Thursday, May 24, 2018

13 Truths About Being a Writer

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson



13 Truths about being a writer.
Choosing to stand up and be identified as a writer can be a scary thing. The road is rarely a straight path to publication. These are some things that I hope will help you stay the course as you continue on your own writing journey
13 Truths About Being a Writer

1. It’s an eternal struggle between you and the blank page. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get a whole lot easier. The doubts still crowd your mind, and fear still whispers in your ear no matter how long you’re in this business.

2. Talent without persistence is worthless. So much of what we need to know to be successful, no matter what our goals, can be learned.

3. You’re stronger than you think. If I had known when I started, the hard work and emotional toll getting to this point would take. I would have quite because I would never have dreamed I could do it.

You can't plot a course always expecting to be
the exception to the rule.
4. You can’t plot a course always expecting to be the exception to the rule. Things generally happen in a certain way, over a certain time-frame. As believers we know that God can step in at any time and turn things upside down. But expecting that to always happen just isn’t reasonable. We need to do the work and celebrate when the exceptions do occur.

5. Quitting is the only path to failure. I’ve found writing success, but a lot of it has come simply because I refused to give up.

6. God is the One who directs my path—and yours. I can (and will continue) to make plans—but I stay flexible. I would never have even dreamed of the opportunities God has given me.

7. There’s a big difference between goals and dreams. They both have their place in the writer’s life, but a goal is something who’s outcome I can influence. A dream is something I wish would happen. It’s the difference between having the goal of getting a book published or having a best seller. I can achieve the first by hard work, but the second is ultimately up to God.

8. Detours aren’t the same thing as roadblocks. My path to publication has zigged and zagged so many times it looks like the path Mother Goose’s Crooked Old Man left behind. But more frequently than not, those detours ended up getting me further ahead, faster.

9. Change is the industry standard in publishing. It’s not possible to base your path on what has gone before. Technology is moving too fast. We either embrace the challenge or we fall by the wayside.

10. Generosity will always get you farther than selfishness. I have never once regretted putting someone else before me. I’d even go so far as to say that I’ve build my career (or at least my platform) by promoting others.

Your reputation is worth solid gold.
11. Your reputation is worth solid gold, but it’s not something I can buy. I can only achieve it and keep it by guarding it. I always try to communicate honestly and above all, keep my word.

12. The joy is in the journey. The people I’ve met, the things I’ve gotten to experience have been the high points, not the achievements.

13. Publication isn’t the sole definition of writing success. Touching someone’s life through the words I pen, whether it’s on a blog or a book or an article, is way more important than a book contract.
These are just a few of the things I wish I’d known when I started. I think my expectations would have been more realistic and the heartbreak a little less frequent. Although it could be that someone did, and I just wasn’t paying attention. 

What about you? 

Has writing taught you anything important about yourself and/or about life? Share your thoughts below.

Don't forget to join the conversation!
Blessings,
Edie

Edie Melson is the author of numerous books, as well as a freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains ChristianWriters Conference and the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy. She’s also the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts. Com, Social Media Director for SouthernWriters Magazine and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. Don't miss her new book from Worthy Inspired, WHILE MY SOLDIER SERVES.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

What to Wear at a Writers Conference

Today I’m going to continue my series on getting ready for a writers conference. One of the most asked questions I get is about appropriate attire. Below is my opinion—you’ll find others who disagree—but it’s always worked well for me.

First let me say this, you’ll see a little bit of everything when comes to what people wear at writing conferences. But, and this is important, just because you see someone wearing it doesn’t mean it’s appropriate.

I always treat a writing conference like a job interview—and really that’s what it is. You are meeting people who are deciding on whether or not to invest in you and your work. It may be a small investment—like an article; or a large investment—like a book contract.

Here are the guidelines I use when I plan my conference wardrobe.
  • Business casual always works. For women, slacks, casual skirts, nicer jeans or capris. For men, slacks, nice jeans, polo’s, even some t-shirts if not sloppy. Suits are definitely NOT required. I like my style to look effortless and timeless.
  • Keep it comfortable, for shoes at least. I don’t know about you, but I can’t concentrate when my feet hurt. I try to avoid athletic shoes because of their ultra casual nature, but I would choose them if they were the only ones I could be comfortable in.
  • Dress in layers. No matter what the temperature outside—inside is always a roll of the dice. Some rooms will be hot, some cold. So I always try to top an outfit with a light sweater or jacket, and usually a scarf.
  • Leave the perfume (men, this means cologne) at home. I know lots of folks who get headaches from or are allergic to different strong scents—and their definition of strong isn't always the same as mine. Some conferences, like ACFW, bill themselves as perfume free. 

