence Peter's The Peter Principle
and oh yes...
J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter
For questions about grammar, try:
and my favorirtes:
(By the way, I don't necessarily agree with all this advice, but it's fun to read!)
A former student of mine had a conversation with an ex-editor at a major New York publisher. "He started by reminding me," says the student, "that publishing a hard cover is very expensive. The publishers make money from selling hardcovers. There is a large profit margin there. But now the sales of hardcovers are decreasing while Ebooks are coming on stronger each year. The publishers haven't figured out, he said, how to make money from Ebooks yet. The profit margin is ridiculously small. And because they don't make money from this source, they don't market the books.
"Therefore, it seems, according to him, that they are staying with authors who have big reputations and can be relied upon to sell. The number of new authors they take on is minimal. I asked him if that meant I was engaged in an exercise of futility, and he said probably 'yes.'
"He also pointed out...that self-publishing on the net requires an enormous amount of personal marketing, and most Ebooks don't do well."
Elmore Leonard's Ten Rules of Writing
My Q & A page
Here's a free article from Book Doctor Carol Gaskin called "The Top Five Errors of New Writers." Click here for article.
Sol Stein (editor, novelist, teacher, developer of how-to-write software) shares advice he gave famous writers.
Vonda McIntyre the science fiction writer has some wonderful, funny pitfalls of novel writing at pitfalls.
Improving your style
The Fog Index-- check how clear your writing is!
Here's a web site that offers links to reputedly free Online Classes in All Subjects! That means everything from Writing to Math and anthropology. Take a look.
There are many, many places to study writing both in person and online. Check your local area for adult school classes.
The places I know best are in the New York-New Jersey area, but there are also a lot of possibilities online, including my occasional online classes. I will only list places here that I know at least a little about, or have heard something about from people I know. Mention here, however, does not constitute a recommendation by MSW. If you have a specifict recommendation, please sent it to me at email@example.com for inclusion here.
The Writers Studio has been around for twenty years and has in-person classes in New York and San Francisco plus online classes. Some people swear by it, but others say that the exercises, which are good, take all your writing time. Certainly worth looking into.
I teach at NYU's School of Continuing and Professional Studies Center for Writing and Speech and it has a full range of courses that range from basic creative writing to advanced poetry, nonfiction and fiction. Very complete and solid. The New School (also in New York City) offers a similar panoply of classes, as do Columbia University and other universities and colleges.
Gotham Writers' Workshop offers both online writing classes and in person classes. They run a tremendous number of sections, and, like the Writers Studio, some people swear by them and others find the classes unmemorable. This probably has to do with which teacher you get. They have several levels for most classes and pretty strict rules about how their classes are run, including what they call "The Booth," which is a technique that requires the writer to listen and not defend his or her writing. Many teachers do the same thing informally in their classes, calling it listening to what people have to say.
Another New York City area place to study writing is The New York Writers Workshop which does a lot of courses plus a special "Perfect Pitch" conference on marketing your work.
My online courses are usually short, and I run them irregularly-- often in the summer or in January.
I don't list MFA programs here in general (although I might someday), but I have a few informal notes from participants. Denton Loving, for example, says, "I'm in the MFA program at Bennington College, and I love it. It's not easy, but it's a wonderful program, and I feel like I've learned so much in my first year. Jill McCorkle was my teacher for the past term, and I'll be working with Lynn Sharon Schwartz this coming term. The teachers really all are of the highest quality, and there's a great deal of emphasis on the importance of the writing. Obviously. But Bennington also stresses the importance of reading. Their motto is 'Read 100 books and Write 1.' And I really have read 50 books in the past twelve months. I'd be glad to tell you anything more that you want to know if you have other questions. But in general, I highly recommend the program."
I also received a strong recommendation from Lita Kurth, a recent MFA graduate, who wrote: "For people who want to get really serious about writing, I'd like to suggest my alma mater, The Rainier Writers Workshop, a low-residency MFA program in Washington State that makes its on-site sessions convenient for students (You go there 10-11 days per year as opposed to many which require you to travel twice a year), has a wonderful esprit de corps, is willing to be flexible in a crisis, and offers superb teachers (of course, not everybody loves everybody). They send free shuttles to the airport to pick you up, and they provide quite a few meals and a spartan but lovable dorm room, so you don't waste time making arrangements instead of reading and writing. Though the cost is similar to many other programs on the surface, these savings really add up.
"RWW is for people who want to study fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry or some combination (no screenwriting or plays). The student body also has an impressive age range (which I felt kept the neurosis level lower).
"Anyway, I just received my MFA there and have extremely warm and grateful feelings towards the people and program, so thought I'd let others know."
