Are you a freelance editor wanting to advance your career but feeling overwhelmed by networking and promoting your business?
Whether you’re just starting your freelance editing career, are an industry veteran transitioning to freelance work, or are an experienced freelancer, the key to professional growth lies in building the right connections. I recently had the opportunity to read and review Networking for Freelance Editors: Practical Strategies for Networking Success, written by Brittany Dowdle and Linda Ruggeri.
This informative guide geared toward book editors offers practical advice and a fresh perspective on networking. We all know that networking is important, but it can often be a source of stress and discomfort. The authors tackle this issue head-on by helping editors identify and dismiss stale, stress-inducing ideas about networking that hold them back. By challenging these beliefs, editors can overcome Imposter Syndrome and wasted effort, allowing them to approach networking with confidence and purpose.
As a fiction author, freelance developmental editor, and online course creator, I do a ton of networking. I’m always hopping on Zoom calls, getting to know others in the publishing industry and brainstorming ways we can collaborate. This has led to forming affiliate partnerships, speaking at online conferences and inside membership programs, appearing on podcasts, exchanging guest blog posts, and receiving client referrals.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve attended conferences and participated in Facebook communities with collaboration opportunities. I thought I was a networking pro!
That’s why I was pleasantly surprised at the new insights gained from this book. Most of my experience has revolved around networking with fellow authors and course creators—not editors. Although I’ve collaborated with editors and book coaches, we usually met through an author community, online entrepreneur group, or mutual friend. Until reading this book, I never thought of seeking out organizations and Facebook communities specifically aimed at editors.
Suddenly motivated to fill this gap in my networking strategy, I joined the Facebook groups recommended in the book. As I browsed the archived materials and posts, I discovered wonderful resources to save for future reference. I’m also considering joining one of the professional organizations that Brittany and Linda suggested.
However, the book goes beyond recommending reputable, positive communities. The authors also provide a step-by-step guide that builds a strong foundation for professional, long-lasting relationships. This method allows freelance editors to grow their network at a comfortable pace, making the process enjoyable and sustainable. The book also emphasizes how each editor is unique, with individual strengths and talents that can be leveraged for networking success.
About the Authors
Brittany Dowdle, editor and owner at World Cat Editorial Services, is a freelance editor with over ten years’ experience in the publishing industry. She has edited the work of best-selling traditionally published authors, award-winning indie authors, and international best-selling authors. Brittany graduated summa cum laude from the University of North Georgia with a degree in English. She is a founding member of the Editorial Freelancers Association’s Diversity Initiative and helped design the Welcome Program, acting as its codirector in 2019–2020.
Linda Ruggeri, editor and owner at The Insightful Editor, is a freelance nonfiction editor, writer, and authenticity reader (Spanish/Italian) with a degree in communications and fine arts from Loyola Marymount University. Linda runs the Mentorship Program for PEN as well as the Welcome Program for the EFA.
More About Networking For Freelance Editors
If you’re ready to take your freelance editing career to the next level and establish a powerful network that propels you forward, Networking for Freelance Editors is the resource you’ve been waiting for. This book is for editors, proofreaders, indexers, fact-checkers, translators, writers, and anyone pursuing a freelance career in the publishing industry.
Have you ever wondered how to become a ghostwriter? My friend JB Favour, a ghostwriter and coach for aspiring ghostwriters, stopped by to explain how to become a “Ghost” and busted some common myths. Read JB’s post below.
If I had a dollar for every time someone asks me how they could become a ghostwriter–I’d be able to buy out my favorite Nike sneakers in every color possible. Thing is, ghostwriting has become a buzzing topic especially with the mouthwatering pay attached to it whenever it makes the news. Emphasis on the news, because not every ghostwriter gets to make headlines unless by facts you are ghostwriting for a public figure or celebrity. Now how many of us actually belong to that elite category? No shades, I’m not there either.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, back to the million dollar question. How does one become a ghostwriter? In this quirky yet informative article, I’ll be guiding anyone who has ever wanted to become a Ghost through some common myths and busting them along the way.
Myth 1: Anyone can become a ghostwriter.
Yes and no.
How can anyone become a ghostwriter? I’ll answer this in simple, plain baby language.
By waking up one morning and declaring that you wanna become one! Seriously, mindset first. You have to actually want it enough to get it. And I say this because you will need to put in some serious work and it is only if you want it bad enough that you can stick around till the end.
Next, you have to brush up your writing skills if you don’t already have one. Many writers recommend reading as one sure way to do this and I gladly agree. Books will open you up to a lot of awesome vocabulary and give you an idea of how a good book should look and sound. If you don’t have a strong command of language–abort mission. One of the key requirements of ghostwriting entails being able to express and communicate accurately in the language of your specialization. For example, if your primary writing language is French, what good will it do you to try writing in French without understanding French grammar or tenses first? Now you get me.
