Because I’ll be on maternity leave from “Ask Wendy” for the rest of the year, I’m using the opportunity to share publishing advice from other authors. This column includes answers from Laura Benjamin, author of The C.A.R.L.A. Concept: How to Raise an Issue, Prove Your Point and Communicate with Confidence & Clarity (carlaconcept.com); and Steve Burt, author of 13 books, including Activating Leadership in the Small Church, A Christmas Dozen: Christmas Stories to Warm the Heart, and the Stories to Chill the Heart series (burtcreations.com).
1. What books do you recommend that writers read?
Laura: Definitely Stephen King’s On Writing, Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, and John Kremer’s 1001 Ways to Market Your Book.
Steve: For inspiration read and follow Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, then Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones and its sequel Wild Mind. For technique, all fiction writers need to absorb Dwight Swain’s Techniques of the Selling Writer. Also, Gary Provost’s Make Your Words Work is a must-have for all writers, fiction and non-fiction.
2. What’s the difference between a “wannabe” and a “successful” writer?
Laura: A “successful” writer writes. Whether you journal, blog, do a column for community newspapers, write resumes for job seekers, or create workbooks you sell off your Web site or out of the back of your VW, you don’t get anywhere if you’re just sitting there waiting to be inspired or discovered. If you write regularly, you will find outlets for your work and people will seek you out. But you have to be disciplined about sitting down and dedicating x number of hours each day to the process. A successful writer also recognizes that writing is just part of the process. Marketing yourself and your book is also important. You want to create a personality, a brand, a career around being an author or writer. Then what you write supports and enhances that brand/image/career.
Steve: Wannabes are those who want to be writers, but writers want to write. It takes commitment to write, courage to submit and face the possibility of rejection, maturity to accept and act on criticism, and determination to rewrite and keep submitting. Wannabes submit a piece and wait to see what happens (get rich, get famous) but writers know they’re only as good as their next book or story, so they push onward regardless of the results.
Articles, books, greeting cards, oh my! Wendy Burt is a successful full-time freelance writer and editor who has more than doubled her income since leaving her job as a newspaper editor just three years ago. With two women’s humor books for McGraw-Hill and more than 1,000 published pieces, Wendy’s typical day might including writing ad copy, greeting cards, health articles, personal profiles or her marketing column for Her Business magazine. Her work has appeared in such varied publications as Family Circle, The Writer, MSNBC.com, NewYorkTimes.com, Home Cooking Magazine and American Fitness. Wendy teaches “Breaking Into Freelance Writing” and still finds ample time to spend with her beautiful baby, Gracie. Visit www.BurtCreations.com to see books by Wendy and her award-winning dad. More info at www.WendyBurt-Thomas.com.