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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment Thirty-Five

Updated on February 23, 2015

I’m Baaaaaaaaack!

Do you have a vision of that scene from “The Shining” running through your mind right now? Jack Nicholson was freaky in that movie, wasn’t he?

Well, I am, indeed, back, with another installment of the Mailbag. You ask, I answer, and we all go home fat and sassy. I could make small talk and tell you about my week but seriously, does it matter? You’ve got your own life and you don’t need to hear about mine, so let’s just get started. Janet kicks off this week’s mailbag with a question about comments.

Welcome to the Mailbag
Welcome to the Mailbag | Source

Responding to Comments

From Janet: “Bill, how do you find the time to respond to all the comments you receive?”

The answer to this one is simple: I make the time.

How can I write an article on a public site, sit and hope for responses from busy people, and then not take the time to respond in kind? It just seems plain rude to me not to respond to comments. The day I’m too busy to respond is the day I need to stop writing articles for the public.

Taking it a step further, I’ve actually checked on some writers to see if they are commenting on my comments to their articles. If they can’t be bothered to comment then I stop following them because I consider it rude of them. I took the time and they should take the time. End of story!

Making a Living As a Freelancer

From Bob: “What’s the fastest way to earn money as a freelance writer? I’m facing some financial problems and I need to start seeing some money coming in from my writing.”

This is another easy question to answer: there is no fast way to earn money as a freelance writer. Sorry, Bob, but that’s the truth as I know it.

I see this all the time and it is beginning to drive me crazy. Listen, I know times are tough economically. People are scrambling to pay bills, and being a freelance writer seems like a pretty soft gig to make some extra cash. You can do it in your spare time and maybe pay for your utilities, and how cool is that?

Well, if it were true, it would be very cool indeed. This is why content mills are so successful. Many writers out there are desperate and willing to work their butts off for loose change.

Making money as a freelancer is not easy. Toss that misconception out the window immediately.

If this guy edits his own book then he's a fool
If this guy edits his own book then he's a fool | Source

SELF-EDITING

From Patricia: “I know you have said how important it is to edit a book, but some of us don’t have the money to pay an editor. I mean, the quotes I’ve received are between $500 and $1000. Who has that kind of money? What can I do if I want to self-publish an ebook and I can’t afford to hire an editor?”

Here’s a question we haven’t had before, and I suspect it’s a pretty common problem. Believe me, I understand. I’m not rolling in money either, and this is a real concern as I put the finishing touches on my latest novel, “Shadows Kill.”

The best suggestion I can give you is to turn to close friends you can trust and ask them to do the editing for you. Maybe you can contact another writer you trust and work out a trade with them. You’ll edit their future book if they edit yours….that sort of thing. One thing you absolutely should not do is do the editing yourself. You are too close to that book, and you will miss things that another pair of eyes won’t miss.

If you are not self-publishing and decide you want to submit your book to an agent or publisher, good luck. If the book is not properly edited, the professionals will eat you alive and most likely reject your book after reading the first chapter. They are pretty serious about the editing process. They don’t want to spend the time and money to edit the book for you, and they have thousands of writers to choose from, so why would they waste time on an un-edited book?

This was self-published and as such, not as big a thrill for this author
This was self-published and as such, not as big a thrill for this author | Source

Traditional Publishing

From Josh: “I’ve read your views on traditional publishing vs self-publishing. I was wondering why you think it is so important for you to be accepted by a traditional publisher? I’ve known a few writers who do quite well with ebooks.”

Well, I’m going to tell you, Josh, and I want you to realize that what I’m about to say is a purely subjective opinion. I have nothing at all against ebooks, as long as they are written well. I know writers who have done well with them and I’m very happy for them.

Having said that, for me, I think traditional publication if a validation of sorts…It’s a legitimizing of the book if you will. If a professional agent, or publisher, or both, decide that my book is worth publishing, that would mean a great deal to me, much more than the simple process of self-publishing. It would mean that professionals in the field, those who see thousands of books each year, have decided that mine is of high quality. I can’t get that from publishing an ebook.

I understand the lure of ebooks, and I’ve even published a couple myself…but….nothing could compare, for me, to having my work accepted by someone who has solid experience in the field, someone who is going to spend money promoting my book. I just don’t think there is any comparison when viewed that way. It would be the same thrill if I won a major writing competition.

