Monthly Archives: October 2019

When is it Business and When is it Bullying? [Snakes in Suits]

When is it Business and When is it Bullying? [Snakes in Suits]

When is it Business and When is it Bullying? [Snakes in Suits]

As America’s National Bullying Prevention Month comes to a close, I find myself wondering why a recent Forbes article reports that workplace bullying is on the rise. With all the knowledge we now have about the effects of bullying on people’s mental health, and all the resources at our disposal to effectively deal with it, how can this be? Perhaps, we have yet to clearly define one very important detail: when is it business and when is it bullying?

You might think bullying is something that only children have to worry about. And with all the media attention, you might even think it’s a behavior that has waned. But let’s look at the alarming statistics. An older 2008 poll on workplace bullying found that 75% of employees reported being affected as either a target or witness. And a new 2019 Monster.com survey out this month found that nearly 94% out of 2081 employees said they had been bullied in the workplace. That’s a huge increase (19%) in the last eleven years. (Forbes, Bryan Robinson, October 2019)

Robinson encourages people to speak up and act immediately. He even lists which actions to take to protect oneself and others. But what if a corporation’s success ideology inadvertently supports bullying behaviours? Then those actions will fall on deaf ears time and again, won’t they?

When is it Business and When is it Bullying? [Snakes in Suits]

When is it Business and When is it Bullying? [Snakes in Suits]

When is it Business and When is it Bullying? [Snakes in Suits]

Interviews with Dr. Robert (Bob) Hare and Dr. Paul Babiak, who co-authored Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work, provide some serious food for thought. These gentlemen estimate that from one to two percent of the general population is psychopathic in nature. Alarmingly, they find an even higher population of psychopathy within corporate environments:

“And what we find, surprisingly, was that there was a rate of 3.9% in that population of individuals that had scored high enough on the psychopathy checklist that they had hit the mark for being assessed as a psychopath.” (CBC Docs, Dr. Paul Babiak, September 2018)

What is this psychopathy checklist that he speaks of? It was created by his Canadian co-author, Bob Hare—a forensic psychologist touted as being “the godfather of psychopathy” by courts and law enforcement agencies the world over. Both Hare and Babiak consider psychopaths to be society’s most dangerous individuals. This is not only because they behave like predators at the top of the food chain. It is also because they are clever chameleons who can appear normal to the rest of us. With their severe emotional detachment to anything coupled with a lack of remorse, it is easy to see how these pathological liars can infect a workplace.

Did Bank Executives Use the Psychopathy Checklist to Recruit Employees?

Bullying is traumatic. When a trauma happens in your personal life, people rally around you to help you heal. Unfortunately, more often than not, when it happens in a corporate environment, you’re expected to just get over it and get on with it. You can clearly see this mentality in a 2018 CBC Go Public article about banking employees who complained to the media about chronic bullying in their workplaces. After completing an investigation of the bullying allegations, the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) deputy commissioner, Brigitte Goulard, had this to say:

“The bank environment is a sales environment. … If you’re not a salesperson, perhaps working in a bank is not for you.” (CBC Go Public, Brigitte Goulard, April 2018)

According to Clive Boddy, a Professor of Leadership & Organizational Behaviour, this attitude is common within the financial sector. In fact, some bank executives took it a frightening step further a while back.

When is it Business and When is it Bullying? [Snakes in Suits]

When is it Business and When is it Bullying? [Snakes in Suits]

“Modern business is a perfect environment for [psychopaths] because it enables them to achieve the desires that they want in terms of money, in terms of controlling other people, in terms of gaining power and prestige, of course.” British professor and author, Clive Boddy, believes psychopathic behaviour was largely responsible for the global financial crisis. … Boddy says investment deals were so complex, even the brokers didn’t understand them. “You ask yourself: what kind of people would sell a product that they don’t understand and can’t properly price? You’d have to be without conscience—wouldn’t you?—to sell that kind of thing.”

…And Clive Boddy saw it all coming. A few years before the financial collapse, he began hearing that some bank executives went so far as to use Bob Hare’s psychopath checklist to recruit employees. “Presumably, that was because they thought those new employees would be cutthroat and ruthless towards their competitors. The danger, of course, is that they are cutthroat and ruthless towards the bank that employs them, as well. It’s like saying criminals are good at guarding Fort Knox, guarding the gold, guarding the crown jewels. The outcome would be inevitable. The gold would go missing. The jewels would be stolen. … If the system has been corrupted by the presence of corporate psychopaths, then the best thing to do is to get those people out of there rather than hope that they—that the problem will go away on its own. Because it won’t.” (CBC Docs, Clive Boddy, September 2018)

Clearly, we all need to take a pause and rethink our society’s success ideology. When is it business and when is it bullying? And who exactly should be calling those shots in the workplace?

Workplace Bullying Can Affect the Bottom Line

For those who value money and power above all else—who are not swayed by the plight of others who are bullied in the workplace—I will appeal to your thinking from a different angle. When you place economy ahead of integrity, that economy will only sustain itself for so long. Employees and the public will begin to see through the deception. They’ll start complaining. First in small numbers. Then those numbers will grow larger and larger until a domino effect takes place that ultimately causes a recession … possibly even another stock market crash.

You need to care for the mental and physical health of your people first. Then they will take care of you.

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The Ins and Outs of Outlines: Plotters Versus Pantsers [PART TWO]

Jennifer D. Foster on Pantsers

Jennifer D. Foster on Pantsers

What an honour it is to be able to share this article from
Jennifer D. Foster, freelance writer, editor, and content strategist. This content was originally published in 2016 Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market: The Most Trusted Guide to Getting Published. There is so much information here that I’ve split the article into two separate guest posts. This second one deals with what Jennifer describes as “pansters.” Enjoy the read!

* * *   * * *   * * *

Behind every successful novel or short story is an outline, right? Maybe. Some authors swear by a detailed plan (they’re known as “plotters”), while others, namely those fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants  writers  (known as “pantsers” or “SOPs”), despise outlines. New York Times best-selling author Joseph Finder, for example, believes that “writing without an outline is like doing a high-wire act without a net. Some people can do it, but wouldn’t you really rather have a net? I would.” New York Times best-selling author J.A. Jance, however, says she “met outlining in Mrs. Watkin’s sixth-grade geography class in Bisbee, Arizona. I hated outlining then; I hate it now. I do not outline.”

What exactly causes this great divide?

By examining this question of process via authors who do and don’t outline—and why—and via key insights from a selection of those working directly in the world of publishing, including authors, agents, writing instructors, editors, and publishers, we’ll get front-row seats to this age-old debate. For those looking for practical how-tos, tips on creating an effective outline will help send you on your writerly way.

