Category Archives: Publishing

Nobody Scares Me Like I Scare Me

scaredFear is a staple for most writers. Because we live such a self-sustained existence we don’t get the encouragement, pats on the back or supportive talks that other people get when it comes to their careers. In my family I have no one to really talk to about what I do. Most of them don’t understand what I do and the rest of them find it really boring. So most of the time I am left to my own devices, and more often than not, my own imagination, which can be very, very bad….

I’m not talking scary, nightmare on the street over scary, or someone’s coming to get me scary…no, I’m talking about my own personal powers of self-prophesy. You see, when I write a book I go through a process that, when I think about it when I am not in it seems, well, kind of stupid, BUT in the midst of it, it is as real as my grandmother’s inability to make pancakes. (they were really bad) You know what I am talking about…you write a book, you edit that book, it’s all ready to send out into the world…but before you can hit the send button or lick that last stamp it hits you…OMG what if it sucks!?

I get the what-if-it-sucks really bad. I imagine the editor throwing the book out after reading one page. I imagine the publisher and his friends laughing at my book over drinks. I imagine getting a letter back from the intake person asking me to never write another word. I scare myself right into hesitating sending the book out. Fear grips me and I stop where I sit and ponder getting a job as a pizza delivery guy. (How hard can it be, right?) I literally talk myself out of being a writer for a short time. And you know what…I do it every time I finish a book. Over the years I have gone through the what-if-I-sucks hundreds if not thousands of times…I can be quite pathetic….

So what does one do when a case of the what-if-I-sucks hits? I have developed a bit of a routine to help me through and I thought I would share it with all of you in case it might help. You might develop a routine of your own but feel free to use mine as a guide…

  • See if for what it is…fear – You have to realize that every writer gets cold feet (or in my case frozen body) and that they all get over it. It is natural to question yourself, just don’t let it paralyze you.
  • Move on – You have to move on from your current project once it is done. Shoving it out into the world is the best thing for it and for you. It’s what you are supposed to do…so shove away.
  • Talk yourself through it – Remember those pats on the back that you aren’t getting from others? Give those to yourself and don’t feel bad about it. As a writer you have to be your own cheering section and that’s okay.
  • Develop a support crew – It took me a long time to admit that I needed other writers in my life. I wish I had done it 20 years ago; it would have helped me though a lot. With the internet handy, it is easy to develop a team to cheer you on. Find other writers and connect.

These are just a few ideas for those of you who have issues with the what-if-I-sucks….there is hope. Remember, you are not alone…all writers go through this even if they lie and say they don’t. Fear of failure is human nature but just like the guy who crawls back into the cannon at the circus, you have to crawl back in there too. It is, after all, the only way to ensure that the crowds keep coming back to read the next book, and the next, and the next….

© The Writer’s Advice, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Posted by on April 15, 2023 in Publishing, Writing


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There Are No Rules - Get Over It!

Rule bookWho ever said that rules were made to be broken was probably about to get grounded by their mom when they said it in a fleeting defense for some moment of idiocy. However, they were not far off, especially when it comes to writing.

I have been writing most of my adult life in some form or another. Because I have always had a pen in one hand as I carried on there has also always been some publisher or editor standing just over my shoulder espousing “rules”. It’s been quite annoying at times. When I was younger, I would listen, nod my head obediently and then change my behavior to fit the “rule”. Well, I’m pushing the 50 mark now and you know what I have learned after all these years? Rules be damned…(most of the time)

The “rules” tend to change with the venue in our line of work. I recently had a magazine publisher who thought that the “AP” in AP style meant “ass protection” (I kid you not) so he wanted his writers to be sure of their facts and ensure that his ass was protected. You just have no idea how hard I laughed about that one on the drive home from our first editorial meeting. Just a few days ago I had a blogging client tell me that they wanted me to always, always spell out the time in columns. Yes, as in one o’clock…all I could do was shake my head.

The “rules” of writing have literally left the building in terms of any kind of consistent “style”. Lost is the art of “AP style”. (for those of you still scratching their heads, AP stands for Associated Press and no, I have no idea who made them the style nazi’s…most of us just rolled with it through the years) Also lost is the art of proper formatting. With all of the new printing options, e-book, traditional, digital…formatting is a whole other evolving aspect of the publishing world. (It’s often hard to keep up) Let’s face it, we, as writers, are now in a profession where there are no real rules, only moments of clarity provided by often bi-polar editors and publishers who change their eating hands for fun.