Fixing up your fluency in the language of your choice is my ultimate first step recommendation. Take spelling classes, grammar lessons, vocabulary classes, dust your writing and comprehension skills first.
So, nope! Anyone who doesn’t have a good command of the language they intend to write in cannot become a ghostwriter. Well, realistically they can tag themselves ghostwriters on any freelance platform of their choice as is common these days, but we all know how that pans out in the long run.
But, if this doesn’t apply to you – congratulations, you may now proceed to;
Myth 2: You can’t have proof of your work.
Big fat lie. Being a ghostwriter doesn’t mean you have no proof of work. Sure as Ghosts who typically sign an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement), you cannot disclose that you are the ghostwriter for a work you do unless by sheer will the author decides to give you credit in any way. Typically by ghostwriting, you’re signing away the rights to any material or work you develop under the limitations of an NDA. So how then can a Ghost show that they truly are a writer?
Easy peasy. We write. Tons of ghostwriters have gone on to become bestselling authors of their own book. So while you cannot claim a work you’ve ghostwritten, you can write yours. Next, you definitely need to have an online digital footprint. I’m sorry but people should be able to find out who you are with a simple Google search or you’re not serious about business.
Build a portfolio or get a simple website and leave samples of what your writing style looks like. There are so many options and if you want to start with a free one–I’d recommend Journo Portfolio. Nope, this is not an ad, it is the one I use and I’m a big fan of the analytics feature it allows users for the free version. Grab a template and edit it to your style and voila – you can start uploading samples.
Myth 3: You must be on freelance platforms like Fiverr, Upwork, and the rest to get clients.
Who says so? No seriously, who is selling this lie? As much as this is not in any way a discredit to those who are actually getting paid their worth on these platforms, the majority of freelancers can agree with me when I say, these places house the most modern form of slavery. The constant bidding and bargaining, the bulk jobs and the fact that these platforms leave freelancers at the mercy of prospective clients who can simply wake up one morning and cancel an order. Talk about audacity–yep, you can find it all on these platforms.
Every time a newbie Ghost approaches me, I hear one sad, frustrating story after the other. So here’s a secret for free.
In the last two years, the least I’ve ever earned for ghostwriting a book was $2000 – $2500 for a word count of 50k words. Prices go higher depending on project size, amount of research needed and of course if I’ll be doing an interview, I’ll get paid for that too. Memoirs and autobiographies which have been my special forte for a while have different rates beginning from $3000 – $15,000 depending on the project.
All this and never having to pitch on any of these freelancer sites. In my early days when I first started, I signed up on as many of them as possible in a bid to get one single gig. Soon enough after burning out, I quit and found a way to get myself to the kind of clients I wanted without having to engage in pitiful bargaining.
Today, I teach those who I coach how to make a career out of ghostwriting, doing it their way and breaking free from the industry’s stereotypes. Listen, there are clients who will PAY. You’ve got to believe this.
You don’t have to offer work for free, accept poor rates, or even work with middle men or agencies just to get gigs. And you certainly don’t need freelancing platforms to earn. You can be a ghostwriter by simply being good at what you do and learning to find your type of clients the right way.
Lastly, there are several pathways to having a successful career in ghostwriting and mainstream is often not the only stream. Carve your path and walk the walk. It can be hard, but there’s nothing consistency, effort and knowledge won’t get you.
More About JB Favour
Meet JB Favour, a passionate ghostwriter with a talent for turning ideas into captivating stories. With over five years of experience in the industry, JB has worked with a diverse range of clients, from memoirists to business leaders, trauma/abuse survivors and inspirational icons to bring their stories to life.
As a seasoned wordsmith, she understands that everyone has a unique story to tell, and is honored to be entrusted with the task of sharing it with the world. With a keen eye for detail and a talent for capturing the essence of a person’s voice, JB has helped countless clients to connect with their audience and inspire others with their message.
But JB’s work isn’t just about writing words on a page–it’s about creating a legacy. By helping people to tell their stories, she believes that they can make a lasting impact on the world and leave a meaningful legacy for future generations.
When she is not ghostwriting, she is running her agency FAVES_PEN, which is a content, branding and marketing agency for businesses and entrepreneurs who want to grow sustainable brands. In her free time she enjoys watching movies, listening to BTS and binging on K-drama.
Author and book coach Meredith R. Stoddard is visiting today to share 5 essential research tips for fiction writers. I met Meredith because we both had chapters included in Launchpad: The Countdown to Writing Your Book and were interviewed on a YouTube show together. Her chapter is full of valuable advice on how to do research, so I asked her if she would share some tips for my audience. Her post is below.