PLOTTERS VERSUS PANTSERS: THE GREAT DEBATE

Pantsers: The Cons of Outlines

For those who love to hate outlines, the writing process is viewed as more organic and free-flowing. Weiland believes many authors are “so talented and so able to hold the entire novel in their heads. They simply don’t need the tools that help the rest of us achieve that same end product.” Key West, Florida-based Meg Cabot, a number one New York Times best-selling author, is one such writer. “Because writing a book, to me, is like taking a trip. I know in my head where I want to go. I just don’t write out an elaborately detailed itinerary. Because the fun part—to me—is figuring out how I’m going to get there, and checking out the interesting sites I see along the way.” Author Harlan Coben is another New York Times best-selling writer with a similar mind-set. “I don’t outline. I usually know the ending before I start. I know very little about what happens in between. It’s like driving from New Jersey to California. I may go Route 80, I may go via the Straits of Magellan, or stop over in Tokyo … but I’ll end up in California,” he says. In an interview for the U.K.’s The Telegraph, he clarifies further: “E.L. Doctorow has a wonderful quote on writing where he says that it is like driving at night in the fog with your headlights on. You can only see a little bit ahead of you, but you can make the whole journey that way. I concur, except that I know, in the end, where I’m going.” And, interestingly enough, for Coben, “there is no ‘why’ I don’t [outline]—you just do what works for you as a writer.” Sims believes that memory plays a role in why some writers, like Coben, don’t outline—they can hold seemingly endless amounts of material in their heads before turning it into a book. But she muses on the impact time may have. “I sure wouldn’t tell him to change, but I wonder how that method will work as he gets older and the brain cells get a little less efficient!”

Pronovost looks at it this way: “Instinctive writers sometimes hold a book’s architecture in their mind—essentially, the outline for them is something private, maybe even sacred, and speaking it out loud or commit- ting it to paper can feel counterintuitive or even rigid.” Deborah Grabien, author and editor at Plus One Press in San Francisco, California, is in full agreement. “As  both a writer (eighteen published novels and music journalism) and an editor of other peoples’ work (two anthologies of short fiction), I loathe outlines. I find working with an outline the functional equivalent of trying to dance in a straitjacket or having sex while wearing a suit of armor. My mantra is, ‘A writer writes, period; just tell the damned story.’ An outline is rigid and, for me, unworkable.”

Embracing the Serendipity

Many writers simply love the serendipity and unpredictability of writing that comes without an outline. They don’t like what Finder calls being “constricted by the steel girdle of an outline.” Hiyate agrees. “The biggest flaw is, you can write yourself into a corner, and the characters are fighting where you want to go with them. Or, because you’ve planned too much, some of the spontaneity—and suspense—might be lost.” Cabot concedes: “Story ideas don’t come along often, and when they do, you have to treat them with care. Outlining them too thoroughly—even talking about them too much over coffee with a friend—can actually ruin them, because it can make you feel as if the story is already told. And when that happens, if you’re like me, you’re dead.”

MacKinnon explains it this way: “Some authors might be less inspired to start writing if they think they have the story all figured out. They find the story as they write it. Maybe they need the excitement of finding the characters’ motivations and the plot as it unfolds to them as well.” J.A. Jance is such an author. “I start with someone dead or dying and spend the rest of the book trying to find out who did it and how come. Knowing what the end will be would make it impossible for me to write the middle,” she says. “I think if I knew what the ending would be, my motivation to write would disappear, as would the sense of discovery. I write for the same reason people read—to find out what happens—and I have never read the end of a book first.” Her reasoning? “This way, I discover the answers at the same time the characters do. This morning, at 60 percent of a book, I just found out that a character I thought was dead isn’t. If I had written an outline, would that even have happened?” Finder, a big fan of outlines, agrees in this case: “That’s just the kind of unpredictable twist you want, because if you didn’t expect it, your reader won’t either.” And that’s exactly why, says Cooper, the biggest hazard of outlining comes to those who refuse to deviate from their meticulously plotted course. The story may have decreased energy or mystery or sense of surprise—for the reader and for the writer. Writing without an outline or with only a loose outline ideally allows the story to unfold like a movie as it’s being written.”

Sims, who has worked on both sides of the outlining fence, can relate to Jance, Finder, and Cooper. With her Rita Farmer mystery series, she’s had to put together a very detailed outline for each book for her agent. But, she says, “the more detailed I got while outlining, the more frustrating the process, because my natural inclination is to figure out a lot along the way. Things come to me, answers to difficult plot questions appear as I write chapter after chapter. And, of course, as I develop characters, I get to know them better and better, and they themselves suggest action, plot points, resolutions, and so on.”

Remaining Surprised

For Black, despite her attempt, outlines do not work. While she’s not against them and “envies” people for whom they do work, for her “they are a little deadening,” and here’s why: “With the first novel I wrote—one I wrote, sold, and then withdrew because I saw its failings all too well—I used a pretty detailed outline. But I found that my ‘knowing’ what was going to happen took out some element of something like a romantic, if rocky, relationship with the book. I wasn’t intrigued by it. The process was a bit like paint-by-numbers for me, and finally I realized that the product was a bit that way as well.” So for Black, spontaneity and what she calls “openness” are imperative. “One of the great benefits of winging it—or making it up as I go along—is that I feel fluid not only about such things as what is going to happen but also about the deeper meaning of the story. I like being a little stupid about my own work as it’s in process, so I don’t fight too hard against its natural process of evolution.”

Green, a creative writing professor at Western University, cautions against outlines in terms of their relationship to the organic processes of change and revelation inherent in writing. “If one is a micromanager in terms of adhering to the outline, the pleasure of discovering that your character is going to do something that you didn’t know he or she was going to do (like a real human being, your character is unpredictable) seldom happens, and formula fiction often rears its head this way. If writing is discovery (and often self-discovery), the fully outlined and adhered-to story can become a ‘product’—albeit a professional one.” When it comes to writing, Green has “found it more valuable to keep a charted summary of each segment or chapter after it’s completed than to try to chart it in advance (like a journal of the novel; Steinbeck did this).” The purpose? The summary “lets me review it each morning and see clearly what has gone before and what I should be addressing next. Then comes the actual writing that day, and often (in best case) the sense of wonder at what has been created at day’s end. And repeat the next day. And the next. In that sense, it’s a kind of reverse outlining and progression, tied into what has come before.”

In her book Escaping into the Open: The Art of Writing True, Chicago, Illinois-based, New York Times best-selling, and award-winning author Elizabeth Berg says, “there are two kinds of writers: those who start with a plot and those who end up with one. I am one of the latter.” Berg says the few times she tried to plot a novel, “it was as though the book rebelled—it went another way entirely, and then all those notes I’d taken to follow the ever-so-neat sequence of events I’d planned were in vain.” Like Jance, Black, Sims, and Green, for Berg “part of the joy in writing fiction is the surprise of it, the discovery of things I hadn’t known were in me or that I wanted to say, or, more likely, the way those things chose to be said.” Berg starts her novels only with a strong feeling of something she wants to say and/or understand, and the novel helps her do it. “I find almost nothing more enjoyable than to be working on a novel and wake up not having any idea what’s going to happen that day. It keeps me interested. It keeps me excited. If I had to write what the plot told me was ‘up’ next, I’d be bored—it would feel too much like homework.” Like other pantsers, for Berg “the magic in writing fiction comes from taking that free fall into the unknown and, rather than making things happen, letting them.”

