Category Archives: Writing

Writer’s Block: What Causes It and How to Overcome It

Writer’s block definition from Dictionary.coma usually temporary condition in which a writer finds it impossible to proceed with the writing of a novel, play, or other work. What causes this temporary condition? And how do you overcome it more quickly so you can get on with the business of writing?

Writer's Block

Writer’s Block

I believe there are three root causes to writer’s block: fear, perfectionism, and exhaustion. And I offer the following remedies to help you overcome each one more quickly.

Writer’s Block Cause #1: Fear

To overcome your fear, you must first acknowledge it: Don’t Call Procrastination Laziness. Call it Fear. What is the root cause behind your procrastination? It’s usually a fear of rejection or criticism in some form, as discussed in the above-linked blog post. Put your fears down on paper. Articulate them to yourself in writing. Read them out loud to yourself. When you do this, you’ll begin to see just how irrational many of your fears really are. That should help you get back to work.

Writer’s Block Cause #2: Perfectionism

Are you someone who finds yourself obsessing over every last little detail, editing the same line over and over again rather than writing a new one? This is another form of procrastination that can slow your writing progress down.

“If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.”
~Margaret Atwood

The best way to overcome perfectionism is to stop overanalyzing everything. Stop nit-picking and editing yourself along the way. Not long ago, I wrote a blog post titled 7 Tips to Help You Write a Book FAST! These same tips can not only help you write more quickly; they can also help you overcome writer’s block in the first place.

Writer’s Block Cause #3: Exhaustion

Are you taking good physical care of yourself, eating healthy, and exercising regularly? Are you getting enough sleep? If not, you may find yourself both physically and mentally exhausted. You’ll most likely experience writer’s block ahead of other writers who are minding their mental and physical health in all these ways. Want some great tips on how to prevent exhaustion? Here they are: How to Stop Feeling Tired All the Time.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2018 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.



What Does a Publisher Do for a Writer?

Perhaps, even more than “What does a publisher do for a writer?” the true question here is “What do authors want? And will they get that from a publisher?”

What Does a Publisher Do for a Writer?

What Does a Publisher Do for a Writer?

What Do Authors Want?

I came across an article aptly titled What Do Authors Want? the other day. It discussed that what every author truly wants is “discoverability” and that traditional publishers don’t actually offer this:

The two editors did not specify what they thought ‘discoverability’ was. They did, however, say that what publishing firms could offer was not ‘discoverability’ but ‘the professional environment’. This included professional editing to a high standard, high-end book layout and design, a ‘reasonable’ distribution (again, not specified), and publicity in accordance with the allocated budget. This budget, they said, varied, but on average it was between £200 and £300 per book. They also emphasised that authors were now expected to contribute to their own marketing and publicity, especially through social media and blogging.

It seems to me that the discrepancy between what authors want and what the publishing firm might provide must have consequences.

The article goes on to compare three different author experiences: the first traditionally published by a major corporate firm; the second traditionally published by a small independent press; the third self-published with support from an online hybrid publisher. (You can read the differences between these publishing methods by clicking here.) In terms of which of the three authors sold the most books, not surprisingly it was the third self-published author.

What Does a Publisher Do for a Writer?

I’ve mentioned the realities of traditional publishing many times in the past, most recently in this blog post: 2 Important Details About Traditional Publishing. The truth is, it doesn’t matter what publishing method you use. If you want your books to be “discovered” by the masses, it takes time and consistent focus—on your part. You can build your own readership the way many of today’s most successful independent “indie” authors do. As a result, a traditional publisher may just sign you down the road.

The true value of a traditional publisher is the professional support they can provide in terms of editing and graphic design. As well, they can get you into the “bricks and mortar” bookstores more easily than you can on your own. But the rest is up to you alone. It’s always been that way for the majority of authors.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2018 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.



7 Tips to Help You Write a Book FAST!

What’s the best way to write a book FAST? Should you schedule a chunk of time each day and “force” it out, or is it best to work only when the mood hits? These are common questions that many authors face at the prospect of writing a new book—especially when it comes to “rapid release” publishing. But what if I told you it’s possible to write an ebook in only three weeks?

Write a Book FAST!

Write a Book FAST!

