The Successful Author

Citing Sources for Quotes in Books

Sources for Quotes

Each chapter in my friend’s book starts with a quotation. Most of the quotes came from internet sites. She wonders if she needs to include a page citing sources where she obtained each quote. Here’s what I said to her.

For Traditionally Published Books

For traditionally published books, your publisher will have its own requirements for you to follow. And each publisher likely has a different approach. In addition, they also have a legal team that will help keep you and them out of legal trouble.

In general, they will want you to attribute your source. I’ve even heard of one publisher who insisted on a signed release for each quotation. This is burdensome and a good reason to not use quotations.

For Indie Published Books

If you are indie-publishing your book, my opinion (not legal advice) is to cite all your sources. In my books, I try to avoid using any quotes, in any way, from any source. That’s the surest way to avoid getting sued for plagiarism.

However, in your case, this gets messy because the website where you found the quote may have copied it from someone else—that is, they stole it from the original author. Then you perpetuate their plagiarism—and their crime.

Final Thoughts about Citing Sources

If you can remove the quote and put the concept in your own words, that might be your best approach.

I am not a lawyer, so this is not legal advice about citing sources. It’s just my opinion. For a great resource on this subject—as well as other important legal considerations for writers—check out Helen Sedwick’s excellent book Self-Publisher’s Legal Handbook.

The Successful Author

Tips for Periodical Submission Success

Periodical Submission Success

To submit content to print publications, the first thing is to familiarize yourself with the target publication. Look at the type of content they print, how long each item runs, the style they use, and their tone. To make your periodical submission a success, your goal is to match those characteristics as closely as you can.

Periodical Submission Guidelines

Publications that accept unsolicited submissions will have their submission guidelines posted on their website. Read those and follow their expectations precisely.

If they don’t have their submission guidelines posted, it’s likely they don’t accept unsolicited submissions. Though you could email (or even call) them to find out, you’re more likely to irritate them. Never email them with a submission question until you’ve thoroughly scoured their website looking for an answer.

Before You Submit Your Article

If they accept submissions, then before you submit your content, proofread it carefully, and have someone with writing experience review it too.

Then send your periodical submission without further delay in the manner they specify.

The Successful Author

Writing a Book Versus Blogging

Book Versus Blogging

If you want to write a book and blog, what should you do? It’s a book versus blogging debate. Too many writers starting out try to do both and end up doing neither one well. Or they try to write a book before they’re ready.

Then they end up with something not suitable for publication, waste a lot of time, and cause much frustration. That’s assuming they finish the book, but more likely is that they’ll give up before they finish—because they’re not yet ready to write a book.

Unless you’ve done a lot of writing—say about one million words and invested about 10,000 hours honing your skill—I recommend you start with blogging or writing short articles, essays, or flash fiction.

Blogging and short pieces offer several advantages:

  • Blog posts are short and easy to write.
  • Blogging is a great way to hone our writing skills and find our voice.
  • Feedback is quick.
  • Errors are easy to fix.
  • Bloggers develop a habit of writing regularly, even when they don’t feel like it.
  • Blogging according to a schedule—which is what all bloggers should do—helps prepare us to meet deadlines.
  • Blogging prepares us to write longer pieces, up to the length of a book.

There are many other benefits associated with blogging, but these are some of the key ones, which is why I recommend that you start with blogging or writing other short pieces. Save the book for later.


The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and the Business of Publishing

Do you have questions about writing? Publishing?

The Successful Author

Peter Lyle DeHaan has answers, which he shares in The Successful Author. With over three decades of experience as an author, blogger, freelancer, and publisher, Peter will help you on your writing journey.

On this grand adventure:

  • Learn why you shouldn’t call yourself an aspiring writer.
  • Uncover tips to deal with rejection.
  • Expose writing advice that may not be true.
  • Discover how to self-edit, get feedback, and find an editor.
  • Determine if being a writer is worth the effort. (Hint: it is.)

