Friday, January 29, 2010

Explore Effective Writing Techniques

Before I get into the exploration of writing techniques, I must ask, again, please....please...please do not submit single space manuscripts. It is difficult to edit. Publishers will not even bother to read them. Single space manuscripts create problems from the start. One: your quote of the page count will be inaccurate. That's because a properly spaced (double spaced) manuscript is twice as long.

'...and please..please, please start chapters on the right hand page. Never mind there is space at the bottom of the left page. No problem.

I've been up since 5:30 a.m. editing book manuscripts. Two are from famous authors. I can hardly believe the transition errors they're making. Look, they are doing many things well, but that's not what they pay me for. We learn from our mistakes...our failures....therefore, I point them out.

Double space your manuscript and know your word count. Word count is more important than page count. For example, there are roughly, 250 words to a double spaced page. If you have 200 pages, you have approximately 50,000 words.

Now, let's explore some writing techniques.

Transitions and Point of View. This is a major challenge to most writers, beginners and experienced writers alike. I've committed this error many times over the past. I did so in writing my most popular book. I've received many notations from editors and publishers such as, "C'mon Barry, whose speaking here? Whose point of view is this? How much time has passed in this story since we heard from this character?"

I have since become much better. It's all about writing experience, folks. Anyway, I just finished editing a fine manuscript. It will make a fine book. It is a fantasy...a grown-ups Harry Potter, if you will. I am not yet authorized to mention its title or author, although, the manuscript has a copyright. But here's the point.

Let's call the writer, "Randy." Randy is a good writer. He created a wonderful love scene. He writes romance well. Randy, however, had the female lover killed, and dismissed the event as just part of the story. This happened one or two paragraphs after the reader fell in love with her.

That's a no-no. Never. Never say never? I'm saying it, loud and clear. N-E-V-E-R! Once the reader falls in love with your characters (whether you're writing romance, mystery, Suspense,etc.) do not kill strong characters, too soon, and casually dismiss them. Prepare the reader for such a tragic event. Treat this "good" character like a protagonist. Make the reader cry.

If she must die, do so cleverly and with great drama. Exploit the reader's emotions in the scene. For example: ....he returned to the picnic area. He saw Mary, there on the blanket. Mary was not moving. "No," he whispered to an evil thought. A most dreadful point bothered him. His heartbeat hesitated. He stooped. He hoped his actions were simply paranoia. That's all. He felt her wrist, and then her throat for a pulse. No.No-no!

Mary. God help. Mary, Move. Do something. Mary did not move. A most horrible reality flirted with the peripheral of his mind, snatching the handle of his heart. He breathed heavily, frozen in place. This was not happening to Mary, but there was no pulse. God don't let it be so. She can come back. Give her back. God. Please!

Mary was dead!

His Mary. Dead.



Now, having said that, if it is necessary that Mary dies, let her be killed by the villain, or let her die at the fault of someone else. Maybe her husband was supposed to bring her medicine and failed to because he rushed away to the picnic or to a televised football game.....his favorite team played.

The point is, we need someone to blame. It's easier to blame a killer, the villain. If we lose the romantic character to a death, we must have a foundation for revenge in the same space and time in which we lost the character, otherwise, the story will not seem plausible. The reader wants revenge. What a statement it makes about mankind. God help us!

When creating serious suspense, you may have to break the rules of English composition, grammar and everything else that makes English professors moan. Technically, they're right, but we write to snare readers.

Let's take good suspense writing a step further. Let's pretend Mary's mother insisted that Mary's husband take good care of Mary by giving Mary her daily dosage of medicine. Let's say we created a real cliff hanger at the end of the last chapter. It should go something like this: ....his phone rang. The phone was now an alien alloy mechanism in his hands. He dropped Mary's wrist. No pulse. Again, the phone rang. It was Mary's mother.

Let's Create even more suspense. Let's make the husband do the wrong thing. Let's write it so that he does not answer the phone. Later, the mom will wonder why he didn't bother to answer or return her call. What if someone sees it as a suspicious death? Maybe they think the husband, intentionally, left the medicine at home. What if the couple were unhappy? What if Mary had a large life insurance policy? What if her parents were well off and he was broke? What if one of them were cheating?

Let's start a new scene in a new location. It may read something like this:

She was awakened not by a sound, but by a relentless feeling that something had gone wrong. Her daughter, Mary had said something important during the dream. Mary's mother sat erect on the sofa. She focused and remained still, as if any slight movement might displace the details of her dream. Every day she took a nap, but nothing ever bothered her the way this dream had. This dark thing in her mind meant something.

The point of view must be obvious in the reader's mind, as demonstrated above. I will write more about POV, later.

Until then, write.

I think you get it.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Publish that E-Book

We now live in the information age. Cyberspace publishing has delivered a world-wide audience, previously unrealized except by major book publishers. Authors now have a competitive advantage far beyond the reach of conventional publishers.

On-Demand publishing provides a management model unique to small publishers. If necessary, one can publish one book at a time. This provides many economical efficiencies. First, if there is a mistake in the manuscript, it can be corrected before making a tremendous capital outlay. Changes can be made to the manuscript while the book is in publication.

Secondly, secondary promotional opportunities are more accessible. I'm using the term "secondary" because the author's primary promotional efforts should have taken place prior to publication. Any good writer can effectively promote the book through the internet long before publication date. If you don't know how, simply follow this blog or contact Barry. I'll teach you. It won't cost you a dime.

Electronic breakthroughs are providing tremendous awards to entrepreneurs with a success story. A good writer can excavate the story, write it and promote the book. Conventional publishers are rapidly, loosing ground to this pehnomena.