SPREADSHEETS

From Jennifer: “I'm wondering - do you use a spreadsheet to track your pitches or jobs?”

Hello, Jennifer, and thanks for a brand new question I haven’t had yet. Jennifer is asking about submitting query letters and idea pitches to magazines and other publications. She wants to know how important it is to have a good tracking system of those queries, and the answer to her question is VERY IMPORTANT!

If you are a freelance writer, and writing magazine articles is important to you, then you really must do this. It really is the only way to keep track of things. One very important reason for doing this is because magazines are notoriously slow about paying for an article. There are some mags that only pay twice a year. Some pay within three months of publication. How can you possibly know if you are getting paid on time if you don’t have a spreadsheet?

But spreadsheets serve other purposes as well. They help a writer to keep track of deadlines…when an article was accepted, when it is due, and yes, when payment is due. Spreadsheets are also a good way to keep track of queries for a book you have written. You can have columns saying “very receptive”…..”invited more work”….not receptive at all”…..whatever information you need to keep track of with your freelance business, a spreadsheet can help you with.

More Next Week

Well that was cool. We had a couple questions never asked before, and I love it when that happens.

But I also love any old question, and I appreciate all of you who took the time this week to ask your questions and keep this series alive.

So I’ll see you all next Monday with another installment. In the meantime, write like a man, or woman, possessed. You never know when you’ll be able to do so again. This is a gift we’ve been given, so treat it as such and write your heart out.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

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    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 2 years ago from New York, New York

      Totally agree about commenting and make the time here always. Also, there is no get rich scheme here either, just a lot of hard work. Happy Monday, my friend again ;)

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I do feel for many writers having a hard time earning money. With so many people writing these days, it has become even more difficult for those who don't really promote themselves. I will be more conscious about this now and see where we can help.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I do feel for many writers having a hard time earning money. With so many people writing these days, it has become even more difficult for those who don't really promote themselves. I will be more conscious about this now and see where we can help.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you Bill for this continuing series I learn a great deal. I liked the new questions but I get just as much out of the nearly repeated questions and answers. I am pretty thick and need some points driven in. The commenting lesson is one I learned early and really liked your answer.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I do feel for many writers having a hard time earning money. With so many people writing these days, it has become even more difficult for those who don't really promote themselves. I will be more conscious about this now and see where we can be more helpful to these writers.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you Bill for this continuing series I learn a great deal. I liked the new questions but I get just as much out of the nearly repeated questions and answers. I am pretty thick and need some points driven in. The commenting lesson is one I learned early and really liked your answer.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 2 years ago from New York

      As much as you appreciate the questions, we appreciate the answers. I too liked your advice about commenting. It just seems rude to be ignored but that could be our Catholic school training ;)

      This, as always, was a great read. Thanks for the tips.

      Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 2 years ago from New York

      As much as you appreciate the questions, we appreciate the answers. I too liked your advice about commenting. It just seems rude to be ignored but that could be our Catholic school training ;)

      This, as always, was a great read. Thanks for the tips.

      Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.

    • bradmasterOCcal profile image

      bradmasterOCcal 2 years ago from Orange County California

      billybuc

      I agree with your position on rudeness of not responding to comments.

      Surprise, other than that I have no real comments on today's mailbag.

      This is a rare occurrence.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 2 years ago from Arizona

      EverytimeI read your articles about writing...I realize this such a work in progress. One thing I have learned when the mind is tuned in to creative writing--put everything down and just work on the book or whatever it is you are writing. I have made a plan to work on my book daily and some are lackluster days. The other day it hit and I worked like a madman. I am on the 5th rewrite. Always good to come by here and get a dose of inspiration.

    • profile image

      DJ Anderson 2 years ago

      Good morning, Mr. Holland!

      I have my next move plotted and my fingers are tingling this morning.

      It is so great how the mind works. One must learn to relax and let the creative process take over. Got to go. There is a dastardly deed set in motion. I would not miss it for the world!!

      Great info, as always, Bill.

