Tag Archives: publishing

Recommended Reading: The Editor’s Eye

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The Book: The Editor’s Eye by Stacy Ennis

The Take-Away: The Editor’s Eye is a great introduction to the craft of editing for authors who are writing a book and wondering how the editing process works. It also makes a compelling case for WHY having your book professionally edited is necessary to ensuring the tome’s success.

The Review: I have a reputation in my family for being ridiculously “meta,” so when I heard about this book – which provides an overview of editing a book – I knew I would love it. And in today’s changing publishing environment, it’s no longer a given that everyone involved implicitly accepts that editors are an integral part of the process.

The Editor’s Eye is aimed at first-time authors, but is studded with tips that can help more experienced writers find a good editorial team and can provide editors with new and powerful ways to explain what they do and how it adds value to a manuscript.

One of the biggest strengths of the book is that it is able to provide a reality check for those new to publishing. She provides advice that helps writers learn how to incorporate editing into the writing process from the very first draft – wait, scratch that, from the outline of the book – and devotes a chapter on how to find and work with an editor. Her guidelines, while not dictatorial or rigid, provide boundaries that can help would-be book authors know of they are on track … or not.

The Editor’s Eye is a great gift to a new author embarking on a project, an editor who wants to move into book editing (or explain what he/she does more clearly), or anyone interested in the process of how books come to life.

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Write This Way, Condensed: Top Writing and Editing Links for December 4, 2011

Photo courtesy of SXC.

Why New Media Literacy Is Vital for Quality Journalism

Josh Catone, writing on Mashable, discusses the continuing (and increasing) importance of critical thinking skills for journalists and everyone else who gets their news from social media, blogs, online websites, etc. Lots of good examples peppered through out the piece.

Here’s a sample of what Catone has to say about how to define media literacy:

In today’s media-saturated world, the concept of literacy is again changing. According to Pinkard, kids in school today may not be considered literate in the future if they don’t fundamentally understand new forms of media — things like blogs, Twitter and streaming video. To be truly literate, though, you also need to be able to think critically about media, discern fact from fiction, news from opinion, trusted from untrustworthy. These issues have always been thorny, but the explosion of self-publishing has only made media literacy more vital to the preservation of our democratic society.

Conventional Wisdom and What It Says About Journalism | Adam Westbrook

Westbrook, a UK journalist who launched his portfolio career as an independent entrepreneur-journalist in the depths of the 2009 global recession, makes an assertion that conventional wisdom is rarely the protective influence many journalists assume it must be.

He writes,

Conventional wisdom is dangerous because it stops us doing the things we know we really want to. It stops people who ought to do great things, stretch their abilities on ambitious work and ultimately shape the future of journalism and publishing.

Why I Write With My iPhone

Lifehack contributor Chris Smith discusses why he prefers doing his daily writing work on his iPhone (vs. the iPad) and offers links to a few apps that make writing on that most popular of smartphones easier.

How journalism professors can use screencasts as an effective & efficient teaching tool

Journalism educator Katy Culver shares in a brief post on Poynter.org how she uses screencast technology to help students retain copy editing tenets through “narrated” quiz answer keys, record video software tutorials, and provide feedback on video and slideshow submissions from students.

Amazon Rewrites the Rules of Book Publishing | NYTimes.com

Amazon.com taught readers they don’t need bookstores – now it is teaching writers they may not need publishing houses. Amazon published 122 books this fall in an array of genres, in both physical and e-book form, representing a striking acceleration of the retailer’s fledging publishing program. An important article for everyone who wants to write books and have readers buy them!!!

How to Write What People Actually Want to Read | Write To Done

Mary Jaksch, chief editor of Write To Done, provides a quick, easy-to-understand tutorial for using a keyword search tool to determine the best topics to include in a blog, story, etc., based upon readers’ search queries.

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Making a Statement Without Saying a Word: One Very Awesome Book Trailer By Jessica McCann

Novelist and nonfiction writer Jessica McCann

Jessica McCann has written for the magazine I edit at my day job. She’s interviewed me for an article on the college and university magazine market. I’ve interviewed her about writing fiction and nonfiction on this blog.

But the reason I’m posting today is to introduce you to the book trailer that Jessica developed for her novel, “All Kinds of Free.”  Book trailers are increasingly becoming an integral part of selling a book, whether it be fiction or nonfiction. The trailer for “All Different Kinds of Free” is an incredible demonstration of how to repurpose compelling material from print into a multimedia format and create a persuasive video to sell a historical novel.

Even more inspiring to me is the fact that Jessica made this trailer almost entirely by herself. In an interview on the Wolf and Redhood Media blog, Jessica revealed that she made the trailer herself, using Windows MovieMaker and photos and music from istockphoto.com.