What can a fantasy author tell you about researching fiction? First, that it doesn’t matter what genre you write; believability is key. For everything from historical fiction to sci-fi, keeping your readers immersed in your story depends on making them believe what you are writing. That means that even when writing about the magic system in a fantasy book, or describing a government in a dystopian world, we have to start by grounding it in something familiar to your audience. Those things that readers already know to be true are the foundation that we can use to build castles, spaceships, and fairy realms. Even a fantasy writer like me, has to ground some things in reality, or at least the semblance of reality.
#1 Put yourself in your characters’ shoes
Building a credible world for your characters to move through, and telling how your characters relate to that world means that we need to know everything from what they eat to how they sleep. Where do your characters shop? What do they wear? Which jobs do they have? What kind of laws affect their daily lives?
Fortunately, YouTube is full of videos showing people walking through places, and activities that can give you clues. You can search for “day in the life” videos by location, profession, or demographic. There are videos of markets and grocery stores, and cooking videos of national or regional dishes. All of these things can give you ideas for describing how your characters live. If your settings are real, you can use Google Street View to walk around many places in the world.
#2 Research for all five senses
You’ve probably heard that you should write for all five senses. That means you should also research for all five senses. Your readers are going to want to know what your fictional world and even your characters smell like. They’ll want to know the sounds, tastes, textures, and sights of the world you’re creating and how your characters perceive them. Pay attention to those details while researching. Those details will draw your readers in.
#3 Look for more than just the facts
The way we and our characters experience the world is subjective. Just as much as facts make your work believable, giving your readers opinions and letting them react to the world around them is important. This helps with characterization and gives your work an emotional punch. Reaction videos and product reviews are great sources for understanding people’s opinions and seeing how they react to events. Listening to people tell their own stories is also helpful.
#4 Use Smart Search Terms
The amount of information on the internet is ever-expanding. Sifting through that information to find what you need can be difficult and overwhelming sometimes. Search engines help, but sometimes getting the exact results you’re looking for is a challenge.You can make search engines work for you by using some simple commands to refine your searches.
Putting your terms inside quotation marks will search for your terms exactly, while adding a tilde in front will include synonyms for the words you’re searching on. A dash before a word in your search terms will exclude the word that follows it. This is useful for narrowing searches of common terms. You can specify the kind of results you’re looking for by using location: or filetype: before your search terms. All of these refinements can help you sift through the volumes of information and get the results you need.
#5 Check your sources
Unfortunately, the internet is also full of misinformation or articles that are out-of-date. When you find the information you’re looking for, you should make note of the sources of the information. Because it is so easy to post articles on the internet, it’s important to be skeptical of the information you find. If you’re looking for facts, be sure to use multiple sources for confirmation. Know the business model of websites you are using as sources and be conscious of the potential for bias. Wikipedia is a great resource, but it is crowd-sourced so its accuracy will vary. It does require that editors include their sources, so it makes a good bibliography. You can also use fact-checking websites like Factcheck.org, MediaBiasFactCheck.com and Snopes.com.
There is a lot more I could say aboutresearchingfor fiction. In fact, I wrote a chapter on researching for Launchpad: The Countdown to Writing Your Book with more details. The key thing to remember is that everything we read or observe feeds into what we write. The best research for fiction is observing the world and the people around us.
The Once & Future Series
Celtic legends and modern life collide in this saga of a contemporary woman coming to grips with a destiny set in motion generations ago. Inspired by her unusual childhood in rural Appalachia, Sarah MacAlpin is set on pursuing a career as a folklorist. She had a rough start in life but has worked tirelessly to set herself on the right track. Just when Sarah comes closest to reaching her professional goals, a startling revelation turns her whole world upside down.
The River Maiden, book 1 of the Once & Future series is free on most ebook platforms.
Launch Pad: The Countdown to Writing Your Book
You can read Meredith’s chapter on research and my chapter on grammar in Launch Pad: The Countdown to Writing Your Book.
Each focused chapter brings authors and would-be-authors closer to the creation of a story well told and ready for publication. The brainchild of entrepreneur, author, and speaker, Grace Sammon, this book series builds on the wildly popular radio show LAUNCH PAD – celebrating book releases and the authors who create them. With countdown tips, ways to connect directly to the authors, and bonus downloadable planning sheets, LAUNCH PAD delivers a craft book that speaks right to you.
Meredith R. Stoddard is the author of folklore-inspired fiction including her Once & Future Series, a contemporary fantasy series that blends Celtic legends with modern life. She is also a book coach at The Book Grower, and the Communications Director of Bookish Road Trip, a community of readers, writers, and travel lovers where she hosts an Instagram Live program called Author Ride Along. She is a contributor to the Launch Pad Countdown series on writing, publishing and marketing books from Red Penguin Books, and a member of Author Talk Network. Her latest novel Thistle & Lion will be released June 8th, 2023.
