The Writer's Mailbag: Installment Forty-Two
Forty-two…are You Kidding Me?
One article. That’s all I was going to do with this mailbag nonsense. One article to tie up some loose threads and answer an array of questions and then I would be done with it.
Forty-two weeks later here we are.
Obviously I do not have a firm grasp on reality.
But then we all knew that, right?
Welcome back to the Mailbag. You ask, I answer, and then we all go get a stiff drink and enjoy the rest of our day. My idea of a stiff drink these days is lemonade, but that’s for another discussion.
Here we go with a great question by Carol.
From Carol: “As always very helpful. Bill I have kind of a complicated question..well maybe. I am curious about Create A Page. Where are the best instructions to turn an ebook into printed with this site? You had mentioned it before.”
I’m guessing Carol is talking about CreateSpace, a site I most definitely mentioned before.
Let me start by saying if I can do this then anyone can, because I am basically brain dead when it comes to technology. I’ve done it, my wife has done it, so I’m confident, Carol, that you can do it.
When I have done it I simply followed the instructions on CreateSpace. If you need further instructions then there are several good online books available through Amazon that can walk you through it. There are also several good videos on YouTube that have all the information you need.
Trust me, this is not difficult. It’s a bit time-consuming, and there will be some errors along the way, but eventually you will get to the finished product.
From Kailey: “I'll never get tired of your voice! It's conversational, intelligent and comical. Speaking of which, do you have any suggestions for someone who wants to improve their voice? Or, do you think after most writers have found a voice they're comfortable with it'll always sound repetitious to them, even if others enjoy it?”
Kailey, I’ll tell you what. This is such a great question…I’m going to write a hub about it. I’ll post it on Friday. Sorry for the delay in the answer, but this one really deserves a longer answer than I can give here. Thank you and I promise to have this answered by Friday.
From Lizzy: “Okay--I have another question for you, vis-a-vis revisions.
Do you (or how do you) keep track of revisions, and not lose your place in scrolling back and forth on the computer screen while making the changes?
I find that if I need to do a major revision, I need to print out a hard copy, and use old-fashioned edit marks, boxes and arrows... That's one thing with a hub; quite another matter if it's an entire book!”
Lizzy, this is a great question, and it applies to anyone who writes a book. Your system of printing out the manuscript is a good one. It’s not one I use but I certainly see the advantages to it.
As I’ve stated several times in the past, my first and second drafts of my novels involve no editing or revisions at all. In the first draft I simply tell the story. In my second draft I develop in detail characters and scene descriptions. When I’ve finished with those two drafts I turn my book over to my beta readers. I have some good ones and I trust that they will find the major flaws in the story I’m telling. They will let me know if there are gaps in the story or holes to fill. They will tell me if something doesn’t make sense and needs more development, and they will tell me if my characters are likeable and if not what is wrong with them.
Armed with that information, I then begin my revisions. This is in no way an easy task. If I change something that is to be repeated throughout the novel, then I am looking at dozens of individual revisions wherever that “something” appears in the novel. I just had this happen. I didn’t like one of my major characters and I had to make changes to her in about fifty different spots throughout the book. How do you keep track of that? I simply start at page one and work forward until I’ve done every revision necessary for that character. Same thing if it is part of the plot. If I revise the plot then I have to go through the entire book and make sure it all ties together with the new changes. There is no easy way to do this.
There are computer programs you can buy that help you to outline each chapter for a reference so you can easily spot where in the book certain things appear, but this only alleviates a bit of the work. In the final analysis, revisions require painstaking work, especially if they are big revisions.
The novel I just finished, Shadows Kill, was completed and about to be sent out to agents when I learned, thanks to a friend, that my timeline was completely flawed. I won’t repeat some of the words that came out of my lips upon discovering that my friend was correct. I then had to go through the entire manuscript, again, and correct the timeline.
Either I’m stupid or revisions are difficult on the best of days.
From Brian: “Beta readers are precious. Beta reading is a gift to receive and to give from the heart. Best of all is a critique writing group in which each member is a beta reader for the others, with each being eager to ever be an even better writer and glad to encourage and help the others in that urge. An advantage of a local group is being able to get not only written comments and suggestions but also verbal face-to-face comments and suggestions. I have found it more helpful to get both written and verbal feedback than either alone. I wonder if a critique group meeting (or a get-together with a beta reader) could be simulated with a video call?”
It’s a great idea, Brian, and one I had never considered. It seems to me that a conference call to your beta readers via Skype would be very advantageous. I don’t have a clue how to do Skype but I’ve seen it done and it sounds like a great idea to me. Set up a time and have your beta readers there “in front of you.” You can all then share ideas at one time. Sounds very doable to me.
From Jackie: “What’s the fastest way to make money as a freelance writer?”
What I’m about to tell you, Jackie, is something I don’t recommend to any writer.
The fastest way to make money is to write for a content mill. There are thousands of them online so you won’t have any problem finding one. You can literally be making money within a week or two.
The problem in doing that, though, is that the money they pay sucks. How’s that for clarity? Content mills pay peanuts for hours of work, and every single time a writer works for peanuts he/she drives down the market. Our time should be valuable, and writing 500 words for five bucks is a joke in my opinion.
But if you want to make money quickly then go forth and enjoy those peanuts.
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More Next Week
I’m still having fun and you’re still having fun, so I’ll be back next week with another installment of the Mailbag. If you have a question then just leave it in the comment section below and I’ll get to it next Monday.
In the meantime, have a great week of writing. Spend the week elevating your game. Next week, at this time, I want you to be a better writer than you are today.
2015 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”