Write a Book FAST With These 7 Tips

The truth is, starting is the easy part. The first few pages and ideas can seem to flow out of your mind faster than your hands can type. This is the most enjoyable stage because it stems from impulsive inspiration, meaning that you’re creating only when the mood hits. Unfortunately, if that mood doesn’t hit on a regular basis, writer’s block can set in.

Creativity is similar to muscularity in that it will begin to atrophy with a lack of regular stimulation. Just as even the finest athletes have those days when they must dig a bit deeper to find the will to carry on, all writers will have the same experience. I’ve found the following tactics effective in getting myself to keep writing on a consistent basis (and QUICKLY!), and I believe they can work for anyone.

Tip 1: Break It Down per Hour

If you already have a full-time job, that means you’ve probably only got two or three hours of writing time available per day during the weekdays; but if you truly want to write a book FAST, then you’ll take at least another six hours per day on the weekends. Over a short three-week period, that will give you 81 writing hours in total.

3 hours X 5 days X 3 weeks = 45 weekday hours
6 hours X 2 days X 3 weeks = 36 weekend hours
45 + 36 = 81 writing hours

Now break it down by hour. How many words can you write in one hour? 100 words per hour will result in an 8,100-word mini ebook at the end of three weeks. 300 words per hour will result in a 24,300-word ebook. 500 words per hour will result in a 40,500-word ebook at the end of three weeks. I don’t want you to get too hung up on the word count because quality is more important to your readers than quantity is. (My mini ebooks, which are equivalent to one chapter of a standard book, are typically from 5,000 to 8,000 words in length whereas my standard, full-length paperback books are generally 40,000+ words in length.)

This simple mathematical exercise has been added here only to demonstrate what you can accomplish in a three-week period. When you break it down like this for yourself, it suddenly appears more achievable, doesn’t it? And when your goal appears more achievable to you, you’ll be more apt to stick with it and see it through to the end.

Tip 2: Schedule Your Time Wisely

Once you’ve planned how many hours per day/week you will commit to writing your ebook, you should actually schedule those hours. Mark them in your calendar just as you would any other important appointment such as client meetings, dental/medical visits, or extra curricular activities.

By scheduling regular writing intervals in this way, you will move past that fleeting, impulsive inspiration toward a more lasting, thoughtful inspiration and finish your book in record speed. Sometimes, when settling down to write, you might have no idea what you’re going to say—and that’s okay. It might take half an hour to get that first awkward sentence out and “unlock the floodgates” of creativity; but most authors are pleasantly surprised with how much they have at the end of each session. It’s because the intention to create is the very thing that attracts the creation. That’s the power of deliberate, thoughtful inspiration.

“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”
~Louis L’Amour

Tip 3: Just Write for Now; Don’t Edit

Here’s another great tip: resist the urge to edit yourself over and over again while you’re writing each day. In fact, don’t edit yourself at all. Your sole purpose, during these three weeks, is to get your ebook written and designed. Period. So, that’s all you should be doing. The editing process will happen after you’re done writing, so you don’t have to worry about it until then.

Creating a truly professional-quality book—including non-fiction how-to books of any kind—is a team effort. The writing portion is typically done within the solitude of one’s imagination and writing room. And then there is the “polishing” portion of the process, which is equally important to your success and requires an outside team of professionals for best results. So, do your part now, and let them do theirs later. You’ll end up with a better book in the end if you do.

Tip 4: Read Regularly

The writers who spend even as little as half an hour per day reading another person’s work often find that they are more creative during their own writing sessions. It doesn’t even have to be another book or anything related to your topic matter at all; it can be an online article, magazine, newspaper, or blog. Sometimes, the least likely source can inspire the greatest creativity. The most important point here is to keep yourself open and aware of the infinite pool of ideas all around you. Whatever it takes to get that first sentence out, do it. From there, thoughtful inspiration can—and will—take care of the rest. It always does.

Tip 5: Ask Yourself These Six Questions

If you’re still having difficulty getting started with a particular chapter after trying all the tips mentioned earlier, then here’s another great idea generator. Write these six questions down underneath that chapter title: Who? What? Why? When? Where? How? Now begin answering each of them for yourself in relation to the topic matter at hand. That should get your creative juices flowing if all else has failed on a particular day.