Are you struggling to figure out what mistakes to avoid when plotting your novel? Do you feel like your plots lack depth and direction, or as if your storyline is becoming too complicated? If so, I have great news for you!
It’s just $47, and in this course, you’ll learn how to avoid common pitfalls that can derail your storyline and alienate your readers, and gain insights from an experienced author and editor with over 30 years of industry experience. (That would be me!) 😊
With Perfect Your Plot, you’ll discover: ✅ The top 6 plot development mistakes that writers make ✅ Practical examples, inspired by real editorial letters that I’ve written, to help you avoid these mistakes in your own writing ✅ The fine balance between predictability and believability when crafting your plot
The course is packed with valuable information and resources to help you take your plot to the next level. You’ll get instant access to: ✅ 7 video lessons with closed captions ✅ A cheat sheet recap that you can refer to for every manuscript you write ✅ An actionable worksheet that guides you through evaluating your story for plot flaws
And the course comes with a 7-day money-back guarantee, so you can enroll risk-free.
If you’re ready to whip your storyline into shape, then check out Perfect Your Plot. I pored over 10 years of editorial letters to my clients, finding common plot hole patterns, when putting this course together.
I’m so pleased with how this course turned out and how it breaks down the blurb-writing process (which let’s face it, can be annoying) into manageable steps.
Creating a captivating book description that sells can feel like an impossible task for many authors. Boiling down the essence of your story into a few short paragraphs that will draw in potential readers and convince them to purchase your book is no easy feat.
Book Blurbs Made Simple is the mini-course you need to guide you through every step of the process. With valuable insights and techniques, you’ll learn how to create killer book descriptions that entice readers and leave them eager for more.
Whether you’re pursuing traditional publishing or self-publishing, a strong blurb is essential. Remember, you only have seconds to make a first impression. If your description doesn’t grab readers’ attention, your book may never get a chance to find its audience.
When you enroll in this mini course on how to write an effective book blurb, you’ll discover how to:
✔️ Write your book description faster and more effectively without the struggle.
✔️ Avoid common mistakes and use proven techniques to make your blurb stand out.
✔️ Follow a simple formula that you can use every time you need to write a blurb.
You’ll learn through bite-sized videos, each under 7 minutes. Then you’re going to get downloadable resources to help you put the tips into action. These include a:
✔️ 50-page workbook that will guide you through the preparation and writing process
✔️ Cheat sheet recap to keep what you learned at your fingertips
✔️ Adjective Inspiration List to help make your book description sizzle
✔️ Examples and written analysis of 7 successful book blurbs from various categories
As you can probably tell from all that’s included, I could easily charge more for this course, but you know what? I wanted to keep it extremely affordable.
Even if you don’t have a completed manuscript yet, I still recommend that you start thinking about your blurb. In fact, inside the course, I advise writing the blurb before you finish your book. Way before, if possible! I explain why inside the class.
If you’re ready to simplify the blurb-writing process and learn the tips and tricks that will help you create a professional, persuasive, and engaging book description that entices readers, then this course is for you.
Author and writing instructor Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer helps authors confidently write Native American characters through her amazing course Fiction Writing: American Indians. Below, she shares 6 novels that portrayed Native Americans authentically and why these are her picks.
Here’s Sarah with her guest post.
If you want to learn how to write about Native Americans, one of the best ways to start is by reading good books. As a tribal member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and author of 15 historical fiction books that feature Native main characters, I’ve compiled a list of 6 books which I feel accurately and authentically portray Native people and cultures.
First, I want to mention that we too often think of American Indians as being a novelty of the old West in the 1800s, or Squanto and Pocahontas and first contact. Though the books on this list are historical fiction (my favorite genre), Native people are alive and well today. Many of these books were written by those very much alive Native people.
I hope these stories inspire you to dig deep when you’re working to create genuine, non-stereotypical American Indian characters.
The Star That Always Stays
Shelved as a young adult novel, this coming of age story follows the true life story of Norvia. She’s a gentle soul with heartbreaking moments at a tender age—her father’s dislike of her Ojibwe blood, and her mother’s remarriage and her request of Norvia—to tell no one of her heritage.
I appreciate so many things in this story. It shows a young girl living in two worlds and embracing both without losing either in the end. I especially loved the character of the Native grandfather, and how authentic he was in action and speech. While I typically steer authors away from falling into the stereotype of the “wise guide” role for Natives, in this story, it’s a natural fit.
We should look to our elders for wisdom and guidance. The beautiful thing about this book is, a “wise guide” is not the only reason for the character.