Finally, here is a good summary of one writer's experience with a part-time MFA program that might be a good fit for some people.
HarperCollins supports a site that is a community of writers who upload work for others to critique. Things that get a a lot of attention from other users is sent to the "Editor's Desk", where it is given a close look by the actual publishing company: http://www.authonomy.com
Sources of Literature Online
I have short stories, samples, and links to longer pieces online here. There are several sites that specialize in classics, generally out of copyright. Shop around, as some are more readable than others. Here are two:
Read Print New and very readable, a couple of Google ads at the top of the page.
Bartleby One of the first of these online libraries
Articles and web sites for writers (a new page)
20,000 names at http://20000-names.com/
Random name generator at : http://www.kleimo.com/random/name
A Good Company I've used for turning my hard copy books that were written on typewriters (yes, yes, I know...) into .pdf or .doc files, is Golden Images, LLC. Write to Stan Drew, who is very responsive to email, and does the work for what seems like a reasonable price to me.
Espectially for Women
(Thanks to Suzanne McConnell)
Calyx Box B Corvallis, OR 97339 Reads from Oct. 1 to Dec. 15
Mary Sue Koeppel, Editor Kalliope 3939 Roosevelt Blvd. Jacksonville, Fl. 32205
Caroline Zuschek, Fiction Editor (07) So To Speak SUB 1 Rm 254A George Mason University 4400 University Dr. MSN 2C5 Fairfax, VA 22030 13th Moon
These are Old: Check before using
IRIS: A Journal about Women Fiction Editor Box 323 HSC University of Virginia Charlottesville, VA 22908
The Editors Earth's Daughters P.O. Box 41 Buffalo, NY 14215
Room of One's Own (Canada's oldest fem. mag)
Academy Chicago http://www.academychicago.com/. Don't use electronic means of getting in touch with them.
Black Heron http://blackheron.mav.net/
Brighid's Fire Books specializes in first fiction.
Bright Hill Press http://www.brighthillpress.org/
Chronicle Books http://www.chroniclebooks.com/site/catalog/
Coffee House Press http://www.coffeehousepress.org/
Four Walls http://www.fourwallseightwindows.com/
Ghost Road Press http://www.ghostroadpress.com
Grey Wolf http://www.graywolfpress.org/
Iris Publishing Group (Iris Press and Tellico Books) has been run by Robert Cumming for more than ten years and publishes writers like Ron Rash,Cathy Smith Bowers, and Jon Manchip White. They plan 10 books for 2007. Lately they have done more literary fiction and at least one work of nonfiction.
Marsh Hawk Press is committed especially to publishing poetry that has an affinity to the visual arts. The artistic advisory board includes Toi Derricotte, Marilyn Hacker, Allan Kornblum, Alicia Ostriker, David Shapiro, ohn Yau, and Anne Waldman.
MotesBooks is a new educational and literary press. The publisher is Kate Larken.
Nightboat at http://www.nightboat.org
Press 53 : Small literary press, some emphasis on North Carolina and Appalachian writers, but much broader. Reprinting novels by John Ehle; upcoming includes Valerie Nieman.
Pudding House http://www.puddinghouse.com/
Red Hen http://www.redhen.org/
Shoemaker & Hoard has a wonderful list that includes Wendell Berry and Donald Barthelme, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Anne Lamott, and Romulus Linney among many others. Publisher Jack Shoemaker was the cofounder, editor, and publisher of North Point Press and Counterpoint Press. See the webpage at http://www.shoemakerhoard.com/about.html
Toby Press http://www.tobypress.com/
Wind Press at http://windpub.com publishes poetry of the Appalachian region.
Word Press publishes poetry.
Morgan James Publishing is a new model publisher that works cooperatively with authors of nonfiction and self-help only. So don't take them your literary work, but do check them out if you have a high concept idea for a book on how to do something.
Some basic information about agents can be found on the Poets & Writers website at literary agents. A big commercial publication about literary agents is Writers Guide to Book Editors, Publishers, and Literary Agents by Jeff Herman. Prima Publishing P.O. Box 1260BK Rocklin, CA 95677 (916) 632-4400 .
And just as food for thought, here are some Pet Peeves of Literary Agents.
Chuck Sambuchino's Guide to Literary Agents blog.
Conference about pitching to agents: Agent Pitch Workshop
queryshark.blogspot.com/ is an agent who skewers query letters. Worth browsing.