And although this isn’t actually a piece of clothing, you’ll need to choose something to carry. Men and women need something to tote their laptops, notebooks, handouts, business cards, etc. Pick something with a wide strap, because it can get heavy by the end of the day and don’t forget to pack extra pens, tissues and breath mints!

Now it’s your turn—how do you plan your wardrobe for a conference? Also, my next post will be about how to organize all your paper paraphernalia in one conference notebook.

Don't forget to join the conversation!
Blessings,
Edie

Edie Melson is the author of numerous books, as well as a freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains ChristianWriters Conference and the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy. She’s also the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts. Com, Social Media Director for SouthernWriters Magazine and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. Don't miss her new book from Worthy Inspired, WHILE MY SOLDIER SERVES.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Get Organized for a Writers Conference

For those who’ve known me for any length of time are aware that organization isn’t my strong suit—at least not in the conventional meaning. My desk is covered in stacks of paper and the walls of my office are papered with rainbow hued sticky notes. It’s a system that works for me—but I quickly discovered it didn’t translate when I went on the road.
So I found another way to keep myself on track when I’m away from the office and my conference notebook was born.
It’s really pretty funny. The moment people see my notebook they immediately assume I’m this ultra-organized whiz. Actually, the opposite is true and my notebook is just a last ditch effort at self-preservation. Another thing I’ve noticed is that this notebook works well no matter what your natural bent toward organization.
The primary idea for this notebook is that it contains everything I need at a writers conference so I don’t have to dig through bags or be constantly returning to my room for something I’ve forgotten.
So let’s get to it!
First, I choose a one and a half inch three ring binder. Mine is green because green is my favorite color. I make sure there’s a sleeve on the front cover to slide a cover into because it hold my contact information if I should lay it down and leave it somewhere.
Next, in the front I have a small zippered pouch with a couple of pens and some paper clips. I can also slide in a small lipstick, some band-aids and tissues.
After that, I have a neat insert that holds several different size and colors of sticky notes.
Then, I add 4 pages of clear business card holders. I use the kind that are the size of a full page, so I have plenty of room to add business cards. I keep the first three empty and use them to store business cards I get from others. The last page is full of my personal business cards, so I always have plenty to hand out. (Don’t know what to include on a business card? I posted a blog on that here.)
The next part is divided into sections with tabs. Each project I’m pitching has a section. Here’s what would go into a section.
  • A clear plastic sleeve containing my one sheet for that project. (Don’t know what a one sheet is? Click here for a post on one sheets).
  • An outline for the project—if it’s non-fiction.
  • A synopsis for the project—if it’s fiction.
  • A sample of my writing for the project. This can either be a couple of sample devotions (for a devotional book) or the first couple of chapters in a book (fiction or non-fiction).

I have several copies of my one sheet, outline, synopsis and sample—just in case the person I’m showing it to wants to keep it or mark it up with suggestions.
Finally, after the section for projects I stock the back of the notebook with notebook paper and extra clear plastic sleeves and tabs.
Extras, you can include in your notebook might be a bio sheet, a list of topics if you're a speaker or even a list of articles you might want to pitch. The nice thing about this kind of notebook is you can personalize it to fit your needs.

With this notebook, no matter where I run into an editor or agent, I’m always prepared. I literally have everything at my fingertips. During a conference I NEVER go anywhere without my notebook.
So what have you found to help keep you on track while at a conference? We’d love to learn from your experiences too.
Just don’t forget to join the conversation!
Blessings,
Edie

Edie Melson is the author of numerous books, as well as a freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains ChristianWriters Conference and the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy. She’s also the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts. Com, Social Media Director for SouthernWriters Magazine and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. Don't miss her new book from Worthy Inspired, WHILE MY SOLDIER SERVES.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

The Scoop on the Dreaded Fifteen Minute Appointment

I've had several people ask me what to expect when they have a fifteen minute appointment with an industry professional. Many even wonder if they should take advantage of an appointment. My answer?
ABSOLUTELY. Even if you don’t have something to pitch, an editor, agent or even well known author can give you valuable insights to help you focus your career goals.
Let me give you some idea of why professionals agree to be part of the faculty.
They want to help you. By and large, those on the faculty at writers conferences are there because they have a heart for helping new writers. They know what it’s like to sit on your side of the table. Others have helped them achieve their goals and now they want to give back by helping someone else.
They’re looking for new writers. The market is constantly changing and there is always room for new writers. Recently I had someone ask me why a publisher is looking for new writers if the book market is shrinking.
  • First, it’s not shrinking—it’s changing.
  • Second, writers come and go.
  • Third, every choir needs more than one voice for each section. It’s the blend that makes the music beautiful.