The main character is on a journey of her own, one removed from the mystical stereotype we often see when Native characters are featured. She’s a regular girl with regular hopes, dreams, mistakes, and heartache. And she’s strongly Ojibwe.
The Star that Always Stays was written by Anna Rose Johnson (Sault Ste. Marie Chippewa Tribe). This novel is directly based on her great-grandmother.
I have certain pages of this book that I come back to again and again. One is a scene in a kitchen where a cluster of Choctaw women chatter about the men in the other room. There’s something about the dialogue that rings so true, I feel I’m in the kitchen, chuckling along with them.
There is another scene where a pastor contemplates violent revenge. I’ve read it over and over.
This book influenced my first novel (The Executions, Choctaw Tribune Historical Fiction Series Book 1), set in the same years (1890s), a tumultuous time for the old Choctaw Nation in Indian Territory. It’s a hard time of injustice, tragedy, and hope.
Strong oral storyteller traditions comes through on the written pages of House of Purple Cedar, blending Native humor and thought-provoking questions for today.
I agree with Joseph Bruchac, who said of the book, “There is nothing else quite like it in its loving, clear-eyed description of a people, a time, and a place that are little-known to most.”
House of Purple Cedar was written by Tim Tingle (Choctaw).
I deeply appreciate how this author wrote an accurate and respectful story of Native history and culture. Based on the true story of Natalie Curtis, it ventures from the east coast in New York to humble dwellings of the Yuma people, and on to several tribes as Natalie finds her place and purpose in the West. She begins to sympathize with the tragic history of Native people in the early 1900s, and sets out to preserve beauty from their culture that is being stripped, song by song.
There were many whites in this time period who knew Native culture was being erased from history. In fact, Indian people were labeled the “vanishing race.” Whites like Natalie fought against the erasure, while knowing much was inevitable. Natalie saved what she could.
This book asks the hard question we still ask today: Should non-Natives write Native stories?
I talk about this topic a great deal, and created a digital course, Fiction Writing: American Indians, to equip authors of any ethnic background how to write about Native Americans accurately and respectfully.
I feel this book achieves that.
The Healing of Natalie Curtis was written by Jane Kirkpatrick.
When writing my own novel Anumpa Warrior: Choctaw Code Talkers of World War I, I came back to this book again and again. Code Talker tells the story of the Navajo Code Talkers in WWII from the perspective of Ned Begay, a youth who was among those young Marines off to fight a war on foreign soil.
This young adult novel shows challenges for the multiple races in the United States Military beyond the horrors of war. We learn the true background of many of the Diné (Navajo) who went to fight—what their growing up years were like, and what hardships they faced during them.
Drawing inspiration and facts from interviews with code talker veterans, the author gives an entertaining, enlightening account of the true Navajo Code Talkers of WWII.
Code Talker was written by Joseph Bruchac (Abenaki).
Reading this book makes you wonder how much personal tragedy one woman can endure. We explore that through Little Bird—Esther McLish—as she overcomes life’s tragedies one at a time.
This is another story set in the 1890s when justice and fairness was at a minimum. Esther has few places and people to turn to as she fights to get her son enrolled on the final Chickasaw Nation rolls.
Based on true events and written by a descendent of the main character, it masterfully weaves the history together in a way that keeps the story moving while peeling back layers of tribal histories, customs, and truths.
Little Bird was written by Mary Ruth Barnes (Chickasaw).
Hopefully, this brief list of books will help you on your journey to writing American Indian characters. If you want next level learning, I invite you to check out my digital course, Fiction Writing: American Indians.
Fiction authors who want to write about Native Americans face a challenging minefield riddled with dos and don’ts. That’s why I created this course.
There, you can also download a free copy of my ebook, “5 Stereotypes to Avoid When Writing about Native Americans.”
Chi pisa la chike, my fellow author. I will see you again soon.
About the Author
Fiction authors who want to write about Native Americans face a challenging minefield riddled with dos and don’ts, and no clear answers. That is why author and writing instructor Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer created the Fiction Writing: American Indians digital course.
As a tribal member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, she has written and published 15 historical fiction books with Native main characters, and over 275 non-fiction articles on Native artists and organizations with representatives from dozens of North American tribes.The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian honored her as a literary artist through their Artist Leadership Program for her work in preserving Choctaw Trail of Tears stories, and she is a First Peoples Fund Artist in Business Leadership alumni.
Through her in-depth, honest course, authors are equipped to write authentic stories that honor First American’s history and culture. Discover more at FictionCourses.com/AmericanIndians.
Affiliate links were included in this post, however, I only promote products that I recommend.
Looking for just the right balance of inspiration, skill building, and a toolbox of writing craft tips? I know just the resource for you. It’s a brand new craft book for writers to read, called LAUNCH PAD: The Countdown to Writing Your Book.