Also, these days, every editor, agent, publicist, schmuck in the publishing industry has a blog, either on Blogspot or Wordpress. They usually have a blog roll and when you have down time you can follow links from one blog to another. Samples:Samples: Nancy Coffey literary.com ; jet reid literary.blogspot.com ; bookends;badpitch.blogspot.com (No specific knowledge of these agents-- More below).
When you query an agent: Each agent and editor has very detailed rules for how you may submit. In general seems the days of sending a query by snail mail are over. The want email but no attachments because they're afraid of viruses. Typically the query text is at the top of the email with the sample manuscript text pasted below your signature block.
Literary Agents of North America is the most comprehensive alphabetical listing of over 800 U.S. and Canadian literary agencies. It can be found in most libraries, or from: Author Aid/ Research Associates International 340 E. 52nd Street New York, NY 10022
Here's a site with agents listed:agent list. (This group was formed in 1991 through the merger of the Society of Authors' Representatives, founded in 1928, and the Independent Literary Agents Association, founded in 1977.
To get up-to-date free information about which agents are selling what, go to Publishers Lunch Free newsletter on publishing deals.
Science Fiction Writers of America's website has lots of good information, including a list of "Writer Beware" agencies whose sins range from being fronts for vanity presses to charging for editorial work and never sending out your work.
"Pub Rants" (http://pubrants.blogspot.com/) Nathan Bransford
(http://blog.nathanbransford.com/) Janet Reid
(http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.com/) Jessica Faust
....is a new writers management and services company, with a production arm. MDI is headquartered in New York City but with associates in Europe and India. Approach them with material that might be developed for film, and especially with pitches for your project in a few paragraphs-- not full manuscripts or film scripts. Check out their website for more details and contact information.
More Resources. Most have links to other resources as well:
Check out www.figment.com -- a new writing site for posting your writing, getting feedback, getting writing prompts, getting writing exercises, and much more.
An article at Publishing Basics about what subsidy and vanity publishers are selling-- and keeping for themselves.
I'm not recommending Publishing Basics, by the way -- they are a for-profit resource center for self-publishers-- but they have a good newsletter with lots of tips. They are selling services, but are very up front about it, and understand the importance of sharing knowledge for free as well as selling it.
LOOKING FOR FREE CRITIQUING? HarperCollins supports a site that is a community of writers who upload work for others to critique. Things that get a a lot of attention from other users is sent to the "Editor's Desk", where it is given a close look by the actual publishing company: http://www.authonomy.com
Chuck Sambuchino's Guide to Literary Agents, especially his blog Blog about using Movie Techniques to Organize novels: Beat Sheet Central.
Highly Recommended: Zamzar.com. Do you ever need to get a .jpg out of a .pdf or to turn a .pdf into a .doc file? These folks do it for free. They'd like you to sign on for the paid version, but happily do the free conversions if that's all you want.
Some Blogs by literary agents (thanks to Jessica Word)
Creative Writing Now: A new web page with classes, prompts, and lots of resources: http://www.creative-writing-now.com
Winslow Eliot's "Write Spa," articles and newsletters to get you in the mood.
Best All Around Resources: New Pages Aeonix.com Good site with lots of links for small presses.
Allaboutwriting.com is a center of the writing scene in Johannesburg, SA-- take a look! Take a course, if you're in town! Also resources, online classes in romance writing, and more.
Here's an excellent site listing many other sites of interest to writers, students, and many other folks.
Book Packagers This is the home page of the association of book producers and packagers.
Duotrope allows you to put in information and it searches for the magazines that might publish your piece!
DUSTBOOKS is one of the oldest (1964) and best sources of books on publishing. I have used their directories of small presses and little magazines for years.
How to Do Things Articles on all kinds of subjects--not only writing, but the writing articles include items like "How to Write Flash Fiction" and "How to Choose a Workshop." Worth looking at.
John August 's web page about screen writing-- interesting tips for other writers too.
New Pages Excellent site with all kinds of magazines to submit etc.
The Practicing Writer "Supporting the craft and business of excellent writing"
Short short novels: Here's something interesting: a site for writing novels in 25 words or less: http://espressostories.com/
These sites have massive mailing campaigns and try to part aspiring writers from their money: poetry.com (also uses names Watermark Press, International Library of Poetry, and International Society of Poets); Circle of Poets, League of American Poets, FamousPoets.com, and Noble House Publishers (not to be confused with the American LIterary Press's Noble House in Baltimore.)
Sites for genre writers:
Harlequin also has a nice site with information about how to write romance novels. More Harlequin hints here.
A blog about writing and illustrating for children: http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/
The Rutgers University Council on Children's Literature and their famous Rutgers One-on-One Plus conference with children's editors, agents, writers and more.