Mockler, who outlines depending on the project, shares Berg’s overall sentiments: “I’m not a fan of obsessively outlining every scene because, for me, it kills my desire to write the story. Writing is a process of discovery, and you can miss great nuggets and details if everything is pre-planned. Too much focus on the structure and not enough on the characters and details and themes can make the writing seem formulaic and flat.”

FINAL FOOD FOR THOUGHT

The reasons why some writers outline and some don’t are as vast and varied as the creators themselves. Bottom line? Use whatever structure, or lack thereof, works best for you, without judgment. “Explore and experiment, and figure out what best unleashes your creativity,” says Weiland. Writing is a highly individual and personal process, a journey of finding balance and what works best. And the tools and techniques that work best for each writer are always based on “personalities, backgrounds, and circumstances,” emphasizes Weiland. If you choose to go the outline route, then remember, she says, that outlines are “about discovering your story and organizing it, so you will then have an accurate road map to follow when writing your first draft.” But, stresses Wiese Sneyd, remember not to become too attached to your outline. “Outlines need not be written in stone, but in sand. And don’t buy into the idea that an outline is essential to writing. It’s not,” she stresses. “I know many writers who sit down every day and write into the dark, so to speak. They allow the story and the characters to carry them rather than relying on an outline to do so.”

Regardless of your path to the finished product, keep this quote in mind, from Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, for inspiration: “Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink. Drink and be filled up.”

* * *   * * *   * * *

Watch for Jennifer’s feature in the upcoming 2018 Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market in mid-September 2017.

Jennifer D. Foster is a Toronto, Canada-based freelance writer, editor, and content strategist. She’s been in the writing and editing business for two decades, and her company is Planet Word. Jennifer’s clients are from the book and custom publishing, magazine, and marketing and communications fields and include The Globe and Mail, Art Gallery of Ontario, D. F. Plett Historical Research Foundation, Greystone Books, McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Canadian Children’s Book News, Dundurn Press, Ontario Dental Association, and Firefly Books. When she’s not busy spilling ink for her first novel, walking her greyhound, Aquaman, or reading, Jennifer enjoys travelling, antiquing, gardening, camping, and yoga. She’s a long-time mentor to novice editors via Editors Canada and novice writers via the Professional Writers Association of Canada. Jennifer is chair of Editors Toronto and administrative director of the Rowers Reading Series. Find her online at lifeonplanetword.wordpress.com.

© Jennifer D. Foster 2017

All https://blog.polishedpublishinggroup.com guest posts from before 2017 were included in Diary of an Indie Blogger VOL 1 which can be downloaded from AmazonKobo, or E-Sentral free of charge. All other guest posts from the original PPG Publisher’s Blog have been moved here: https://polishedpublishinggroup.com/category/guest-bloggers/.




The Ins and Outs of Outlines: Plotters Versus Pantsers [PART ONE]

Jennifer D. Foster on Plotters

What an honour it is to be able to share this article from
Jennifer D. Foster, freelance writer, editor, and content strategist. This content was originally published in 2016 Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market: The Most Trusted Guide to Getting Published and has been republished here with permission.
There is so much information here that I’ve split the article into two separate guest posts. This first one deals with what Jennifer describes as “plotters.” Enjoy the read!

* * *   * * *   * * *

Behind every successful novel or short story is an outline, right? Maybe. Some authors swear by a detailed plan (they’re known as “plotters”), while others, namely those fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants writers  (known as “pantsers” or “SOPs”), despise outlines. New York Times best-selling author Joseph Finder, for example, believes that “writing without an outline is like doing a high-wire act without a net. Some people can do it, but wouldn’t you really rather have a net? I would.” New York Times best-selling author J.A. Jance, however, says she “met outlining in Mrs. Watkin’s sixth-grade geography class in Bisbee, Arizona. I hated outlining then; I hate it now. I do not outline.”

What exactly causes this great divide?

By examining this question of process via authors who do and don’t outline—and why—and via key insights from a selection of those working directly in the world of publishing, including authors, agents, writing instructors, editors, and publishers, we’ll get front-row seats to this age-old debate. For those looking for practical how-tos, tips on creating an effective outline will help send you on your writerly way.

PLOTTERS VERSUS PANTSERS: THE GREAT DEBATE

Plotters: The Benefits of Outlines

Elizabeth Sims, Florida-based author of the award-winning Lillian Byrd crime series, says her favorite method is to “jot down some basic ideas for a plot, focusing on what I call ‘heart-clutching moments,’ then work out the rest as I write the book. Beyond that, I’ll often look ahead two or three chapters and write a paragraph for each one that simply says what has to happen in that chapter.” And she prefers to use the term story  map, disliking the word outline. “The term outline seems to connote rules and distasteful work. Story map brings to mind discovery, adventure, and getting somewhere,” emphasizes Sims, who’s also a contributing editor for Writer’s Digest. Lynn Wiese Sneyd, owner of LWS Literary Services in Tuscon, Arizona, refers to outlines as “tracks,” and Mary Lou George, a Toronto, Ontario-based mainstream romance novelist, likens them to a “road map,” stressing that her willingness to “prepare them is the only thing that separates me from the animal kingdom.”

Regardless of what they’re called, outlines, for those who prefer them, are a godsend. “For me, the outline is crucial,” says George. “A good outline helps me plot and pace the work. It can keep me on track and help me identify weaknesses in my story. I can see where I’m going to run into trouble before I start writing, and I can structure the story accordingly.” How does an outline help her? “I map out what’s going to happen in each chapter. If my story involves a mystery that needs to be solved, I highlight the clues, misdirection, etc., just to keep track. I list each scene. That way, I can get a feel for high-tension points in the story and pace accordingly. Once I’ve mapped everything out scene by scene, I know where I want to introduce a love scene, a confrontation, some mystery, or a funny bit, just to keep them wanting more. I get a feel for whether it’s all going to work to my satisfaction.”