Tip 6: Reward Yourself Along the Way

It’s important to reward yourself throughout this process because writing a book is an accomplishment all in itself. It deserves your recognition!

What sort of reward will provide you with the greatest sense of motivation to continue forward with your goals? A ticket to a sporting event, concert, or movie at the end of one full week of writing? A particular food item after a certain number of words is written? A visit to the local market or leisure centre? Or, maybe your idea of a treat is a new pair of shoes once you’ve completed the whole book.

Whatever it is, treat yourself. Reward yourself along the way. This is a great way to keep yourself on track and motivated.

Tip 7: One Particularly Helpful Writing Tip

I’ll start by including one of my absolutely favourite quotes about writing by Gary Provost from his book titled 100 Ways to Improve Your Writing: Proven Professional Techniques for Writing with Style and Power (Mentor Series) (a book I highly recommend you read if you’re serious about writing):

This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety.

Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals—sounds that say listen to this, it is important.

It’s beautiful, isn’t it? It’s like music, as he says. This is the kind of writing that will keep an audience engaged. It not only sings to them; but, with the right combination of vivid adjectives and visceral verbs, it can create such authentic, powerful imagery inside their minds that it keeps them turning the pages for more. That’s really what you’re after whether you’re writing fiction or non-fiction. Don’t you think? Try to make your book as “musical” as possible for best results. Motivate your readers to stay with you by relaying stories, examples, and/or descriptions throughout your book that will appeal to their emotions just as music does, and you’ll surely keep them engaged.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2018 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.



Looking for a Unique Writer’s Retreat in Alberta?

Writer's Retreat in Alberta

Writer’s Retreat in Alberta

Are you looking for a unique writer’s retreat in Alberta? I found the perfect one this week, practically right in my own back yard. It has spawned a new category on this blog aptly titled “Writer’s Retreats” that I plan to add new posts to as often as humanly possible. This is my inaugural post on the topic.

What Made Me Go Looking for a Writer’s Retreat in Alberta?

I founded Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and the PPG Publisher’s Blog almost nine years ago. It will be nine years in November 2018. My dream, from the very start, was to successfully operate this business in a virtual office environment so I could freely travel, write, and work with anyone, anywhere in the world, at any given time. In 2016, I enjoyed a six-month working vacation in Southeast Asia while I continued publishing books for authors back home. The experience proved to me that an online business is viable anywhere in the world where there is an internet connection. But I still had a ways to go in terms of my company’s self-sustainability. I had to return home to my external work and continue building it on the side.

Rockyview Hotel and Texas Gate Bar

Rockyview Hotel and Texas Gate Bar

Luckily, the “work” required to build a sustainable online publishing/blogging business is writing. Along with travelling, writing is my absolute favourite pastime, so this journey continues to be an enjoyable one … and I’m well on my way now, as you know from recent posts. If you want a snapshot of my dream life, all you need to imagine is someone travelling to beautiful locales surrounded by inspirational scenery and containing a living space with all the creature comforts of my cherished writing room back home.

One day, not long ago, I asked myself, “What are you waiting for, Kim? You don’t have to travel overseas again to experience this. You can enjoy a writer’s retreat in Alberta right now. Just look around you. You’ll find it.” And find it, I did!

Rockyview Hotel in Cochrane, Alberta, Canada

Comfy Writing Chair Rockyview Hotel

Comfy Writing Chair Rockyview Hotel

I absolutely love the short drive from NW Calgary to Cochrane on Highway 1A (Bow Valley Trail). It doesn’t matter what season it is, I’m always taken aback by the beauty of this small town nestled deep in the valley, at the bottom of the hill. On a clear day, you can see the majestic Canadian Rockies only 45 minutes to the west and watch the trains as they snake through the valley en route to the mountains. That always gets my creative juices flowing. And tucked right in the middle of Cochrane’s historic downtown is a writer’s perfect haven: the old Rockyview Hotel.

What makes this hotel (and this town, in general) the perfect writer’s retreat? For me, it is the cozy, old-fashioned decor and private rooms along with the kind of peace and quiet you can only find in a small town. When I’m writing, I don’t need to be surrounded by other people. I just need a comfortable chair (or bed) to relax in, a cup of coffee at my side, and my laptop in my lap. That said, an all-day breakfast menu and other home-made comfort foods at the restaurant downstairs is an added bonus.

