The Writer's Mailbag: Installment Eighty-Five
Let’s Get to It
No delay this week, no small talk to lead you into it…..it’s a full bag of mail and we need to get to it…so here we go!
MORE ON SELF-PUBLISHING
From Lori: “Hi Bill, Lori Colbo here (lambservant). After 83 installments you have likely answered these questions, but I can't remember the answers. 1). How should one choose a self-publishing company for poetry and works of fiction? Are some more reputable than others? 2). Regarding cover images for self-published books, how have you chosen in the past?”
Hi Lori! Your second question has never been asked before, so congratulations on an original.
Are some self-publishing companies more reputable than others? I think that’s safe to say. I’ve only dealt with CreateSpace (Amazon) and Lulu, and they are both reputable and easy to deal with. I can’t speak about the others, but maybe one of our readers will comment on that.
As for the cover images, my choices have varied with each book. For my first novel, the cover art was done by a friend. The second novel has a photo I took for the cover, and then the photo was digitally altered by an HP friend. Novels three and four were done by Mike Friedman, a friend on HP. You can use artwork, a photo, or any of a number of other options for your cover. The key, though, is to make sure the cover in some way reflects what is inside the book.
I hope that helps.
Write and Rewrite
From Brad: “I was watching an old episode of Mike and Molly, you probably don't watch it. Anyway, on the show she went from a grade public school teacher to a novelist. In finishing her first book she then went back and made some rewrite, and changes in some of her characters. Then, she gave it to some of her friends and family to review. She had already done several rewrites before this, and then after the review she was about to make a major rewrite because she questioned the worth of her current writing.
“This made me think about how authors might in reality have that same problem and what they would do to put a finish on their book and submit to the publisher, or publishing mechanism in the case of eBooks. In the show, her husband electronically sent the existing book to her publisher without her consent, just to put an end to the rewrite process which had been a strain on him and the family. In the show, I saw a real life question that I hadn't previously saw as a problem. I thought that this question or situation would be of general interest to your audience. As, I have not gone through all of the 84 mail in the bag, you probably have already answered this type of ? many times.”
Brad, believe it or not, I have seen exactly one episode of “Mike and Molly.” So there!!!!!
Now, your question: I feel safe in saying that most writers, if not all, understand what you just mentioned. We are never satisfied. I am currently re-publishing my very first novel, one I wrote four-and-a-half years ago. When I first wrote it I must have edited it at least five times. Now that I’m re-publishing it, I’ve already done it again another four times.
It will never be perfect. At some point, and this is purely subjective, a writer just needs to pull the plug on the process and publish the damned thing.
HP Folding up Their Tent?
From Blond: “I don't see your name come up in the forums on HP but there is once again talk about HP folding. I would like to know if this site goes down the pan, what are your plans? Will you look for another site such as this or are your books, websites, farm and job keeping you too busy. Hmm I think I just answered the question myself. LOL”
Blond, I don’t do forums because there are some nasty people on them. I will occasionally answer a question but never do I attend the forums.
As for your question, if HP went under, I would ask my friends here where they are going. I would hate to lose touch with them all. I’m sure, then, I would start writing on that new site as well as writing novels, just as I am now. I don’t need HP, but I do greatly enjoy my friends on HP, so I would do everything I could to keep them nearby on some other venue if possible.
That includes you, by the way.
This young woman is just too adorable
Help with Grammar
From Eric: “I got some issues. Is there a top notch site that really gets it with regard to punctuation? This one gets me confused "do you always say that?". What the heck does the question mark go outside the quotation mark and do you need that period? And there are many more questions like that. I am sure you know all of that stuff -- but is there a place for a neophyte?”
Eric, you give me too much credit. I’ve forgotten more rules of grammar than I remember. What I do correctly is mainly because of practice and learning through osmosis because I read a great deal. As for a topnotch site for grammar wannabes, you might try Writers Workshop (http://www.cws.illinois.edu/workshop/writers/).....you might also try going to YouTube and searching “grammar tips.” That’s where I usually go when I’m stumped on a grammar question.
Poetry and Children
Two questions from Ann: “Talking of which, I know you don't like creating poetry yet you're so good with the rhythm of writing and imagination so I don't understand why - what, do you think, is the difference, especially when these days it doesn't have to rhyme? Some of your writing sounds like poetry to me anyway!
“Another question: have you ever tried to help a child to write a story, poem or anything else? What kind of advice would you give children which would be any different from that for adults?”
Ann, you bring up an interesting point in your first question. I honestly don’t know the definition of poetry, and I say that because I agree with your statement that many pieces of prose appear, to me, to be poetic. I also agree that in the past I have written some things, some of my reflective pieces, which are more poetic than prose in nature.
The rhythm of my writing comes from studying the flow of great writers and learning how one can control flow and rhythm….and I think there is a natural rhythm to my writing that you just can’t teach to people….you either have it or you don’t.
As for the question about teaching children….if I had to name one thing I would want to teach them…it would be to experience life through the five senses. We all experience life through those senses….they are commonalities that every writer should be aware of and exploit. I would take a child on a nature walk and have them describe what they see, hear, feel, taste and smell. This is so important when writing scenes….we, as writers, are the set directors for our audience. I think that exercise also helps a child to be receptive to the world around them and thus will enrich their writing.
It’s also very easy for a child to become discouraged with writing, or learning any new craft, so I would be obnoxiously encouraging of them and their efforts. Writers need to love writing. They need to be passionate about it, so my job, as a teacher of any age, is to instill my passion for the subject into my teaching.
Great questions, Ann!
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More Next Week
Only fifteen more to go and I can mark off a personal goal….and I have all of you to thank for the success of this series. Thank you, Thank you and Thank you again!
Have a great week of writing. Remember that your words impact the reality we all experience. Treat them like treasures.
2016 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”