      Many thanks,

      DJ.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Aesta, you are right on with that observation. Just as supply and demand rules the marketplace, so does it rule the writing world...too many writers and not enough slices of pie. Thank you for that observation.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      And thank you again, Aesta. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      LOL...thank you Eric and I agree. I learn no matter how many times I hear a question...and I appreciate you always being here.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Aesta, we seem to have a glitch with comments

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      and another glitch, Eric

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mary, I literally will stop following someone who doesn't respond to my comments. If they can't be bothered then neither can I. :) Have a great week, my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      and thank you again, Mary

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      Hello Billy,

      One can't help being fascinated with the idea of publishing an e-book but in reality I just can't see myself actually wanting to buy one. There is something so tangible and delicious about holding a real book in my hands that I do wonder if all these people who write e-books actually own a kindle. themselves. I am curious, do you?

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Brad, you must be in a hurry or tired, but I thank you for stopping by.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Carol, I so agree. If the muse is speaking then we need to stop everything and listen to her. Who knows when she will grace us again?

      Happy Monday my friend. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I love it DJ...go with the flow, my friend. Thanks for visiting me before you started....now....GO!

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sally, no I don't, and I can't see myself buying one either. I am too old-fashioned for such nonsense. :) Happy Monday to you, my friend.

      bill

    • Lady Guinevere profile image

      Debra Allen 2 years ago from West By God

      I agree with the commenting and writing and also the art of sharing others posts/hubs on their social media. I don't not see many who know how or are spreading the news about other hubs here. If I do not have anything of mine to share I will share others that I read.

      It is a very good start to my Monday...quiet and clean! haha!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Janine, my first response to you disappeared...there seems to be a major glitch going on today in comments....well, thank you for being here and Happy Monday to you.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 2 years ago from Central Florida

      Right on about commenting, Bill.

      I also agree with you on the spreadsheets issue. I keep several for tracking my outreach efforts. One is for contests and queries (separate sheets within one workbook). I make note of date entered, deadline for submissions, date winners are to be announced or publisher anticipated response date, how it was submitted, to whom, email address, and whether or not my piece was accepted. Another is for emails I send to introduce myself to potential clients. Keeping spreadsheets lets you know when to follow up. Also, noting the piece you submitted gives you a birds eye glance into what's out there. This is especially useful if a publisher or contest doesn't accept simultaneous submissions.

    • ocfireflies profile image

      ocfireflies 2 years ago from North Carolina

      Bill,

      Interesting as always and just as informative. I do my best to comment on the work of others, but I know I often fall short in that my comments may arrive later rather than earlier. All I can do is my best and hope that the folks I follow understand that I do the best I can.

      Kim

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 2 years ago from sunny Florida

      Mornin' Bill

      Hope all is well out in Olympia today....

      I just peeked in to see what is new here and I guess one of the reasons I stop in is because of your candor.

      You do not sugar coat answers nor do you say what you think someone may wish to hear...and I thank you for your candor.

      those sweet little Angels are winging their way to you bearing blessings and hugs for you and your family ps

    • ocfireflies profile image

      ocfireflies 2 years ago from North Carolina

      Bill,

      The other part of my response did not make it which I also wanted to make the point that some who have personal laptops or smartphones can access the net pretty much anywhere. Those of us like me who only have a desktop must physically be in front of that or another computer. I think that does make it a little more challenging to stay on top of the comments if you do not always have immediate access.

      Blessings,

      Kim

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Debra. Our house still smells like Pinesol and I love it. LOL

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      All great suggestions, Sha, and I thank you. It's always good to hear from writers who use these techniques and know that they work.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      No doubt, Kim, all we can do is our best. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and Happy Monday to you.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Good morning PS. A bit chilly here but sunny and beautiful. All is well in Olympia and I hope today will be a positive one for you and your family.

      Candor? Oh my goodness yes....maybe too much at times. LOL

      hugs and blessings heading your way

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Kim. I'm lucky in that I'm at my desktop all day long, so it's pretty easy for me to stay on top of commenting.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      I totally agree with you about comments, bill, but I haven't had the heart to 'unfollow' anyone as yet. I am thinking about doing so to a few though. Bit much when the courtesy is not two-way.

      You know I agree with you on the traditional publishing route too. It is exactly about the satisfaction of knowing what a respected publisher thinks of your work. I was thrilled to have some magazine articles published, let alone a book. One day, maybe..... !

      A question for you: How do you explain to someone how important writing is to you, when you know that they just don't get it?! I want to explain it to those whose faces just glaze over when I talk about it! I do have some words of my own, but just wondered what yours are.