Here's a good article on the subject: Chuck Sambuchino's Guide to book lengths
The categories of prose fiction do not have precise lengths. Publishers of novels generally like manuscripts of at least 80,000 words and no more than 120,000. This is clearly a rule that is often broken. (Chuck Sambuchino above suggests 71,000 to 109, 000 and gives his reasons why. He also discusses different expectations for different genres.)
Since a double spaced manuscript page runs 250 to 300 words, this means we'r talking about a manuscript of 250 to 350 pages. This turns into considerably less as a printed book– maybe 200 to 300 book pages.
A short story is usually 2000 to 7000 words (less than 10,000 words); a short short is 1000 to 1500 words. A novella is 15,000 to 40,000 words (in science fiction, for certain awards, between 17,500 and 40,000). There is also in science fiction a form called novelette for contest purposes that runs 7500 to 15,000 words. In literary fiction, people would probably call something of that length a long story.
Generally, a memoir, personal narrative, or collection of linked short stories is treated like fiction for length.
Flash fiction or vignette: Up to 500 words (1 - 2 double spaced pages, one inch margins, 12 point Times New Roman or similar font)
Short short 500 - 2000 words (2 - 9 pages)
Short Story 2000 to 7,000 words ( 10 - 30 pages)
Long Story 7,000 to 14,000 words (30-60 pages)
Novella 14,000 to 40,000 words (60 - 175 pages)
Novel 40,000 words and up (175 plus pages-- but 60,000 is the most common figure.)
The Short Story has its origins in oral story-telling and in the verbal sketches of situations called anecdotes. Some stories are more like miniature novels, with exposition, rising action, and a turning point or climax. They are, however, generally less complex than a novel, focused on a single plot and setting, a brief period of time, and a handful of characters. A contemporary short story typically starts in the middle of the action (in medias res), and many modern short stories also end abruptly or leave things hanging. Lengths vary, but typically a short story runs as long as 7000 or perhaps 8,000 words, with shorter more usual.
Showing and Telling
Anyone who has every taken a writing class has probably heard about Show and Tell. Often, we're told it's better to "show" ("His smile was brilliant and toothy, and his laugh was deep and welcoming") than to "tell" ("He was nice.") This is true part of the time but not always. I don't want a writer to show me every action a character takes upon rising in the morning (brand of tooth paste, how she turns the door knob...) unless there's a reason. Sometimes a summary is better. I like to think in terms of learning when to tell or summarize, and when to show or dramatize in a scene. Both things are part of writing narrative, and knowing when to use which is one of the most important things to learn. Here are some examples of successful scene and summary at Materials on Scene and Summary.
A review in 2-27-08 New York Times Book Review of an unfinished novel by Richard Wright makes the point that (a) this should never have been published because (b) it is a very rough draft, and while drafts are an essential part of the process of writing, they are not finished products. Wright is, of course, one of our really fine American writers-- if you haven't read Black Boy and Native Son, I recommend them highly.
After you've drafted your prose narrative manuscript (story, memoir, novel), or at least drafted a substantial portion of it, try some of these steps for revision:
• Add material to enrich– and to learn more. This should be done early and often
• Ask yourself if you’ve put in all the things that a reader needs. What is missing will depend on each writer’s strength, weaknesses, and methods of drafting, but might include anything from feelings (do the characters show how they are reacting to events?) to essential background facts (will your readers born in 1980 have heard of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade?).
• Go through your manuscript to see if the essential conflicts have been dramatized. This is an especially good technique for improving flat or boring dialogue, to add drama.
• Cut your material so that only the best parts (adjectives, images, lines of dialogue) stand out.
• Cut even more out of respect for the reader’s time.
• Make changes to fit your audience. This can be permanent (if I decide to make my story for young adults, I may have to get rid of explicit sex) or temporary (I decide to make a short version for a reading when I only have 15 minutes).
• Revise action scenes and other narrative sections for logistics. Is it easy to visualize the physical movement of the men having the fist fight? Is the city street where the fight takes place described in a way that makes it easy to picture? Are the parts of the fight described in the best order?
• Revise for continuity or consistency. Did the character change eye color between page 10 and page 210? Indeed, did the character’s motivation change in a way not consistent with the events in the story?
• Revise for style: are your verbs active? Do they carry more weight than your adjectives? • Polish (correct grammar, typos, and format) to get the most respectful response from readers – especially potential agents, editors, and contest judges. If you can’t spell, you may need to ask your aunt-the-retired school teacher to go over it. There are also editors for hire who will do this work.
• Read through the entire manuscript in order, as a reader would. Read fairly rapidly for style, shape, and rhythm.