Sims feels that “an outline is well worth the trouble when writing a mystery.” So does Kathryn Mockler, Toronto, Ontario-based publisher of The Rusty Toque (an online literary, film, and art journal); senior editor at the literary magazine Joyland: A Hub for Short Fiction (Toronto); and creative writing lecturer at Western University in London, Ontario. “If you are writing genre fiction or screenplays, you pretty much have to have a tight structure, and outlining can be helpful for that.” Nita Pronovost, editorial director at Simon & Schuster Canada and a former senior editor at Penguin Random House in Toronto, Ontario, agrees, adding: “Often, genre writers have more practice using the outline as a technique and tool that guides their creative process rather than stifles it.” Jennifer MacKinnon, a freelance editor in Newcastle, Ontario, and a former editor at Scholastic Canada, concurs. “Mystery novels need to have very specific events happen for the story to work in the end, [and that’s why] it may help writers work out some plot holes and structural and pacing issues beforehand, which would mean less editorial revisions later.” Finder feels the same holds true for his novels. “Thrillers have too many moving parts. They’re all about plot. They’re almost always too complex to write without doing some sort of outline in advance.” For his novel Power Play, he took his writer friend Lee Child’s advice and “brazened” his way through it, sans outline, which “wound up taking me several months longer than usual, simply because I wasted a lot of time on plot and on characters that I ended up cutting out.”

Unleashing Creativity

No one knows how long the controversy over outlining has been around, but it’s a bristly debate with deep roots. One thorn of  disagreement stems from the notion of creativity: Plotters feel outlining is advantageous and part of the whole process, boosting creativity. Pantsers feel outlining squelches their creative flow. “If you feel like you need an outline in order to write or feel that an outline releases your creativity, then you should use an outline,” says Wiese Sneyd. MacKinnon believes that “even with an outline, the author has thought creatively about the story and the plotting and the characters.” And Toronto, Ontario-based award-winning author and freelance editor Janice Weaver stresses that new writers should be mindful not to “adopt the mind-set that the outline is somehow the enemy of creativity.” George agrees, adding that an outline is “there to help me, to enhance my creativity. That’s its reason for living. I don’t look at my outline as written in stone. I created it; it’s mine to morph into whatever I choose. It’s as adaptable as I want to make it.”

Sims says, for her, the greatest benefit of a story map is “anxiety reduction. You get up and grab your materials, and you can start that next chapter knowing at least basically what you have to get done in it.” Wiese Sneyd concurs. “As you venture into the storytelling and the manuscript, an outline can ease the anxiety of creating that which has never been created: unique characters acting within a unique story. It can shed light on a writing process that otherwise takes place in total darkness.” Philadelphia-based non-outliner Robin Black, author of the novel Life Drawing and the short story collection If I Loved You,  I Would Tell  You This, expands on this notion. For her, one of the downsides of not outlining is that “it is definitely a less secure process—emotionally, I mean. When I wrote my fully outlined novel, I knew what I was doing every day. … I enjoyed the lack of panic that nothing will occur to me next, or that I’ll take some giant wrong turn.”

Taking Control of the Process

Another benefit of outlines, according to plotters, is being in the driver’s seat. “It partly has to do with control. It feels good to know ahead of time where the story is going and how it ends. The blank page can feel very unsettling,” says Wiese Sneyd. “I’ve heard some authors say that their out-line consists of a beginning and an ending. Their job is then to fill in the middle.” For Wilmington, North Carolina-based Wiley Cash, New York Times best-selling author of A Land More Kind Than Home and This Dark Road to Mercy, “the greatest benefit is that it offers you the chance to see the totality of your idea. I’ll typically outline a novel once I know who the main characters are, so that I can get a sense of how I see their lives unfolding and how their lives will flow with and against the narrative.” His rationale? “Each character has a tiny plot evolving inside him or her, and it’s important to keep that in mind before you try to develop the arc of the broader narrative.” Cash says he won’t look at the outline for months while he’s writing, “but it will always be there in the back of my mind. It’s like the map in the glove box that you’re hesitant to get out and unfold because you think you may recognize a landmark around the next bend in the road. But the map definitely gives you some peace. It’s there if you need it. For me, outlines are the same.”

Pronovost also agrees with the outline-as-map benefit. “The initial outline is a kind of map. I can sometimes spot narrative problems right from the outline, which means that the author is saved the aggravation and time of falling into a potential black hole in the story.” For her, outlines provide “clarity of thought, organization, direction … an architecture to a story, and it helps the author (and editor) retain a kind of muscle memory of the framework long after the outline has been put aside and the work on scenes and chapters begins.” And, she says, “what an outline can do, especially for new writers, is save them from becoming too involved in the journey and becoming lost in the maze of superfluous narrative.” Weaver concurs: “Outlines are especially important for new writers, because those are the people who sometimes lack the discipline or the critical distance needed to see the problems with their manuscripts.” Pronovost also stresses that “the outline provides a way for the author to think from the point of view of the creator and from the point of view of the readership.” How, exactly? “The outline creates awareness in the writer of the techniques they are using to tell the story: what each chapter covers, what the main actions are, how each segment opens and closes, where the major turning points occur, and so on. That’s taking care of the reader’s experience, something an author should always consider.”

Treating the Outline as a First Draft

Scottsbluff, Nebraska-based K.M. Weiland, author of Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and the fantasy novel Dreamlander, has an interesting theory about the pros of outlining. “Many authors who don’t use an outline are actually using their first drafts as an outline of sorts—from which they then figure out the story’s problems and use it as a template to write a better second draft.” So, she says, “outlines are my rough draft. And then when I actually go to write the first draft, it’s actually the second draft. Since I already know what’s going to happen, it’s where I get to fine-tune those ideas, smooth them out, and explore them further.” For Weiland, “outliners do most of the major revising in the predraft process, which allows for much faster (and, dare I say, more fun?) first drafts and much less revision time afterward.”

Karen Wiesner, genre author of more than one hundred novels and of First Draft in 30 Days and From First Draft to Finished Novel, agrees. She used to be a pantser, but after writing sometimes twelve drafts of a novel to finally get it right, she decided to give outlines a try. “With the right preparation, you can create an outline so complete, it actually qualifies as the first draft of your book and includes every single scene of your book. You can see your entire novel from start to finish in one condensed place. An outline like this … contains every single one of your plot threads, unfurled with the correct pacing and the necessary tension, culmination, and resolution from beginning to end.” For Wiesner, the outline is “the place to work out your story settings, plot conflicts, and in-depth characterization before starting the actual book. This allows you to focus on scenes that work cohesively together and advance all of these. Additionally, tension, foreshadowing, dialogue, introspection, action, descriptions, etc., can best be done within the outline, building strength while adding texture and complexity.” The best part? “Creating an outline like this puts the hard work of writing where it belongs—at the beginning of a project. If you work out the kinks in the story in the outline, you ensure that the writing and revising are the easy parts.” Wiesner’s analogy cements her argument: “When I write a book based on a ‘first draft’ outline, pure magic happens because I watch the skeleton—the framework of the book contained in my outline—putting on flesh, becoming a walking, talking, breathing story.”