I’m excited to have a chapter included in this jam-packed guide for writers, which gives you the literal ‘launch pad’ for your first (or next!) book. I contributed a chapter on grammar and punctuation, and in it, I delve into the Oxford Comma and how to use it, colons and semicolons, ellipses, and much more.
If you’re intimidated by the thought of outlining your novel or creating rich and complex characters, or want to learn the secret to writing a great scene, Launch Pad has you covered. Learn why using the right point of view in your book is so important and how to choose the right one. Nail those pesky grammar and punctuation slip-ups once and for all and get yourself ‘query ready’.
You’ll also get practical advice on how to research smarter, which tools to use and what you can do if you want to go the extra mile; learn what book coaching is, how it differs from editing, how a coach helps you write your book, and how you can find the right coach for you; and get tips on writing scenes that grab readers’ attention, draw them into your characters’ lives and the world you’ve created, and build up to the big moments you’re working toward later on in the story.
Other topics include: developing suspenseful scenes that hook readers; exploring the principles of world building, the best tools for the job, and how to get off the world building merry-go-round; learning about personality types, understanding the role genre plays in the character you write about, and how to find your character’s inner flaw; why you need to both show and tell if you want to uplevel your craft and pull your reader right into your character’s mind; and where to find critique groups (both in-person and virtual), what you can expect from them, and how they’ll help your writing long-term.
You’ll also discover the three things a publishing gatekeeper wants: knowledge, sparkle, and an attention to detail. Each focused chapter of this book brings authors and would-be-authors closer to the creation of a story well-told and ready for publication.
If you’re an author seeking inspiration, skill-building, and a toolbox of writing craft tips, then I have what you need. The new guide for authors, LAUNCH PAD: The Countdown to Writing Your Book, is scheduled for release on Feb. 28, 2023 and this eagerly anticipated book is a literal Launch Pad for your writing career.
I have a chapter included on the most common grammar and punctuation mistakes I see as a freelance developmental editor. This chapter covers everything from the proper use of the Oxford Comma, colons, and semicolons to ellipses and beyond.
But that’s not all. As a special bonus, you can download a handy, free, pdf that offers my ten grammar tips for cleaning up your novel. And to celebrate the book’s imminent release, one of the book’s editors, Emma Dhesi, has hosted a panel discussion featuring contributors.
In the discussion, we shared why we contributed to the book, the subject of our chapters, and what we hope readers will gain from our insights.
Watch the replay of this panel discussion with Kat Caldwell, Lewis Jorstad, Samantha Skal, Janyre Tromp, Grace Sammon, and myself – you’ll get tons of tips about outlining, creating characters, grammar, and much more!
You can also watch Emma interview contributing authors Susanne Dunlap, Linda Rosen, Joe Bunting, Meredith R. Stoddard, Carol Van Den Hende, and Heather Davis in a second panel discussion below.
Find out more about this essential guide for authors here.
Have you ever considered writing a children’s picture book? Because children’s picture books are so short, it can be challenging to tell your story effectively. You have limited space, need to use an age-appropriate vocabulary, and your words have to inspire an illustrator to create vivid pictures. Some writers make it look easy, like A.L. Wegwerth, author of I’m Going to Be a Hockey Star. But writing a picture book is a complex undertaking that takes special skill. Fortunately, A.L. Wegwerth has stopped by to share five of her top tips for aspiring picture book writers. Read her tips below.
I write this as an avid picture book reader as well as a picture book author. I’ve also worked in children’s publishing for over fifteen years so I have an inside perspective that tends toward practical, and for that reason this advice may resonate with some people and not with others.
Without further ado, here are five quick tips for aspiring picture book writers.
Tip #1: Read, Then Write.
If you want to write a picture book, make sure you read picture books. Lots of them. The quality of picture books produced gets better every year. Soak in each book’s wisdom, its innovation or its simplicity. Figure out which authors resonate with you and why. Reading widely also has the added benefit of helping you better understand the picture book market in terms of what gets published and potential comps for your book. I can’t emphasize enough that if you have a goal of getting your book traditionally published, there needs to be a perceived audience for your book. Which brings me to my next point . . .
Tip #2: Consider Your Audience.
A picture book has two audiences: the child and the parent whose lap the child sits on. Make sure your story has elements that appeal to both. It not only makes bedtime or story time more enjoyable for the parents, but I truly believe it affects your book sales. People are more likely to purchase a book as a gift or recommend it to others if they found it enjoyable (and not just their kid).
Tip #3: Choose Your Words Carefully.
