The Writer's Mailbag: Installment Nine
You asked for it and I am delivering.
Welcome back to the ninth installment of the Writer’s Mailbag. I’m enjoying it, you’re enjoying it, the whole darned world is enjoying it. Hey, a guy has a right to dream.
Do I need to explain how this works? You ask questions and I attempt to answer them. I will give you the straight skinny as I know it….the nitty gritty…right from the horse’s mouth (or the other end of the horse).
Send your questions to my email address at firstname.lastname@example.org, or to my website at www.williamdhollandauthor.com, or leave them in the comment section below. I’ll answer them in the next installment.
Now you know the instructions. Let’s do this thing.
What to Do Before Submitting an Article
From Michael: “ One day there would be more information of kind , completing in of my need toward "how" and "what" one have to have before sending out an article.”
Thank you, Michael my friend. I’m not sure where you intend to send your article. Online? Magazines? Without that information, I can only give a very broad answer.
Before any article is submitted anywhere, it needs to be edited. Nothing spells doom and disaster like poor grammar. You might get away with poor grammar on a site like Bubblews, but if you are submitting to a serious writing site, then grammar is the starting point.
Most of us don’t have our own personal editor, but we do have relatives and friends who can do the same job of an editor. Read your article to them. Have them read it out loud so you can hear how it sounds. Then make your corrections.
If you are submitting to an online site, then consider adding some window-dressing to the article i.e. photos, sidebars, links, etc.
And if you are submitting to a magazine, you’ll need to send a query to the magazine editor asking for permission to submit.
That is a nutshell answer to a complicated question.
The World of Ebooks
Sally asks: “I am delighted to see others expressing an interest in e-books and I would love to read more about your approach to writing them.”
This, again, is a bit of a complicated question and probably deserves its own separate article. However, Sally asked for my approach, so that gives me some leeway in answering.
One of the reasons I write for the site HubPages is to build my writing platform. Once I have constructed a sizable platform, I take articles about the same topic and combine them into an ebook. I happen to know that Sally writes craft articles about wet-felting. Don’t ask me what that is, but Sally not only knows but is quite good at it. Sally, I would suggest taking twenty of your articles, making each one a chapter in an ebook, then write an introduction and a conclusion and you have your ebook ready to go for publication.
Of course, you then have to format it for Kindle or whatever other formatting you choose, but that is how I approach ebooks. I’ve already written the articles. Why would I want to write more articles if I don’t have to?
I’ve done this on three different occasions, and although none of my ebooks met with resounding acclaim, the process was an easy one.
My blog and website all in one location
- William Holland | Helping Writers to Spread Their Wings and Fly
Tips, suggestions, and discussions about writing
To Blog or Not to Blog
Melissa asks: “If someone is not a freelancer writer, is there a benefit of having a blog? Would you be better off waiting until you had a book published before creating an author website?”
My online friends have the greatest questions. Melissa has been so loyal, and her questions are always well-worth considering and definitely answering.
This is a two-parter and most of the answer is subjective. If you are not a freelance writer, is there a benefit in having a blog? I can’t think of a single one, other than the fact that blogging is a bit more personal and you might enjoy the layback atmosphere of blogging.
Would you be better off waiting until you had a book published before creating an author website? I don’t believe so. If you plan on writing a book, I would start that website as soon as possible. Websites establish you as a serious writer. They also are a way of gathering followers before the book is published. I would suggest to anyone even considering writing a book that they add a website to their platform as soon as possible.
Stuck in the Middle with You
Stuck in the Middle with You
Does anyone remember that song? Stealers Wheel, I believe, with Gerry Rafferty…who cares, right? See, you not only get answers to your writing questions, but you also get music trivia tossed in for free. How great is that?
Here’s a question from Jen:
Any tips for if you're stuck in the muck of the middle?
She’s talking about writing a book, folks, and not wading through the Everglades.
This just happened to me, so the timing of Jen’s question is good. I was sailing along with my newest novel, about two months and 35,000 words into it, and I hit a mental roadblock. Maybe a bit of that roadblock was psychological as well, because I didn’t take a break after finishing my previous novel. Whatever the case was, I hit a brick wall and could not write an intelligent word in this new book.
What did I do?
I walked away from it for a week.
My mind needed a break, so I gave it one, and after that week there was, once again, clarity of thought and purpose. The other suggestion I would give is to outline your book in advance. I know this works for many writers, so that when they get stuck they can go to their outline for guidance. Others, and I have done this myself, find a trusted friend and sit down with them. The writer will give a brief synopsis of the book, and then read what they have written to date. The friend, then, will make suggestions. This worked like magic on my last novel, Resurrecting Tobias.
Do You Hate a Character?
Flourish asks: Bill, have you ever had a character you intensely disliked but which was integral to the story? Why did you dislike him/her? Did you seek to change him/her as a part of the story?
Wow! My followers are reading my mind. Now that is frightening, for me and for them.
This very situation is happening in my new novel, Shadows Kill. I have a serial killer in this book, and he is evil personified. Think Hannibal Lecter on crack. Think your worst nightmare rolled up into a living being. I hate this guy. He makes my skin crawl. He is fully capable of smiling at you and then defiling your body…and he is necessary to the book and I would never think to change him.
This is my first experience creating a character who makes my skin crawl, and it is an unsettling experience.
And I think that’s a good thing for me as a writer.
Until Next Week
Thanks so much to those who asked questions, and to all of you for stopping by the mailroom to read my answers. I hope that if you have a question about writing you will let me know. This series can only survive if you participate.
Have a great week of writing my friends.
2014 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”