So what is a writer to do in a world where the road signs change so often that the only thing you know for sure is that you are lost most of the time? The answer is simple, always read the guidelines. Every publisher has them; that set of rules whose reason for existing is known only to the guy who actually owns the publication. And once you have read those guidelines, follow them, no matter how stupid they are. I know, I know…it’s hard but it has to be done if you want to work for those publishers. Sadly there are more of them than there are the ones who follow the “rules”.  I have had to swallow a lot of really stupid styles over the years but I have also made a lot of money off those same publications.

I do realize that the writer in some of you seasoned writers wants to stand up on a desk top and demand that the publisher/editor adhere to the AP style or at least something close but don’t do it…you are wasting your breath. Get your head out of the rules fellow writers…cause there are none…there are just crazy editors/publishers who believe that they are “right” and no amount of arguing will change their minds…BUT…if you shut up and write, there is money to be made and your revenge will be in knowing that, in the end, the publisher is the one who ends up looking stupid. You just need to move on to the next assignment.



© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


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I Submit For Your Approval…Please Handle my Self Worth with Care

manuscript-submissionI am in the middle of the submission process for one of my novels and you know what….I hate the submission process. I always feel dirty after having done so. After the letter introducing myself and then my work, the synopsis that I never feel is quite an accurate portrayal of my story and then the “sampling” of my novel. It all feels so very please-leave-the-money-on-the-nightstandish…

As a writer I enjoy the writing. That is, after all what I got into this for, but I don’t like all the selling of ones work and self. There was a time (and I will be dating myself here – not in the, hey can I take you to dinner way, but in the, OMG you are old way…) when a writer could submit their work and they didn’t have to feel so needy about it. Those times are long gone now.

Let’s be honest, the competition is fierce. There are a gazillion writers out there now and even though some of them should be drawn and quartered for ever having picked up a pen…they still manage to get published. I feel like the killer who can’t get caught in a line up where the victim is holding my actual photo…it sucks. I feel looked over and sometimes I feel like the invisible guy who wants to date the pretty girl but can’t because…well…I’m invisible.

These days submitting to a publisher is less like part of the art and more like part of standing in front of the firing squad hoping like hell that the lead solider screams “wait…we want to publish rather than shoot. But, it is a necessary part of the process if you want someone other than your mom to read your book. Yes you will feel kind of dirty afterward but if you wake up in the morning and there is money on the nightstand at least you’ll have a little confirmation that you were sort of good.

Try and remember that you can’t take the submission process so personally…they aren’t rejecting you personally, just your work and that’s okay because maybe they aren’t the right publishing house for your work either. Move on…it’s okay but for Pete’s sake actually move on…submit again, and again and again, if need be until that money is on the nightstand….


© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


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How to Beg with Style…

My new book is out and it is out in a format that is opening a new publishing world to me….e-books. This is my first experience with delving into this new world and I have to say that, while it is fun…it’s also a bit scary. The format is different; there are other considerations, like what e-readers work with it and so on and so forth.

I have to admit here that I am an old school reader. I enjoy the smell and feel of a book. I can’t deny, however, that producing e-books is cheaper, I get to keep more of the profit and, with my iPad, I can take my whole library with me where ever I go. It’s hard to deny…that last one sells me almost all by itself because I have a very hard time when going on vacation deciding which books to take.

So what is the hardest thing so far about e-books? For me…it’s the begging. Yep, I have a really hard time with the whole…please buy my book thing. With traditional publishers they do all that begging for you but with e-books…it’s all you baby.

So it is abundantly clear to me after two whole days of this new book being out on the market that I am going to need some marketing 101 along the way. I wish I had started with that so my advice today is, if you are going to jump into the e-book market place, start with reading some stuff on self-marketing. There are a lot of tips out there and, trust me, every little bit helps.

So do some research AND buy my book….please, please, please……


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Are You a Writer Who Writes Manuscripts or Books?