Here’s what she had to say about how she crafted the trailer:

“The text for the trailer came from a variety of materials that had been written over the past couple of years – from my original pitch letter to my agent all the way down the line to the current back-cover copy. Writing and editing those types of materials helps you hone down to the key points in a small amount of space.

“For the trailer, I just whittled it down a bit more, while still hitting the highlights with fewer words. Then, once I had all the pieces in place in MovieMaker, it was a matter of tweaking the timing. I’d watch the trailer and take notes about which slides seemed to linger too long, which ones flashed by too quickly, if they seemed too copy heavy or took too long to read. I’d watch, then fine-tune, watch again, and fine-tune some more. Then I had a test audience (my husband and two teenage children!) watch and give me the same type of feedback, which led to still more fine-tuning.”

Writers of every genre can learn something by watching Jessica’s book trailer. And there is a bonus to going and watching the trailer on YouTube: If you leave a comment, you may win a copy of the book! The publisher will begin giving away one copy of the book to a random commenter when the page reaches 500 views and the book give-away will continue with one book given away for every 500 views until the trailer reaches 10,000 views or Dec. 31, 2011, whichever happens sooner. You can review all the details of this give-away on Jessica’s blog.

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Write This Way: Top Writing and Editing Links for August 8, 2011

Photo courtesy SXC.

The book is not dead, it’s just shape-shifting | The Observer

Robert McCrum gives an upbeat assessment of recent changes in technology surrounding the book and asserts that, “As in every previous IT revolution, there will be (already is) a creative dividend.”

College Students Miss the Journalistic Potential of Social Media | PBS Media Shift

Devin Harner reports on a curious phenomenon he has witnessed when asking current journalism students to present original reporting on a blog and then market it through social media channels: they don’t see it as “real journalism.” He explores why this might  be so.

Here’s a sample quote:

“If students can’t see that there’s journalism lurking in the everyday things they do with information, especially now that technology has made such things constant, instant and ubiquitous, then we truly do have reason to worry about the future of journalism — particularly if the original digital divide is still a factor.”

HOW TO: Find and Land Freelance Work

Mashable’s Josh Catone interviews 3 freelance professionals to provide targeted advice on how to land work. His best (of 5) tips? Network, network, network; be precise; show passion. (Oh, and following a potential client’s application instructions never hurts either.)

The Jargon of the Novel, Computed | New York Times

Ben Zimmer reports on the work of the Corpus of Contemporary American English, or COCA, which brings together 425 million words of text from the past two decades, with samples drawn from fiction, popular magazines, newspapers, academic texts and transcripts of spoken English. The compiler of COCA, Mark Davies at Brigham Young University, has designed a freely available online interface that can respond to queries about how contemporary language is used.

7 Apps For Writing On Your iPhone | Lifehack

Chris Smith presents 7 iPhone applications that can facilitate quicker and more efficient writing from one’s mobile device. Apps described cover plain-text editors, outlining and mind-mapping, and journaling functions.

Teaching Creative Writing with Programming

Intriguing short post by Klint Finley of ReadWriteWeb, discussing a presentation by Adam Parrish at OSCon 2011. Parrish teaches Reading and Writing Electronic Text at New York University as part of the Interactive Telecommunications Program. Although the title emphasizes teaching creative writing through programming, the reverse is also true: the course teaches programming through experimental writing.

Parrish’s course doesn’t deal with artificial intelligence, or attempts at creating narratives or creating interactive hypertext. It covers, for lack of a better term, procedural poetry. Typically, a student takes a starting set of text, writes a Python program to modify that text and then interprets the results.

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Write This Way, Condensed: Top Writing and Editing Links for July 8, 2011

Photo courtesy of SXC.

Lee Gutkind, Almost Human: Making Robots Think | AT&T Tech Channel

Author and editor Lee Gutkind, dubbed by Vanity Fair as “the Godfather behind creative nonfiction,” discusses his new book. To research “Almost Human: Making Robots Think,” Gutkind immersed himself in the world of the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, where students, researchers, scientists and engineers are attempting to create robots that can react autonomously to changing circumstances.

Twitter Announces Twitter For Newsrooms, A Best Practices Guide For Journalists | 10,000 Words

Jessica Roy posts about a new Twitter initiative, Twitter for Newsrooms (#TfN), a compelling resource akin to Facebook for Journalists, that will help optimize the platform’s reporting potential. The guide contains four sections, #report, #engage, #publish and #extra, each with a variety of best practices geared towards streamlining Twitter reporting and making Twitter a more efficient journalism tool.

