The Writers Network News, June 2014 Issue http://ezezine.com
The Writers Network News, June 2014
In This Issue
One: From the editor's desk: Doodle Day
Two: Ask the Book Doctor about Self-Publishing and What Being Published
Three: This Month's Easy Editing Tip from Bobbie Christmas: Those
Four: Subjects of Interest to Writers
Five: Contests, Agents, and Markets
Six: Got Muse? Be Destructive
The Writers Network News
No Rules; Just Write!
Editor: Bobbie Christmas
Contents copyright 2014, Bobbie Christmas
No portion of this newsletter can be used without permission; however,
you may forward the newsletter in its entirety to anyone who may be
interested in subscribing.
Excellent editing for maximum marketability
More than twenty years in the business of editing books (We must be
doing something right.)
As book doctors, we write, edit, and evaluate fiction and nonfiction
manuscripts, book proposals, query letters, and synopses. As book
shepherds, we guide writers through the process of self-publishing. We
are a top-rated Better Business Bureau Accredited Business.
230 Deerchase Drive
Woodstock, GA 30188
Follow my Write In Style creative-writing blog at
Note: I have shortened some links in this newsletter with the help of
www.tinyurl.com, a free service that takes long web addresses and
converts them to short ones.
Writer's Quote of the Month
John Updike said, "When I write, I aim in my mind not toward New York
but toward a vague spot a little east of Kansas. I think of the books
on library shelves, without their jackets, years old, and a countryish
teenaged boy finding them and having them speak to him."
One: From the editor's desk: Doodle Day
Dear Fellow Writers:
Memorial Day represents a special anniversary for me. Five years ago on
Memorial Day, a neighbor appeared at my door and said his mother asked
me to take his family's dog. That incident was the third time the
teen's mother had sent him to my house to make the same request. Not
only did I find the request odd, but I also was still heartbroken and
in mourning for my eight-year companion, Circe, a sweet Scottish
terrier who had recently died. My neighbors knew about my loss and
apparently hoped to use it to find a home for their dog. I had seen the
dog barking its brains out on their deck, and I was not interested in
taking in a yappy dog. Besides, my hurting heart had no room for
another dog. I did not feel worthy.
The teen looked up at me with big, sad eyes and pleaded. "My mom's
allergic, and I have to find a home for this dog."
"What breed is the dog?" I asked.
"He's a poodle and fully vetted. We can get you the papers."
Whoa, I thought. Poodles are hypoallergenic. Either the kid is lying or
his mother is. Why? Instead of asking him, I answered, "As I said the
other two times you asked, I'm not ready to take in another dog."
"Okay, but we have to leave town today. Would you at least keep him for
a couple of days until we get back?"
My young neighbor turned out to be a good salesperson. Car dealers use
a similar tactic. "Take the car home for the weekend," they say, hoping
you will want to keep the vehicle after driving it a couple days.
I agreed to dog sit, and the kid quickly brought over a bed, a blanket,
a crate, food dishes, one dog toy, a bag of food, and a sad little
unwanted dog. The boy did not even pet the dog good-bye before dashing
from my house.
By the end of two days, I knew that dog was never leaving my side
again. As soon as he crawled into my lap, curled up, and looked into my
eyes as if to say, "I'm home," I knew the dog wasn't going anywhere. He
turned out to be fourteen pounds of pure love. What a pity that he had
been living with a family that did not want a dog's love and attention!
He had a name that did not suit him, but I knew the right name would
come. Meanwhile, I called him nicknames, snicker doodle and doodle bug,
terms that rolled off my tongue when I looked in his alluring, loving
eyes. At last it hit me: Doodle the poodle. Of course!
He had not seen a veterinarian in almost two years. He had not been
neutered; he had not been vaccinated against the many diseases that can
harm a canine. As it turned out, his pedigree papers never turned up,
either, but I did not care. I didn't want him for his pedigree. I
wanted him because of his endearing personality and his wish to cuddle
with me. I gladly got him the medical care he needed. When he developed
eye trouble that cost thousands to repair, I called him the gift that
keeps on costing, but he's worth every penny.
