Tuesday, May 27, 2014

How to React to Rejections

  Every writer who has ever submitted anything written to a publisher or magazine knows about rejection. Usually a form type "we don't want this" notice is sent, leaving the writer to wonder why the work was rejected, what was wrong, or what he can improve. 

   However, most writers lick their wounds in private or share with friends, without thinking of accosting the publisher or editor to complain. Most know that a thick skin is needed if they are to survive the publishing life. Most people know that the major publishers receive hundreds of thousands more submissions a year than they have places to fill. Small presses have to decide from 100 or more submissions which ten to accept. Therefore, publishers MUST choose the best-written of what is submitted: for fiction, the best story and most polished; for nonfiction, the best topic, organization, and most interesting. Submitters need to try to please those publishers, not expect publishers to please them.

   What I have discovered is that more and more submitters have the mistaken idea that their work must be accepted by a publisher, and if a rejection is sent, he has the "right" to accost the editor rejecting his work, to argue as if to prove his manuscript deserves to be accepted no matter how poorly written. I wonder if those writers have the idea that publishers are service organizations required to accept anything and everything submitted.

    4RV Publishing does something that many publishers do not: Our replies to writers, whether asking for a full manuscript or rejecting, includes suggestions and comments from the acquisition editor that allows the writer to know why something is rejected and to know how to improve his work.

   Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, we received an email from an author whose submission was rejected after being evaluated by two acquisition editors, both whom gave reasons for their recommendation that we reject the manuscript. The author informed us that no one could make a decent decision without reading the whole manuscript, that we were wrong, that we were taking the stand we did because the work was Christian based. I usually ignore such unprofessional rants, but I decided to be nice and try to "educate" this person about being professional. What a waste of time. The person shot back a quick reply about how unprofessional I was to send a message on a holiday. Huh? That person could, but I couldn't reply during the same time period? Poor manners, and bad etiquette.

    Let's look at some submission etiquette, especially regarding how to react to rejections.

1. Do not respond to a rejection unless to thank the editor for any helpful suggestions. NEVER argue with an editor or publisher. Never be hateful or vindictive.

2. Remember, the publishing world is relatively small, and word does get around when submitters are poor sports.

3. A particular piece of writing is being addressed and evaluated, not the author. Taking rejection personally does not help you be a better writer.

4. More material is submitted each year than all the publishers in the world could use. Therefore, publishers have the "right" to choose the best submissions and do NOT have to accept all submissions. Remember, publishing is a business, not a public service. 

5. Just because family, friends, and a few others "like" the manuscript does not mean it is ready to be submitted and published. We had one submission that supposedly was pre-edited by a professional editor. It was full of punctuation problems, misspelled words, and lack of clarity. Be sure any "professional" does know what he/she claims.

    The preceding five suggestions are not all that writers need to know, but they are a start. The biggest thing to remember is writers need to first write well, have a polished manuscript to submit, then submit knowing that rejection is a possibility. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Verb! That's what's happening!

By: Stephanie Burkhart 

I know, I'm dating myself here, but for those who can remember, do you recall School House Rock  in the 1970's? At the time, as a young girl, I thought those snippets were pretty corny, but I can recite the Preamble to the US Constitution, I know what a bill is, I heard the shot go 'round the world that kicked off the US Revolution, and I traveled the solar system with Interplant Janet.

On the grammar side of the house who could forget such classics as: Noun is a Person, Place, or Thing, Conjunction, Conjunction, what's your function, Lolly, Lolly, Lolly get your Adverbs here and one of my all time favorites: Verb! That's what's happening!

Here's my tip:

There's always a better/stronger verb.

Don't get me wrong, there are times when "was" and "had" work and work well, but whenever I write a sentence using those words, I usually pull back and see if I can write the sentence using a stronger verb.

Some of my favorites: sluiced, offered, approached, gestured, motioned, and marched.

Feedback: What are your favorite "go-to" stronger verbs?

Go here to visit the Verb! That's What's Happening video on You Tube: http://youtu.be/gGrIJpI5yh0

PS: My boys were 9 and 4 when they found the School House Rock song on ITunes from the 1970's and LOVED them. Now I'm the proud owner of Season 1 and Season 2, and the kids can recite the preamble to the US Constitution, too.

Author Bio: Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. She adores chocolate, enjoys coffee and  loves taking long walks.  She'll be participating in the 5K walk to end Alzheimers in Santa Clarita, CA in September. Her children's book, The Giving Meadow, is published with 4RV Publishing.







Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Not Without a Whimper – an interview with Pam Kelt

Not Without a Whimper – an interview with Pam Kelt

Let it Go!

by Suzanne Cordatos

Great art makes the hair on our arms tingle, doesn't it? 