The end of ‘television’ | Adam Westbrook

Online/entrepreneurial journalism expert Adam Westbrook discusses some of the currents moving in the world formerly known as “television” (and secondarily “film”) and exhorts those interested in making inroads in this world in the future to stop competing for training slots in the “old” paradigm channels and pick up a camera and start creating content NOW.

8 painless steps to make time to write a book | WordCount

Laura Vanderkam, author of “168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think,” presents an awesome guest post that gets right to the heart of what keeps most writers from completing a book-length manuscript – time issues – and offers great suggestions for surmounting those challenges.

7 reasons journalists make good entrepreneurs | Poynter

Matylda Czarnecka provides some solid and inspiring thoughts about why journalists can and do succeed as entrepreneurs in a for-profit business (whether news-related or not). Some of my favorites from her reason list: journalists are good researchers and connectors, journalists know how to ask open-ended questions and journalists are used to negative feedback.

Periodic Table of Storytelling by *ComputerSherpa on deviantART

Wild, complex, amazing visual based upon the “Tropes of Legend” from the TV Tropes Wiki that outlines basic storytelling structures using the periodic table of the elements as a frame. Aimed at fiction works, but the examples of how the “elements” can be combined (at the bottom of the post) could be a useful cross-pollinating reference for nonfiction writers.

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Write This Way, Condensed: Top Writing and Editing Links for October 16, 2010

Wordle image representing Write Livelihood’s home page.

The Urban Muse: 5 Ways Facebook Can Boost Your Freelance Biz
Susan Johnston describes five ways that time on social media enhances her freelance writing business.

You Ask, I Answer: How Do I Know if My Writing Is Any Good?
Author Linda Formichelli, writing on her blog The Renegade Writer, advises a new nonfiction writer about how to determine if her writing is ready to publish or if it still needs work before “showtime.”

Modern Journalists Technology Toolkit To Cover Live Events
Editor and blogger Neerav Bhatt, writing on his site, Rambling Thoughts Blog, discusses (and shows photos of!) the multimedia equipment that journalists need to adequately cover media stories. (Hat tip to Teaching Online Journalism for the link!)

Mutating books, Evolving Authors
Scott Rosenberg, the author of Say Everything and Dreaming in Code, writes on his Wordyard blog about his attempts to stay current on the impact of e-reading devices and e-books on the print publishing industry.

My favorite quote:

“I don’t see the point in hand-wringing … I still plan to write long-form non-fiction and hope to earn at least some portion of my living doing it. So I’m going to do my damnedest to try to understand the changing publishing environment and figure out the smartest way for an author to navigate it. I’d rather adapt and evolve than gripe my way to extinction.”

Welcome Back Wordle… Plus 7 Other Free Word Cloud Generators!
Michael Gorman, writing on his 21st Century Educational Technology and Learning blog, discusses the pros and cons of a number of word cloud generators. Although he’s writing for teachers, the clouds could be used in a variety of ways by writers and editors — analyzing frequency of word usage, summarizing long passages by looking at keywords, taking a fresh approach to self-promotion by generating a word cloud from one’s resume, etc.

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Write This Way, Condensed: Top Writing and Editing Links for September 24, 2010

Photo courtesy Julia Freeman-Woolpert via SXC.

Fusion: The Synergy of Images and Words « Steve McCurry’s Blog
An amazing photo essay with lots of shots of people around the world interacting with the written word in various ways. Beautiful!

The powers and problems of the audio slideshow « Adam Westbrook
A British journalist discusses the pros and cons of audio slideshows as an online media format and provides links to some good examples.

AP Begins Crediting Bloggers as News Sources
From The Next Web. In a major shift in policy, the Associated Press released an announcement to its affiliates that bloggers could and should be sited as news sources in AP stories.

3 iPad Apps that Reinvent News Reading
Jennifer Van Grove, writing on Mashable.com, reports on Pulse News, Flipboard and FLUD, 3 iPad apps that allow readers to customize their media reading experience and share information on social networks.

The Future of Social Media in Journalism
Vadim Lavrusik outlines some very provocative, but possibly accurate scenarios for how journalism will be affected by the evolution of social media and how it is impacting journalism.

Storyful.
Storyful uses professional curators to gather social and web content and produce a story out of it.

BONUS LINKS!

Can Twitter Make You a Better Editor?
Erin Everhart, a marketing associate for 352 Media Group and a freelance journalist, argues on the Journalistics blog that Twitter has forced writers to become better at editing their own work — especially when that work has a character count of 140!

Confessions of a Recovering Bookaholic
Victoria Vargas, author of the Smaller Living blog, discusses applying her philosophy of simpler living to her passion for collecting books. Good tips, and the comment stream includes a variety of solutions and perspectives on the importance of books in our lives.