"The breakthroughs are leading authors to bypass publishers, retailers to become publishers and publishers to become bookstores."- Don Clark in the Wall Street Journal.

Take advantage of this publishing opportunity.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

All About Rights, Copyrights and Basic Publishing

If you are reading this missive, chances are we have already communicated through email or over the phone. Now that you have an idea where your book or writing project is headed, you may have a few questions in mind.

How do I protect my work? How do I get paid? How do I formulate contracts? Let's start with the first question: copyrights and protection.

Copyright covers the expression of ideas and the arrangement of sentences. It's okay to copy facts and ideas, but do not copy the arrangement or flow of words, unless you are quoting someone. With quotes, simply acknowledge the author. Use open and closed quotation marks.

Okay, we've decided to write your book. Here's how you are protected.

Subsidiary Rights allows someone permission to publish or re-produce your material. Once we have your book published, the conventional publisher has the right to continue to publish and sell your book under the agreed upon contract which will warrant royalty payments to you. Royalties are, generally, 15% to 25% of the retail cost of your book.

Why self-Publish? Isn't that like re-inventing the wheel?

Should we opt to use Publishing On-Demand (self-publishing), you will receive 100% of the retail value of books sold from your website or blog, minus the production cost of the book. Through worldwide distribution, the On-Demand publisher will release wholesale copies to major book retailers (Barnes & Noble,, Target, etc.). You will receive a royalty from books sold to those retailers. An advantage to On-Demand self-publishing is realized once you understand that conventional publishers have many chargebacks to you, the author. Sometimes, multifarious chargebacks can totally exhaust your profits.

Also, know that traditional publishers are laid back. They will offer minimum promotion to authors without a big name. Either the book sells or it doesn't. With the advent of the internet, conventional publishers became smarter. They realized they need good stories with a buzz around it more now than ever. Why? Because On-Demand publishers made it possible for authors to put books on the market (one-at-a-time, if necessary) at a controlled cost. Conventional publishers have an enormous capital outlay when releasing new titles. Conventional publishers lost big to the On-Demand market. There are, however, many advantages to conventional publishers.

I use both. Because large publishers call on me to scout great stories, they are on stand-by to publish some of my clients titles. They pay a small sign-on fee to the author and take the bulk of profits and assign chargebacks. I, normally, use On-Demand publishing to introduce a book(the author pays to produce the book), then sell the subsidiary rights to a conventional publisher while exhausting the contract with the On-Demand publisher. Now the conventional publisher pays the author. This way the author pays a nominal fee to publish individual book units, originally, but controls the bulk of profits. The agreement between the author and the On-Demand publisher is, in legal terms, Executory, meaning either party can exhaust the contract. I am not a lawyer and am not attempting to give legal advice, however. I strongly suggest you use a lawyer familiar with publishing (intellectual property rights attorney) to handle the contract.

Let me know, what do you think about either option? How do you feel about bringing your story forward? If you are not sure if there is a book in you, ask yourself the following question.
What is unique about my accomplishment? What were the hardships? What would I say to help others avoid the many pitfalls?

Let me know how you feel about this post.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Attention Successful Entrepreneurs

Some entrepreneurs have a book just waiting to be written. A good ghost writer is inclined to find it. A ghost writer is a writer who is paid to write your book, in your name.

A good ghost writer will only accept assignments he or she believes in. Book writing is difficult. If there is no passion for the story, the reader will know it, therefore, I select material, very carefully.

I've had countless numbers of entrepreneurs approach me seeking a book deal to promote their business. Some publishers have approached me along the same line. I have often declined for the reasons mentioned above. If I don't have the passion, or believe in the story, I can't write it. It's that simple.

I have several publishers on board (even as we speak) who are soliciting me for viable stories. Consequently, I either interview interesting subjects or call on industry contacts who have frequent face-to-face pow wows with those subjects to determine whether there is an interesting story. If so, I will pursue that individual, vigilantly.

If an entrepreneur has a good story, I'll find them. I am, however, open to solicitation from entrepreneurs and colorful personalities with an interesting story to tell.

Don't be discouraged. Publishers need great stories. Stories are the lubbricating authority of the industry. Traditionally, publishers were laid back and sorted through thousands of manuscripts looking for the gravy. Many of those publishers failed with the advent of the internet and the information age. That practice resulted in demand for people like myself who can sniff out good books and bring them to market. So, there it is. If you feel you have a good story to tell, talk to me. I, often employ both self-publishing and traditional publishing methods to create and market books that make money.

How Do I Publish My Book?

The recent advent of on-demand publishing has opened new gateways to book marketing. This does not negate the fact, however, that only worthy material will reach its audience, effectively. A good book is a good book. It doesn't matter whether one is using conventional publishing or on demand when a great book is involved. What you know or do not know does matter.

For example, my book, How to Build a Putting Green (c)copyright 2007, Hamdani sold well because I wrote on a subject in demand and conveyed information in terms everyone can understand. And, then I promoted the book two years before it was published. This practice can often account for the difference in a good book that sells well and a good book that flops. Let's face it, we live in the information age. Authors and ghostwriters who understand their prospective markets and provide timely information to those market members are the leaders in the best selling categories of their respective genres.

Now to answer the title question: How does one publish? Answer: Very strategically.

Talk to your audience before you begin to write the book. For example, I met with many golfers to see what they wanted in a backyard putting green. Why bother to create a putting green? I asked.

Their answers led to chapters in my book. How much time can you dedicate per week to building your green? I asked. Their collective answers led me toward applying building techniques with time considerations in mind. For example, I sacrificed putting speed for time economy.

Ask questions. Listen to your audience. Put yourself in the potential readers shoes and grasp his/her point of view.,