• Put it away and come back later. There is nothing like time passing for getting perspective on your manuscript. Write something else, too, a story, an article. Anything to get some distance on your novel.
Thanks to many people for contributions to this list, including: June Adler, Chuck Arguello, John Birch, Nicole Dweck, Richard Errington, Kyle Frisina, Yorker Kageyama, Mark Podolsky, Olugbenga Opesanwo, and Andrew Silver.
(Listing here does not constitute a recommendation by Meredith Sue Willis. In some cases, however, there is a personal recommendation from students or agents or other people I know. The fees for these editors and coaches vary considerably, but an hourly rate of $60 to $90 is not atypical. Prices for a full length manuscript, for example, hover around $1500, depending on various factors, including the fame of the editor.)
Editor/Proofreader available: Mindy Levitt is a professional editor and proofreader who has worked with beginning and accomplished writers from all over the world through one of the largest global companies in this field. With a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in English from Seton Hall University, she has taught writing at Seton Hall University, Montclair State University, and Union County College. Her expertise is in editing books, dissertations, theses, journal articles, and essays for college admissions and coursework. For further information, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Poets & Writers Guide to Publicity and Promotion -- inexpensive digital guide.
Check out a website with lists of bookstores all over the United States.
I hope to add ideas here as time goes on, but just to get you loosened up as you think of this, consider the possibilities. Like... cakes??
( Learn more about Frances Madeson's comic novel Cooperative Village here."
Hooks and more:
For straight proof editing, take a look at this webisite.
Ideasmyth-- "a creative communications, holistic coaching and branding boutique consultancy."
The Book Doctors-- "making better books one author at a time."
Marc Acito has taught online classes for NYU among many other credentials as writer and performer. He offers web based services as a book doctor as well as private coaching and manuscript analysis. He was highly recommended to me by a former student. See http://marcacito.com/coaching.htm . He specializes in story structure. See a video about his approach to story structure here.
Paulette Alden: says she critiques shortstories, novels and memoirs. but "specializes in book-length projects." See her websitals has an interesting blog as well at http://paulettealden.com/blog/ . Susan Borkin: "Coach approach" – http://www.susanborkin.com
Jeremy Busch [email is busch.jeremy (at) gmail.com] comes highly recommended by a colleague of mine. He does video, web pages, social media strategy, and consulting for writers and others. His LinkedIn page is at http://www.linkedin.com/in/jeremyandrewbusch or email him directly.
Charis Conn is an editorial and writing consultant. She is a writer herself as well as an experienced editor. I heard her speak at the North Wildwood Beach Writers Conference and very impressed with her practical and warm personality. Get in touch by email at charisc@earthlink.
The Book Doctors-- "making better books one author at a time."
The Editorial Department at http://www.editorialdepartment.com/ claims to be the oldest independent editorial firm in existence. They were founded by Renni Browne, co-editor of Self-Editing for Fiction Writers
Emma Dryden offers services for both writers and illustrators, specializing in works for children. She has a blog, too, at http://emmaddryden.blogspot.com/ .
Carol Gaskin, Editorial Alchemy. "Professional editor, literary midwife, award-winning author...offers extensive critiques, tutorials, revisions, support." http://www.editorialalchemy.com . Phone 941-377-7640; email:Carol@EditorialAlchemy.com This book doctor comes highly recommended by students from my novel writing classes at NYU and others. One student says, she is "worth every penny," and another says "Carol Gaskin was a marvelous choice and I think she really helped me make it shine. "
Grey Core Literary services at
Hollywood Writers Studio: "Adapt novels and stories into screenplays" http://www. HollywoodWritersStudio.com
Ideasmyth-- "a creative communications, holistic coaching and branding boutique consultancy."
Inspiration for Writers, Inc. This is a full service place for writers to get help-- informative blogs and lots of free stuff plus editorial help (or proof editing, or ghost writing) for a fee.
Dave King, coauthor of Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, does private editing. His web page is http://www.davekinged.com/ .
Susan E. Lindsey of Savvy Communications does editing and more. See Savvy Communications. She also sends out a free monthly newsletter called Savvy Writer that is available by emailng her at SusanLindsey@savvy-comm.com.
Ethel Lee-Miller does coaching and editing.
Kristin Ostby is a manuscript editor for writers who want to get published (she corrects grammar, spelling, etc.). She charges the standard rate, $25/hour to copyedit a manuscript. She corrects grammar, meaning, continuity, punctuation, spelling, etc. Contact her at email@example.com.
Proofread My Paper has an attractive website. They are primarily proof editors, but have services for non-native English writers and dyslexic students as well.