When I asked around, I learned that when the original owner discovered
that her other dogs were biting the poodle puppy, she asked her Latina
sister-in-law to take him temporarily. Almost two years later, the
sister-in-law felt stuck with a pet she did not want. She kept the dog
in the basement or on the deck, away from everybody, for reasons only
she would know. I knew the son, though, who spoke fluent English, and I
soon understood why his mother had sent him to my house three times to
ask me to take the dog. What I did not understand was why he had to ask
me three times before I relented.
The neglected dog simply wanted to be held and loved. We needed each
other. My broken heart gradually knitted back together, while I hoped
to heal him from having been in the wrong houses for two years.
Opportunity always knocks; we simply have to be ready to receive it. In
my case, it had to knock three times before I let it in and found the
love of a fluffy, loving poodle. Oh, yes, Doodle still yaps when he
goes out on my deck; he has kept away all dogs, raccoons, possums, and
alleged intruders, but when he is indoors, he rarely barks. He is not a
noisy dog that "goes off" at every sound. Rather than bark all day, he
would rather curl up in his bed beside my desk when I am working and
curl up on my lap when I'm not.
Memorial Day is special to me, because it is Doodle Day, and I am so
glad I finally answered the door when opportunity knocked five years
On another subject, thank you, my dear friends, for your loving
comments about last month's letter, when I was devastated to learn that
my loving brother-in-law has terminal cancer. On the bright side, the
latest tests show that the disease is slow growing, and instead of the
predicted few months that he had been given, it appears that he may be
with us much longer. He still feels good, has an upbeat attitude, and
keeps all his friends and relatives cheered. We are enjoying every day
Yours in writing,
Bobbie Christmas (Bobbie@zebraeditor.com or firstname.lastname@example.org )
Author of Write In Style, owner of Zebra Communications, director of
The Writers Network, and coordinator of the Florida Writers Association
Editors Helping Writers service.
If someone forwarded this newsletter to you, please sign up to get your
own copy. Simply go to www.zebraeditor.com, click on Free Newsletter,
and follow the prompts. I never share your address or send out spam.
Two: Ask the Book Doctor Self-Publishing and What Being Published Means
By Bobbie Christmas, book doctor
Q: Is there a time when self-publishing is a good idea?
A: Yes, at times, but the answer is not simple. I give an entire
seminar on traditional publishing versus self-publishing, and I have a
report you can order free that gives the pros and cons of each. The
subject gets complicated, because within each category you have more
choices plus more pros and cons of each, such as whether to use
print-on-demand, e-books, or traditional printing. Go to
www.zebraeditor.com and click on Tools for Writers. There you will find
Report #110, Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing.
Self-publishing makes sense if you write nonfiction and are willing to
be a publisher, distributor, and marketer. Self-publishing also makes
sense if you have a built-in audience of buyers that you reach
regularly, such as if you have a big following on a blog or a large
number of subscribers to a newsletter. Self-publishing certainly makes
sense if you give seminars or talks where you can sell your book.
When my traditionally published book, Write In Style, was still in
print, it far outsold my self-published books in numbers, but I made
much less than a dollar for every book that sold. I make much more per
book when I self-publish, so the profit margin is higher on my
self-published books. I liked that the publisher who bought Write In
Style gave it far wider distribution than I could have accomplished,
though. As a result, the book gained me recognition in America, Canada,
Australia, and other countries. I made little on the book, but I made
much more in other ways, by gaining clients from around the world and
increasing my reputation as a desirable speaker. Oh, and as a speaker,
I could sell even more books at conferences and other gatherings for
As you can see, sometimes it is a toss-up in deciding whether
self-publishing is a good idea, so it depends on your total goals, not
just your financial ones.
Q: I am thinking of self-publishing a how-to book. I have a way to
reach my market, and I am a good writer, but I have heard
self-publishing has a bad reputation. What's up with that?
A: Self-publishing originally gained a poor reputation because many
self-published people skipped some major steps or tried to save money
while self-publishing. As a result, the public came to consider all
self-published books to be less than professional, because so many of
them were indeed subpar. Gradually the stigma has softened, as more
self-publishers go to great lengths to overcome that original blight on
You can overcome that stigma with your own book by not scrimping. Be
professional at every step of the way. Before having the book laid out,
always hire a professional book editor, one intimately familiar with
Chicago style, to edit the manuscript. Traditional book publishers use
Chicago style, which dictates such things as where the commas go, what
to capitalize, and when to write out numerals or use a number.