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Write This Way: Top Writing and Editing Links for January 12, 2010

Photo courtesy SXC.

Bloggers, like other writers, can make yearly resolutions, and one of mine related to my Write This Way link posts is to trim them down so readers can spend more time digesting and acting on the information I’ve linked to and less time reading.

In 2010, I’ll pick my top 2 links and comment on them each time we run Write This Way, and provide one additional bonus link for fun and edification. Be on the lookout for a new feature—Write This Way, Condensed—which will be a quick post of my favorite links of the moment, all presented “bonus link” style.

Let me know if you enjoy this new slimmer format, or if you see any writing or editing-related links you think need more exposure!


News orgs’ goal for 2010: Imagine tomorrow’s media world today

Gina Chen has written an insightful post on what news organizations should be doing this year on the Nieman Journalism Lab blog.

As she puts it,

“The legacy press — or the traditional media, or whatever we’re calling newspapers these days — has one main challenge for 2010, and it’s not finding a new business model. It has to do with vision. It has to do with being able to imagine a world that does not yet exist.”

This quest is more difficult than it first appears, but Chen notes that this is not the first time in history that a business entity has faced such a challenge related to figuring out how to make products that customers will find useful. IBM face a similar challenge in popularizing the concept of a personal, desktop-based computer, and the inventors of the microwave had to wait nearly a quarter century from the time the device was first offered in the late 1940s until it caught on in America’s kitchens.

In both cases, the businesses had to make a guess as to how future customers would want to interact with their products, and overcome resistance related to attachment (both by customer and manufacturer) to the current state of technology. According to Chen, journalists need to focus their attention on these areas, as well.

“The challenge for the news biz is to look ahead and imagine how people may want their news and information. It’s about format (online, by phone, through social media) and content (aggregated, local, tailored to their needs.) For local news operations, this mean “organizing a community’s information so the community can organize itself,” as Jeff Jarvis puts it.

“ …This doesn’t mean news organizations should be inventing technology. I think that’s probably out of the pervue of most journalists. What I’m talking about is envisioning a new way to use technology, in this case the Internet and the cell phone and likely other tools that others will invent. The new business doesn’t need to invent the tools — just figure out how to use them to best serve their readers.”

Chen’s post hones in on the primary issue that’s strangling the news business right now, particularly in print newspapers: lack of forward-facing customer focus. I’ve seen post after post about stop-gap measures such as government grants for investigative reporting and setting up nonprofit foundations, but this post does something that those do not—it assumes that news media organizations can still survive as business entities, and it provides the million-dollar (or more) question that they must answer in order to thrive: what do our readers want from us?

Forget E-Books: The Future of the Book Is Far More Interesting

This post is Number 8 in Adam Penenberg’s very interesting “Viral Loop” series on FastCompany.com. The author of 3 books, including one on the Viral Loop theme, he posits a provocative vision of how the printed book, and the book-reading experience, will evolve.

He argues that e-books do NOT represent the long-term future of reading matter.

“It’s the end of the book as we know it … It won’t be replaced by the e-book, which is, at best, a stopgap measure. Sure, a bevy of companies are releasing e-book readers … but technology marches on through predictable patterns of development, with the initial form of a new technology mirroring what came before, until innovation and consumer demand drive it far beyond initial incremental improvements. We are on the verge of re-imagining the book and transforming it something far beyond mere words.”

Penenberg argues the reading experience of the future will be one that, like our online (and increasingly, our mobile) experience, is rich and multi-faceted.

“For the non-fiction author therein lie possibilities to create the proverbial last word on a subject, a one-stop shop for all the information surrounding a particular subject matter. Imagine a biography of Wiley Post, the one-eyed pilot from the 1930s who was the first to fly around the world. It would not only offer the entire text of a book but newsreel footage from his era, coverage of his most famous flights, radio interviews, schematics of his plane, interactive maps of his journeys, interviews with aviation historians and pilots of today, a virtual tour of his cockpit and description of every gauge and dial, short profiles of other flyers of his time, photos, hyperlinked endnotes and index, links to other resources on the subject.

“Social media could be woven into the fabric of the experience–discussion threads and wikis where readers share information, photos, video, and add their own content to Post’s story, which would tie them more closely to the book. There’s also the potential for additional revenue streams: You could buy MP3s of popular songs from the 1930s, clothes that were the hot thing back then, model airplanes, other printed books, DVDs, journals, and memorabilia.”

Novelists won’t be left out of the cyber-cornucopia, either, he says. Imagine video games where readers alter the storylines as they see fit, or digital “rainstorms” of words, images and audio to reinforce metaphors for the reader.