But there’s more. In fourteen chapters, with over one hundred entries, Peter will address:

  • Finding time to write
  • The traditional vs indie publishing debate
  • Whether or not to blog—and what to do if you do blog
  • Copyrights, registration, and legal issues
  • Publishing options and insights

Plus there are loads of writing tips, submission pointers, and a publishing checklist.

Don’t delay your writing journey any longer. Take the next step, and get your copy of The Successful Author.

Be inspired. Be informed. Be motivated to become the writer you’ve always dreamed of.

The Successful Author

Writing Tips on Formatting Numbers

Formatting Numbers

Do you have questions about formatting numbers? There are two main rules that apply to writing numbers:

1. Write out single-digit numbers (one through nine) and use digits for numbers for 10 and higher, or

2. Write out one hundred and everything less. Use numbers for everything greater than one hundred.

Some style guides say to write out common numbers and use digits for all others. This would result in:

  • one thousand
  • 1,051
  • one million
  • 999,157

Of course, they’re exceptions and special cases. One example is that if a sentence begins with a number, always spell it. If this looks awkward, rewrite the sentence so that it doesn’t start with a number. In this case:

One thousand, two hundred and fifty-seven people were present . . .


The attendance was 1,257 . . .

Follow these pointers on formatting numbers to cover the most common situations.

The Successful Author

Self-Editing Options to Improve Our Writing

self-editing tips

Self-editing is hard for most writers, I suspect all writers. We know what we meant to write, so that’s what we tend to see when we try to edit our work. To combat this, try these self-editing options.

To find errors, such as typos, missing words, extra words, and confusing phrases, I use text-to-speech software that reads my words to me. It’s amazing the things I catch when I hear my words out loud.

As far as editing to make my writing better, I defer to a list from Jerry Jenkins, which he posted online, called “21 Self-Editing Secrets that Can Supercharge Your Manuscript.”

Another solution is to find another writer and work out an arrangement where you edit each other’s work. Of course, this works best if you have comparable levels of editing ability and ask each other to edit the same amount of work.

Try these self-editing options to improve your writing and catch pesky errors.

The Successful Author

Finding a Writing Mentor

Do you want a writing mentor?

Many Writers Wish They Had a Mentor

The problem is that those who are most qualified to be a mentor are also the busiest, and the people who have time are usually not as experienced.

If you find someone who would make a great mentor, just ask them, but leave them room to say, “No,” because they likely will. As an option, offer to provide them something of value in return. It could be money, but more valuable might be a service that you could offer in exchange for mentoring. If you’re flexible and willing to give them something in return, the answer might just be “Yes!”

Consider Co-Mentoring

Another possibility is to find someone to co-mentor. If you’re both at the same place in your writing journey but have different strengths and weaknesses, then you can help each other grow as writers. This may be a more viable option.

Mentoring from Afar

Last, someone can mentor you from afar. I read blogs and especially listen to podcasts about writing and publishing. I consider these people as my mentors. I’ve never met them and most of them don’t know who I am, but they do mentor me from a distance and help me write better and publish more effectively.


Five Things You Can Do With E-Books

Five Things You Can Do With E-Books

There is some writing that we almost never see in printed form, due to its length, content, format, market size, or other factors. When it comes to e-books these are no longer issues.

Here are five things we can do with e-books that we seldom see in print.


A novella is a work of fiction that falls into the gap between a short story (under 7,500 words) and a novel (over 40,000 words). Novellas are too long for a magazine or literary journal but too short to meet the physical requirements of a printed book. When it comes to an e-book, length doesn’t matter. With e-books, our work can reach an even larger audience and then be fine-tuned. Click To Tweet

Serial Fiction

We all have TV shows we love to watch. We anticipate the next episode to see what happens next. What about books? Yes, the same applies, but waiting a year or more for the next book is agonizing. What if we can read stories in installments or episodes? Although some magazines do this, it’s not too common.

