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Writing and Publishing

Should You Write a Book or Blog?

Many writers starting out try to blog and write a book at the same time. They end up doing neither one well. Or they try to write a book before they’re ready. Then they end up with something not suitable for publication, waste a lot of time, and endure much frustration. That assumes they finish the book. But they’re more apt to give up before they finish—because they’re not yet ready to write a book.

Unless you’ve done a lot of writing—say about one million words—and invested about 10,000 hours honing your skill (see “10,000 Hours”), I recommend you start with blogging or writing short articles, essays, or flash fiction. Blogging (and short pieces) offer several advantages: 

  • Blog posts are quick and easy to write.
  • Blogging is a great way to hone our writing skills and find our voice.
  • Feedback is fast.
  • Errors are easy to fix.
  • Bloggers develop a habit of writing regularly, even when they don’t feel like it.
  • Blogging according to a schedule—which is what all bloggers should do—trains us to meet deadlines.
  • Blogging prepares us to write longer pieces.

There are many other benefits associated with blogging, but these outcomes are some of the key ones, which is why I recommend starting out with blogging or writing other short pieces. Save the book for later (see “Work Up to Writing a Book”).

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

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Writing and Publishing

Find and Follow a Writer’s Style Guide

The Elements of Style is an excellent writing resource. Start with it. Then build on that foundation. 

For a comprehensive reference on punctuation and formatting, there are several notable resources. Unfortunately, none of them are in complete agreement, with obvious conflicts. Each guide has its advocates. And many have specific applications. 

While some people know the major style guides and their differences, I struggle to comprehend one. I selected The Chicago Manual of Style because it best addresses the various types of writing I do. I use it as my go-to reference. I also ask my editors to follow it. It comes in book form and is also online at www.chicagomanualofstyle.org

In addition to The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS), other style guides include:

  • AP (Associated Press)
  • MLA (Modern Language Association)
  • Turabian, often used for academic work

Special application style guides include:

  • APA (American Psychological Association)
  • AMA, the American Medical Association
  • NLM, the National Library of Medicine
  • CSE, the Council of Science Editors Manual
  • ACS, the American Chemical Society
  • ASA, the American Sociological Association
  • The Bluebook, for the legal profession

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

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Writing and Publishing

How to Find an Editor for Your Writing

To find an editor, your best option is to go with a freelancer. There are many qualified professionals available to edit your work. Here are some ways to find them:

Search Online

You can do an online search for editors and wade through the responses. This method is time-consuming.

Ask Other Writers

A better idea is to ask others in the writing community for recommendations. This approach will give you a vetted editor.

But many authors are reluctant to share the names of their publishing team for fear these independent contractors will become too busy with new business to continue to work for that author.

Editor Groups

Another good source is editor associations and groups. They can connect you with a good editor. Sometimes they’ll give you a list, and other times a real person will provide the names of editors who best meet your criteria. 

Networking

Find an editor through networking. I’ve made many great contacts at writers’ conferences.

Online Resources

Finally, consider online resources.

  • I’ve used Reedsy to find relevant writing professionals.
  • I’ve also used Fiverr to locate freelancers.
  • Another option is Upwork (the merger of Elance and oDesk). I’ve not used them recently, but I did use eLance several years ago with good results.
  • And though I’ve never used it for this purpose, don’t dismiss LinkedIn.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

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Writing and Publishing

8 Tips to Improve as a Writer

Here are the actions I pursue to improve as a writer: 

  1. Write regularly.
  2. Read a lot (I struggle the most with this tip).
  3. Study writing.
  4. Listen to writers and publishing podcasts. 
  5. Follow writing blogs.
  6. Participate in writers’ groups.
  7. Attend writing conferences.
  8. But the most important tip is to write.

These tips helped my writing improve. May they do the same for you.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Categories
Writing and Publishing

Writers Need to Find Time to Read

Finding time to read, however, is a constant struggle. As with making time to write, we need to make time to read.

For me, the decision often comes down to watching TV or reading. Sometimes TV wins and other times reading wins. Often, the choice I make hinges on how good the book is versus how much a show or movie calls me.

I strive to keep my TV watch list short and my book list interesting. I also give myself the freedom to stop reading any book that bores me or turns me off. If I didn’t allow myself this option, the TV would grab my attention most of the time.

The point is, we all have some degree of discretionary time, whether it’s TV, movies, social media, going out, leisure activities, or even a nap. We can choose to do these alternate pursuits or to read. For me, I’ve cut back on TV to read more—and I’m glad I did.

However, some writers, including myself, feel that watching TV and, even more so, movies helps us learn about plot, character development, and good (or bad) storytelling.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.