Now, onto who you should speak with at a conference.
Editor (for books or magazines)—these professionals are a good choice for two reasons.
  • One—you have a project that fits their line and want to pitch it.
  • Two—they know the market and can give you an idea of their opinion about where it’s headed.
  • Three—they can give you input on an idea you have.
  • Four—they can give you career advice.

Agent—these are good for the same reasons above.
  • One—you have a project that fits who they rep.
  • Two—they know the market and can give you an idea of their opinion about where it’s headed.
  • Three—they can also give you input on an idea you have.
  • Four—they can give you career advice.

Published Writer—these professionals can do a lot of the same things. They can also:
  • Commiserate about challenges you’re facing as a writer.
  • Give you advice on where a particular project might fit or who in the industry might be looking for something similar.
  • Give you encouragement.

You’ll sometimes find other industry folks at a conference, such as marketing professionals, speakers, publicists, etc.
I encourage you to make your appointments and try not to be nervous. They are there to help, not tear you down. And a lot of good things can come from those appointments—way beyond career stuff. I’ve made friends, gotten validation that I’m not really crazy and had the opportunity to be prayed for and to pray for others.
Now it’s your turn. Do you have any questions or, if you’ve been to a writers conference, any advice?
And . . . don’t forget to join the conversation!

Edie Melson is the author of numerous books, as well as a freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains ChristianWriters Conference and the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy. She’s also the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts. Com, Social Media Director for SouthernWriters Magazine and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. Don't miss her new book from Worthy Inspired, WHILE MY SOLDIER SERVES.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

You as the Main Character—Every Writer Needs a Bio

We've been discussing how to get prepared for a writers conference
here and
and today I want to talk about your personal bio. 

Every writer and speaker needs a bio, whether or not you're attending a conference.

Actually, you need three.
  • A small one, 25-50 words
  • A medium length one, approximately two paragraphs
  • A full page one, in depth
Many times this written bio is the first introduction someone in this business (think editor or event coordinator) or a consumer (reader or attendee) will have of you. This, with your message, can mean the difference between making the sale or not.

Your bio should reflect, through words, exactly who you are. It should boil down the essence of your personality. It should always be written in third person, as if you were talking about someone else.

A bio must be
  • Relevant
It must give you
  • Personality
  • Credibility
Below are some (not all) of the instances where a bio will be necessary.
·         Cover letter (to an editor, agent or event coordinator)
·         Book Proposal
·         Query Letter
·         Your website
·          Inside your book or on the jacket
·         Publicity for a personal appearance 
·         In a publication (web or print) after an article

It’s important that you have control over your bio. Which means planning now. It will, in effect, be a part of your personal brand. It gives you credibility, whether you are speaking or writing. As such it should contain only things pertaining to your credibility and identity. For example, if you’re not speaking on sales, it isn’t important to mention your job 15 years ago as an outside sales person. Think relevant when you’re composing your bio.

So now it's your turn - do you have a bio? What are some tips and questions you have to writing one?
Don't forget to join the conversation!
Blessings,
Edie

Edie Melson is the author of numerous books, as well as a freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains ChristianWriters Conference and the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy. She’s also the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts. Com, Social Media Director for SouthernWriters Magazine and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. Don't miss her new book from Worthy Inspired, WHILE MY SOLDIER SERVES.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

What is a ONE SHEET Anyway?