Like Weiland, Pronovost, and Wiesner, Weaver believes an outline can save a writer both time and frustration. “Ideally, it will force you to think through the events of your novel before you ever put pen to paper, and in doing so, it can reveal potential pitfalls, uncover creative opportunities you hadn’t considered, and give you a broader perspective. An outline can condense that process and minimize the wrong turns, and that makes it more likely that you’ll finish what you started.” Sally Cooper, Hamilton, Ontario-based author of Love Object and Tell Everything and creative writing professor at Humber College in Toronto, Ontario, agrees with Weaver’s thoughts. “A good outline helps me think through the story ahead of time, so I avoid writing myself into an unresolvable corner. Outlines also create direction, signposts, or goals to look forward to and meet.”

Kathy Lowinger, Toronto, Ontario-based author and former publisher of Tundra Books, says that, “oddly enough, a detailed outline can be of most use to those who write beautifully. For them, it is easy to write a great sentence or paragraph or even several pages without benefit of a good skeletal structure. Eventually it becomes apparent that the plot isn’t well thought out, but good writing can hide the plot flaws for a long time.” She also believes that for writers who claim to be smothered  by an outline, “I always think that they don’t understand what an outline is. It can be changed if it isn’t working, but,” she cautions, “the author has to understand that a single change should be looked at in the context of the whole work.”

Speaking of the whole work, Weaver has a fitting metaphor regarding outlines. She likes to compare a manuscript to a jigsaw puzzle. “Your job as the writer is to make all the pieces fit together to form a complete and pleasing picture in the end. The outline is the photograph on the puzzle box—it’s a guide to remind you what picture you’re ultimately trying to create. Sometimes you’re contending with a puzzle that comes with extra pieces that don’t quite fit. A big challenge for most writers, in my experience, is recognizing that those extra pieces don’t belong, and having the courage to let them go. An outline can relieve you of some of those decisions by making it clear when something doesn’t fit.”

A Word to the Wise for Plotters

Even pro-outliners caution against following an outline blindly. “If you get extremely detailed and rigid about the outline process, you can rob yourself of the chance to stumble upon something awesome,” says Sims. “An outline can and should be fluid. Be okay with throwing an outline away and starting over or slicing and dicing and adding in new stuff—even if you’re halfway through your book. If you get a gut feeling you ought to try something drastically different, give it a go.” MacKinnon concurs. “The outline is just a written guideline. Most authors I know would never let an outline get in the way of a good story. If inspiration hits in the middle of writing, and the characters or story seems to be going in a different direction, they follow their instincts and go with the story rather than the outline.” Cash holds the same theory, stressing that “the greatest drawback is that there’s always the risk of being shackled to your outline. Trust me, you won’t disturb the universe if you don’t follow it.”

Pronovost feels the same. “Just because a writer has a plan doesn’t mean she has to dogmatically stick to it. There is always room for creativity in any structure, including in an outline. A rough, flexible, dynamic outline—one where change can occur throughout the drafting process—is a very practical tool.” Kevin Morgan Watson, publisher at Press 53 in Winston–Salem, North Carolina, agrees. “An outline should be, to borrow a phrase from the movie Ghostbusters, ‘more of a guideline than a rule.’ A writer should always be open to new ideas that present themselves during the writing process. When that little voice says, ‘What if my character does this or goes there instead of following the outline; I wonder what would happen?’ I think writers should listen to that voice and take the detour.” He cites the “wise words” from American poet Robert Frost as further evidence:

“No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”

Shaping the Story

For Sam Hiyate, literary agent, president, and co-founder of The Rights Factory in Toronto, Ontario, “outlines are essential for helping shape a story. You wouldn’t start building a house without blueprints. Why start a novel without one?” For Hiyate, who’s also a creative writing instructor at the University of Toronto and a publishing instructor at Ryerson University, “the most important thing is to write an outline at the level of detail that makes you comfortable. Some writers might have one [outline] that is two pages, whereas some might want ten to fifteen pages. If you have it in bullet points to start, you can still enter a chapter or scene with a lot of possibility, as long as you know where it will quickly go.” For him, it’s all about “writing with the level of detail that will keep your writing spontaneous and fresh.”

For number one New York Times best-selling author John Grisham, outlines are the Holy Grail of productivity and structure. “The books are carefully outlined before I ever start. Chapter by chapter, from beginning to end. And usually tedious and boring and even painful—but it’s the only way to make sure the story’s going to work. Usually the outline is fifty pages long. And the longer the outline, the easier the book  is to write. I have started several books and put them aside—and a couple of times I’ve gone back and been able to finish them.” This level of planning for an outline on the part of the author could be an example of what novelist and short story author Terence M. Green refers to as “the micromanager, who plans the whole story out in advance before the actual writing. I think it’s fair to say that the writer who benefits the most from the micro-planning is the one most concerned with plot, and plot intricacies and twists.”

George sees an outline as a life-enhancing literary safety net. “If you run into trouble, it’s never too late to create an outline to help you along. It can be as detailed or as sketchy as you’d like. Sometimes, when I’m having a crisis of confidence, I will hone the outline in order get reassurance that my story has merit. That, alone, can get me writing again.” And George stresses that the outline may be for the writer’s eyes only. “Remember that no one else needs to see the outline.

It doesn’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to update it or stay faithful to it—it’s so unlike a spouse in that way. In fact, my relationship with my outline is probably the best I’ve ever known.”

Best Tips of the Trade

Looking for some writerly inspiration not only to create but also to nail an effective outline?
Our industry experts weigh in with these helpful tips.

“If your book were divided in pieces, what would they be called? How many pieces
(acts or parts) would there be? What would happen in each segment? Summarize in
only a few sentences, not in a thousand pages. Does your outline have a climax? If
not, why not? Does your outline have a clear beginning, middle, and end?” —Nita
Pronovost, editorial director at Simon & Schuster Canada, former senior editor
at Penguin Random House

“Don’t confuse your outline with a summary of your novel. Keep your outline brief.
It doesn’t even have to be comprised of complete sentences. Don’t be afraid to
change it or move things around, and consider putting it away once it’s completed.”
Wiley Cash, New York Times best-selling author

“Know your characters. Think in terms of scenes, like a filmmaker. Include thematic
and symbolic beats, not just plot points, and be open to throwing the outline out the
window if the story takes a promising turn.” —Sally Cooper, author and creative
writing professor at Humber College

“Outlines are a great way to think through a story, to envision a story, much like a drive
across the country or a family vacation: You can plan it down to the hour of every day,
but it’s in the detours along the way where the better story, the better adventure,
may be hiding. And what’s the harm in taking a detour to see what is there? If you
work from an outline, make it a loose guideline. Give yourself permission to veer off
course and explore.” —Kevin Morgan Watson, publisher, Press 53

“The outline is simply a tool; don’t let it intimidate you. Use it as an aid to pace your
novel well. Read it over from time to time. Your outline can help you identify slow
points in your story. It can remind you that you’ve forgotten something and, if so,
then how necessary is that something? Or maybe it was key, and you can’t neglect it.
The outline will help you make decisions.”—Mary Lou George, romance novelist