A picture book is a collaboration between an author and illustrator. Make sure your words leave space for the illustrator to tell the story. As a picture book writer, focus on action and dialogue and avoid descriptions unless they are vital to the story (the illustrator can take care of that.) Picture books are great ways to build kids’ visual literacy (i.e., the ability to read and make sense of visual images). The words and art work together to tell a story; when the words repeat what is in the illustrations, the story becomes redundant.
Tip #4: Keep The Story Moving With Page Turns.
There are so many things I love about the picture book format, but I think my favorite is how effective page turns can be. Page turns aid in pacing and, when done effectively, help keep readers reading. Page turns can act as a cliffhanger, reveal something surprising, add humor, or create excitement or suspense. Use them to your advantage. When writing your picture book, consider the book map—what text will go on each page. Don’t forget to leave space for the title page, copyright info, etc.
Tip #5: You Are Not Beholden To Rhyme.
If you’re thinking that you should write your picture book in rhyme, don’t. If writing in rhyme doesn’t come naturally, please don’t try. What are some clues that your rhyme is not working? When sticking to the rhyme scheme dictates the plot of the book. When it feels forced, like when you awkwardly structure sentences simply to maintain the rhyme. Rhyme can also feel overused if you’re using a common rhyme scheme. All this said, if rhyming comes easily to you, by all means run with it. But there’s nothing that will make me close a book quicker (or, at the very least, groan audibly) than a book with an unnatural or forced rhyme.
These are five tips for picture book writing, but I could have written five hundred. I think the biggest thing that has helped me in my picture writing is to give up the idea of perfection—especially on the first draft. I’ve found that the more I write, the better my work becomes. So keep writing!
More About The Book
The very first hockey practice can be a little scary, but not if you are planning to be the world’s greatest hockey superstar! Follow the action and relish the dreams of a confident young boy as he begins his journey to hockey stardom. See what happens at a hockey practice, learn about the excitement and fun of the game, and experience the lovable chaos of the ice arena. With humor and a little bit of attitude, A.L. Wegwerth has written a great introduction to the sport, while Alana McCarthy’s vivid style brings the game to life for future hockey stars.
Aimed at kids ages 3-7, the story was published by River Horse Books.
A.L. Wegwerth, AKA Amber Ross, writes books for kids that are filled with imagination, playfulness, and humor. She’s a product director by day, a hockey coach by night, a mom 24/7, and an author in the early morning (and whenever else she might fit it in).
Do you feel as if there is never enough time to write? Then you’ll enjoy these valuable time management tips from Daria White, an author, podcaster, and online course creator. Below, Daria shares five ways to discover your author rhythm.
“There’s never enough time!” How many times do we say that as authors? “I would write if I didn’t have XYZ to do” or, “There’s so much going on that I can’t make the time.” It’s understandable. Writing is a skill that needs focus and attention. Whether you’re a fiction or nonfiction author, you need time to organize your thoughts before you type or write it on paper.
What would you say if I told you there was a way to discover your unique writing rhythm? All authors have a unique way of telling a story, but few realize this also pertains to their writing patterns too. There’s a way to expect your word count without the guesswork. You don’t have to wait years to discover it and you don’t have to write 3-4 hours a day. So here are five ways to discover your writer’s rhythm. A system you can use again and again!
I call this “catering your time” to writing. You can create a schedule that fits your life perfectly. No need to compare yourself to another writer. If you can only write in the mornings, do that. Are you a night owl writer? Do that! I recommend printed weekly plan sheets or an app. Fill out everything you do for the week, i.e. job, family, etc., and whatever’s left over is what I call your “time pockets.” Should your schedule change the following week, adjust it as needed. Customize it to fit your lifestyle and write!
# 2: Your Writer Average
What’s your common number? How many words can you typically write in a single session? 1000 words? 300 words? It doesn’t matter as long as you know your number. If you don’t know this, especially if you’re brand new to writing, aim for 500 words in 20-30 minutes. Repeat this 2-3 times and see where you land. For me, I can write 500-1300 in 30-45 minutes. I don’t worry when I sit to write. I know what to expect. You can too and this number is unique to you! Your progress once you know your personal writing average will surprise you.
Some can interchange this term with fast drafting, but you don’t have to sit 3-4 hours writing on your laptop. In fact, once you know your writing average, you can backtrack. For example, you want to write 15K in a week. If you know your writer average is 1,000 words in 30 mins, then all you’d need to do is write 3,000 words for the day. With sprinting, all you need is an hour and a half. Do this for five days and you’ll make your 15K goal! All it takes is breaking down the numbers.
#4 You don’t have to write every day
As you can see in the example above, I used five days instead of the full seven. Whether you write Monday through Friday or Tuesday through Saturday, don’t think you have to write every single day trying to finish your goal. All it takes is strategy. Working the numbers to fit your expectations. Take the breaks when necessary and don’t exhaust yourself. You’re not a lazy writer by resting.
