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The Successful Author

How to Find Out if You Have a Marketable Book

a book is marketable

Have you ever wondered if you have a marketable book? Most people have, especially anyone who wants to make a living from writing.

You can pay someone to give you their opinion on what’s marketable before spending hours writing. Although you can do internet searches to find them, I recommend going to the websites of agents you respect. Some provide writer services on the side and would gladly charge you a fee to offer their opinion on if you have a marketable book. Other sites provide lists of respected service providers.

However, the operative word here is an opinion. Aside from some basic book tips, the best anyone can do is offer their opinion. Ask two people, and you will likely get two opinions. Often they may conflict with each other.

Consider all the stories we hear about agents and editors rejecting submissions, based on their opinions that the novel won’t sell. But then after twenty, forty, or even more rejections, it crosses one person’s desk who doesn’t reject it. In her opinion it’s marketable. Sometimes that proves correct and becomes a best seller.

All of this to say, you can ask around and even pay for advice from someone to tell you if you have a marketable book idea. But in the end, just go with your gut and write what you’re passionate about.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

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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.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

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The Successful Author

Literary Agents Handle Books and Not Shorter Works

What agents handle?

I’d love a literary agent who would handle shorter pieces, such as articles, short stories, or poems. Unfortunately, they don’t. Literary agents handle books. They only deal with book-length projects.

Agents earn commission on projects sold. The payoff for shorter pieces is too small for them to spend time pitching them. They need to invest their time in bigger works that pay better.

That’s why literary agents handle books and not short pieces.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

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The Successful Author

A Career Writing Mistake

A Career writing mistake

For too many years my goal in writing was simply to write faster, but I did nothing to learn about writing or how to write better. That was a huge writing mistake.

Yes, the experience of writing so much was good, but I wasted a lot of time by not studying the craft. It’s only been in the past decade that I’ve focused on improving as a writer.

My writing has improved—a lot. I only wish I had started working on getting better much sooner in my career.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

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The Successful Author

Scale Up to Writing a Novel

Scale up to writing a novel.

To write a novel, first, start with short stories. Many of the elements required for short stories carry over to longer works. In addition, it’s better to experiment on a 1,000-word short story than an 80,000-word novel. Once you’re comfortable with short stories then you can move on to longer works.

Short Story Tips

Writing short stories lets us experiment. We can have fast successes and failures. I’d rather try something on a short story than commit it to a whole novel only to find out it wasn’t working once I finished writing the entire thing.

As you hone your skills and find your voice with short stories, voraciously read novels. Read classics and contemporary works. Read in your genre and outside your genre. Read for enjoyment but mostly to learn. This will give you a sense of what works and what doesn’t, as well as to identify what you like and don’t like. This will pay off huge when you go to write your novel.

Start Your Novel

Now you’re ready to plan your novel. Whether you are a planner (plotter) or a discovery writer (a pantser—you write by the seat of your pants), you should have some ideas before you begin to write a novel.

I like to start with a list of characters, their bio, a story arc, the key elements, and a chapter outline. After all, if I’m writing that many words, I don’t want to waste effort.

For others, this prep work would stifle creativity, but it motivates me. Pick the method that works for you and start writing.

By the way, many novelists admit to writing several novels before one is good enough to publish, so don’t expect your first effort to write a novel will be a success. If it is, that’s great, but be prepared to crank out a couple before you find much interest.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

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The Successful Author

How to Protect Blog Content

Legally protect your blog content

A lot of writers wonder if it’s necessary or wise to protect blog content that they post online. What if it is material for other writing projects? Should it be freely accessible online?

First, I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice. A great resource is Helen Sedwick’s book Self-Publisher’s Legal Handbook. This is an excellent tool that every writer should buy, study, and implement.

Given that, here is what I suggest to protect blog content.

To start, place a copyright notice on your blog. This will help keep honest people honest, and it lets readers know you’re serious about your work. But beyond that, it accomplishes little else.

If you’re concerned with people copying your work, that is stealing it, there is always a chance it could happen. Though the risk is small, there’s nothing you can do to prevent it—short of not blogging—so the best thing is to not worry about it, and post what you want to post.

If the posts will be part of a future book—something many people have done—you might want to hold back some content, but I have heard of bloggers who blogged their entire nonfiction book and didn’t feel it hurt sales. You can also post excerpts from your indie published book.

However, if the posts are from your traditionally published book, check with your publisher. They may not want you to post anything from your book, and depending on your contract with them, it may not even be legal.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

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The Successful Author

The Benefits of Using ISBNs: Don’t Publish Your Book Without One

A publishing best-practice includes using ISBNs in your books

Many successful indie authors do not use ISBNs (for their e-books), and they see no reason why they should. The number Amazon provides works just fine from a practical standpoint.

Having said that, an ISBN gives your book added credibility and has more universal recognition than an ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) when searching for a book by number. So I opt for an ISBN.

Buying ISBNs

However, buying an ISBN costs money. In the United States, buy ISBNs from Bowker. Currently, the standard price for one ISBN is $125, ten costs $295, and one hundred costs $575.

Note that you will need one ISBN for each format your book is in: Hardcover, paperback, e-book, and audio, so that’s four ISBNs. Given the costs, I see why many indie-published authors skip them.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

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The Successful Author

How to Discover What to Blog About

Discover what to blog about

To start your own blog, there are two aspects: the technical aspect and the content aspect, what is, what to blog about. Let’s look at the content part of blogging first:

Find Your Blog Focus

If you write whatever you feel like writing (as I did when I started), you will never find an audience. Pick one topic as your blog’s focus. Then go to the next step.

Brainstorm Ideas

With your blog topic or focus determined, brainstorm for ideas. Don’t stop until you hit at least twenty ideas you can blog about. You may not use them all, but at least you know you have plenty of ideas to write about. If you can’t come up with twenty, then you won’t likely be able to sustain your blog, so search for another topic.

Pre-Write Five Blog Posts

Before you even set up your blog, write your first five posts. Some people launch their blog with several posts already there.

Set a Blogging Schedule

You should plan to blog at least once a week. How long did it take to write each of your posts? Do you have that much time every week to devote to it?

If you still want to blog, you can move forward with the technical aspects of setting up a blog. More on that in future posts.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

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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.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

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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.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!