“Be flexible. Think of an outline as a collection of puzzle pieces. At first you think a piece
might fit well here, but then you see it fits better there. Keep moving the pieces around.
Don’t be afraid to toss some and add new ones.” —Lynn Wiese Sneyd, owner of
LWS Literary Services

“Think of your outline as the bird’s-eye view of your manuscript. It’s meant to show
you the best path to take—and to reveal any roadblocks long before you get to them—but it shouldn’t prevent you from taking the odd side road on your way to your destination. An outline can take many different forms, and if one technique is too restrictive or makes you feel too constrained, try another. One bad experience with outlining doesn’t mean all outlines are bad.” —Janice Weaver, award-winning author and freelance editor

“Don’t be afraid to make a mess. Writing is like life: glorious, unpredictable, full of
passion, woe, and joy. Be okay with ambiguity as you map your story; you’ll figure
it out. And be open to making parts of your outline rough and other parts very detailed.
Don’t worry about following any particular form.”—Elizabeth Sims, award-winning
author and contributing editor for Writer’s Digest

“Start out with what your central quest is; give your protagonist a series of trials of various
flavors (by that I mean level of difficulty, mood, etc.) to overcome; and put the resolution
in the protagonist’s hands. And make sure that the protagonist is marked by
each trial in some way. This holds for almost every novel, whether the quest is something
intangible like acceptance or tangible like the Holy Grail.” —Kathy Lowinger,
author and former publisher of Tundra Books

“Use the outlining phase as an opportunity to build story structure. The single most
important factor of a story’s success and salability will be the strength of its structure.
The outline is the place to start figuring that out so you will be able to place the important
plot points and other structural moments at exactly the right place to allow
them to achieve their utmost power.” —K.M. Weiland, author

“When writing a short story, I’ve found it useful to take a sheet of paper and divide it
into three (usually Intro, Body, and Conclusion, the Body being the substantial part
of the page). By filling in these sections with ideas and details, the story can come to
life in a general way. The actual writing of the story is where it can come to life in its
particulars. For a new writer of fiction: Know the ending of your story. If one has this
in mind, the goal is clear, the path straightens itself.” —Terence M. Green, creative
writing professor at Western University, novelist, and short story author

… to be continued

Watch for Jennifer’s feature in the upcoming 2018 Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market in mid-September 2017.

Jennifer D. Foster is a Toronto, Canada-based freelance writer, editor, and content strategist. She’s been in the writing and editing business for two decades, and her company is Planet Word. Jennifer’s clients are from the book and custom publishing, magazine, and marketing and communications fields and include The Globe and Mail, Art Gallery of Ontario, D. F. Plett Historical Research Foundation, Greystone Books, McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Canadian Children’s Book News, Dundurn Press, Ontario Dental Association, and Firefly Books. When she’s not busy spilling ink for her first novel, walking her greyhound, Aquaman, or reading, Jennifer enjoys travelling, antiquing, gardening, camping, and yoga. She’s a long-time mentor to novice editors via Editors Canada and novice writers via the Professional Writers Association of Canada. Jennifer is chair of Editors Toronto and administrative director of the Rowers Reading Series. Find her online at lifeonplanetword.wordpress.com.

© Jennifer D. Foster 2017

All https://blog.polishedpublishinggroup.com guest posts from before 2017 were included in Diary of an Indie Blogger VOL 1 which can be downloaded from AmazonKobo, or E-Sentral free of charge. All other guest posts from the original PPG Publisher’s Blog have been moved here: https://polishedpublishinggroup.com/category/guest-bloggers/.




How to Price a Paperback Book

There are two main things you must consider regarding how to price a paperback book: who is printing the book; who is buying the book. These are your hard costs.

How to Price a Paperback Book

How to Price a Paperback Book

Who is Printing Your Paperback Book?

Any books that are printed using print-on-demand (POD) technology will cost more per unit than books that are printed in large quantities on traditional offset presses. As a result, you’ll have a smaller profit margin on POD books.

Still, it’s important to take advantage of POD in this day and age. It allows your customers to buy your books one at a time on ecommerce sites like Amazon. It also allows independent authors to print small quantities of your books at reasonable prices, as selling opportunities arise. For example, one paperback book may cost around $6 per unit to print on demand digitally.

Traditional offset presses are designed to print larger quantities of books at a lower cost per unit. In fact, they can’t print small quantities economically. It may only cost around $2 per unit to produce 1,000 copies of that same book on an offset press. The downside to printing this many copies is that it requires a large upfront investment. You will also have the added cost/hassle of warehousing all your books.

How to Price a Paperback Book: Printing Options

There’s a time and a place to use each type of printer, which is why PPG returns all working files and finished files to our authors. This allows you to choose if/where you’re going to print your book based on who you’re selling it to:

  • Traditional offset printing: best price for 1000+ copies
  • Standard digital printing: best price for 100 to 999 copies
  • Print-on-demand (POD) digital printing: best price for one to 99 copies

It’s always wise to contact a few printers to obtain quotes for 50, 250, 500, and 1000 books. Make your decision from there.

Who is Buying Your Paperback Book?

On that note, authors who wish to sell copies of your books through local retailers, such as book stores, will also have to factor each retailer’s profit share into your final retail price. Retailers/wholesalers buy publishers’ books at steep discounts in order to turn their own profits. They also expect your title to be marked as “returnable” (for a full refund) in case it doesn’t sell. Here are the industry standards for such discounts:

  • Book Wholesalers (i.e. Ingram, Baker & Taylor, libraries): 50-55% discount
  • Book Retailers (i.e. Chapters, McNally Robinson): 40-45% discount

Once your book has been designed and the final trim size, page count, picture count, and interior (black and white/colour) has been determined, a printer will be able to provide you with the cost per unit to print your book. It is best to factor in the highest possible printing cost (POD) along with the highest possible discount (wholesaler) when determining your book’s retail price. For example, if your POD cost per copy is $4.50, then your retail price should be set at $11.99 minimum as shown here:

How to Price a Paperback Book (calculations)

How to Price a Paperback Book (calculations)

Examine Your Audience

Again, these costs are only a small part of the equation when determining the price of a paperback book and should only be used to calculate the lowest possible retail price. You should also do a thorough examination of your audience and what they value most.

You might consider syndicating this content on your own blog. If you do, make sure to attribute the original source so neither of us gets dinged on the SEO front. You can do that by including this line at the bottom of the article: This content first appeared on the PPG Publisher’s Blog and has been republished here with permission.
As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2019 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.




Why is Sharing Failure More Powerful than Sharing Success?

Why is sharing failure more powerful than sharing success? Because sometimes you win, and sometimes you learn.

Why is sharing failure more powerful than sharing success? Because sometimes you win, and sometimes you learn.

