This is the fourth article in a series by Stories To Tell editor/designer Sarah Hoggatt recounting her experiences in publishing her poetry and nonfiction. As writers, we usually don’t get to see into each other’s creative process. We see the final product or perhaps a semi-polished version read aloud in a writer’s group, but rarely do we get a peek at the raw material. My rough drafts come out of my writing notebook. Ever since I made it, it’s been the notebook I pick up whenever I want to write a new poem or when I long to explore an idea.
I played for Hall of Famer Tom Lasorda in 1968 when he was still managing the Dodgers’ Pioneer League team in Ogden, Utah. Tommy would walk through the clubhouse calling out to players, “You gotta believe! Do you believe!” The players responded, “I believe, Skipper.” Sound silly? Tom’s teams won three championships during his three years at Ogden. When he move to the Big Leagues in Los Angeles his teams won two World Series championships in (1981 and 1988), four National League pennants and eight division titles in his 20-year career as the Dodgers manager. One of the keys was that his players believed in themselves. To write well an author must believe in himself. Yet for many writers there’s a nagging doubt when they sit down to write. Here are links to four articles that will help you dispel doubts and confidently repeat, “I believe!” every time you start typing.
As great an experience as publishing is, I learn a lot every time I go to print, lessons I put into practice with subsequent books. I thought these lessons would be for myself alone until a high school student approached me asking if I would mentor her for her senior project. She reminded me a bit of myself at that age except even brighter and more put together. So I took what I learned and shared those lessons with her. It was a gift to pass them on to such a gifted artist in her own right and her book came out beautifully. Here is some of what I told her in relation to the physical printing of books:
It’s the season for Best of 2014 Lists. In the world of books they are coming at us from all directions. Take a look at some of the most prominent, then leave a comment with your “best of 2014” recommendations.
You’ve been working on some writing and are considering the possibility of self-publishing down the road, but it looks like a large, unmanageable jungle. You’re not sure where to even start and thus ask a question I often hear, “How did you start publishing?” Sarah Hoggatt of Stories To tell explores her path into print.
In this post our intern, Ben Kostyack, raises questions about the value of the literary canon. Read his take then weigh in with your own. In high school English, everyone reads the classics. To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, The Catcher in the Rye, and various Shakespeare plays. After we recently stumbled through Macbeth in my 12th grade AP English Literature class, my classmates and I questioned the reasoning behind why we need to read these outdated books.
It’s the question so many people ask. As writers, I’m sure you know what it is. It’s the question that brings both great delight and great discomfort. It’s the question that makes us smile with pride yet also makes us suddenly shy. It’s the coaxing out of information we tend to clutch tightly to our chests. The one we are secretly longing to be asked. “So how’s the book going?” There it is. What do we say? Do we tell them what we’re writing about, what stage the book is in, what we want it to become? I’ve been asked this question recently by my editors, by the baristas at my favorite coffee shop, and by a friend while I was visiting her house. I actually love to be asked this question as it keeps me accountable to keep writing and it gives me opportunity to share about a topic I love. Here at “Stories to Tell,” we know many of you are going through the same process of writing, editing, and publishing your book so we thought it would be fun and informative if we created a blog series around the process of me putting my book together.
Your book is almost ready to publish. You have lots of questions. Print? eBook? Both? How can I make sure that I get the widest possible distribution and easiest order fulfillment services? What publisher is best for my needs? In the next few posts we will look at some of the options you might consider. If your book is intended for a limited distribution to family and friends like many family histories or memoirs you’ll want what is often called private printing. (We’ll explore private printing in an upcoming post.) If you have commercial aspirations for your book you have many more issues to consider. We’ll begin by looking at some of the most popular options you may want to explore. Today we’ll explore Ingram Spark.
We’re a third of the way through National Novel Writing Month? It’s estimated that approximately a half-a-million people are banging away at their computers to knock out the first draft of a novel. The annual event might be well advised to make Nike’s famous slogan “Just do it!” the month’s theme. Pulp mystery writer Mickey Spillane could be its poster boy. I once saw Spillane on the Tonight Show. Johnny Carson asked him how long it took him to write a book. “Depends on how bad I need the money,” said Spillane. “What's the fastest you ever wrote one,” asked Johnny. “I wrote one over a three-day weekend once,” he replied. So it can be done, if you're skilled and experienced, not to mention highly motivated. But might a less rushed, more planned approach work better for some authors?
Veterans Day is the day Americans officially honor the service of our military veterans. What better way is there to honor them than to preserve the stories of their service? That preservation can take a variety of forms. The Library of Congress Veterans History Project at the American Folklife Center is preserving oral history interviews with veterans. The project website provides specifics on how you can participate and offers guides to the interview process. A quick web search of veterans history” will provide listings for many state and local veterans history projects which support the work being done at the Library of Congress. Books make a great preservation tool.
A lot of getting started as a writer is experimenting with different types of writing. Exploring a variety of genres can help you discover what you’re best at and what you enjoy the most. Look at how one young writer chose his path.
Your book is almost done. You are completing the final revisions of the manuscript. If you are self-publishing for the first time, you probably have a lot of questions about the next steps in the process. Here are some that you'll want to look at right now.
Many authors dream of the day they can walk into a bookstore or library and find their book. But how do you do it as a self-published author when you don’t have a large publishing company and distribution channels pushing bookstores to carry it? How do you get your book into bookstores and libraries?
You plan to write a family history book. You have been diligently researching for some time and amassed a good deal of knowledge about your ancestors, but there’s a lot more you would like to find out. You are not alone. We spoke at the Genealogy Event in New York City last weekend where a number of our conversations with family historians included the words, “I just need to research a few more things, then I’ll begin writing my book.” Before you follow the inclination to put off starting to write while you try to gather a bit more research, you might want to consider an observation by two time Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough. In a 2003 Interview with National Endowment for the Humanities Chairman Bruce Cole, McCullough said, “There’s an awful temptation to just keep on researching. There comes a point where you just have to stop, and start writing. When I began, I thought that the way one should work was to do all the research and then write the book. In time I began to understand that it’s when you start writing that you really find out what you don’t know and need to know.”
Is your book legally protected from copyright infringement? Would you be able to prove your rights to your work in a court of law? Though anything you create in written or viewable form is automatically copyrighted according to United States law, such a claim will not stand up in court. To prove you own the work, you need a certificate from the Copyright office at the Library of Congress. It’s a pretty easy process to obtain a copyright certificate. You fill out an application online, pay the fee (between $35 for online registration and $85 for paper registration), then send two copies of the work to the Copyright office at the Library of Congress. It takes several months to process the application after which they send you a copyright certificate. Keep this certificate on file in case of any future legal issues. Here’s how you do it.