I have several published books on the shelves and I have about 20 unpublished manuscripts at home in various forms. Some are hard copies, some are on my computer and one is even on floppy disk. (although I do have a working copy on my hard drive. I just can’t bring myself to throw the disk away) Having both books published and manuscripts written makes me a writer…however…one of these things makes me a writer who can finish a project. Are you a writer who can finish a project?

I have a lot of writer friends. Hell, I’m damn near 50 and by this time, since writing has been pretty much a lifestyle for me as well as a calling, I have more writer friends than a person can shake a stick at. (Note – another of those sayings I don’t get…shake a stick at? Why would I want to do that exactly?) Of these writer friends there are many who have never published a manuscript. Some of them are just that bad and should be running a pizza joint but others are incredible writers yet, publishing eludes them. Over the years I have often questioned my writer friends who don’t publish as to why and there is one reason that rings out more than others…they don’t follow through.

To be a published writer you have to do more than write. While it would be great to produce a manuscript and then have some book fairy show up, (think Vin Diesel or Salma Hayek in tights depending on your preference…)  and take it away and wham, you are published…but it just doesn’t work that way. There is a process to publishing and not all writers have it in them to do it. Then to make matters even more difficult, writers today have to market themselves too. It sucks. I personally would rather have a fairy.

Here’s the basics:

  1. Write an incredibly interesting manuscript.
  2. Edit said book
  3. Find 5 or so interesting publishers who publish your type of manuscript – Writer’s Market is good for this.
  4. Write a synopsis
  5. Write a Query letter – This is a lot harder than you think it is.
  6. Send your manuscript to 5 publishers.
  7. Get rejected
  8. Send manuscript out to 5 more publishers.
  9. Get rejected
  10. Repeat numbers 6, 7, 8 and 9 approximately 80 more times. (any more than that without positive feedback, it’s time to consider becoming a mortician)
  11. Publisher accepts manuscript but tells you to edit out all the interesting parts and write in a large blue bunny and it will be perfect.
  12. Manuscript is published
  13. Sell it to family and unsuspecting friends
  14. Realize that you have to do your own marketing which will end up costing you any advance you get (if you get one, you are lucky) and cry.
  15. Dry your eyes and spend the next 6 months trying to convince the world to read your book.
  16. Explain once again to your mother-in-law that yes you really are a writer and no, this isn’t your last book because you just got lucky this time around. (Listen to her tell your spouse that nice little Billy Warek became a banker and is still not married)

Writing is hard, publishing is harder but it can be done. You are still a writer if you have stacked up manuscripts in a steamer trunk somewhere (yes, I have one) but that isn’t the goal is it? Being a published writer is the goal and, sadly, there is a process we have to follow that, at times, isn’t so pleasant. This is the follow through and this is what many writers don’t do. I will admit that it is still, after all these years, difficult for me too because I, after all, don’t want to do the rest of the process; I just want to write. And I can do that….but that would just make me a writer who writes, not one that publishes. So what are you? A writer who writes manuscripts….or books…..????


© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


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Sir…I Reject You……….or at least your work….

Rejection letters suck. I know, I know…they are a necessary part of the process…but they still suck. Every time I get one I want to march over to the office of the guy or woman who sent it and get in their face. How could you reject ME, I want to scream. I worked so hard, I want to reason.  Anyone see what I am doing wrong here? Yep, I’m personalizing something that really wasn’t about “me” at all.

Every writer does it, takes rejection letters so personally that they lose focus on the point the person who wrote the letter was trying to make. The reason why is because we become the writing that we do. We equate it to giving birth and when we send those little data files or stacks of paperwork out to a potential new home; we take it hard when they are rejected. I can admit that I do that, can you?

So what do we do to make it easier on ourselves? How do we combat PTMR? (Post Traumatic Manuscript Rejection) Well, first and foremost we have to see rejection letters for what they are…someone’s opinion. You submit to many publishers because we all know that getting published is all about finding the “right” home for your story. Just because one publisher rejects the work, it doesn’t mean that every publisher will do so. Acceptance of your work by another human being is subjective at best; to take it personally is…well…silly when you think about it.

