Monday, October 6, 2014

THE HEAVY LIFTING OF A BEST SELLER


Nothing done well is done quickly. Or cheaply. Or rashly. Or naively.

I have learned this as I struggle to become a published writer.  I started on this adventure four years ago and am still a novice, but I have learned some things along the way through experience. (Cue: It’s a Hard Knock Life)

1.    Never trust anyone who tells you they too have “written” a book over the course of
A.   the drive home from Grandma’s
B.   a weekend of feverish inspiration
C.    a dream they had where God and/or His angels came to them with a command to do so.
Even the best and the most prolific writers have to roll up their sleeves and put in time and effort into their writing.

2.    A memoir is not a chronological, birth to death (or birth to epiphany) biography of a person’s life. A memoir has purpose and a theme. It’s a postage stamp of a moment in a person’s life; a biography is the US Postal Service – large, boring, and archaic. 
Other than to record an amazing experience or an amazing life, why else would anyone want to read a memoir or a biography?

3.    Just because a person can write a good sentence and knows how to punctuate it well, it does not mean a series of well written sentences makes a good book. (This blog post is an example of that.) 
How many books have you bought off the shelf or because they made a best selling list and you have wondered at the quality of the writing or of the plot? Yet, you cannot find fault in any of the individual sentences.

4.    There is a huge difference between how one writes non-fiction and how one writes fiction, and it is not in the number of passive and active verbs. It is not in the “showing and telling.” 
Michener comes to mind. I’ve read three of his books lately and there is a huge change in his writing when he moves from stating historical facts and waxing poetic when he switches to story.

5.    Self publishing works best for those who have already published under traditional methods. One, they have built an audience.  Two, they have been through the publishing process where several professional eyes have guided them through revisions and editions, so they know (or should know) the weaknesses in their process.

After you sell copies to family and friends, you are done for, but if you have established a readership or a fandom, self-publishing might be the ticket.  

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