A Conversation Piece: The Golden Ceiling

The Golden Ceiling

The Golden Ceiling

When you need a break or change in scenery for a little while, you can go for a walk along the picturesque Cochrane streets or relax in the chairs on the hotel’s veranda. I also enjoyed sitting in the window seat of the restaurant and people watching outside while I enjoyed my breakfast. And the golden ceiling in that restaurant is quite the sight to see along with the old wood stove and walls full of pictures from the early 1900s. It really does take you back in time.

In the evening, you can enjoy a beverage at the Texas Gate saloon at the back of the establishment. This has been a popular haunt for locals since the building was first established. And it still has the same old-fashioned decor as the restaurant and hotel does. What a beautiful, historical building in every way. It was such a nice break for me from my usual writing space at home. That definitely helped refresh my enthusiasm along with my creativity. It was the mini-vacation I needed—my dream life realized in a wonderful writer’s retreat in Alberta, right in my own back yard. I feel refreshed once again.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2018 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.



SEO-Friendly Flesch Reading Ease Score (FRES)

SEO-Friendly Flesch Reading Ease Score (FRES)

SEO-Friendly Flesch Reading Ease Score (FRES)

Yesterday’s advice regarding writing the most SEO-friendly blog posts was pretty simple. Make sure your post is genuinely helpful and contains at least 500 words. Within those 500 words, your main keyword should be repeated at least 10 times. By doing that, search engines like Google should be able to easily find and index the blog entry.

SEO-Friendly Flesch Reading Ease Score (FRES)

Today’s advice is a little bit different. According to SEO 2018 author Adam Clarke and Yoast: SEO for Everyone, an SEO-friendly Flesch Reading Ease Score (FRES) is crucial to your SEO success.

Google’s former head of web spam, Matt Cutts, publicly stated that poorly researched and misspelled content will rank poorly, and clarity should be your focus. And by readability, this means not just avoiding spelling mistakes, but making your content readable for the widest possible audience, with simple language and sentence structures.

…The Searchmetrics rankings report discovered sites appearing in the top 10 showed … content that is fairly easy to read for 13-15 year old students and up.

…By encouraging search results to have content readable to a wide audience, Google maximise their advertising revenues. If Google were to encourage complicated results that mostly appeal to a smaller demographic, such as post-graduates, it would lower Google’s general appeal and their market share. (Clarke, 2018)

Why I Now Use the Yoast SEO WordPress Plug-In

In a nutshell, the Yoast SEO WordPress plug-in helps me to write blog posts that Google will approve and index. That’s why I use it. Because Google is the greatest link between me and my desired reader base.

As I begin writing each and every blog post, the Yoast plug-in continually gives me little notices. It lets me know whether my content is SEO-friendly in various ways. It tells me if my FRES is within the acceptable 60.0 to 70.0 readability range. If not, it will show me which sentences need to be adjusted to improve that score.

Your Blog Post Can Be Less Than 500 Words

So long as your writing style matches Google’s desired FRES score, your post can be 300+ words long. Yoast also has a different way of viewing keywords. Rather than repeating your top keyword at least twice within every 100 words, Yoast wants to see it right upfront. If you include that keyword in your slug (the URL for the blog entry), at least one or more of your headings, and within your first paragraph, Yoast will usually give you a good SEO score. It’s also great to attach the keyword to an image on your blog post, too. That way, Google will certainly understand what keyword you want the post indexed under.

There are additional things you can do to improve your blog post’s SEO. Including internal links to past blog posts and external links to other relevant information will also help. The more posts you write that Yoast awards a good readability and SEO score to, the higher up your blog will land in Google’s search engine ranking.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2018 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.



Why Do Writers Write? Can They Profit From It?

Why do writers write? There are varying reasons from the basic desire to share ideas with others to the simple joy of the act itself. I’m one of those writers who does it because I enjoy it. I always have. Since the day I learned how to write, I’ve been writing in some way, shape, or form. When my high school friends went off to cheerleading practice or music lessons after school, I went home to write. Every single day. So, this has never been a chore for me; it’s always been my love and passion. If I never earned a dime from it, I would still write every day.

Why Do Writers Write if Most Earn Very Little Money From It?

