Friday, September 4, 2020

 In A Rut?

Five myths and one truth about writing and publishing you need to know

If I've written about this before, please forgive me. 

I hear these myths all of the time, and for a while when I was just beginning my career as a writer, I believed them. You may even hear them yourself at writer's conferences or from other authors.

Here they are in no particular order: 

Myth 1: Self-published books look like self-published books.

Used to be this was true, but no more. Whether you find an illustrator (look at number 4) or create your own cover through stock photos or your favorite photographer, your cover can and should look, professional. I have worked my way through this process; not all of my book covers were great in the beginning, and I am upgrading them. The interior, if you get some help or do it yourself through studying how this is done by traditionally published books, is necessary for the book to look professional inside and out. If you don't know how to layout a book, get some help. Don't try to do it yourself. 

Myth 2: Write what you know, or what you have personally experienced.

I used to think I could only write stories that took place where I lived, where I vacationed, or where I used to live. Not true. Once you study something, you know it. Sure, it's not exactly the same thing as 'being there' but you will be amazed at what is out there that you can know about. For example, I wanted to know how the sea of Galilee looked and sounded for my recent book, "Receive Him: New Testament Stories of Faith & Healing from the Least of These." 

Have I been to Isreal? Nope.

But I found this:

Myth 3: You can write a great book in six-weeks.

Okay, this one comes with a caveat. If all you do is write for six weeks, with only bathroom breaks, and food on the side, (while you're writing), I can see how this can happen. For most of us, in between work and kids, we need at minimum six months to a year. 

Myth 4: Save money. Illustrate your own book.

Nope. It will look like it. Unless you have schooling or art training to back you up. Has someone purchased your illustrations? Then illustrate your own book. It is difficult if not impossible to manage characters throughout a picture book story, for example, if you are not a practiced professional. How do you make Jim on page one look like Jim on page four? Through experience and training. 

As you can see, this book was illustrated by Cheryl J. Sachse

Myth 5: You can edit your own book.

Also a big, fat no. But I'm going to tell you something that some big-time editors may not like. They are expensive, and if you are a newbie author or even an author with multiple books published making a part-time income, you may want to consider a different breed of editor. (If you choose to pay the bucks, make sure the editor has had experience; talk to a couple of his/her clients. There is a difference between a good editor, who keeps your 'voice' in your manuscript, and a bad editor who changes it for his or hers). 

I use my reader friends who READ, READ, READ, and have a flair for grammar. I also use a combination of men and women who read. It is amazing what a man sees and what a woman sees. I also use Grammarly. Yes, this is a little advertising for them, but they are FREE for the basic service. I also use my voice. Yes, I read my books aloud when I can. Recording yourself is even better, and listening back. I need to make more time for this because I always catch mistakes this way.

The truth is, you will not be a great writer in the beginning. Just accept that. For 99.9% of us, we have to write and write and write and read and read and read, and even then, our book may not be a best-seller. But that's another story.