Instead of seeing a rejection letter as a personal affront to your work, see it as a part of the process and a chance to take in reaction to your work by other people. Many publishers will write a small note giving the writer a reason why it wasn’t a good fit. Note whatever they say and make your adjustments accordingly…or not, depending on how you feel about them. The really cool thing about rejection letters is that they don’t come with laser guided missiles, prickly thorns or small ninjas who will attack you in the dead of night….a rejection letter can’t really hurt you unless you allow it to destroy your ego. (and even that is entirely up to you because you have to “allow” it) When you get right down to it, a rejection letter is words… on a piece of paper… written by a stranger…nothing more.

So next time you get a rejection letter, open it, read it, take note and then file it in the “things-other-people-think-they-know” file where they belong. The short of it is that you do “send” the work out so you actually want other people’s thoughts, just remember that their thoughts are about the work, not you personally. (Now put that axe away and get back to work)



© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


Posted by on August 25, 2022 in Publishing, Writing


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This Book was written by Alejandro Emmanuel Saba Hank Gaza II but You Can Call Me Fred

What makes a good pen name? Should you use a pen name? And more importantly, will using a pen name screw up your bank account when the money starts rolling in? The answer is…it all depends.

Pen names are kind of fun, especially if you have a rather boring name like Frank or Walter. A pen name gives the writer a chance to be the person they see themselves as in their head. You know what I’m talking about, that dashing young spy type who pens espionage novels by day and saves the damsels by night…yeah…that guy. He’s who you are in your head when you write….that guy has a different name, something like Alejandro or Eduardo or Stephan…. Pen names serve a lot of purposes besides the romantic though. Writers use pen names because;

  • Your name is boring.
  • You may have been in a violent relationship and still trying to stay out of sight.
  • Your story may be based on a true story that could incur the wrath of your subjects.
  • Your name isn’t marketable.
  • Your name is too close to someone else who is already famous.

These are just a few of the reasons but I am sure there are hundreds more. The fact is, a pen name could be what you need for that writing life. If it is it is important to take some things into consideration.

  • Choose wisely – You can only create one pen name for your work without confusing your readers. Make sure the name you choose is one you are okay with having for a long while.
  • Make sure to be upfront with your publishing team. You will write under your pen name but you need to get paid under your legal name for Tax purposes.
  • Develop a persona for your pen name. If you are going to write under a pen name make sure you bring that name to life.
  • Make sure that the name you choose is marketable. There is a story about Katy Perry and how she first tried to sing under her real last name which was Hudson. She failed over and over until she adopted the last name Perry. It is important that your name be part of your niche.
  • Don’t make it too complicated. As you can see by my title a name can get way out of hand. Keep it simple and memorable.

Use a pen name if it suits you, but follow these guidelines. Using a pen name is an important decision. It is who you will be to the writing world and you want the writing world to remember you, as well as your readers.



© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.



Posted by on June 14, 2023 in Publishing, Writing


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That’s it! I am not Reading Ever Again!

No silly…not me…but recently I had a writer friend tell me this because he was so outraged that Kindles and Nooks have replaced actual books for a lot of people. He was outraged…outraged in the way you should be when someone torches your beach home…it was more than a little overboard in my opinion.

So what is my opinion when it comes to Kindles, Nooks, iPads and the like? Should e-readers replace paper books? This is a question I get asked all the time. I guess because I am a writer it is supposed to make me some kind of paper book loving radical but it doesn’t….e-books are kind of exciting as far as I am concerned…if you don’t think so…you might be old….or just plain stubborn.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a certain loyalty when it comes to books. I grew up reading those little bound paper collections, often in the dark, after bedtime, with a flashlight; I love books. But let’s call the e-readers what they are…advancement…the future of books…not the end of books. I have never understood the hollering folks are doing about electronic books being the end of books in general. I don’t know when the last time you picked one up was, but my iPad and my Kindle (yes I have both) use a program that, when I turn them on, tada….the novel that comes up looks like…oh my…a book!  E-readers aren’t killing reading unless all those naysayers who claim loyalty to paper products stop reading because of a stubborn makes-no-sense idea that somehow reading on anything else is not reading. Seriously….

So how do I really feel about e-readers? Well….

  • I can carry around my entire library any time I want.
  • I have a backlight on my e-readers so I don’t have to worry about book lights at night.
  • I can see a book while I am out or be discussing one at dinner and instantly purchase it.
  • E-readers are getting better and better at what they do as they are being developed and that’s cool.
  • I have the Kindle software on my iPad, my computer, my phone, my Galaxy Tab…oh yeah…and my Kindle…so I can read anywhere, anytime.

