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Writing and Publishing

Short Stories Versus Novels

A reader emailed me. He said you recommended starting by writing short stories. Unfortunately, I’m already near finishing my first novel (which took years of planning). I skipped the step of starting with short stories. What should I do?

The main benefit of writing short stories before writing a novel is to identify and learn how to fix problems with your writing style and voice. And every writer has them.

It’s much easier to fix something that occurs a few times in a short story, than dozens or hundreds of times in a novel. And sometimes these problems in novels are so pervasive that they’re not worth fixing. That’s why many novelists abandon their first novel (and often their second and third and . . . ) to start over with a goal to avoid what they did wrong the first time.

Since you’re nearly done with your first draft, you won’t realize the benefits that come from writing short stories. So, given your situation, I encourage you to keep working on your novel.

However, you can realize other benefits by writing short stories, which I’ll cover next month.

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

Writing about Your Health Issue

Many writers want to write a book about their health scare that almost killed them. But will publishers be interested in that book?

These stories are very personal for the writer, very real and raw. Unfortunately, it isn’t unique, and publishers want unique books. (Unless a writer has a big platform that will move books. Then publishers won’t care so much about the topic, because the size of the platform will overcome it.)

Publishers interested in your topic already have one or more books on the subject, and taking on another one could hurt the sales of the books they already have, so they’ll pass.

And publishers who haven’t published a book on your topic haven’t done so because they’re not interested in the subject.

The only likely scenario is a publisher who has published a book on your topic, but it’s dated and not selling well anymore. Then they may look to replace it with a new book—providing the author has a platform to move books and an agent to represent them.

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

Writing Investment

For years I made the mistake of not investing in learning the craft of writing. Though I certainly put in the time, for years I was reluctant to spend money. But taking the cheap way out merely held me back.

Here are some investments I’m now making to become a better writer:

  • Study magazines about writing and publishing
  • Read books and blogs about writing and publishing
  • Listen to podcasts about writing and publishing
  • Attend writing conferences
  • Hire editors: developmental editors, copy editing, and proofreading
  • Join online classes about specific writing-related topics
  • Take part in online writing communities
  • Hire mentors and teachers

Of course, none of these things would help if I weren’t regularly applying them every day by writing. This is a long list, but don’t let it overwhelm you. Pick one item to invest in and add more over time.

Note that not everything costs money but merely time. Reading blogs and listening to podcasts is a free option to learn about writing and publishing.

Bonus tip: The one mistake I almost made but didn’t was quitting my day job to write full time. This was about eight years before I was ready. Yikes!

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

Keep Up on Evolving Writing Conventions

Do you want to stay current with other changes in writing conventions? I wish there was a site, a book, an app, or a publication that would answer these questions.

But if there’s a one-stop resource, I don’t know of it. Besides, there would likely be disagreement over it, anyway.

Here’s how I work to keep up with ever-changing writing trends:

  • Participate in critique groups.
  • Network with other writers.
  • Go to writing conferences.
  • Take advantage of every opportunity to have a professional editor look at my work.
  • Learn from the recommendations of editors.
  • Study the latest edition of the Chicago Manual of Style.
  • Look at the conventions followed in books recently produced by major publishers.

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

Finding Time to Write

Finding time to write is a dilemma most writers face at one time or another. Maybe all writers do.

I think the problem, however, is in the question. We don’t need to find time to write as much as we need to make time.

We each have 24 hours in our day. While work and sleep occupy part of each day, we exercise some degree of control over the rest. We decide what we will do with it. We can choose to write or opt to do something else.

Before you say, “But my situation is different,” let me agree with you.

Then let me ask, “How much time do you spend each week watching TV or on social media?” That is a prime opportunity to write instead.

If writing is important to you, you will make time to write. It may be a little or a lot. It may be every day or only once a week, but make it happen.

If you can carve out ten minutes a day, every day, and write one hundred words each day, by the end of the year you will have written 36,500 words.

If you can carve out one hour a week, every week, and write 500 words, by the end of the year, you will have written 26,000 words.

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.