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12th grade AP English Literature class, my classmates and I questioned the reasoning behind why we need to read these outdated books.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.
Are print books an endangered species? You can find plenty of people to argue either side of the question. But if you find the whole debate a bit tedious and would be happy to continue reading your print book, you’ll get a chuckle out of Swedish furniture retailer Ikea’s video announcement of its 2015 Catalog.
There has been a lot of advice on the web of late suggesting that writers can improve their productivity by paying attention to their environment, routine, work style and craft. Here are five of the best posts on the subject.
Ancestry has found a new home for My Canvas. There has been a good deal of celebrating in the genealogy community. At Stories To Tell we are always happy to see more opportunities for people to share their family history. But this is a good time to ask whether My Canvas, the best known place to publish a family history, is really the best way to create a family history book. There are two reasons My Canvas seems an attractive option to people who want to publish a family history, but don’t know much about how book publishing works: Ancestry's credibility, and My Canvas's Ease of Use. Before choosing My Canvas as your publisher, you might want to ask some additional questions.
Every writer is looking for ways to enrich the characters, deepen the conflict and build a more dramatic story. Here are six great tips from around the web to help you do just that.
If you are looking for ways to share your ancestor stories and family history, there are a growing number of online sites offering easy ways to do it. They provide templates with which you can upload everything from a single anecdote to a full book. These service providers also promise to store your stories either on-site or with a cloud-based system. We always encourage people to share their stories, but advise caution when embracing a net-based solution. The latest object lesson is Ancestry.com’s decision to shut down its My Canvas publishing program.