One of my most cherished mentors from afar is a beautiful soul named Lisa Nichols. She is a captivating public speaker who openly shares her life story with others in all its darkness and light. Why is sharing failure more powerful than sharing success? Because, in doing so, we can all reach a higher level of freedom and healing.

The benefit for the sharer is that you have “nothing left to protect, prove, hide, or defend” (as Lisa says) once it’s all out in the open; you’re free. The benefit for the receiver is being able to see another person’s humanity; seeing how that person gets back up after falling. We all need someone to show us how to get back up again, because we all fall from time to time.

Why is Sharing Failure More Powerful than Sharing Success?

I’m sure Lisa will be fine if I share this small portion of an inspirational speech she gave at a Mindvalley conference not long ago. Her presentation, titled “Step Into Your Life Purpose,” provides a glimpse of just how powerful it can be to share one’s humanity with others.

The first thing to know is when you’re out of congruency with who you’re designed to be. That’s the first thing. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Don’t hide it. Don’t shy from it. Just step into that truth. That truth is sexy. Because it will make you do something you never thought you would do. It will make you get radical.
And I sat there with my son, not having food, eating beanies and weenies six days a week … I was so broke and broken. His father had just gone to prison. And, all of a sudden, my worst nightmare had come true.
I had made a commitment, being born and raised in South Central L.A., raised between the Harlem Crips 30s and the Rollin 60s—those are not cheerleading squads, y’all—that I wouldn’t engage on any level. I wasn’t available on any level for any gang activity, for anything criminal, because I would never be connected with jail. That’s just not my thing. I knew, early on, that’s just not my destiny. So, when my girl friends and my best friends started dating the neighbourhood thugs, “I’ll pass. I’m going to the library. I’m not participating. I don’t know where I’ll end up, but I know I won’t stay here.”
And so, I planned all this. I got out. I was an athlete. I was an all-American athlete. I held the record for the 330 low hurdles for 18 years after I graduated. My head was down. I was MVP all three years of high school. I was focused. I got out. I got out.
And then, all of a sudden, the man that I met at 27—beautiful soul, brilliant soul—just still had that hustle in him. And I’m not mad about a little hustle, but it can’t manage your integrity. And, for him, it just got the best of him. And I got the call. I said, “Hello?”
He said, “Lisa.”
I said, “Yes?”
He said, “I’m in jail.”
And my heart dropped. I’m 28. I had just given birth to his child. And now I’m linked to the very thing I tried to avoid for so long.
I’m sharing with you my story so you can validate and level set your story. Because I look up, and I say, “Wow, I’m working on my seventh best seller, I’ve had great conversations with Oprah and Larry King and The Today Show, and I’ve built a multi-million-dollar business, and my company’s gone public.” And it doesn’t change my story.
And now I realize that I used my story as my fuel, not my fortress. My story wasn’t my, “I get to be successful in spite of.” My story was my “because of.” It’s because of.
And so, I remember sitting on my couch going, “Oh, my God. My very thing I tried to avoid—my nightmare—is my truth.” And for years, eight years, I never mentioned where my son’s father was. I denied that he even existed. I wouldn’t talk about him. You couldn’t talk about him. … I walked around with this baggage on me, this story that if I spoke too loudly and let my light shine too brightly, then the light’s going to shine on him, too. And everyone’s going to know my connection.
…Yours is going to be different. But we’ve all got this chatter. … That was just my chatter. And I would be remiss if I didn’t share my chatter with you before I share with you how to get to an abundant life. You’ve got to know the depth that I come from. (Mindvalley, 2016)
Failure is not falling down but refusing to get up.

Failure is not falling down but refusing to get up.

That is so powerful. Don’t you feel that much more motivated after learning the depths Lisa rose from to reach her current level of success? Why is sharing failure more powerful than sharing success? Because it touches our hearts and shows us just what the human spirit is capable of. That’s where true inspiration lives—in rising up from failure, especially when all the odds are stacked against you.

During this same speech, Lisa talks about how abundant thinkers still fail like everyone else does; they just fail forward. They take the lessons from their failures and continue onward with persistence. Abundant thinkers leave everything that no longer serves them behind. They leave it in the past where it belongs.

But they’re also unafraid to share it. They live to serve others. If it will help you, they’ll share it.

The Importance of Persistence in Overcoming Failures

Napoleon Hill and Earl Nightingale are two more of my mentors from afar. I highly recommend listening to “Napoleon Hill’s Think & Grow Rich Condensed and Narrated by Earl Nightingale” in which the 13 proven steps to riches are discussed—”riches” being defined as “whatever it is that you want.” Persistence is listed as the eighth proven success principle.

Why is persistence so important along the pathway to success? Because you’re guaranteed to fail along the way. Failure is not the opposite of success. In fact, it is a natural part of success. So, expect it. Embrace it. Learn from it. Grow from it.

Napoleon Hill defines persistence as the power of will. Willpower and desire, when properly combined, make an irresistible pair. Persistence, to an individual, is what carbon is to steel.
In uncounted thousands of cases, persistence has stood as the difference between success and failure. It is this quality, more than any other, that keeps the majority from great accomplishment. They’ll try a thing. But, as soon as the going gets tough, they fold. Experience with thousands of people has proved that lack of persistence is a weakness common to the majority of men. It is a weakness which may be overcome by effort. If you are to accomplish the desire you set for yourself, you must form the habit of persistence.
Things will get dark. It will seem as though there is no longer any reason to continue. Everything in you will tell you to give up, to quit trying. And it’s right here that the men are separated from the boys. It’s right here that, if you’ll go that extra mile, and keep going, that the skies will clear. And you’ll begin to see the first signs of the abundance that is to be yours because you had the courage to persist. With persistence will come success. (Success Consciousness, 2017)

You may look at successful leaders in society and think they’ve had life easier than you. Or you may think they’re somehow different from you, smarter than you … better than you. That’s simply untrue. One need only read a recent article by Jeff Rose in Forbes magazine, titled “9 Famous People That Went Bankrupt Before They Were Rich,” to see that each of these leaders had to develop the habit of persistence to overcome some pretty major obstacles in their lives.

Why is sharing failure more powerful than sharing success? Because knowing that it’s possible to become one of the most beloved Presidents of the United States, even after experiencing repeated failures, is impactful. Learning that some of the public figures you admire most came back even stronger—even better—after experiencing failure, is energizing. It makes you want to try even harder in your own life, doesn’t it? It gives you hope that you can succeed, too, no matter where you’re starting from now.

There is Never Any Shame in Sharing Your Failures with Others

Failure is not the opposite of success. It is part of success.

Failure is not the opposite of success. It is part of success.

Whatever your faith, this story will inspire (and challenge) you to look at failure in a new way. It may even empower you to take the reins in your own life and go public like others have before you.

Why is sharing failure more powerful than sharing success? Because society can learn far more from your failures than they’ll ever learn from your successes. You may even help others to avoid some of the pitfalls you encountered along the way. And maybe you’ll change a small part of the world for the better in the process.

