The Pros Know

I just listened to the audiobook Million Dollar Professionalism for the Writer Million-Dollar-Pro500
by Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta. Again. And I’m feeling an urge to reach out to all the new, new-ish, and aspiring writers I know. I want to tell them to pick this book up, and read or listen. And then do it again.

The first time through, I was occupied with things such as driving, not burning dinner, you know the drill. The second time I listened? I took notes.

Moesta (author, editor, and publisher) and Anderson (author of over 50 bestsellers) give straight talk about the real world of writing professionally. The book is liberally sprinkled with anecdotes, generally personal stories from the authors, often painfully at their own expense. They demonstrate how things can go terribly wrong in writing, in publishing, in personal interactions with others in your profession. And they advise how to avoid these hazards yourself. Topics range from personal presentation to making connections in the publishing world, how to handle professional and fan interactions, talent versus persistence, and other potential assets or pitfalls to the newcomer.

While Anderson and Moesta state that this information is largely the material assembled for a course they’ve taught repeatedly, it doesn’t come across as a classroom presentation. In fact, it reminds me of nothing so much as an involved conversation with respected industry pros: colleagues sharing stories over dinner, lingering over desert, swapping tales and giving advice to the newcomers.

Narrator Charles Kahlenberg’s avuncular reading furthers this feeling, making the book easy to listen to and absorb. Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this audiobook. But nobody made me stop halfway through the first listen and send Wordfire Press and Kevin J. Anderson a congratulatory note on their choice of narrators. Kahlenberg’s reading is expressive, conversational even. Yet it doesn’t detract from the important material the book is sharing.

I was impressed by the subtle positive messages of encouragement the authors included. There’s a danger when seasoned pros give “advice.” I know, I’ve fallen prey in the past to glib warnings, pronouncements of criteria for success. Pronouncements that made possibilities seem so unattainable that they were discouraging, rather than helpful. But Anderson and Moesta don’t do that. Instead, there is an assumption that OF COURSE you’re a writer. Of course you belong at the table with them, listening to the stories. Here’s what you do when the opportunities become available, when the anthology calls, when the publisher says yes. When you’re a guest at the convention. And at the award ceremony.

This implied success is contagious! And it’s attributed where it belongs: to the writer being professional, to getting the work done, to loving their job but respecting it too.

Million Dollar Professionalism for the Writer: highly recommended for the new, new-ish, or aspiring writer, or other creative professional who might be looking to jumpstart their career. To read now, and revisit.

 

 

Versions

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Dreary. Excellent word choice this morning. I was going to reward myself for diligent work with a visit to the Farmer’s Market. Indulgence postponed on account of cold rain.

Happy to receive a message from Bertie MacAvoy in the wee hours today. She got the SHIMMER version with Developmental Editing revisions that I sent to her last night. Yay!

She hasn’t opened it yet. I’m not quite in the clear. But probably okay.

Awnna Evans, our Wordfire Press editor, was such an invested and thorough reader! She  sent us very useful editing notes. Bertie did the heavy lifting on these revisions, while I was enveloped in Big Life Things. I did my turn at editing thankfully, falling back into the story as a small respite from the outer world. And perhaps as a way of processing, understanding, and finding ways to deal with the larger situations surrounding life right now.

We’re so very careful at this stage, nearing completion, passing the “Master Document” back and forth. Versions are SO IMPORTANT. The book shifts, changes form under our hands. And words matter to us. So very much. Word choices are examined, talked about, chosen or discarded: little things that a reader will likely never notice, but which carry nuance to subtly influence a scene. If you’re not a writer, and wonder how this works, here’s an example: in the sentence above, I originally wrote “choices are looked at.” But “examined” is so much more accurate to the actual process. And then I wonder if I should drop the passive voice, and say “we examine word choices” instead. But I want the sentence emphasis to be on WORD CHOICE, not on the writers. So I leave it in the passive form.

And this is in a blog post. Without Bertie’s opinion to counter. So you can imagine how complex editing an entire BOOK is.

(Not everybody edits like this. Robert Heinlein would be rolling his eyes. Fortunately, I don’t require his good opinion. And he’s in no position to voice an opinion on Shimmer anyway.)

Love and care go into these changes. It’s quite upsetting to discover that your work has been done on an old version, and has to be re-done! Neither Bertie nor I have so much time and energy at hand that we care to waste it. So we are very careful with our versions.

We are nearing the final version of Shimmer. Line edits yet to do. I’m so ready to release this book!

*Note to aspiring writers: this fine-tuning is coming during the pre-publication editing process, at the behest of the editor. If you edit your document like this, to publication standard, on your own before submitting it? You may never actually finish your book. Beware falling into the trap of perpetually re-writing before getting outside input. Those fresh eyes are important, as much for telling you when to stop as for anything else. Kevin J. Anderson over at WordFire Press has some useful thoughts on this. 

Future Home of Epic Hat Battles

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Tower of Geek at SuperCon in Miami. See if you can spot the Truly Impressive Hat.

If you saw my post on visiting Supercon in Miami, you might remember how much I liked the WordFire Press extravaganza, the Tower of Geek. Writers smiling, interacting one-on-one with fans. Happy volunteers helping people find their next great read. Where I had my awesome (if one-sided) hat battle (which I lost) and met some very cool people.

It reminded me of my old bookstore days. I didn’t have to look very far to find interesting people with sparkling minds back then … they just came walking into the shop. And then I got to talk to them about some of my favorite things: reading, and books, and art Star Trek and gaming and oh by the way if you like that have you seen this author. I didn’t make a lot of money, compared to some in other fields, but the quality of my hours was matchless.

The Tower of Geek is the kind of thing that makes you want to be part of it, whether you’re buying books — which I did — or being part of the crew. And I told Bertie.

And Bertie did what Bertie does, and wrote Kevin Anderson an e-mail. And sent him a book. And told him about the other we were working on.

And Kevin Anderson said yes.

So Albatross has been revised, the better to have a companion volume, and will be coming out in print and a new e-book, likely within the year. And Book Two, for now called Shimmer, is ready to be looked at by a pro Editor as well. And Bertie and I have signed both contracts with WordFire Press.

And I have purchased a new hat.

To celebrate.

Prepare for Epic Hat Battle, part Two!