A member of one of my writing groups confided in me that she was fed up with the way that she was feeling used by other writers. This writer is very talented and accomplished, and she’s a member of a few different groups that trade feedback and critiques of each other’s work. “I feel like I get back 10% of what I put in,” she said. And she was losing her energy, thinking about quitting these groups. As she put it, “I’m getting tired of needy people.”
Hooray! You wrote a great book/screenplay/book proposal/short story/etc., and someone has offered you a contract. Congratulations.
Before you eagerly sign on the dotted line, though, it’s very important to know what you’re signing, and educate yourself about what all the terms mean. If you have an agent or attorney, great. But if not, what do you do?
If you are reading this article, then you probably own a computer (or are at least using a computer to read it). I will make the underlying assumption, then, that you currently use your computer’s word processing software for writing and creating documents. I’m going to stick my neck right into that noose hanging out there on the Assumption Tree and assume that you always run your software’s spellchecker before you send your document along on its merry way. If you aren’t using your spellchecker, then you should get a big black felt-tip marker and a 3 x 3 sticky note and make this note to yourself, “RUN SPELLCHECKER.” Stick the note on your computer monitor (aren’t all computer monitors littered with sticky notes, like mine?).
So you want to write a good story? The kind of fiction that resonates with its readers; the kind that lasts longer on the shelf than the milk at your grocer; the kind that keeps people up at night like a narcotic? Well, then here’s a little advice my fifth grade teacher, Ms. Pendergast, gave me: do your homework. But you don’t like research, you say. That’s why you write fiction and not non-fiction, you say. With fiction you can just make everything up. You don’t need to do any research. OK, so how is that working for you? Before you answer, let me also ask you this: ever hear of Michael Crichton? How about The Da Vinci Code?
One of the most common weaknesses I see in day-to-day writing is poor logical flow from one idea or point to the next. This usually takes the form of a bunch of seemingly unrelated phrases thrown together with little or no sense of sequence, continuity, or relativity.
There is one sure way to get what you want in life, but few people actually do it. Put this practice firmly into your day to day business activities and you will have an advantage over the rest of the crowd.
ADVANCE: money paid to author by publisher once book is under contract. ½ of advance is generally paid upon signing of the contract, ½ upon delivery of final manuscript. Advances are paid against future royalties (see below), so the author won’t receive any additional payments until the royalty earnings have surpassed the amount of the advance.
We’ve all heard of ghostwriters. For some, a ghostwriter is the ghostly assistant to junior detectives on a PBS kids’ show. For most, however, a ghostwriter is someone who writes for another, in the name of another.