      Thanks for Monday mentoring; I always enjoy it along with your wonderful humour and candour.

      Enjoy the rest of your Monday, bill.

      Ann

    • Lady Guinevere profile image

      Debra Allen 2 years ago from West By God

      I am kind of with Annart here. Though I do not get many comments back at the time that I think I should, I eventually do. Some people only come on here once a week or even less than that.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Good morning Ann! It's always nice to start my week hearing from you. Just two old friends conversing fro 6,000 miles away...over tea of course. :)

      I'll answer your question next Monday if you don't mind the wait. It's a great question that deserves more room for an answer.

      Have a splendid Monday, my friend.

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Debra. I always enjoy hearing the thoughts of other writers.

    • Lady Guinevere profile image

      Debra Allen 2 years ago from West By God

      Hahahaha! I have not mopped my floors yet. I HATE mopping floors. See you next Monday!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Bill, some of the new hubbers need to read this today. They want us to read their hubs, yet they don't read or comment on ours. It just doesn't work that way...Have a good day!

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      Of course! I didn't expect an answer before next Monday at the earliest! Yes, I do enjoy a Monday chat, bill; you can have tea, I'll have coffee. The kettles on.

      Ann :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sounds good, Debra. Thanks again.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Ruby! I agree...I have gotten a lot of new followers but never hear from them. They can pay their dues if they expect me to stop by for more than a howdy and a quick cup of coffee. :) Happy Monday my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Ann! The tea has been consumed and now I'm working on a mocha.

      bill

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      So many topics to weigh in on this week!

      1) Yes, freelancing is a tough gig. I just saw an article that said writers, or anyone who does consulting work, shouldn't refer to themselves as "freelancers." It has a flighty, unprofessional image attached to it. Be a "writer," not a "freelance writer."

      2) I have edited or done pre-publishing reviews for friends. I like the "if you edit mine, I'll edit yours" strategy.

      3) It's true that traditional publishing IS a badge of honor. If you have the chops to get noticed, get an agent and/or get a contract with a traditional publishing house, that is a significant achievement. But whether self or traditionally published, make sure the books you write are right for your business objectives.

      4) If I didn't have Excel (or something akin to it), I would not survive in today's business climate. Period.

      Speaking of climate, it's still the Arctic here in Chi-town. A whopping -9 or so this AM. But tomorrow, we might hit 30+ degrees. Woohoo! Have a great week where you are, my friend!

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 2 years ago from Northern California, USA

      All cool questions and very cool answers. I can't agree more about having spreadsheets. As freelancers, we have a lot of things happening at the same time. I finally developed an Excel spreadsheet for every assignment and I color code assignments so I can see (at a glance) what is happening.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Heidi. Your input and insight is always appreciate.

      Way too cold there for this boy. Best wishes for the week as we bask in fifty degree sunshine. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Good for you, Marlene. I always knew you were a highly intelligent woman. :) Have a great week my organized friend.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

      Hi Bill great advice as always, and a good question and answer with the spreadsheets! I always comment back if someone takes the time to comment on my work, I like to keep in contact and have a 'chat' if you like sometimes we carry on the conversation for ages! lol! great work as always, nell

    • Homeplace Series profile image

      William Leverne Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Possibly the best mailbag to date - how about that!

      Love your response to the first questions. I love comments. I thank you for getting me to respond to every comment. I planned to anyway, but your reason is so compelling, thank you, again! ;-)

    • Buildreps profile image

      Buildreps 2 years ago from Europe

      Awesome mailbag today, Bill. To be honest, I'm startled how difficult it is for writers to earn a bit of cash, and happy in the same time I don't have to make a living as a writer (yet :)). You are very helpful for many writers out there, and that's a good thing.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 2 years ago

      All I can say is that you are an amazing writer who is talented and incredibly generous. The fact that you take the time to answer all these questions is wonderful. Voted up, useful, interesting and awesome.

    • bradmasterOCcal profile image

      bradmasterOCcal 2 years ago from Orange County California

      billybuc

      I thought of a plot for a book, but as I don't write books, I had to share it.

      The head agent of the secret service guarding the president is compromised when a foreign agent places a deadly inoperable device device instead this agent's young child.

