The Practice of Creativity

Posts Tagged ‘beta readers

Our writing life encompasses so much more than the actual writing. Here are some other important tasks besides writing that will help you sustain and deepen the quality of your writing life. Over this quarter, when you need a short break from writing, try a few items on this list.

-Check on and manage your money and intellectual property: Last year, authors and the mismanagement of their money and intellectual property assets by agents, accountants and publishing houses made the news:

https://www.thebookseller.com/news/palahniuk-795516

https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-industry-news/article/77656-agent-danielle-smith-s-former-clients-speak-out.html

These events constituted a wake-up call across the industry. It’s important for writers to both manage our money and our intellectual property.  Make it a point this quarter to collect any outstanding monies owed to you. Check your contracts with various venues that you’ve published with (e.g. anthologies, magazines, presses, etc.) and make sure you have received payment in a timely manner. Peruse royalty statements. In 2018, if you brought books to your readings at a local bookstore (often the case for writers with small presses), or made appearances at a conference, and had someone sell books on your behalf, make sure you have received the correct payment owed. I spent a good chunk of last year chasing down such monies. Furthermore, make sure you are keeping track of your intellectual property by knowing what rights you have with various publishers and when they are expiring, etc. I have really enjoyed author and entrepreneur Joanna Penn’s focus on her podcast encouraging writers to become savvy about understanding the value of our intellectual property. She has devoted several podcasts to this issue, here is a recent one.

Line up beta readers: You are going to finish something this year, right? If so, you will need some beta readers. Beta readers are people who read your work while it is in draft form. They could be people in your writing group, other writers, trusted friends, etc. It’s generally good to have a mix of non-writers and writers as beta readers. Want to know about beta reader etiquette? Check out author K.M. Weiland’s helpful post on this topic.

-Clean up your bio across your social media sites: Read your short bios that live on social media (e.g. FB, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.). Do they still reflect the writer that you are? Are they compelling? Do you need to add, subtract or tighten anything?

-Clean up digital clutter on your desktop: It’s coming to get you if you don’t.

-Volunteer to support and serve a published writer that you know: Several years ago, I was privileged to accompany one of my writing teachers, Marjorie Hudson, to several speaking events and workshops. I learned invaluable things watching a working writer deal with the public aspect of a writing life: speaking, promoting, coaching, and book signing.

Writers always need more support. If you have a friend or an acquaintance who has recently published a book, offer to help them promote it in some way. If you don’t know any published writers, this is a great way to connect with a local writer whose work that you admire.

Be a personal assistant, or driver, for a day. If they are scheduled to give readings, see if you can help carry books, set up a display, sell books, and assist with small tasks that would make their life easier. You can learn a lot from watching how other writers handle being in the public eye. There’s also nothing like the satisfying feeling of helping another writer on their path.

-Toss out old drafts: What do you do with drafts you’ve gotten back from your writing group? How long do you keep them? I have tendency to keep them way too long; they start to form into mountains on my desk. When you have integrated editorial comments into a completed story, toss the draft.

-Check the ergonomics of your writing space: What can be moved and realigned for maximum support of your body?

-Straighten up your submissions file: Update your 2018 submissions file and create the 2019 one. And, of course if you haven’t started a submissions file yet, correct that. Writers write and submit their work. See one of my tips for crafting a helpful submission strategy.

-Go through last year’s journals, classes and conference notes: If you took writing classes, attended conferences or workshops and/or kept a journal last year I bet there are still some nuggets to mine. Take time to honor that work.

-Update your writing accomplishments list and post it where you can see it: Smile at it from time to time. If you don’t have one, now is the time to make one!

 

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Happy New Year!

Although January is a popular time for declaring writing resolutions, I’m usually too worn out from holiday socializing to join in. Instead, I like to use January to clear the decks, declutter and organize.

Devoting just an hour or so to each of the tasks below will yield a strong foundation for writing during the year.

New-Year-hug-club-clip-art-335

Read your cache of blogs. All during the year, I bookmark bloggers and various blog posts that spark my interest. And, it is always my intention to go back to them and read them in a more leisurely way. It’s probably the same for you. Now is a fantastic time to dive into new ideas. Coming across other great bloggers is one of the joys of an online writing community.

Line up beta readers. You are going to finish something this year, right? If so, you will need some beta readers. Beta readers are people who read your work while it is in draft form. They could be people in your writing group, other writers, trusted friends, etc. It’s generally good to have a mix of non-writers and writers as beta readers. Want to know about beta reader etiquette? Check out author K.M. Weiland’s helpful post on this topic.

Clean up your bio across your social media sites. Read your short bios that live on social media (e.g. FB, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.). Do they still reflect the writer that you are? Are they compelling? Do you need to add, subtract or tighten anything?

Clean up digital clutter on your desktop. It’s coming to get you if you don’t.

Toss out old drafts. What do you do with drafts you’ve gotten back from your writing group? How long do you keep them? I have tendency to keep them way too long; they start to form into mountains on my desk. When you have integrated editorial comments into a completed story, toss the draft.

Check the ergonomics of your writing space. What can be moved and realigned for maximum support of your body?

Straighten up your submissions file—update your 2014 submissions file and create the 2015 one. And, of course if you haven’t started a  submissions file yet, correct that. Writers write and submit their work.

Go through last year’s journals, class and conference notes. If you took writing classes, attended conferences or workshops and/or kept a journal this year I bet there are still some nuggets to mine. Take time to honor that work.

Get a new subscription to a writing magazine and/or literary journal. Where do you learn about the field of publishing? How do you find out about new writers? We do this in many ways, through blogs, friends, librarians and visits to bookstores. However, writing magazines and literary journals also can play a key role in our professionalization. You’ve probably been thinking about treating yourself to subscription to a writing magazine (or publishing trade magazine), or literary journal for some time. Do it! I began my subscription to Poets and Writers in January 2013 and have found it invaluable for my writing life

Update your writing accomplishments list and post it where you can see it.  Smile at it from time to time.


Michele Tracy Berger

Michele Tracy Berger

Author, Academic, Creativity Expert I'm an award winning writer.

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