#5: Embrace your true writing process
There will be weeks where you don’t hit your goal, and that’s fine. You may need to take a hiatus to recharge. It’s understandable. Writing is tough, so don’t add unnecessary stress trying to overdo it. When you embrace your unique writing style, nothing can stop you. Knowing your schedule, your average, the times you can sprint, there’s no word count you can’t handle! This is about coming into your own as an author and with persistence, you unleash your writing rhythm!
In conclusion, this goes beyond writing the words, but you, as an author, tapping into your unique writing system. Once it’s discovered, it’s yours and even when you have off days, you don’t have to start from scratch. You can pick up where you left off and keep going! You have a book to finish. It’s time to type “the end” and get it into the hands of eager readers!
If you’d like to learn more about this concept of discovering your true writing process, check out my online course, No Time Writer. New and ambitious authors learn timesaving techniques that bring them confidence, peace, and relief no matter their word counts. They embrace their true author identity, unleash the writer within, so that they can finish their first drafts!
Daria White has lived in Texas for most of her life. She disliked reading as a kid. In fact, she almost hated it. However, as she grew up, that all changed. Though she received her degree in healthcare management, Daria kept her writing as a hobby. She meant it to be private and her own way of expressing herself. It never crossed her mind to publish until she was in college. So, she took a chance and self-published. It worked! Starting off as a sweet romance writer first, Daria branched out in 2020 with books in cozy mystery and Christian fiction.
She’s also a podcaster (Writer in the Making) and course creator (WIM Plus 2.0) helping new and ambitious authors gain confidence, peace, relief, using timesaving techniques. Sign up for her author mailing list for additional resources.
As a freelance developmental editor and line editor, I’ve worked on hundreds of manuscripts. Mysteries, suspense, romance, thrillers, science fiction, fantasy, historical, young adult, memoirs, essays, health, self-help. You’ve named it, I’ve probably edited it.
Despite the diverse categories, all those books have something in common. Each author has overused emotion words they fall back on in their writing. Crutch words weaken your voice and weigh down your story.
Want to know what the biggest culprit is?
You guessed it.
If you do a search in your manuscript, I’ll bet you find more “looks” than you expected. It’s not that you can never use look and its variations. It’s just that you shouldn’t overuse them. Some authors have one on every page, multiple times. Over a 300-page novel, that is one heck of a lot of looks.
Even if your overuse isn’t that extreme, chances are you’ve got more than you need. Most writers are stunned once I point it out to them.
The toolkit contains jam-packed cheat sheets of over 4,000 emotional prompts in 21 categories such as anger, annoyance and frustration, arrogance, boredom, compassion, confidence, and contemplation. And that’s just A-C! It also includes a walk-through video, overview of nonverbal communication for authors, examples from published books, a workbook, a list of helpful tips, and bonus resources.
Writers have raved about it, as you’ll see from the testimonials when you visit the landing page.
If you’d like to sample the Energize Your Writing Toolkit, then you can start by signing up for The Looks and Gazes Quickstart Guide. Discover more than 100 ways to describe your characters’ looks and gazes and start punching up those trite sentences. The cheat sheets come directly from the Energize Your Writing Toolkit.
Too many writers are making a big mistake. They’re not giving their manuscript the rehabilitation it needs, even though it’s suffering from the literary equivalent of bursitis, sciatica, an ACL tear, and plantar fasciitis.
Some writers believe their manuscript is much stronger than it really is because let’s face it, no one teaches you how to write a book in high school. Others aren’t sure what to do next, so they tinker without a strategy. Eventually, they might send the book to a freelance editor, and only then do they realize that one round of editing won’t be enough by a longshot.
Just like a single physical therapy visit won’t suffice for a person coping with bursitis, sciatica, an ACL tear, or plantar fasciitis—let alone ALL of those ailments at the same time.
Unfortunately, if you’re like most writers, your manuscript is a minefield of injuries and weak spots. It needs a comprehensive rehab plan and lots of TLC.
Free Book Editing Masterclass
If you are someone with a desire to help your book reach its full potential and give your story the chance it deserves, then I want to invite you to watch an on-demand recording of my FREE training: How to Create Your Editing Game Plan and Fast-Track Your Book: 3 Costly Mistakes to Avoid.
After this class, you will be able to identify the:
4 stages of editing
Types of editors and what they do
Average costs of publishing a book
You’ll also walk away knowing:
Why hiring an editor too early can be a costly mistake
The differences between high-level and low-level edits so that you can aim high
The basics of the self-editing framework I’ve taught to hundreds of authors
Intrigued? Sign up for this free book editing masterclass right here.