      The agent is then forced to have the same thing happen to one of the president's children.

      The president is confidentially notified by the foreign government about this device. The device can be triggered remotely, and in the case of the child being put in a Faraday cage to prevent remote detonation, there is a dead man timer that if not remotely triggered, the device activates.

      The purpose of course it to be able to manipulate both the secret service agent who is not known to be compromised, and control the president.

      The rest of the plot would be how would that president deal with the deadly threat to his child, and any actions that he might be force to do against the US.

      The end of the story would be how or if the child survived.

      I don't read fiction, so I don't know if this plot has been done.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Me too, Nell. I love hearing from people and learning about their lives. I think that's the greatest thing about HP...meeting people like you. :) Happy Monday my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Bill. The best one yet? Not bad after thirty-five of them. I appreciate it, my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Buildreps. I'm just giving back what was freely given to me.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Pop! I really appreciate your support...it means a great deal to me.

    • mdscoggins profile image

      Michelle Scoggins 2 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Thanks Bill for another Monday session. I agree about commenting and supporting each other. I have found that to be really helpful. I also agree that editing can be a very expensive and daunting task, been through it in the past. But having the option of using a trustworthy friend is a great option and I hope to remember this when the time comes up again. I hope all is well and have a great week.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Brad, honestly, I don't know if there is a new idea in fiction. It is all recycled in my opinion. There are new twists to old ideas...and this is one of them...and there is always the uniqueness of a writer's voice and style. But new plots? Isn't it all good vs evil in the end? :) I like your plot...thanks for sharing. I haven't even promoted Shadows Kill and I'm already working on the sequel. LOL

    • bradmasterOCcal profile image

      bradmasterOCcal 2 years ago from Orange County California

      billybuc

      Thanks, and now it is time to promote your book.

      Shadows Kill.

      Start the sizzle.

      just a thought.

    • mpropp profile image

      Melissa Propp 2 years ago from Minnesota

      Happy Monday! You had some very interesting questions this week! In regards to editing...Do you also use beta readers? If so, would you have it edited first and then given to beta readers? Or vice versa?

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      Another interesting and very useful mailbag, also very timely. I'm currently looking at writing and publishing an ebook. Yes.. I know, I've avoided going down that particular road so far, but the way I see it, the income generated from the ebook can help to finance the book, that is of course, if I ever finish it. :) I'm going to need a bloody good editor. Know anyone? You, my friend are inhuman! I can't believe you've already started the sequel to "Shadows Kill." Whatever you're on, I want some. :)

      Continue the good work, my best always.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Michelle and all is indeed well with me. Busier than I should be but it's doing something I love doing. I hope all is well with you and thanks for adding your two cents worth. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Brad! It's good having you in my corner.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great question, Melissa, so of course you'll have to wait a week for the answer. Stay warm and thanks for visiting on this sunny Monday.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jo, I don't know where I'm getting the energy and creativity but I feel twenty years younger. I'll ride this horse as long as I can. As for an editor, I do that....I can also give you a couple other names if it's something I don't feel comfortable with.

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Kay Badder 2 years ago from USA

      I wonder how many ebooks do well. I haven't read about any writers saying that they earned that much. Right now, I am working on a book and question what I should do with it when I am finished. You have some interesting information here.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Barbara, now you have me curious. I'm going to do a search and see if I can find out. Thanks for perking my curiosity.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 2 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Bill. Another great installment. Interesting questions and honest and helpful answers. I'm already looking forward to next weeks installment. Have a great week.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

      Hi Bill,

      I am with you on the commenting for sure. If someone takes the time to read and comment, then I owe it to them to respond to each comment individually.

      Once again, you have a great bunch of questions this time and have provided great insight with your answers.

      I was wondering when writing dialogue, do you feel it important to state who it is each time who is speaking, i.e., Mary replied, " ...."

      I think maybe it is understood when there are not many persons in the scene. However, when one wants to convey an emotion in dialogue, i.e., Exasperated, Mary screamed, " ...." What are your thoughts on this? Maybe you can clarify in the next mailbag article.

      Happy Monday!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you so much, Bill, and I hope you have a better week with the weather. I think it's about time Massachusetts caught a break.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Faith. Great question, but I'm going to make you wait a week for the answer. It's actually a question I think many first-time novelists ask themselves, or at least they should. :)

      Have a wonderful week, my friend.

