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Blog Posts

What Makes A Book A Success?

Posted by Kamy Wicoff on October 21, 2014 at 11:00am 23 Comments

A year after my first book came out, a then-friend said to me, over dinner at an Italian restaurant on a cold winter night: "Your book was a failure." My friend didn't say it harshly--though perhaps it's no surprise that we are not friends anymore. He said it matter-of-factly, as in, the things you hoped for when your book came out, like selling hundreds of thousands of copies, or establishing yourself as a cultural critic with a seat at the National Important People Conversation Table, didn't happen. He was right. My book didn't even sell through its modest first print run, and I never earned a cent beyond my advance. I appeared on national television and NPR but my message never caught anybody's attention beyond those book-related interviews. I only got to call myself a "bestselling author" because when…

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Before Order: A Poet’s Tale

Posted by Melissa Studdard on October 22, 2014 at 10:30pm 1 Comment

“Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.” —A. A. Milne

 

I wrote my novel by the seat of my pants. I created characters I was in love with, and I let them tell me what they wanted to do. It was easy to “organize.” There was a plot, and I rolled along, adventure after adventure, discovering the way as I happened upon it. Organization was holistic, organic—as easy as breathing.

But that’s not to say the prose always flowed. There were times my mind wouldn’t turn that way, and I’d find myself instead engaged in a wild, messy, passionate affair with poetry. Between scenes, between chapters, between scraps of dialogue, I’d sneak off to a café and flirt with a…

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[REALITY CHECK] Self-Publishing: Adventures in Editing! by Patricia Robertson

Posted by Zetta Brown on October 22, 2014 at 7:00am 1 Comment

I don't care if you are self-published, indie-published, or NYC-published. Speaking as an editor, author, and publisher, it doesn't matter how many times you go through something you've written, you will either find a mistake or some minor thing you wish you could correct.



Perhaps the hardest thing when it comes to publishing (after getting published!) is to let go and let your book-child fend for itself. But like any responsible parent, you want to prepare your book-child as much as possible to defend itself, especially against critics. Having your work edited thoroughly helps strengthen your book and makes it harder for critical snipers to accuse your book-child of being sloppy.



Patricia Robertson shares what she has learned about self-publishing after…

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Why Grammar Matters

Posted by Maria Murnane on October 21, 2014 at 8:06am 0 Comments

I recently began watching "The Wire" (yes, I realize I'm 12 years late), and I love it! So far it has lived up to the hype. It also gave me a good idea for this blog post. In one of the early episodes, one of the main characters (a police officer) spends a lot of time preparing a report about possible criminal activity at a housing project in Baltimore, and then presents it to a judge in hopes of gaining authorization for a wiretap. In this particular scene, we see the police officer sitting anxiously in his chair, so proud of all his hard work, just waiting for a pat on the back from the judge for following a very specific list of legal requirements to get what he really needs to stop the bad guys.

 

What does the judge do…

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