No matter how great a writer we may be, writers cannot edit themselves.
We do not see our own mistakes. I am an editor, yet I use editors for
my own books. I am still a human being, and we all make errors that
only an outsider can catch.
The other place where some self-publishers scrimp is in the cover
design. Do not use your own, your child's, or your friend's
illustration on the cover, no matter how good you think the art may be.
I can spot many self-published books simply by looking at the cover. If
the first thing a potential buyer sees of the book—the outside
artwork—gives them a bad impression, they will not buy the book. I
think like most people, and if the cover looks less than professional,
I assume the information inside is also less than professional.
The book cover, both front and back, is a strong sales tool. Use it to
your advantage, but be sure to have all the copy on the front and back
also edited professionally. What an embarrassment and expense it would
be to find an error on the most important part of the book, after the
book is printed.
Q: What does it mean to be published? You just write a book, get it
printed, and you are published, right?
A: Some people think so. In actuality, if you self-publish—that is, pay
any for portion of the publishing yourself—you have not proved that
your writing is good enough that someone would want to read it or pay
In truth, if you write an article for a newspaper, magazine, or
newsletter that is not your own and the newspaper, magazine, or
newsletter accepts and publishes the article, you are published. You do
not have to get paid to be considered published. If you sell the rights
to your book to a traditional publisher that pays all the expenses,
releases your book, and pays you royalties, you are considered a
published author. If you cover any part of the cost, however, you are
self-published, which is not the same as being published.
Beware of the companies that call themselves royalty-paying publishers
and claim their authors pay no part of the expenses. Traditional
publishers do not have to make such claims. The companies that make
such claims are usually not traditional publishers. They are companies
that accept almost any book, and to cover their expenses, they charge
extremely high prices for the books and print only the books that are
pre-ordered. They are print-on-demand publishers, rather than
traditional publishers. If you use such a company, you are still
If you do sell your work and someone else publishes it and pays you,
you definitely are published and have earned bragging rights. If you
self-publish a book, you may say you are published, but in serious
circles, you will not be considered a published author. If a
traditional publisher buys the rights to your previously self-published
book and rereleases it, however, then voila! You become a published
Bobbie Christmas, book editor and owner of Zebra Communications, will
answer your questions, too. Send them to Bobbie@zebraeditor.com. Read
more "Ask the Book Doctor" questions and answers at
For more questions, answers, and comments, order the book, Ask the Book
Doctor: How to Beat the Competition and Sell Your Writing. Go to
Three: This Month's Easy Editing Tip from Bobbie Christmas: Those
Most of us know that when a double adjective precedes a noun, the
adjectives are hyphenated, as in this sentence: A fresh-faced girl
stepped up to lectern. If the double adjective comes after the noun, no
hyphen is used: The girl who stepped up to the lectern was fresh faced.
Did you know, however, that some phrases are always hyphenated? One
that comes to mind is empty-handed.
How can you know when to use a hyphen? If you're not sure, use the
online Merriam-Webster website at no charge. If you type in "fresh
faced," nothing comes up, so you know that the regular rule applies: if
it modifies a noun that follows, it is hyphenated. If it does not
modify a noun that follows, use no hyphen.
On the other hand, if you type in "empty" and follow it with a hyphen,
you'll see that empty-handed and empty-headed come up and are
hyphenated as shown, so you know that regardless of whether the phrases
modify a noun that follows, the phrase always takes a hyphen. Another
phrase that always takes a hyphen is "self-published."
Dictionaries differ, so the University of Chicago Press, publisher of
The Chicago Manual of Style, relies on Merriam-Webster. All writers of
books, therefore, should also rely on Merriam-Webster. Unfortunately
the easily accessed Encarta dictionary embedded in most Word programs
differs, at times, from Merriam-Webster, so I use it only for checking
spellings in e-mails and things that will not be used in books.