The corporate world seems to teach us that failure is something to be avoided. Sales managers implement performance improvement plans (PIPs) that are designed to shame those who fall behind. Investors will only look at startup founders who repeat the axiom, “Success is the only option!” and hastily discard the rest.

Maybe a more empowering alternative to this Darwinian “survival of the fittest” mentality is instead empowering and lifting each other up. Perhaps, we should invest our time and energies into those who share triumphant stories of how they climbed back up from the depths of despair. The truth is, there’s never any shame in sharing your failures with others. The only shame is in staying down after you’ve fallen.

You might consider syndicating this content on your own blog. If you do, make sure to attribute the original source so neither of us gets dinged on the SEO front. You can do that by including this line at the bottom of the article: This content first appeared on the PPG Publisher’s Blog and has been republished here with permission.
As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2019 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.




How Long Does Copyright Last?

How long does copyright last after an author passes away? You may be surprised to learn that it’s a little different from country to country. Luckily, I had some help from Ian Gibson, Esq., to answer this question inside my 2014 title How to Publish a Bestselling Book. Here’s an excerpt of his advice.

How Long Does Copyright Last?

How long does copyright last? | Ask Ian Gibson, Esq.

“Pursuant to certain international treaties, the minimum duration of a copyright is generally life of the author plus 50 years. If the work is anonymous or pseudonymous and, thus, the life of the author cannot be determined, the duration of the work will be 50 years from its publication or, if unpublished, its creation. In the case of applied art and photographic works, the minimum term is 25 years from the creation of such a work.

Many countries exceed these minimum standards. In the United States, for example, a work originally created on or after January 1, 1978, by a single author is ordinarily given a term for the author’s life plus an additional 70 years after the author’s death. For more information specific to Canadians, see Kim Staflund’s earlier book, How to Publish a Book in Canada . . . and Sell Enough Copies to Make a Profit!.”

More Valuable Advice from Ian Gibson, Esq.

When it comes to copyright, four primary questions seem to arise most readily: What exactly is copyright? How do I obtain it? How do I protect it? How long does this protection last? This book provides an elementary introduction to international copyright. In it, Ian Gibson provides you with a solid starting point of reference that answers all of these questions. In fact, he even answers this: How does working with a publisher in another country affect my copyright?

That said, for those of you who wish to delve deeper into your own country’s copyright laws, or who require formal legal advice about a specific book project or publishing contract, Ian recommends you consult an experienced attorney licensed in your area. Don’t rely solely on the advice you read here.

Related reading: Estate Planning Checklist for Authors

You might consider syndicating this content on your own blog. If you do, make sure to attribute the original source so neither of us gets dinged on the SEO front. You can do that by including this line at the bottom of the article: This content first appeared on the PPG Publisher’s Blog and has been republished here with permission.
As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2019 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.




Marilyn Monroe Still Captivates Us. Why?

Marilyn Monroe still captivates us. That’s why “Marilyn Monroe” is a fantastic keyword that can bring attention to just about anything. But why?

Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe

How many other actresses from the 1950s do you know of with their own Twitter accounts and websites in this day and age? I’ll admit, I’ve watched many documentaries about this woman. I know her life story from start to finish, but I still want to know more.

Why is Marilyn Monroe So Captivating to Men and Women?

Men loved her obvious sex appeal. That one isn’t hard to figure out. But perhaps the most interesting thing about her is that women were (and still are) equally fascinated by her. Not jealous of her breath-taking beauty and allure, but fascinated by it. Addictively attracted to it. To this day, she exemplifies female charisma and beauty to people all around the world.

They say (whoever “they” are) that women from Marilyn’s era felt protective of her. They shared a motherly love of this orphaned girl that, perhaps, grew even deeper due to her tragic and untimely death at only 36 years old.

For me, she’s so much more than that. She is a symbol of possibility and proof that visualization can work for anyone. As legend has it, she would stare outside the window of her orphanage at Beverly Hills and dream of one day becoming a world-famous actress. Who would have thought she could make that kind of grandiose dream come true? But she did.

I wonder if Marilyn Monroe knows that her legend still lives on to this day. I hope she does.

Related reading: James Patterson Shakes The Author’s Money Tree

Related reading: Robert Kiyosaki: The Definition of an Asset

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Finding the Best Way to Write

Finding the Best Way to Write with Michael LaRocca

I read voraciously, a habit I recommend to any author who doesn’t already have it. You’ll subconsciously pick up on what does and doesn’t work. Characterization, dialogue, pacing, plot, story, setting, description, etc. But more importantly, someone who doesn’t enjoy reading will never write something that someone else will enjoy reading.

I don’t write ‘for the market.’ I know I can’t, so I just write for me and then try to find readers who like what I like. I’m not trying to whip up the next bestseller and get rich. Not that I’d complain. Nope, I have to write what’s in my heart, then go find a market later. It makes marketing a challenge at times, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

When you write, be a dreamer. Go nuts. Know that you’re writing pure gold. That fire is why we write.

An author who I truly admire, Kurt Vonnegut, sweats out each individual sentence. He writes it, rewrites it, and doesn’t leave it alone until it’s perfect. Then when he’s done, he’s done.

I doubt most of us write like that. I don’t. I let it fly as fast as my fingers can move across the paper or keyboard, rushing to capture my ideas before they get away. Later, I change and shuffle and slice.

James Michener claims that he writes the last sentence first, then has his goal before him as he writes his way to it.

Then there’s me. No outline whatsoever. I create characters and conflict, spending days and weeks on that task, until the first chapter really leaves me wondering ‘How will this end?’ Then my characters take over, and I’m as surprised as the reader when I finish my story.

Some authors set aside a certain number of hours every day for writing, or a certain number of words. In short, a writing schedule.

Then there’s me. No writing for three or six months, then a flurry of activity where I forget to eat, sleep, bathe, change the cat’s litter… I’m a walking stereotype. To assuage the guilt, I tell myself that my unconscious is hard at work. As Hemingway would say, long periods of thinking and short periods of writing.

I’ve shown you the extremes in writing styles. I think most authors fall in the middle somewhere. But my point is, find out what works for you. You can read about how other writers do it, and if that works for you, great. But in the end, find your own way. That’s what writers do.

Just don’t do it halfway.

If you’re doing what I do, writing a story that entertains and moves you, then you will find readers who share your tastes. For some of us that means a niche market and for others it means regular appearances on the bestseller list.

Writing is a calling, but publishing is a business. Remember that AFTER you’ve written your manuscript. Not during.

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I’ve been paid to edit since 1991 and still love it, which has made people question my sanity, but they were doing that before I started editing. I got serious about my writing in 1978. Although I’ve retired more times than Brett Favre, I’m revising my 19th book. Learn more about me at MichaelEdits.com.

© Michael LaRocca 2019

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