I think technology is cool and anything that lights up or makes my life easier is okay with me. I am also handicapped (in a wheel chair most of the time) so being able to carry a Kindle as opposed to four paperbacks is great! Do I still buy paper books? Yes I do, because there are still some publishers who aren’t converting to e-readers. Do I think that e-readers are going to kill reading or hurt writers? No, absolutely not…I think that there are some bugs to work out but in the end I think that writers are going to enjoy a wider audience because of e-publishing. I also think that we, as a society, are going to be subjected to a lot more crap writing but that’s the price you pay for being more accessible.

Grow people and stop seeing technology as the big bad of the reading and writing world. Instead seize the opportunity and run with it….get your work out there and get it into the hands of more people…it’s simple math the way I see it…better technology=more readers=more money…..simple.


© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


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If at First You Don’t Succeed….Lock Yourself in a Closet and Do it Anyways

Writing takes persistence. Let me repeat that, only in a way that most people will understand….writing takes a long damn time and often you have to do the same work over and over again until it is right for the publisher; deal with it.

Too many new writers give up after just one try at the craft. I don’t think that this makes them any less a writer than you and I…I think they lack persistence which is key to being successful at what we do. Persistence isn’t what makes you a writer but it can be what makes you a successful writer. We, as writers, live with rejection; it’s a part of what we do. It’s tough and sometimes we get our witty bitty feelings hurt in the process…that doesn’t mean give up…it means try again, harder.

When I began my writing career just after the dinosaurs died off, (okay maybe not that long ago but some days it feels like it) writers understood the value of persistence. The reason why is because we were told very early on that persistence was a part of the process. In today’s world of digital publishing new writers expect their work to be responded to quickly and then, if it isn’t, they just publish it themselves through a blog or website. Guys…this doesn’t take away from your being a writer but it does skip a part of it that allows you to develop that thick skin we all so desperately need thus making us better writers. Rejection and the need to be persistent are two things that take you through the grieving process when you writing ego takes a dive. It goes something like this:

You finish your book

A publishing house says, “sure send it in” (which is usually editor code for, I haven’t made enough writers cry this week)

You get a rejection letter telling you that your story is great but they would like you to change everything after the first sentence.

You cry, scream at the dog, drink yourself silly, binge eat for 7 days and then swear off Twinkies and start your novel over.

It’s a process and each time you go through it several things happen, (a) you develop a little thicker skin, (b) you learn some things about how to make your novel better and (c) you grow as a writer. Yep, this is a need-to-go-through process in order to become an even better writer because it teaches you persistence…which you need…to write…and get published….an handle rejection…. Trust me, when it all seems like it is going wrong, that’s the time to pull your pants up (because you just mooned the publisher who rejected your great American novel) and start again.


© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


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But am I a PUBLISHED Writer?

Stephen King has been famously quoted as having said, “If you wrote something and someone sent you a check for it and you paid the light bill with it and the lights stayed on…you are a published writer” (Not an exact quote but you get the jest) In my mind, you are a published writer as soon as something you have written is out there for the world to see in a forum that you don’t personally own. Someone somewhere made the decision to publish your work! That makes you a published writer.

Don’t get me wrong…there are more than a few snobs out there who will still say that, unless you were paid, you aren’t published. That’s a load of hooey. The people who usually say that are writers who get paid on a regular basis. The thing is, if you had caught those same writers when they were starting out and publishing for free, their tune was different. We live in a world now where there are really no “official” publishing houses per say. There are the larger recognized ones, but just because a publisher isn’t one of the 10 “big ones” doesn’t take away from the fact that a publisher is a publisher.

One of the key elements to making it in the writing world is to live as though you already have the respect that everyone so desires. Live like a writer and you will be one, so to speak. If you have had something published, I don’t care if it’s in the church newsletter, you are already there…you wrote something, someone published it and now, you have all the reason in the world to write some more. That validation that every writer looks for is acceptance from a publisher, any publisher. So if you have written something and someone other than your mom published it in a forum that you don’t have penny stocks in…shout it from the mountains…you are a published writer!


© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


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