E-books are the answer. Imagine unveiling a 5,000 to 10,000- word e-book every month or so. Just like a TV show, there needs to be a self-contained story that is resolved and a larger story that advances with each installment. We can include cliffhangers and even write seasons.


Although there are books of poetry, they’re not too common—unless the author is famous. Most poets toil in obscurity, with few readers ever seeing their work. An e-book solves that. I’m not much of a poet, but if I was (or when I am), an e-book will be the way to go.

Short Story Collections

Yes, printed books of short stories do exist, but they’re not common and are often anthologies or by well-known authors. For most writers, a printed collection of their short stories is a dream that will go unmet. E-books solve that.

Test Marketing

Most authors have critique partners (who give initial input on a book) and beta readers (who help fine-tune things further), but even so, these readers may offer conflicting advice or may not uncover all a book’s issues.

With e-books, our work can reach an even larger audience and then be fine-tuned. That doesn’t mean publishing junk or half-baked ideas. The e-book needs to be the best we can make it. But if corrections are needed, e-publishing makes them easy to accomplish.


Is Traditional Publishing is the New Vanity Publishing?

Is Traditional Publishing is the New Vanity Publishing?

I’m not sure who said it first, but I’m not the first to say that “traditional publishing is the new vanity publishing.”

As writers struggle with the quandary over self-publishing or traditional publishing, many cling to traditional publishing as the preferred solution merely because they see it as validating their work. In their minds, finding a traditional publisher is an endorsement from the corporate world. This would affirm their book’s viability and ensuring it’s quality.

This might be a legitimate perspective. However, it could also be a form of vanity. This is especially if self-publishing has the potential to bring in more revenue for the author.

The old vanity publishing versus the new

At one time, vanity publishing meant paying someone to produce a book that no one was willing to publish. This was because it was either poorly written or possessed limited commercial value.

Now the pendulum swings to the opposite extreme. Vanity publishing is insisting someone produce your book merely to satisfy your ego or attain affirmation.

Make sure you pick the right publishing solution based on what’s best for you, your book, and your future, not to appease your ego or out of vanity. Click To Tweet

Whichever side of the traditional versus self-publishing dilemma you select, make sure you pick the right solution for the right reason. It should be based on what’s best for you, your book, and your future, not to appease your ego or out of vanity—there’s no future in that.


The Key Consideration in Self-Publishing Versus Traditional Publishing

Be a hybrid author: the Key Consideration in Self-Publishing Versus Traditional Publishing

In the past few weeks, I covered the pros and cons of traditional publishing versus self-publishing (sometimes called indie publishing). I strove to be fair in comments and balanced in my coverage. Here are the four posts:

Where do I stand on this? Will I seek a traditional publisher or go the indie-publishing route? Is there a third option to consider?

Though this publishing deliberation looms as a decision every author needs to make on an author-by-author basis, it’s not that simple. It’s a consideration every author must make on a book-by-book basis.

Yes, depending on the book, some lend themselves to traditional publishing and others cry out for self-publishing. Critical considerations are the book’s topic, genre, and audience size, as well as an author’s goals for reach, distribution, and earnings. I have some books I hope to publish with a traditional publisher, while others I expect to go the self-publish route.

The key is that the self-publishing versus traditional publishing debate isn’t a once-and-done consideration, but it’s a topic to revisit with each book.

Traditional publishing vs self-publishing isn’t an either/or decision. It’s a yes/and strategy. Click To Tweet

Be a Hybrid Author

That’s my plan. I want to do both.

It’s called being a hybrid author. I will seek a traditional publisher when it makes sense and self-publish when that’s the better path. Combining these two options will maximize my career as an author—and hopefully my earnings potential at the same time.

Traditional publishing versus self-publishing isn’t an either/or consideration. It’s a yes/and strategy. The answer is in being a hybrid author.