Idina Menzel hits it out of the ballpark with the theme song from Disney’s Frozen, and the song is indeed goosebump-inducing. We may never know what inspires artists to create the works they send out into the world, but from the art that emerges—and the emotional reaction we feel when we encounter it—we know one thing for sure: The artist didn’t let go of the idea.

Create Bravely
Let it go, don't let it go . . . it gets confusing, doesn't it? At last weekend’s New England SCBWI conference, the theme was “Create Bravely.” The New York and Boston editors in attendance constantly spoke about finding work that sings. Of course, the golden ticket for many sitting in the audience in Springfield, Mass last weekend (and in writer’s conferences across the nation this spring) is sending the right piece of writing that will sing to the right agent—but I suggest that part doesn’t really matter as much as this: Does it sing to you?

It doesn’t matter if your work sings to a particular agent or editor. If it sings to you, you will persist until the writing sings loud enough for everyone to hear—including an agent or editor.

Letting it go can mean different things. 
            Let go of your creative inhibitions. Throw in everything you've got to make it GREAT.
            Consider putting it away and move along to the next great idea. It may call you back.
            Consider revising the work into a different piece. Perhaps it will sing louder as a novella or article.
            Consider it DONE and let it out of your computer! 

So let it go and be brave as you release your completed vision into the world and face the music from editors and agents perhaps telling you to tweak it further. If it sings to you, it is worth going all the way!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Honors, 4RV family, and OWFI Conference

The plaque for the 2013-14 Honorary Life Time Member

   The 2014 OWFI conference held many happy moments the weekend which started May 1. We left for home May 4. 

   I attended sessions given by Jerry Simmons on marketing, which gave me many ideas to share with authors and to use. I didn't get to attend but one short session of his when we met and both spoke at the Alaska Writing Conference two years ago, but I heard enough to know he would be a help to authors and small publishers. He is.  4RV authors prepare to benefit.

   Several people associated with 4RV are also members of OWFI, and I enjoyed visiting with them, and meeting some for the first time in person. I especially liked that they shared my honor. At the banquet Saturday night, I received the 2013-14 Lifetime Honorary Member award, which is one of the best honors to receive from the Oklahoma Writers' Federation, Inc. I didn't sleep much last night.

I said I couldn't find words. For some reason Wayne Harris-Wyrick found that funny

   After the meeting, all except one of the 4RV family there met in my room. Wayne Harris-Wyrick had to get home to his family, but he had presented me with my award. However, with us were Diane Wilson (book-to-be, Soltice), vehoae (published book Conscience: Breaching Social Amnesia and a book in the works), Cynthia Henzel (all the way from Tuson, Arizona and has a book-to-be Myth Rider), Jim Laughter (published book Strangers in the Stable), Rita Durrett (book-to-be Borrowed Time), Miranda LoPresti (illustrator), Kathy Gibbs (published book Journey of the Cheyenne Warrior and book-to-be Last Cowboy), Tony LoPresti (published book My Cat and others in the works), RenĂ©e LaViness (editor), Vickey Kennedy Malone (acquisition editor), and Jacque Graham (editor and book in the works) as well as one extremely excited publisher.

   Some of the 4RV authors won writing awards, but I forgot to get a list of those. I'll be sure they have recognition at a later time.

Susan McRae won the center piece I created


Sunday, May 4, 2014

How to Build Your Online Authority With Focused Writing Goals

By Karen Cioffi

As each year comes and goes, you need to periodically put your writing focus and writing goals under a microscope. Take the time to analyze if you’re known for who you want to be known for.

In other words, if you ‘really’ want to be known as an award-winning author, are your focus and goals leading in that direction? Are your actions leading in that direction? Or, are you here, there, and everywhere? Are you lacking online authority in your niche?

You don’t want to be known as a ‘jack of all trades, master of none.’

While it can be that you have a number of different areas you’re involved in, you need to pick and choose to be ‘master’ of one or two. It’s this focus that will enable you to gain authority in your niche and to attract customers or clients. It’s this focus that will motivate you to take the necessary steps to reach your goals.

So, how do you focus in on who and what you want to be known for?

This is interesting, because it can change as the years come and go. For example, I started out as a children’s writer, and while I still love this aspect of my writing, I have evolved into a freelance/ghostwriter (specializing in business incentive and health writing) and an online marketer (specializing in helping authors create and build their online platform).

Taking my freelance writing and marketing skills a bit further, I created a new business, the Article Writing Doctor. I now offer small businesses and health professionals SEO writing training.

Finding my focus, I took the time to analyze my actions and revamp my websites to reflect what I want to be known for.

While I have three businesses going, they’re all very closely connected – my focus is intact.

What about you?

Maybe you write for children. Maybe you're a technical writer or business writer. Maybe you're a freelance writer or ghostwriter. Maybe you're all these things. But, what do you specialize in? What are you known for? Do you have online authority in a particular niche?