    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Hi Bill, good advice as expected, especially for the editing question from Patricia. It's so difficult to 'see' your own work clearly and expensive if you pay for an edit.

      I'm lucky with friends who I trust completely.

      Other friends have 'crit buddies' and they edit each others work, during the writing process and through to the final edit. They are successful in the children's and YA genre of publishing. Cheers Maj

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      Melissa Reese Etheridge 2 years ago from Tennessee, United States

      Good Morning. I've spent nearly twenty minutes reading your interesting article and the thoughtful comments. Thank you. I'm learning so much from you and your readers. Do you have advice for writers who have another full time job?

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Maj, that's great that you have friends like that. Thanks for sharing your experience with all of us. Very helpful.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Melissae, that's the hardest, working full-time plus writing. I'll take a look at answering your question in next Monday's mailbag....thank you for spending twenty minutes with me.

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      Nithya Venkat 2 years ago from Dubai

      It is important to take the time to respond to comments and somehow we have to find time for it. There is no get rich quick schemes in the world of writing and that is the truth. Great hub.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Vellur, it's always nice to hear from you. Thank you for confirming what I mentioned. This is a tough gig, this writing thing, and new writers need to understand that.

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      Krzysztof Willman 2 years ago from Parlin, New Jersey

      Great stuff here that I can use going forward. I don't know if I'll ever become successful as a writer, but I won't stop. It's a tough gig but if it were easy then everyone would be writers.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Exactly, Chris. If it were easy it wouldn't be special, and I like doing something that only a relative few can do. Thanks for mentioning that.

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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      So much good advice this week. The editing is really important. I am so bad at editing. If you have rad my hubs you probably already know that. I'm always grateful when another hubber points our a needed correction. Voted up.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Catherine, I think we are all bad at editing our own work. Just my opinion but I think it's pretty valid. :) Thank you for stopping by twice today. I appreciate it.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      That was an especially good spreadsheet question. I cannot imagine not using a spreadsheet or other important tracking mechanism for bread-and-butter activities.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I can't either, Flourish, and yet many people try to go without it. It sure saves me many headaches along the way.

      Thank you for the visit.

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      Liz Elias 2 years ago from Oakley, CA

      You have another agreement on the comments issue. I try very hard to reply to each and every comment I receive.

      It is disappointing, indeed, when I have taken the time to leave a comment, and get no response at all. I do find that rude. However, I think it is even MORE rude, when some writers respond to only a few, selected comments, and ignore everyone else who has taken the time. That is truly a slap in the face, IMO. I don't necessarily "unfollow" them, but I won't leave them any more comments, either.

      As for the editing, and not doing 'self-editing,' you raise an interesting point. But I must add a query onto what exactly you are speaking of. Are you including page formatting, and setup, or only grammar, spelling, flow and punctuation as well as consistency of voice and continuity of action?

      For myself, I've never had a book published (as yet), and I really know nothing of formatting and layout. I would presume (notice I was careful not to say 'ASSume' LOL), each publisher has their own formats. Also, with e-books, while there are some guidelines in that respect, there is not much for the author to do, as the printed page will show up differently depending upon the reading device.

      However, I do proofreading myself, on the side, and am pretty darned good at it, if I do say so. I've been doing it for some time, and recently got my first paid gig.

      My "trick" for looking over my own work is this: Print out a copy! I find that I much more easily spot mistakes in my own work from a hard copy than I do on the computer screen. It also helps to step away from the work for anywhere from a few hours to a couple of months. Then, you are not so immediately emotionally attached, and can use that as your 'fresh set of eyes.' ;-)

      Cheers! Voted up, interesting and useful.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Lizzy, you raise some great points. Yes on the editing...I'm talking about grammar, spelling, flow, cohesion....those are things that are hard for a writer to spot once he/she has gotten too close to the work. I've probably read my recent novel ten times and I'm still finding errors. And I once thought I was intelligent. LOL

      Thank you so much for a great comment.

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      L Sarhan 2 years ago

      This is great advice. Thanks! I am definitely sharing this along and check out some of your other installments.