Candice Ransom specializes in children's books, and is recommended by an agent I know who says, "I’ve sent two writers to Candice who were happy with her work....Candice does not offer an opinion on a manuscript’s prospects for publication."
Savvy Communications does editing and more. See Savvy Communications.
Scribendi: "Editors available 24/7" http://www.scribendi.com/
Stickler Editing: "Nothing gets by the Stickler!" http://www.sticklerediting.com
Words into Print calls elf "an alliance of independent book editors and consultants offering a wide variety of services to writers....Each editor has approximately twenty years experience with leading New York trade book publishers or in the television and film industries....Our aim is to provide whatver help or advice writers may seek in their efforts to have material successfully published." See their website at http://www.wordsintoprint.org/ I don't know these folks' work, but I met two of them at the AWP Conference in New York in 2008, and they seemed highly professional and eager to answer questions.
First, if you're doing your own publicity, whether with a publisher on independently, take a look at this publicity toolkit for writer.
Whether you publish with a huge commercial press or with a small co-operative, in 2012 you are generally expected to participate in publicizing your book. There are, of course, people you can hire to do this for you. Here is one specific recommendation from Deborah Clearman, author of Todos Santos, published by the respected small press Black Lawrence. Note that in spite of the respected publisher, Clearman's success in getting her book noticed was due, according to her own account, to her publicist. Clearman writes:
I highly recommend my publicist, Sarah Burningham of Little Bird Publicity. Here's a blurb I just wrote for her website http://littlebirdpublicity.com/:
Literary fiction is a hard sell, and setting your novel in a place that’s not in the news— Guatemala— doesn’t make it any easier. Sarah came to the project of launching Todos Santos with passion, professionalism, and a warmth that made it a pleasure. She got me mainstream reviews, blog coverage, readings and events from coast to coast, and exposure in places I never would have dreamed of, including a New York Times article. Moreover, she believed in my book, and her unflagging support as well as her attention to detail made working with her a joy. I can’t wait to work with her on my next book.
Note: Sarah Burningham, who is not just a publicist for writers, usually books 5 months in advance.
[From an article by Scott Elliott: “Warranted Magic: Writing and Discussing Magical Realism,” The Writer’s Chronicle, Volume 40, Number 6, May/Summer 2008, pp. 42 - 49.]
The term “Magical Realism” was coined in 1925 as a way to name the post-expressionist art produced in Weimar, Germany. It was first used for a kind of fascination with objects and a kind of magic that comes out of the objects themselves. Later, especially with Latin American fiction, it was used to describe writing with mythic and supernatural things and events.
Scott Elliott in the article referred to above suggests it is “an organic relationship between the extraordinary and the ordinary” that stretches the confines of traditional realism. Usually, early in the writing, even in the first line, there will be “clues that commonly accepted verities will be blurred, exaggerated, or played with.” (42)
A good example of Magical Realism would be Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude. Other examples include the Henry James’s story “The Jolly Corner;” Toni Morrison’s novels Song of Solomon and Beloved; Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian; and Nathaniel Hawthorne in his tales of Puritan New England.
The problem with writing magical realism– as with fantasy and experimental fiction– is to avoid the looseness of Anything Goes. How can you talk about Magical Realism? How judge its success beyond liking or disliking a particular work? Elliott suggests looking for the “warrant,” the thing that connects it (its “claim”) to the grounds and/or reasons for the thing (46). Thus one asks, Are the magical elements here warranted? What in this story requires the supernatural? The warrant is the “organic, connective tissue binding marvelous or magical elements to psychological truths.” (46)
MSW's Favorite Books About Writing
(In alphabetical order. Books that explained a lot to me)
Booth, Wayne C. The Rhetoric of Fiction
Burroway, Janet. Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft
Ciardi, John How Does a Poem Mean?
Paglia, Camille Break, Blow Burn (How her favorite poems work)
Silber, Joan The Art of Time in Fiction: As Long a It Takes.
Wood, James How Fiction Works
Comments in quotations by various colleagues and students. If there are no quotation marks or other indication, the comments are by MSW.
Beginnings, Middles, and Ends. Writer's Digest Books, Cincinnati, OH.
Bernays and Painter. What If?: Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers, ;Harper Perennial, New York, 1990.
Bickham, Jack M., Scene and Structure. 1993.
Booth, Wayne C., The Rhetoric of Fiction, Second Edition, University ;of Chicago, 1983.
Bradbury, Ray, Zen in the Art of Writing, Bantam, NY 1990.
Buchman and Groves, The Writer's Digest Guide to Manuscript ;Formats. Writers Digest Books, Cincinnati, OH.