In his article titled “Why Do Writers Write?” on the Psychology Today website, author Lawrence R. Samuel ponders:

Why do writers write

Why do writers write?

With rejection and criticism so much a part of the literary experience (and the fact that the income of the average American writer hovers around the poverty line), one has to wonder if writers have at least a streak of masochism in their genetic makeup to choose it as their profession.

This belief that most writers are doomed to a life of poverty seems to be the consensus among writers and non-writers everywhere. I think it is one of the top fears that prevent most “closet authors” from coming out to share their work with others. They may wonder, “What’s the point?” and opt for other seemingly more lucrative careers. But what if I told you times are changing? What if I told you that more and more authors are proving you can, indeed, earn a decent living from writing? I’ve done a lot of research on this topic matter over the past two years. You can imagine how thrilled I was to learn that it is possible to actually profit from my lifelong love and passion.

How Are Today’s Authors Earning a Decent Living from Writing?

Organic Web Weaving

Organic Web Weaving

If you’re like most writers, you don’t want to have to sell your books after you write them. You just want to move onto writing the next book. Am I right? Well, here’s some great news for you: writing is selling in the online world. The best way to sell books today is to utilize the power of search engines by feeding them new content on a consistent basis. Here are five simple steps to guide you:

 1. Create a WordPress or Blogger site for yourself (if you don’t already have one).

 2. Research and find the top 156 keywords for your genre/topic matter.

 3. Write and publish at least three new blog posts per week for a year (for a total of 156 posts) related to your genre/topic matter.

 4. Promote your blog posts and books on social media daily to keep the search engines happy.

 5. Publish 12 ebooks per year (one per month) at a minimum of 5,000 words each (equivalent to one chapter of a standard-size book). Then, at the end of the year, combine those 12 ebooks into one paperback and publish it the following month. “Lather, rinse, repeat” each year to build a momentum.

Why do writers write? Maybe the newest reason is because it’s actually possible to earn a profit from doing what you love!

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2018 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.



[PAPERBACK] The Art of Organic Web Weaving: Why Writers are Natural Online Marketers

The Art of Organic Web Weaving: Why Writers are Natural Online Marketers

Coming soon! The Art of Organic Web Weaving: Why Writers are Natural Online Marketers

COMING SOON TO BOOKSTORES (OCTOBER 31, 2018)

Non-fiction (Business Self-Help)

The Art of Organic Web Weaving: Why Writers are Natural Online Marketers
Kindle (.MOBI) Ebook ASIN: B07G7H7H1G
KOBO and E-Sentral (.EPUB) Ebook 978-1-988971-28-5
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-988971-27-8
Copyright 2018 Kim Staflund, All Rights Reserved

It takes the patience of a spider to weave an intricate web that can repeatedly attract—and catch—her prey. Spiderwebs are true miracles of organic engineering, and online marketing works in much the same way. You can grow your readership using various search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, and almost all of them include effective writing.

“Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.” (Moz, n.d.)

What constitutes quality traffic? It is relevant visitors to your website—people who are looking for the types of books and information that you offer. What is an organic search engine result? It is a search result that you didn’t pay for—a result that occurred naturally through an intricate web weaving process.

Buy the ebook versions through Amazon’s KindleKobo, and E-Sentral.




Proofs and Three Parables by George Steiner

Michael LaRocca of MichaelEdits.com

The Wikipedia entry on proofreading includes four works of fiction in which one of the characters is a proofreader. The novella Proofs and Three Parables is one of them. The professore is one of the more memorable protagonists I’ve encountered in a long time. His skill as a proofreader is unrivaled. No mistake escapes him, however tiny, in the most trivial printing jobs. His eyesight has been damaged by years of exacting work, exacerbated by self-neglect, and he may be going blind.

Alas, this is a subplot.

The novella deals mainly with the fall of Communism. It’s the most readable thing I’ve seen on the topic, brief yet illuminating, simple without being simplistic, not as boring as I’m making it sound. The author is also passionately concerned with the tradition, culture, and fate of Judaism.

But I’d rather dwell on the professore’s character as a proofreader because, well, you do know what I do, right?

Now the burn seemed to smart behind his eyes.