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      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      This is awesome material. I too tried the 'fast buck ' approach a few years ago with copywriting. I enjoyed.it but it's a hard road and wasn't going to pay the bills so I changed tack and my passion is my hobby! My advice would be find amother way to pay the bills (preferably with something you enjoy doing) and save the thing you're passionate about to be enjoyed as a hobby (and if it earns a little then great) and let it build at your pace. Those are my thoughts

      Awesome hub. Now I'll have to find the other 34 !

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      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Your Monday mailbag hubs are always useful and interesting, Bill, and this one is no exception. Thank you once again!

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Linda. I appreciate you visiting and thanks for the follow.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Lawrence....I like your advice. This writing thing is tough...I can keep my dogs in food but that's about it. :)

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I appreciate that, Alicia. I really enjoy this series.

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      Frank Atanacio 2 years ago from Shelton

      It's Wednesday Jack, and I always look forward to my Monday Mail on Wednesday.. don't know why that is..LOL but self editing proved again worthy.. Yeah I look forward to your answers at their bests.. bravo

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Frank! Monday, Wednesday, it makes no difference. I'm just happy you stop by.

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      Devika Primić 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      I must say lately I have had no time to comment on most hubs. A point well said and made.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      DDE, I appreciate the fact that you are here...the comment is a bonus. Thank you!

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 2 years ago from london

      Usual great advice and experience, here, Bill. I strongly support you on the question about editing one's own book. I use friends, although some lead busy lives and will decline. Some are truly excellent even without having taken a course in Creative Writing. So yes, lots of re-reads both by self - at different times - and friends or Professionals also. Useful Hub

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you for sharing that, Manatita. Friends can be invaluable, can't they?

      blessings always my friend

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      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      It's interesting what you say about replying to comments as I try to but the other day I went on to a couple of hubs where I'd been notified of comments only to find other comments there that hubpages was asking me,if they were spam? They were only one liners but they'd been there a few days. One other thing I do is to see if I can find the commenters profile and some of their hubs because they took the time to visit me so maybe I could return the favor

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Lawrence, I've heard from several people who said the same thing about spam comments. I haven't run into it, but I assume it is a glitch in the HP program. And good suggestion about looking at the profiles. Thank you.

    • Anna Haven profile image

      Anna Haven 2 years ago from Scotland

      This series has proved really popular and helpful.

      I have a question and I apologise if it has already been asked. What format do you use for your writing resume? Thank you. :)

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Anna, stay tuned. I'll have your answer Monday.

      I hope you know how much I appreciate all these visits today. Thank you so very much.

    • Anna Haven profile image

      Anna Haven 2 years ago from Scotland

      My pleasure. I read purely because I enjoy your work.

      You fly from the informative, the heart retching to the downright rebellious and all with flair and conviction. :)

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Anna, that is a lovely thing for you to say. Thank you! I don't know where it comes from but I'm grateful that I have it. :)

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      James Bowden 2 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Bill:

      Thank you again for sharing another chapter from your mailbag series with all of writers, and wanna be writers. As always great questions from other writers and great answers from one heck of a know it all!

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      I'm glad they left the one line comment (they were good ones) but taking it as a suggestion that I could work on improving my reader engagement (I'm not taking it in a negative way but more as a 'positive critique') that way we all win.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Jim. I appreciate you taking the time to visit and comment.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Lawrence, I believe that....that way we all win. I wish I could convince more Hubbers of this fact.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      I think you helped do a good job of convincing me

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm glad to hear that, lawrence. Thanks again.

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      Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks once again for increasing my knowledge base. Believe me, I appreciate you, and obviously, since you have so many questions, others value your input.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you very much, Deb. I'm just trying to open up communication among writers...we all can use the shared knowledge.

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      Victor W. Kwok 2 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks for another installment, Bill! I try to make time, but so many other things are keeping me busy, and will likely keep keeping me busy.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I understand, vkwok. When I was your age time would definitely have been a problem.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 2 years ago

      Interesting one Bill - I love the question about using a spreadsheet for certain things. I use one for keeping track of when/where I have shared an article or updated it. Also think it's important to answer comments. I like to make comments too, although it may take me a while to go thru my list of hubs to visit!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Glimmer, I can't imagine a writer without a spreadsheet, but I guess there are stranger things in this world. :) I'm glad you stop by, on time or late, it makes no difference to me at all. Thank you and Happy Weekend!

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