Burroway, Janet. Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft. Many ;editions, HarperCollins.
Chatman, Seymour, Story and Discourse: Narrative Structure in ;Fiction and Film. Cornell, Ithaca 1978.
Ciardi, John How Does a Poem Mean?
Dillard, Annie, The Writing Life.
Edelstein, Scott, Manuscript Submission. Writer's Digest Books, ;Cincinnati, OH, 1989.
Elbow, Peter. Writing With Power, Oxford, New York, 1981.
Fugard, Athol, Tsotsi.
Gardner, John, The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers. ;Vintage, 1991.
Goldberg, Natalie, Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within, Shambala, Boston 1986. Also her Wild Mind.
Kernen, Robert Builing Better Plots, Writer's Digest Books, 1999.
Kundera, Milan, The Art of the Novel, HarperCollins, 1986.
The Literary Press and Magazine Directory 2006/2007: The Only Directory for the Serious Writer of Fiction and Poetry, Soft Skull Press, 2006. ISBN: 1933368160
Meredith, Robert, From Basic Idea to Finished Manuscript, Harper and Row, 1972.
Novel & Short Story Writer's Market 2007, 26th edition, by Lauren Mosko (Editor), Michael Schweer (Editor), Writers Digest Books, 2006. ISBN: 1582974306
Paglia, Camille Break, Blow Burn (How her favorite poems work)
Rockwell, F.A., How to Write Plots That Sell
Rodale, J.I. , The Synonym Finder , Warner Books, 1978. Recommended by a veteran journalist and writer of thrillers.
Sexton, Adam, Master Class in Fiction Writing: Lessons from ; Austen, Hemingway, and Others, McGraw-Hill, 2005. Excellent book on learning the tricks of the fiction writing trade by reading the masters from a well-known writer and teacher of writing.
Shertzer, Margaret, The Elements of Grammar, Collier Books. Recommended by a veteran journalist and writer of thrillers.
Silber, Joan, The Art of Time in Fiction: As Long a It Takes.
Stein, Sol, How to Grow a Novel: The Most Common Mistakes ;Writers Make and How to Overcome Them.
Sol Stein, Stein on Writing . "Author of nine novels, publisher, teacher and editor (he’s edited the work of James Baldwin, Jack Higgins, Lionel Trilling, W.H.Auden and Dylan Tomas), knows more than a thing or two about writing fiction. His 320-page book STEIN ON WRITING (ISBN 0312136080) has invaluable advice on every aspect of writing a novel."
Strunk, William and White, E.B., The Elements of Style, Macmillan, ;Many editions.
Willis, Meredith Sue:
-Blazing Pencils: A Guide to Writing Fiction & Essays, Teachers & Writers, New York, 1991, Montemayor 2013
-Deep Revision: A Guide for Teachers, Students, and Other Writers, Teachers & Writers, New York, 1993
-Personal Fiction Writing, Teachers & Writers, New York, 2001.
-Ten Strategies to Write Your Novel, Montemayor Press 2010
Wood, James, How Fiction Works, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2008.
Ueland, Brenda, If You Want to Write
Zuckerman, Albert, Writing the Blockbuster Novel
Here's a site with some thoughts on good (and bad) book cover design.
Types of Publisher (A Publishing Continuum): Commercial; University presses/ larger small presses; Small Presses; Micro-mini presses; Co-operative Presses; Self-publishing; POD companies; Vanity Presses
Commercial Press: Advances! Puts you on T.V.! Author tour-- but-- sometimes no commitment at all. They often demand that you present a marketing "platform," make you do your own publicity, and they will drop you fast if your book does not sell a lot of copies very rapidly.
University press and large "small" press: Vary considerably: may make a real commitment, or not. Usually pay low advances or none, but do pay royalties. They often give little publicity, but are in many ways the mainstay of literature at the present time.
Small press: No cost to you, usually, but little profit either. They will expect in-kind support (set up your own readings, send out your own publicity). A good resource for more information for small presses is http://www.aeonix.com
Micro-mini press: No advance, possibly some shared costs with the writer. Like others, this type of press expects the author to do publicity and share the work.
Co-operative publishing: Shared costs and labor by a group-- often author owned, run, and managed (Otherwise, like micro-minis and small pressess).
Self-publishing: Join the likes of Lord Byron, Walt Whitman, and Anaïs Nin. You have to do everything, and might use a conventional printing press or print-on-demand technology. Note: Important distinction a technology called "print-on-demand," used by great conglomerates like Random house as well as tiny micro-mini presses, and POD companies. For more on this topic, see below.