Thirty years and more a master of his craft. The quickest, most accurate of proof-readers and correctors in the whole city, perhaps in the province. Working every night, and throughout the night. So that the legal records, deeds of sale, notifications of public finance, contracts, quotations on the bourse, would appear in the morning, flawless, exact to the decimal point. He had not rival in the arts of scruple. They gave him the smallest print to check, the longest columns of figures to justify, the interminable catalogues of lost and found to be auctioned for the post-office and public transport. His proof-readings of the bi-annual telephone directory, of electoral and census rolls, of municipal minutes, were legend. Printing works, the public record office, the courts of law vied for his labours.

But now the sensation of burning, just behind his eyes, felt sharper.

With an opening like that, the reader must read on. I know I did.

(For the record, I’ve only been editing for 28 years, and I use Word to zoom in on small fonts all the time. No phone books, but I’ve done some awesome work with sales catalogs.)

He hated litter. Waste paper struck him as the very waste of waste. At times, if the winds blew a piece towards his feet, he would pick it up, smooth it, read closely and make any correction needed. Then he would deposit it in the garbage receptacle, feeling obscurely rewarded and saddened. Any witness to this rite would have thought him deranged.

I’ve never done this, even though I do pick up litter. The professore is “a man whose obsessive scruple in respect of the minutiae of print, whose bristling distaste in the face of the approximate and the loosely mistaken, were magisterial and pedantic to a degree.” He’s also the kind of man I’d debate the Oxford comma with, but I fear I’d lose in the face of his stamina.

Since I mentioned Judaism, let me quote the professore.

Do you know what the Kabbala teaches? That the sum total of the evil and miseries of mankind arose when a lazy or incompetent scribe misheard, took down erroneously, a single letter, one single solitary letter, in Holy Writ. Every horror since has come on us through and because of that one erratum.

When his replacement replies that proofreading a hand-bill for an auction of used farm implements and manure sacks isn’t important enough to demand perfection, the professore disagrees.

It is just here that it matters more than ever before. To act otherwise is utter contempt. Contempt for those who cannot afford to look at a fine book, at quality paper or crafted type. Contempt for those who have a right under God, yes, under God, to have a flawless hand-bill, also for a sale of manure! It is just for those who live in rural holes, in slums, that we should do the best work. So that some spark of perfection will enter their wretched days. Can’t you understand, how much contempt there is in a false accent or a misplaced serif? As if you spat at another human being.

Technical editing since 1991. Business editing since 2006. MichaelEdits.com

© Michael LaRocca 2018



When Should Writers opt for Self-Publishing over Traditional (Trade) Publishing?

When should writers opt for self-publishing over traditional (trade) publishing? This is a loaded question because the answer might be different for one person than it is for another. It all starts with your own personal preferences and goals as detailed in this blog post from a while back: Ten Questions To Ask Yourself Before Publishing Your Book. From there, it’s important to research the various publishing options available to you to determine which one best complements your goals. I talk about these three book publishing business models in one of my most recent free downloads titled Your Ebook is an Asset … if You Own the Copyright. Here is a brief excerpt from that ebook:

Some authors will submit their manuscripts to a traditional (trade) publisher for consideration in the hopes it will be published for them free of charge. What they might not realize is that whoever is paying for the publication of a book is the one who ends up with primary control over that book. Trade publishers don’t pick up the bill simply out of the kindness of their hearts. They are business people who are buying a product to try to turn a profit for themselves, and that “product” is the copyright ownership of your work (whether permanent or temporary, whether full or partial—it varies with each contract and each publisher).

The grant of rights clause in a publishing contract is one of the most important clauses because it enumerates the specific rights granted to the publisher by the author. Negotiation of this clause has become even more important in today’s world where increasingly more uses are being developed for literary content.

The scope of the clause may vary widely, it could be all inclusive — granting all the exclusive rights and interests in the author’s work, or the grant could be very narrow — only including a single specific use of the author’s work, or it could be somewhere between these extremes. The critical point is that the publisher only has the right to exploit those rights that are specifically granted to the publisher and any exploitation of rights exceeding the author’s grant could be deemed a copyright infringement of the author’s work.

Copyright ownership of a literary work consists of a bundle of rights which an author, at least theoretically, may assign to the publisher in any manner they choose. Thus, an author may assign all or only a part of his/her rights to one or more publishers while retaining particular rights for himself/herself. (Thomson Reuters, n.d.)