The specifics of his prophecy are “out there,” to be sure, but not by much. I’m in agreement with Penenberg that “all writers should be optimistic” because “where there’s chaos, there’s opportunity.” Much like the previous link, the author’s willingness to focus on a literary world that doesn’t exist yet, and play with product ideas that would meet reader/audience needs in a new way, is exciting and has set my mind to imagining rich-media extensions of the book proposal ideas I’m currently incubating.

Bonus Link!

8 Must-Have Traits of Tomorrow’s Journalist

Vadim Lavrusik defines 8 roles that 2010-era journalists need to be ready to fulfill–including entrepreneur, programmer, curator, blogger, community builder, multimedia storyteller and more.

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Write This Way: Top Writing and Editing Links for October 6, 2009

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Photo courtesy SXC.

International Association for Journal Writing

A tip of the blog to Eric Maisel’s Sunday newsletter for bringing this link my way. The IAJW is a coalition of journaling experts (therapists, writing teachers and others) and those who have been helped by the practice. The association says on its home page that it aims to help members “juice up (their) journaling” and it provides plenty of tips for doing just that. The site offers help for budding journalers, articles related to specific journal writing issues, and merchandise to help get the most out of journal writing, including e-books, classes and journaling software.

The association charges $49/year for membership, but also offers quite a bit of “sample” information for free. If you teach journal writing, or take the practice seriously as a writing-related discipline or a healing/self-discovery tool, this site may be worth checking out.

Top 10 Blogs for Writers – The 2009/2010 Winners

Michael Stelzner of Writing White Papers has once again tallied the best writing blogs and announces the winners. This year, there were 27 finalists. Winners included blogs that I regularly link to and admire, including Editor Unleashed, Write to Done, Urban Muse and Quips & Tips for Successful Writers, plus a few blogs new to me, such as Michelle Rafter’s WordCount and Fuel Your Writing.

The lists of winners and finalists form a great blueprint for setting up an RSS aggregator that provides a quick, enjoyable education in writing’s craft and business sides. For writing bloggers such as myself, it also provides a wonderful cadre of aspirational peers to admire and emulate.

Three Hot Books You Can’t Download

FastCompany.com reports on why three new books by the late authors Vladimir Nabokov, Frida Kahlo, and Ted Kennedy won’t be coming out on Kindle or another e-book format. It’s not (necessarily) because all 3 authors have gone to that great writing garret in the sky; and it’s not (necessarily) because of the subject matter, or printing requirements of the books, although those do factor into the decision to hold off on e-publishing in at least two of the three books. (Kahlo’s book is image-rich, of course, and Kindle doesn’t currently reproduce color imagery; and Nabokov’s unfinished work “The Original of Laura” was originally written on index cards and never organized by the author during his lifetime, so the printed version allows the reader to punch out the pages and rearrange them and he or she wishes.)

No, there’s no common theme that unites this paper-bound trio of books, but it does illustrate that despite the sharp rise in the popularity and profitability of e-books, and Jeff Bezos’ aggressive vision “to have every book ever printed, in any language, all available in under 60 seconds on Kindle,” not every book is appropriate for digital distribution, and that it’s still important to consider the individual title and its requirements before determining whether to go the e-book route.

What Makes a Story Work

A brief, powerful post from social media expert Chris Brogan’s blog. He quickly demonstrates why “the very best content is that which leaves us feeling like the hero.”

He elaborates on the hero-making theme, saying,

“Think about the movies you love. Think about the songs you replay over and over. Think about the books you read. When we participate in stories, the ones that move us the most are those where we see a bit of ourselves in the storyline, right?”

His tips for achieving this goal are as relevant for corporate deliverables as independent projects. They include:

  • Let them feel smart and included by letting them be introduced as “part of the group” or “in the know.”
  • Give them a solid map. The only time readers shouldn’t know where they’re going, Brogan says, is if they’re reading a mystery, or a Chuck Palahniuk novel.
  • Reward readers of longer pieces with checklists, summaries, etc., anything that validates that they’ve reached a certain level and are ready for your next step.
  • Respect their time by being as brief as possible.
  • Write about them, not you. Or, if you have to write about you (memoirs or biographies come to mind), give them something they can do to make meaning of what you’ve shared.

Overall, this is a great post, which can be consumed and digested in the time it takes to read it on your coffee break.

Bonus Links!!

She Writes

She Writes is a social networking community for female writers of all levels and genres. It also welcomes men to its community.

The Only 12 1/2 Writing Rules You’ll Ever Need

A great poster about writing from AllPosters.com.

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