To help determine your area/s of focus you need to write down the questions below and answer each one (write your answers out):

•    What writing arenas are you involved in?
•    Do you find yourself leaning toward one or two more so than the others, if so what are they?
•    Can you effectively market yourself in these areas?
•    Are you writing and marketing as a hobby or to earn an income or a supplemental income? If your goal is to make money, write down how much?
•    Did you have a writing/marketing goal for last year? Did you reach it? If not, why?
•    What does success mean to you – what does it look like?
•    Do you really want success? If so, is there anything blocking your path to it (often we sabotage our own success)?
•    What do you want to be known for?
•    What can your new ‘signature’ tag be?

You’ll need to think about these questions. It might be helpful to actually have someone ask you each question and quickly give answers. Sometimes this helps you get a glimpse of what’s going on subconsciously.

Once you have your goals in sight, write them down; be sure to include the tasks of increasing your online presence and mailing list. You’ll need to keep those goals front and center and read them every day. The reason for this is our ‘intention’ can quickly be sidetracked if we don’t continually keep it in sight and in mind.

After you have your goals in place, write down action steps to get there. It’s advisable to have a yearly calendar with goals to reach each month. Then prepare a weekly writing/marketing plan to achieve those monthly goals. Again, you need to keep those goals and action steps visible. Remember: out of sight often really does mean out of mind.

Creating focused writing goals and implementing focused action steps to reach them will definitely help you increase your online authority.

Image: Copyright 2013 Karen Cioffi

Need help getting your author-writer platform optimized? Check out Create and Build Your Author Online Platform, my 6-week e-class through WOW! Women on Writing.

For details CLICK HERE.


Friday, May 2, 2014

Gaining Readers

What’s the best all time way to sell books?

                                Word of mouth

Getting word of mouth working for you comes from getting more people to read what you write. Each of us have only so many friends that will purchase our book, so we need people we’ve never me, never will, and won’t look us up until they’ve read something we wrote that they like.

What’s the best way to accomplish that?

                                     Online -  Blogging and other social media

                                     Physically - Periodicals and newsletters

Establish a blog site.

         It doesn’t have to be fancy  That's good news for the tech-challenged like me. If resources are few, use a free site like blogger or wordpress. Hire an expert if money isn’t an issue. Don’t stop with just a blog, make sure you have a page about yourself and one for your books.
Do these blogs tell you something about the author?

       Spread the word. On your blog, institute a RSS link at least to Amazon’s author central page, Facebook or Twitter or whatever other site you can master.

     Make it easy. Get a domain name based on your name. If you have time and energy to set up two blogs, put one in the name of your book. I found most people that hear about you on a loop or from an article will try to find you by name. It’s simple and lives on after you publish other books.

    Continuity and frequency are imperative,, so whatever you do, don’t set up a blog and forget it. If you can’t post 2-3 times a week, post once a week. Don’t forget. Don’t skip a week. Don’t take a break. Blogging should be like taking medicine. If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember and then continue on schedule.

     Make them look. Each post should have at least one semi-meaningful or eye-catching graphic. Visuals make posts distinct and fresh. Links to other blogs interest more people. Posts should be “your work.” How else will a reader become acquainted with you and your writing? Author interviews or other authors visiting your blog is a super idea, but even then, add your own personal touch. Open ended questions solicit comments.

Did I make you look?

     Check results.  Keep up on the stats from your blog. What posts are read the most? That makes it easy to see what you should write next time. Of course, if you write, non-fiction, readers expect you to “stay on topic.” For fiction writers, choose items included in your book, such as setting, or identifying with teens, or recipes. Decide who you’re targeting, readers, writers, or both.

How about Facebook?     
      Facebook  brings people together in conversation. Used by many, both young and old, it’s a good place to start getting out your name. Take a course or get a helper to set up an author page. Use it for your writing, and your timeline for personal. Decide where you want your RSS feed to go.

Anyone for other social media?
      Decide what works for you. A sweet friend, Mary Beth Lee, taught me about Twitter. I accidentally lapsed into Google plus. Karen Cioffi-Ventrice suggested Stumble Upon.  Someone sent me a link to Linked In. Anything you add to your list can be helpful. The main thing to remember is that’s better not to add one, than to add it and forget it.

                  Remember that continuity and frequency thing.

Another online suggestion is post on other people's blogs.
                Guest blogs
                Blog tours
                Regular spots on group blogs

What can you do to get your writing out other than things online?

     Write short stories, articles, devotions.

     Submit to periodicals or magazine even if they don’t pay.

     Work for hire counts.

     Newspaper articles introduce readers to you and your work. 

     Anything you write may cause someone to pick up your book.


How do you gain readers? I would love to get other ideas. We authors are always looking from something new, aren’t we?