The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 262
Cutting My Own Path
“Hey, did you know you started a sentence with the word “and?”
That’s what someone said to me the other day after I had shared a chapter of my upcoming memoir with them. My answer to them was this: “Yep, and I just might do it again.”
Sister Mary Elizabeth from St. Patrick’s School, circa 1955, is probably rolling in her grave right now, so strict she was about proper grammar. Mr. Jahner from Bellarmine Prep is probably dancing a jig with the angels because he’s the one who taught me that grammatical rules are more suggestions than rules.
There is a not-so-subtle message in here for all of you. Outstanding writing is not outstanding because grammatical rules were followed. Outstanding writing is so much more than Chicago guidelines. The ability to connect is always present in outstanding writing. The ability to tell a relatable story, to delve into the human connection, and to find commonalities, all are present in outstanding writing.
And a piece of the author’s soul is apparent in outstanding writing.
There, I did it again, and I’m proud of it!
Let’s see what the mail has for us today.
From Mary: “While I was away, I read the book, "Write, Publish, Repeat", which I recall you mentioning before.
“In that book, the authors discuss their collaboration on books. I found it very interesting. Unlike the James Patterson method, where he gives the co-author the idea and oversees it. The authors, Johnny B Truant, and Sean Platt, each seem to play larger roles in the entire process. My question is, how would a person go about finding a co-author, especially one who has a compatible work ethic?”
What a great question, Mary! And what a great book that is. I highly recommend that read for anyone interested in self-publishing.
How to find a co-author?
Date them for awhile before you take the vows of marriage.
Seriously, you need to go through the courting period and determine if you are both a good “fit” in the arrangement you are proposing. Interview as many as is necessary, because this is an important decision.
But you asked how to find one, and my best suggestion is to either post on the HP forum, or go online and simply do a Google search for “how to find co-authors.” There are quite a few online “writer bulletin boards” where you can post an ad asking for a co-author.
From Eric: “Which reminds me what kind of "Amazon" or whatever ad things do you engage in here. Are you all signed up on all of them? Is that the dough maker here? (not Linda's dough :-)”
Lordy, Eric, I know next to nothing about this stuff. I know I’m signed up for Google Adsense. Is there anything else we could be signed up for on HP? Help!!! Anyone know the answer to this one?
Making Money on Hp
From B: “What’s the secret to making money on HP? You’ve been around a few years. You must know what HP is looking for, so help me out, please.”
Boy oh boy, B, did you ever turn to the wrong HP veteran with this question. LOL
No, seriously, I know how to make money on HP. I just don’t do it.
First of all, you have to follow the HP guidelines for a well-crafted article. The title needs to be attention-getting. You need to use several different capsules i.e. photos, videos, polls,etc. The length needs to be of the suggested length. Your grammar must be good.
And then there is the Holy Grail many seek . . .to go viral! Going viral is a bit like catching lightning in a Mason jar, but it does happen occasionally. Find a unique way to present information people truly care about. How-to articles do well on HP. Travel articles, cooking articles, parenting articles, DIY articles…those are the types of articles which stand the best chance of going viral.
I could go on and on, but you get the main picture here. It is my experience that the people who do the best on HP are those who pick a field and stick with it, like DIY articles or Going Green articles. My suggestion: choose an area of expertise and then find a unique way to present your expertise . . . and don’t forget to write a good article while you are at it.
And for God’s sake, do as I say and not as I do. I’ve been doing this for what, seven years now, and I don’t make enough to pay for my monthly mocha bill. Of course, I don’t follow any of the guidelines, so that might have something to do with it. LOL Good luck!
How to Attract Followers on Hp
From Pauline: “What’s your secret? You have a lot of followers, and judging from the Hubbie awards you have won, you are real popular. I’m a newbie and so far only three people are following me. What should I do?”
Pauline, you have a couple things going on in this question, two of which are not necessarily connected.
Having a lot of followers does not necessarily mean popularity. Attracting followers is just a matter of tossing out honey and waiting for the Pooh bears to show up. You can sit down right now, spend a half hour following 100 HP writers, and probably 50% of them will follow you back. Heck, knock yourself out and follow 200. By the time lunch comes around you’ll have 100 followers. Pretty cool, right?
But you also mentioned popularity and the fact that I have won a few awards here on HP, and the reason for that is a bit more complicated and time-consuming. I believe I have a following on HP because 1) I genuinely care about the writers in this community and 2) because I write thought-provoking articles which people can relate to. I’m like the Will Rogers of HubPages, that kindly old gent who waxes poetically about life, about real stuff we all face as we struggle through our days. I’m not trying to sell anything to anybody. I’m not trying to teach you the best way to mow a lawn or bake brownies. I’m an expert at nothing. I’m just a relatable guy who wants everyone to have a good life.
And that’s what I wish for you here on HP: a good life, one filled with love. Thanks for the question!
From Shannon: “Ok....So since the last one wasn't for the mailbag, this one definitely can be. What do you feel is the most influential quote ever written by you? It can be anything from a sentence to an entire passage?”
What an interesting question, Shannon. I was wracking my brain for awhile on this one, but then it dawned on me that one theme is intertwined in almost everything I write . . . so I went back through the archives and found this passage from “I Touch, You Touch, We Touch:”
“And when you finally do touch me; when you finally cast off the pretenses and allow yourself to be vulnerable, then two shall be one. And we will go from there and touch others, and hundreds, and thousands, and millions will understand the orgasmic joy of touch, of unity, of….
Back to Cutting My Path
That’s all I have time for this week, so I’ll bid you adieu. Thanks for the questions and thanks for being here.
I will leave you with a little Leonard Cohen on this Monday morning . . . just proof positive that good writing is good writing no matter the genre.
“Now, I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?
It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing hallelujah”
2019 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”