By the way, in some dictionaries or on the Internet you may see
"non-fiction," the word that describes books that are not novels,
written with a hyphen. Wrong! Merriam-Webster says it should be one
word, nonfiction, with no hyphen.
When in doubt, look it up!
For more editing and creative writing tips, order Purge Your Prose of
Problems here: http://tinyurl.com/4ptjnr.
Four: Subjects of interest to writers
Sometimes we think we know the meaning of a word, but we don't. Take
the test and find out how you score. See http://tinyurl.com/mdyrzhx.
Even if you are too shy to mention your book to others, you can promote
your book by wearing a pin that says, "Ask me about my book." In that
way, others will ask you, and you can then tell them about your book
and offer to sell them a copy. For pins that say "Ask me about my book"
and other great gifts for writers, go to
The Writers Network member Mark Diamond, who also teaches writing in
the schools, sent the following link to a great interview with James
Patterson, who admits he is not a great writer, simply a good
storyteller. He tells readers how to be good storytellers too. Read the
article here: http://tinyurl.com/pp9umpq.
My latest blog entry for the Florida Writers Association: Rx from the
Book Doctor: Is a Writer's Job ever Finished? See
Here is a good article on awkward but common grammar mistakes:
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Even if you do not use Carbonite, please do something to ensure your
files are safely backed up at all times. How horrible it would be to
lose a book you have been writing for a year or more!
Want to be a pompous ass? Check out this website for words that will
make you look like one. Better yet, be sure not to use any of the words
mentioned on this site: http://www.pompousasswords.com/www/index.htm
Terminology Writers Should Know: Editor
You may think you know what the term "editor" means and what an editor
does, but many folks are surprised at the wide variety of editors. For
example copy editors, also called line editors, address grammatical
issues, factual errors, and consistent writing style. These editors do
not rewrite books, but they may make minor suggestions or rewrite a few
sentences here and there.
Content editors, sometimes called concept editors, clarify ambiguities
and correct conceptual problems with a manuscript. They may perform
some rewriting or suggest that the author rewrite portions.
Some freelance editors do both content and line editing; that is, they
fix the grammar and punctuation and address the content for an in-depth
review of a manuscript.
Acquisitions editors seek out authors and manuscripts to add to a
publisher's list, but few acquisitions editors actually edit
manuscripts. Assistant editors may read submissions and make
recommendations to an acquisitions editor for acquiring specific
Are you confused? Always ask potential editors what their job entails,
so you will know what type of service you will be getting.
Free Tools for Writers from Bobbie Christmas and Zebra Communications
Order PDF reports on writing-related subjects, including correct
manuscript format, how to form and run a critique circle, how to
identify weak writing and repair it, self-publishing versus traditional
publishing, and much more. Go to
http://zebraeditor.com/free_reports.shtml. Newest report: Genre: A
Slippery Subject Essential to Fiction: Learn about genre fiction
categories and the benefits of complying with genre specifications.
New report just added: Chicago style for newbies and for those
switching from AP Style. Look for Report #118.
Purge Your Prose of Problems
A Book Doctor's Desk Reference, Fifth Edition
Save thousands of dollars and edit your own book! Order my proprietary
book-doctor desk reference book online at http://tinyurl.com/4ptjnr.
In alphabetical order and in easy-to-understand language, Purge Your
Prose of Problems covers all you need to know to revise and edit
fiction and nonfiction books, including grammar, punctuation, word
choices, creative writing, plot, pace, characterization, point of view,
dialogue, Chicago style, format, and much more. The spiral binder lets
the book lie flat in front of your computer, for easy use. Available
printed or as a PDF e-book that allows you to keep all this vital
information on your computer for ready reference.
The e-book is the best deal, because you get it immediately and pay no
shipping, and it then resides on your computer for the speediest
reference, whenever you need it.
To save thousands of dollars by editing your own book, order Purge Your
Prose of Problems today at http://tinyurl.com/4ptjnr.
Interesting Where Writers Win article tells the tools that some famous
writers use to write. See http://tinyurl.com/mlqfjfc.
Ask the Book Doctor: How to Beat the Competition and Sell Your Writing
answers many of the questions you wish you could ask an editing expert.
