Wednesday, July 25, 2012

How Book Shepherds Can Help Authors

Today's post is an article by my guest, Scott Lorenz, President of Westwind Communications who talks about book shepherds (Truth be told, this is new info for me).

I recommend authors look into hiring a book shepherd for a current or upcoming writing and publishing project. A book shepherd is someone whose expertise in books and publishing will help you throughout the entire book process. From cover art, editing, dealing with Amazon to locating a printer, a book shepherd will assist you from start to finish.  

I am a proponent of using a book shepherd because there are so many things to know about in the book publishing process and so much is swiftly changing its extremely difficult to keep up with it all. It takes a person with experience to guide you along the way and that’s what a book shepherd does. Hiring a guide is a concept that’s been working for humankind for thousands of years. If you were going to a foreign land and wanted to see and do as much as you could would you read a guide book or hire someone to show you? Consider yourself fortunate if you can afford a book shepherd as it is well worth the money spent.

Dan Poynter recently compiled a comprehensive list of book shepherds. At the top of his list is Shel Horowitz who explains his role: “Basically, I walk unpublished writers through the process of becoming well-published authors. I start by helping them determine if they should publish traditionally, self-publish, or subsidy publish--and then help them complete all the steps for their choice, then work with them on the marketing as the book nears completion.”
Tanya Hall is a unique book shepherd in that she works for a national publisher/distributor. “So instead of working in a vacuum without any up-to-the-minute feedback on trends, pitches, etc like most book shepherds operate, I have the luxury of a sales force and team of experts behind me to guide the direction I give to my clients. Most of our clients “in development” go through an editorial project development phase, followed by any number of services ranging from design to printing to (if accepted for publication/distribution by our review committee) distribution and marketing.” For more information, visit her website
The Bottom Line: If you can afford to spend a few hundred to a few thousand dollars on a book shepherd, I highly suggest you do so as it will help save your sanity! There are so many exciting changes in the book publishing business it’s practically impossible to keep up with them all. The book shepherd will help you through the entire process or just a piece of the process where you need it.
Check out this audio interview about book shepherds I did with Clark Covington at this link:
For more information you can contact Scott at:Westwind Communications
1310 Maple Street
Plymouth, MI 48170
Office: 734-667-2090
Cell: 248-705-2214

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Six Tips to Editing your Fiction

The editing process can be tedious at times. For me, this is a love/hate relationship. I sometimes despise it and sometimes I enjoy it. Here are some wonderful tips (reminders) when you're editing your work. I wish I could take credit for them, but I got these tips from an article I read a couple years ago in the Writer's Digest. Do you follow some or any of these tips?
1. Try not to make things overly complicated. Alyssa once told me to take the plot out of its braid and throw it in a ponytail. Simple, but brilliant. Problem was, when I did this I had quite a mess to comb through.
2. Don’t be afraid. Of anything. If I can delete nearly my entire manuscript, you can axe a chapter that doesn’t fit.
3. Brainstorm several ways to reach each plot point. Choose the most unique.
4. Revision should not impede on your writing time. When you write, just write. Try to keep from listening to your brain’s insults.
5. When it’s time for revision, whittle away. If you can make a sentence more concise, do it.
6.Question everything. I often refer to the following questions, which are tacked to a corkboard in my office:
·         Does the book start with an inciting incident that will force your MC to act, and challenge your MC to grow?
·         Is there is enough emotion, tension, suspense, etc.? Or too much?
·         Is something too obvious? Does something come too easy because you need it to advance the plot?
·         What can you do to make each scene stronger?
·         How can you weed out your cliched sentences and/or ideas?
·         Is there a motivation for each event? What about a purpose?
·         Are you keeping your MC from attaining a goal? This is a must until the ending.
·         Will your reader wonder about or hope for something pertaining to your MC as they progress through the story?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Losing Everything, Finding Yourself

Some weeks ago I watched Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday where she interviewed Sarah Ban Breathnach, the bestselling author of Simple Abundance. She had already been her guest in the Oprah Show nine times and Oprah admits Sarah’s the reason she writes in her gratitude journal to this day. Ms. Ban Breathnach sold seven million books, becoming an instant sensation and multi-millionaire. Fifteen years later, however, Sarah tells Oprah that she has lost it all: her love, her home, and her way. She told Oprah that it took losing everything to help her find herself.
In one of my several trips to Spain in the nineties, I received Simple Abundance as a gift. I immediately fell in love with the book which became my cheerleader whenever I needed a pep talk. Sarah’s words were comforting. I always admired her ease to convey analogies and “feel-good” stories. She reminded me to enjoy simple things, live every moment to the fullest, and above all, to be grateful.
I had no idea Sarah had started as a freelance writer, living paycheck to paycheck before writing her bestselling book. She is one of the few (lucky) writers that made it big, so big, that she was able to buy Sir Isaac Newton’s chapel which became her private writing studio.
In the interview, she explained how she was on the New York’s Best Seller’s List for more than two years and went from making six-figure royalty checks to literally nothing.
As I continued to watch the interview, I learned that she started as a struggling writer, made it to the top, achieving what every single writer dreams of, and ended up where she had started. Ironically after all that success, she found herself living “a simple life” in a room out of her sister’s apartment. I was in disbelief.
Sarah confessed that at the pinnacle of her success, she didn’t want to ask for help (bother anyone). She felt she could manage her business and handle success. She added, “I’m a smart woman, I wrote Simple Abundance so I should be able to figure it out by myself.” Bad financial advice from her ex-husband also led her to a downward spiral into hell. Despite all this, she didn’t see it as a fall from grace, just a fall that helped her move on to her new sense of awareness. She stated that she’s at peace now and financially stable again.
In her new book Peace and Plenty, Sarah shares that the great spiritual lesson is to “guard your heart. Watch your treasures for what it’s your treasure will be your heaven on earth”.
Since the publishing of her new book, Sarah has moved out of her sister’s place. She is enjoying simple pleasures again (e.g., listening to the rain and writing in her gratitude journal). Towards the end of the interview she quoted T.S. Eliot, “We go back to where we began”.
In Oprah’s words of wisdom, I’ll leave you with, “True success is the feeling of reward and self respect.”
Do you agree with Oprah’s thought? What about T.S. Eliot quotation? Did Sarah’s story inspire you in some way?