As a ghostwriter, nonfiction author, and novelist, Shawn Smucker has a lot of experience collaborating with others. In his own work, he makes it a regular practice to invite others into the editing process by asking beta readers to read his manuscript before the final draft is written.
In an interview with hope*writers, Shawn shares some of his pro tips for finding readers who can help spot a manuscript’s weaknesses before it goes to press. Beta readers can be an integral part of the writing process for any author.
Who to Ask
The first step in choosing beta readers is deciding how many readers to ask. Recommendations vary among writers, but Shawn suggests asking between three and five readers who belong to your target audience for their feedback. The more readers involved, the more widely the opinions will vary. With too many beta readers, it can be difficult to find a consensus on what needs revising in your manuscript.
There are three important...
When serving as a fiction judge for the Christianity Today Book Awards, the number one skill author Sarah Arthur looks for in a winning writer is great writing. The definition of “great writing” is, of course, subjective, but as avid readers and writers ourselves, most of us have a sense for what is mediocre, good, and great when it comes to storytelling.
One key to great writing is the ability to edit and revise your own work with fresh eyes. We can aim for great work by putting Sarah’s top five tips for revision into practice.
Some writing experts recommend writing a terrible first draft in order to quickly get your words on the page, leaving the bulk of the editing for later. This may work for some, but it can also build poor habits and train us to write badly from the beginning.
If we give the first draft our best effort, we will inevitably become better writers through our commitment to...
When an author goes the route of traditional book publishing, it can be a relief to have publishing team members lend their expertise to the process. However, those who haven’t been through this process may not be aware how much of the design process is guided by publishing professionals rather than the author’s direct input.
To help us understand what to expect as a book moves through the publishing process, hope*writers sat down with book cover designer Mark Lane, a professional designer with Tyndale House Publishers.
He gives authors a few pointers on how to work with their book designer for results everyone will love.
Remember Publishing is a Team Effort
As authors, much of our time is spent writing alone. We don’t often invite others into the writing process until we’ve completed our work and sent it to our editor for review. However, when you work with a traditional publisher, the design process is in progress behind the scenes by the time...
Author and publisher Maria Dismondy released a new book in 2020 called Sunny Side Upbringing: A Month-by-Month Guide to Raising Kind and Caring Kids. Cardinal Rule Press will open for picture book submissions on November 1, 2020. More details can be found at CardinalRulePress.com.
When elementary school teacher Maria Dismondy couldn’t find the right book to help her teach students about character, she decided to write the book herself. Nine books later, Maria is not only a seasoned author, she is the owner and founder of her own publishing company, Cardinal Rule Press.
As a parent, former teacher, children’s author, and publisher, she understands children’s literature as both a consumer and a maker, and she recognizes that it is both an art and a business.
Maria sat down with hope*writers to share her publishing advice for aspiring children’s authors.
Begin With Your Why
Before reaching out to publishers, it’s important to know WHY you...
A published book is often seen by writers as the pinnacle of the craft. For many of us, our dream of becoming a writer began with reading good books. Perhaps you’ve imagined your name on a cover or looked for where your book would sit on a library shelf.
Seasoned editor and publisher Roy M. Carlisle tells hope*writers that publishing a book is the final step in the process of developing and sharing an idea.
He says, “People think of the book as if it’s the first thing [to be published], and it’s the last thing . . . You must remember that the book is a result of the process.”
What is this process? Roy calls it “the information funnel.”
Where to Begin
Book ideas are rarely fleshed out for the first time in the book itself. Writers begin to ask what resonates with readers and play with ideas in more accessible and immediate areas of publication. These include the internet, radio, TV, and daily newspapers, offering the most...
Writers love to spend time on content creation. Because of our focus on the art of writing, we may initially find the world of publishing confusing and mysterious. It can be challenging to find a clear explanation of the process of book publishing without chasing rabbit trails across the internet.
What happens first? Who are the main players? At hope*writers, we want to help you avoid hours of googling for the right information. We chatted with Alex Field, literary agent and owner of literary agency The Bindery to learn from his expertise on the process of publishing. He gave us an overview of the eight steps to traditional publication, from idea to contract.
Step One: Write a Book Proposal
A book proposal is a business plan for your book. It typically includes a summary and outline of the book, a description of your target audience, information about you as an author, and a marketing plan. For nonfiction, it will include at least three sample chapters. Fiction writers...
When Anna LeBaron applied to become a member of Jen Hatmaker’s For the Love book launch team, she had never participated in a book launch. Because there were an overwhelming number of applications for a small number of spots, Anna didn’t make it on the team.
Instead of feeling disappointed and giving up, she decided the next best thing to joining the official launch team was to gather the other 4,500 readers who didn’t make it into the group, and help launch the book anyway.
For the Love became a national bestseller in part due to the efforts of Anna and the unofficial launch team she gathered in a private group on Facebook. She learned how to launch a book by doing it, and it paid off for both Jen Hatmaker and Anna.
Anna is now an author herself and a sought-after book launch manager who works directly with publishers to launch books. Her experience with Hatmaker’s book launch blossomed into a new career, throughout which she has launched many books,...
Among writers, the word “networking” conjures up images of forced connections, mixed motives, and try-hard conversations. The thought of networking can leave many writers with a feeling of overwhelm or even dread. However, networking is an important part of sharing your work and growing your audience.
At hope*writers, we know writers can’t do it all on their own. We’re committed to helping you balance the art of writing and the business of publishing — networking is a necessary part of the process.
We interviewed author and speaker Katie Reid, who shared the wins and pitfalls she experienced in the networking process.
Katie offers us the following do’s and don’ts of networking as writers:
Get to know people in the same casual, friendly way you would if you sat down over coffee.
Try to impress people. This doesn’t build authentic relationships. Building real relationships that benefit both...
Have you ever felt lonely in your work as a writer? Writing is a solitary pursuit, and many writers find that in order to thrive, they must balance the individual work of writing with an outside support system.
An introvert and self-described “solopreneur,” author Tsh Oxenreider discovered her need for a writing community early in her career.
Tsh sat down with hope*writers to share her top tips for creating an intentional community that supports your writing work.
“I’m a big believer in looking ahead and finding your mentors, looking behind and finding your mentees, and also looking left and right and finding your peers.” — Tsh Oxenreider
Finding mentors isn’t as challenging as it may seem at first glance. Writing professionals frequently offer their services, and can be found online or through word of mouth without much difficulty. Authors may even serve as our unofficial mentors through their work.
However, finding peers to...
Author and speaker Jo Saxton is passionate about encouraging writers to recognize their potential as leaders and to take risks in their work. She tells hope*writers, “It takes a village to raise, launch, and sustain a leader.”
So what does it look like to gather a supportive village? This is an important part of a writing life, especially if we want to do it for the long haul.
Jo offers the following questions for us to ask ourselves as we create a thriving community of people around us who will help to support and sustain our work as writers.
Before we can name what we need to thrive, we first have to define what a thriving writing life looks like for us. The answer to this question will be unique for each writer.
It’s important to consider your needs as they pertain to your specific goals, life season, and level of experience as a writer.
What kind of support will you need from others to create a...