Whether you write books, short stories, articles, reports, or anything
else, learn more about how to write, edit, and sell your work.
Paperback: $14.95 plus $4.99 S & H (total: $19.94 US) E-book: $8.95, no
S & H, with almost instant delivery. You will save almost $10 by buying
the e-book! To order either, go to http://tinyurl.com/lexp7n.
Become my friend on Facebook and follow my adventures, opinions, and
Like Zebra Communications on Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/7vcxaxu.
Five: Contests, Agents, and Markets
Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Awards
Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award is designed to promote
small publishers in the Christian marketplace and bring recognition to
outstanding Christian books from a small publisher.
Only perfect-bound paperback or hardcover books are eligible. Audio
books and spiral bound books are not eligible.
Books must be published with a 2013 or 2014 copyright and released for
sale in 2013 or 2014. New editions of previously published books are
eligible. Reissued editions are not.
$45.00 (in US funds) per title nominated. Fees can be paid online using
your credit card or PayPal account, or else paid by check or money
order made payable to Christian Small Publishers Association.
See http://christianbookaward.com/eligibility-guidelines/ for full
The Michael L. Printz Award annually honors the best book written for
teens, based entirely on its literary merit, each year. In addition,
the Printz Committee names up to four honor books, which also represent
the best writing in young adult literature. The awards announcement is
made at the ALA Midwinter Meeting as part of the Youth Media Awards and
is celebrated with a program and reception each year at the ALA Annual
Conference. See http://www.ala.org/yalsa/printz for details.
About Words Agency
WE ARE ONLY ACCEPTING E-MAIL QUERIES
About Words Agency is looking for fiction of all genres listed on the
We are NOT interested in representing poetry, religious/Christian, true
crime, screenplays or children's fiction. Accepts memoirs and other
nonfiction, as well.
To send your submission electronically, send an e-mail to query at
aboutwords.org with the subject: Query, genre of manuscript, [title of
If your query is NOT sent in this format, it is likely that you will
not receive a response.
For full submission guidelines, see http://tinyurl.com/n9vwbea.
612 Johnnie Dodds
Mt. Pleasant SC 29464Phone: (843)971-6722
Submission E-mail: email@example.com
Our mission is to get children excited about science, math, and social
studies (geography and different cultures) through fun-to-read picture
book stories. We are looking for manuscripts that are either fictional
stories with nonfiction facts woven into the story or nonfiction
stories with a "cuddle" factor for parents to read with their children.
Each of our books includes a several page "For Creative Minds"
nonfiction section to reinforce the educational component of the book
itself. This section will have a craft and/or game as well as "fun
facts" to be shared by the parent, teacher, or other adult. Authors may
be asked to provide separate facts that will be incorporated into this
section. We do accept simultaneous submissions.
Manuscripts must be less than 1,000 words and must meet ALL of the
following four criteria:
Fun to read--mostly fiction with nonfiction facts woven into the story.
We are NOT looking for pure "textbook" nonfiction
National or regional in scope
Must relate to science, math and social studies subjects taught at the
elementary school level
Must be marketable through a niche market such as zoo, aquarium, or
museum gift shop
See website for full details.
Six: Got Muse? Be Destructive
"I learned that ten percent of all the world's species are parasitic
insects. It is hard to believe. What if you were an inventor and you
made ten percent of your inventions in such a way that they could work
only by harnessing, disfiguring, or totally destroying the other ninety
percent?" --Annie Dillard, author (b. 1945)
Wow, what a thought! Write a story about something or someone that can
work only by harnessing, disfiguring, or destroying something or
Do YOU have news for The Writers Network News? Please send it in the
body copy, not an attachment, to Bobbie@zebraeditor.com. Deadline: The
15th of each month.
Send a copy of this newsletter to all your writing friends. Tell them
to join The Writers Network F-R-E-E by visiting www.zebraeditor.com and
clicking on Free Newsletter.
With the exception of Zebra Communications, information in this
newsletter is not to be construed as an endorsement. Be sure to
research all information and study every stipulation before you accept
assignments, spend money, or sell your work.
The Writers Network News: a newsletter for writers everywhere. No fees.
No officers. No Rules; Just Write!