For those of you getting ready for a big writers conference you may have heard about the need for a One Sheet. This tool is also known as a Pitch Sheet. It’s a one page presentation of the project you’re pitching to an editor or agent. Today I’ll be explaining how to put one together.
Click here to see an example of a fiction one sheet. Click here to see an example of a nonfiction one sheet.  Both of these  led to multiple requests for proposal and full manuscripts. To answer your question, no, it’s not been published. I sent it out too soon and killed my chances—but that’s fodder for a future post!
There are three basic components of a one sheet—the project blurb, specifics about the project and the author’s bio—including a picture and contact info. We’ll take each component individually and explain what’s included.
The Project Blurb
For this section think back cover copy. This is NOT the place for a synopsis. You want this section to read like the blurb on the back cover of a book.
Project Specifics
This is where you give some of the details and they’re slightly different for fiction and non-fiction.
Fiction
  • Genre – like Romance or Suspense.
  • Manuscript Length – this doesn't have to be an exact word count, just an approximation.
  • Target Audience – every book should be written with an audience in mind. I know, we all think our book will appeal to a wide range of readers—and that may be true. But this tells the potential editor or agent how to market the book. It will help sell a publishing house on your manuscript by defining the reader you’re writing for.

*there isn’t a section here for completion date because it’s understood that a manuscript must be complete before it’s submitted. It’s okay to pitch an uncompleted manuscript with a one sheet, but it’s rare for anyone to look at it as a submission until it’s complete.
Non-Fiction
  • Projected Completion Date – the reason you don’t have a non-fiction manuscript completed is because publishers like to have a say in the overall concept.
  • Manuscript Length – since it’s not completed, this is just an estimate.
  • Target Audience – just like in fiction, you need to focus in on who specifically you’re targeting with this manuscript.

Author Info
This is where you need to include a personal bio, recent picture and contact information. A lot of writers hate composing a bio so later this week I’ll be posting a short How-to on writing bios. But the basics to consider are these:
A bio must be
  • Relevant
It must give you
  • Personality
  • Credibility
All of these individual components will give you an effective one sheet. Be sure to post any questions or comments you have.
Don't forget to join the conversation!
Blessings,
Edie

Edie Melson is the author of numerous books, as well as a freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains ChristianWriters Conference and the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy. She’s also the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts. Com, Social Media Director for SouthernWriters Magazine and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. Don't miss her new book from Worthy Inspired, WHILE MY SOLDIER SERVES.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Honing Your Conference Pitch

Attending a writers conference can be a stressful undertaking—even for a seasoned writer. A lot of writers have gravitated toward our profession because we’re not comfortable with crowds, especially crowds of strangers.
That’s why I’m posting this series on writing conferences. It’s not to add to your stress—but to alleviate it. For me, when I know what to expect and am prepared, I’m less anxious. No one likes to feel like they're under the gun. I assume I’m not alone in this feeling.
So the first subject we’re going to tackle is the one that makes most writer’s stress levels spike off scale—pitching.
Over the years I’ve had people tell me they’re not worried about pitching—they’re just going to learn. Nice thought, but not based in reality. I hate to break it to you, but if you’re standing in line or sitting beside someone and they ask you what you’re writing, if you answer them, you’ve just delivered a pitch. I could post pages of stories from writers who wished they’d been prepared for this unassuming little scenario.
The idea behind a pitch is to get the person you’re talking with to ask for more.
Simple concept, harder to execute. So here are some of the do’s and don’ts of pitching.
Do
  • Set up an intriguing scenario.
  • Introduce your main character.
  • Give a hint about their situation and goal.
  • Tie in the disaster or obstacle to that goal.

Don’t
  • Go over 2 sentences—try to keep it to one sentence.
  • Answer all the questions the listener might have.
  • Substitute cleverness for specifics.
  • Give away the ending.

Now, here are some real life hooks or tag lines from popular movies. I’d love to read some of your favorites as well. 
  • "She brought a small town to its feet and a huge corporation to its knees." —Erin Brokovich
  • "To enter the mind of a killer she must challenge the mind of a madman." —Silence of the Lambs
  • "What if someone you never met, someone you never saw, someone you never knew was the only someone for you?" —Sleepless in Seattle 1993
  • “A businessman falls in love with a hooker he hires to be his date for the weekend” —Pretty Woman
  •  “When you can live forever, what do you live for?” —Twilight
  •  “Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water.” —Jaws 2
  •  “In space, no one can hear you scream.” —Alien 


Now it's your turn to chime in. Do you have any questions or is anyone brave enough to try their pitch out here?

And . . . Don't forget to join the conversation!
Blessings,
Edie

Edie Melson is the author of numerous books, as well as a freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains ChristianWriters Conference and the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy. She’s also the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts. Com, Social Media Director for SouthernWriters Magazine and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. Don't miss her new book from Worthy Inspired, WHILE MY SOLDIER SERVES.