POD companies like Xlibris, Iuniverse, 1stbook, and others will, for a reasonable cost, print anyone's book. They have lots of packages with rapidly escalating prices for fancy covers etc. Reviewers and bookstores tend to be suspicious of these companies, which make their prof by accommodating authors more than by selling books.
Vanity Presses: Expensive and very low prestige. In most cases, avoid them. (Dorrance, Vantage).
Self-Publishing and Print-on-Demand Self-publishing has always been a respectable option for writers who can't find a satisfactory commercial publisher. In self-publishing, the author does all the work, from having a cover made to finding a printer. Vanity publishing (sometimes distinguished from subsidy publishing), on the other hand, has a somewhat unsavory reputation. A Vanity Publisher does all the work for an author in exchange for a hefty fee, and often sells more services than the author needs. < The ideal is a commercial publisher who will pay the author for her or his work, giving royalties or other compensation. Such a publisher expects to make some profit on the sale of the author's books, and is thus willing to pay for review copies, advertising, attractive covers, etc. Now, however, well into the twenty-first century, getting a commercial book publisher can be extremely difficult – even for books that would have been considered commercial twenty-five years ago. For a quick outline of why, read André Schiffrin's book The Business of Books, or, for a précis of his argument, see my review of it at Ethical Review of Books. Falling between self-publishing and vanity publishing is an option called POD (or sometimes "subsidy publishing"). POD stands for "print-on-demand," which is actually the name of the technology it uses. The print-on-demand technology is a means of digitalizing books and printing one book at a time or many books at a time. (Read a 2010 summary of what is happening in Print-on-Demand in The Economist.) This technology creates trade paperbacks that are indistinguishable from those printed by conventional offset presses. These books can be prepared to print for less than $100. Many commercial and small publishers use this technology to keep books in print that sell in small numbers or to bring into print books with niche markets. Without knowing it, you may have ordered a book from a large or small press that was printed by the print-on-demand technology. Large commercial presses and small presses with very selective standards are openly and unapologetically using this technology as a way around the enormous costs of warehousing books.
The POD Companies, however, are large profit-making businesses who use the POD technology and work in much the same way as vanity publishers, but at less cost. Like vanity publishers, the POD companies generally work with amateur authors. There are exceptions: the Author's Guild, for example, a professional authors' organization, uses IUniverse to bring members' out-of-print books back into print. My first novel, A Space Apart, originally published at Scribner's, is part of that program. The POD companies take care of all the details for the author and offer many different packages and services. Like the vanity publishers, they don't do much publicity, but they do list your book on their web site and often link it to Amazon.com and other outlets. They have attractive web sites and enticing packages, some priced very reasonably, as well as lots of fancy ways of separating the author from more money. There is another problem: setting up your book is reasonably priced, but if you intend to sell copies yourself at readings or other events, it costs a LOT to buy copies of your own book from the POD companies. The standard author discount from a commercial or noncommercial publisher is 40%-- thus I just bought copies of my book ORADELL AT SEA which sells for $15 retail at $9 each-- I'll sell them at readings etc. maybe even at a discount, and still make a little. The POD companies will charge you much more, so buying copies becomes an issue. Some of the best known POD companies like http://www.iuniverse.com and http://www.authorhouse.com/are now part of AuthorSolutions.com . They also have a Do-it-yourself subsidiary called Wordclay , apparently designed to compete with Ron Pramshufer’s Self-Publishing.com and Lulu.com. For a blog on the experience of publishing with Lulu go to http://www.hyperorg.com/backissues/joho-aug21-06.html#hundred . Finally, here's an online version of an article (and review) from The American Book Review by Rochelle Ratner and one from PC Magazine. \ In sum, the POD producers are not a scam: they do what they promise, but read the fine print. Generally, even if you find ways to sell the books published with these companies, you still have to pay rather a lot to buy books to resell. Read also the following online article from Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. about possible dangers of using the POD publishers: http://www.sfwa.org/beware/printondemand.html. Another article with a personal experience (and a blurb for Self-Publishing.com) is Jeannette Stricklen's piece “Writers—Beware of Subsidy Publishers, Vanity Publishers, and Poetry Websites ."
First, check out this comparison site: http://www.booksandtales.com/pod/ One thing to consider is the cost of finished books: Some printers only chard 3 or 4 dollars plus shipping. Of, course LSI is our printer, not our publisher. Many of the POD companies make their profit by selling the books to the author for ten or twelve dollars each copy. So finding out the cost of buying a supply of books is important.
Lulu.com often has good deals: http://www.lulu.com/publish/books
And finally, I've had students praise Createspace.com (Amazon's self-publisher) and Booklocker.com (See this article