Spring Cleaning

Are there phrases that you often use that make your writing as dull as the last few days of winter?

Make it a point to spring clean your writing to remove any clichés.

Scour your next written piece for any evidence of those weary words to ensure that you replace them with fresh polish. Better yet, invent a few new ways of approaching your subject by adding imagery.

Which is more interesting to read?

Walter opened the door to a dusty, sparse room save for an old four-poster, long in need of replacement.

vs.

Walter opened a door in the dark hallway exposing a tiny room, its air heavy with the musty smell of a summer cabin open for the first time in a season—the mattress dank with mountain dampness.

The scene uses the same character entering a room but the second invokes a feeling and smell that is lacking in the first. Use of imagery can make your writing more interesting to the reader. Honing this aspect of your work during editing will be worth the time spent.

Break out the lemon juice and get scrubbing.

Breaking the Interview Ice in Two Steps

Writers, even shy ones occasionally have to interview people in order to get the information they cannot get through other research avenues.

Interviewing a stranger can be so easy if you keep in mind one simple idea: people love to talk about themselves. That’s what makes interviewing them a snap once you break the ice.

So, how do you do that?

Provide the person whom you plan to interview with your objective.

For example, you might say, “As part of its latest recruiting effort, the Department of Homeland Security has asked that I write a piece about your experiences while training to become an agent.”

A statement like this sharpens your subject’s focus as s/he responds during the interview. If your subject drifts off topic while speaking to you, bring it back just by prefacing your queries with, “during your training experience…”

Many people become nervous when being interviewed. Others, who are more experienced, will be calm when peppered with questions. Since you probably won’t know ahead of time which type of person you will be dealing with, do not lead with a question.

For an inexperienced interviewee, telling you about his/her background can be more relaxing than worrying about how to respond to certain questions. For the latter, s/he expects that you will ask the same questions that others have asked and will likely have “canned” answers already prepared. Obtaining background information from these subjects often exposes parts of the story that have never been told before.

Tell your subject that you’d like some background
before you ask your questions of him or her.

Begin this way; “Tell me about how you first became interested in security.” Be careful to avoid asking a direct question.

Really listen to what s/he has to say because it may help you ask better questions, cover a particular tidbit in more detail, or find a direction for your story that you never anticipated during your preparation for the interview.

Respond periodically, reaffirming those things that s/he chooses to discuss. If you are well-versed in the subject matter, you may be able to simply agree or provide understanding. If not, a simple comment like, “That’s interesting, I never knew the level of commitment it would take to train to become a DHS agent,” will acknowledge that you are listening to what the person is saying and make him/her feel comfortable to continue.

This “telling” by your subject and responding by you sets the tone of the question and answer format. When the person seems to be winding down with the background information they have chosen to share, simply ask your first question. It should feel seamless as you have already broken the ice.

The Life Cycle of A Book

Kimberly:

Publishing Insights offers a good start illustration of the process. Critical Consciousness makes an excellent observation about the need for initial funding. I’d add that to promote interactivity, writers could take cues from popular musicians, i.e. hype an upcoming announcement, release snippets, live podcast Q&A’s, added marketing inserts with purchase to engage the reader online.

Originally posted on Publishing Insights:

Book-Cycle-FINAL

This picture illustrates the (traditional?) publishing process, which involves four major parties and twelve steps. If authors take the self-publishing approach, some steps (e.g. Agent) might be optional; if only e-book version is produced (whether on the author’s own website or under contract with publishing platforms like Amazon), then details of the Distribution step will also alter. In addition, the “Print on Demand” (POD) model is bound to have a great impact on the distribution process.

I personally think that these days it will be necessary to draw a direct link between “Writer” and “Book Buyer”/”Reader”. With online platforms like Goodreads, Amazon, and various blogging sites, writers and readers now can easily engage with each other in the life cycle of a book. Wouldn’t it be a great way to promote book sales if reading becomes more interactive?

Image Credict: International Book Promotion

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