Unfortunately, many authors unwittingly grant all their exclusive rights to one publisher without fully understanding the implications of doing so. As a result, these individuals usually retain only basic rights that recognize them as the author of the work and allow them to be paid a small percentage of its retail price in royalties (usually only up to 10 percent per copy sold). The publisher keeps the rest of the profits because the publisher owns the copyright.

Most trade publishers do not ask for an outright assignment of all exclusive rights under copyright; their contracts usually call for copyright to be in the author’s name. But it’s another story in the world of university presses. Most scholarly publishers routinely present their authors with the single most draconian, unfair clause we routinely encounter, taking all the exclusive rights to an author’s work as if the press itself authored the work: “The Author assigns to Publisher all right, title and interests, including all rights under copyright, in and to the work…”

…The problem is that most academic authors—particularly first-time authors feeling the flames of “publish or perish”—don’t even ask. They do not have agents, do not seek legal advice, and often don’t understand that publishing contracts can be modified. So they don’t ask to keep their copyrights—or for any changes at all. (The Authors Guild, n.d.)

If you choose to follow the traditional route toward publishing a book, you must read and fully understand the contract being presented to you before signing anything away. You should only grant a publishing company the primary and subsidiary rights that it has the full intention (and capability) of exploiting on your behalf so the relationship benefits you both. If any publisher ever tries to tell you otherwise, then walk away.

Interested in reading more about your other two options? You can download a free copy of Your Ebook is an Asset … if You Own the Copyright from your choice of either Amazon, Kobo, or E-Sentral to continue reading. Click on the link for details.



Collaboration: Mental and Emotional Preparation for the Ghostwriting Process

What is a Ghostwriter?

According to The Free Dictionary by Farlex, a ghostwriter is:

n.
a person who writes a speech, book, article, etc., for another person who is named as or presumed to be the author.
[1895–1900, Amer.]

Ghostwriters are often hired by business professionals who wish to produce books and various other marketing materials to promote their leaders, products, or professional services. A published book can lend credibility to one’s offering if it is done properly. If you want to produce a book that presents you as an industry expert in your field, it should be completed by an industry expert in the book publishing and content writing fields. 

Mental and Emotional Preparation for the Ghostwriting Process

Some authors go into the ghostwriting process with the misconception that, once they’ve handed their notes to the professional, their job is done and the book will be written. Yes, a ghostwriter can save a lot of time in terms of the writing portion itself. But it is important to understand that ghostwriting is an ongoing, collaborative process in which the author will be required to answer questions and proof chapters all along the way.




Authors can also expect to go through a series of emotions during the ghostwriting process. It is natural to feel an initial resistance to each new draft—to feel a bit frustrated if things aren’t worded exactly the way the author first envisioned. This is a natural reaction during the ghostwriting process, particularly when it comes to personal books like biographies. Recognizing this, authors should read a draft over once, and then put it away for a couple of days to give their emotions time to settle. If they do this, it will be easier to read it over again, the next time around, with a more objective mindset. In that objective state, they can then feel free to change the words they don’t like or correct the dates, times, and names however they see fit. All authors make better decisions in the objective state than they do in that initial emotional state.

Analogy for Ghostwriting

A big part of a police officer’s job is to write reports—to try to interpret the recollections of various witnesses and to create the most accurate appraisal of a situation as possible. The biggest challenge in writing this report is that although each witness saw the same thing, they’ll all tend to give the police officer a different account mainly because each of them was viewing it from a different vantage point. An officer can only take what he or she is given and translate it as factually as possible.

Ghostwriters have a similar challenge when it comes to interpreting the notes they receive from authors and trying to turn those words into a veritable yet readable, marketable story. Sometimes, the ghostwriter might interpret some things a bit differently than the author initially intended. That’s okay. It can all be fixed along the way, which is why we say that this is an ongoing, collaborative process—just as the entire hybrid publishing process is. It is a partnership from start to finish. If authors can keep this analogy and these tips in mind throughout the ghostwriting process, they will be more patient with it, which will make it run much more smoothly for them and their writing partner. In the end, they’ll come out of it with an amazing book of which they can both be very proud.

Also read: Working With a Ghostwriter to Write a Book

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