by D. J. Herda
We like on-line writing tips from virtually unpublished writers. We really do. They give us so much information to correct. Here are some "tips for writers" by Stacy Verdick Case that we ran across recently. Does the word, Duh, mean anything to anybody out there? Are writers really this stupid...even the newbies??? You decide:
Ten Dos and Don'ts For Publishing Success
1) Do--edit your manuscript until it's as close to publishable as you can make it.
2) Don't--be snotty in your correspondence with an editor. Be professional. This is a business.
3) Do--draft a great query letter. Get help to make it attention-getting.
4) Don't--get cute with your submission. Multicolored paper will make your manuscript stand out but not in a good way.
5) Do--send a clean copy of your manuscript. No coffee stains or musty smelling paper.
6) Don't--call an editor every other day to enquire on the progress of your manuscript
7) Do--finish the next book while you wait for a response. You know they're going to love your work so be ready with the next one!
8) Don't--go broke mailing out complete manuscripts. Use your attention-getting query letter instead. This is a cost-effective way to weed out editors and agents who aren't interested.
9) Do--send a thank you note to any editor who reads your entire manuscript--even if they reject it. They loved your voice enough on this project, they might be interested in another project so leave them with a good impression.
10) Don't--ever give up! 90% of publishing success is being there when the time is right.
Stacy Verdick Case is the owner of http://idothewritething.com a store that offers quality custom designed products for writers of all genres. Stacy invites you to visit her store and sign up for her free monthly ezine that offers writing tips to help keep you on track.
The Real Scoop
All of the above brings us to the realization that some people, when faced with writing content under pressure (called, in the vernacular, a "deadline"), resort to trivia and banality. These ten "tips" are a perfect example. Nothing the writer said here hasn't been said countless times before, and some of it is just plain nonsense.
Here, on the other hand, are some REAL writing tips that might REALLY give you a competitive edge in selling your next book:
1.) Standardize your manuscript format. And we're not talking about "no colored paper" and "don't write in crayon." Nothing says you're an "individual" more than using 10-, 12-, 22-, and 96-point Diversified Bold typeface throughout your book. Unfortunately, to an editor, "individual" means "novice writer," which means "disaster." The answer: Use 12-point Times New Roman throughout on 16- to 20-pound white bond paper (you can substitute a continuous roll of teletype paper, but only if your first name is Jack and your last name rhymes with bear-o-ack). Use bold for title and chapter headings ONLY! This formatting is the choice of professionals and writers who have been plying their craft since Ghengis Khan wrote his epic, "You KHAN Take It with You."
2.) Draft a great query letter, yes. Get help from someone else to make it attention-getting? You've got to be kidding. Who knows your book better than you? And who else can you find who is willing to read it through from start to finish in order to give you a suggestion for a punchy query line? If you want to write an effective query, here's the allgebraic equation: A1 + A2 + B + C = D, in which A1 is a short condensation of your book, A2 is a continuing condensation of your book (no more than three-to-five sentences for both paragraphs total), B is a listing of the book's genre, number of pages, and intended market (one sentence max), C is a brief author's bio and a request to send more (two sentences), and D is the glorious sum of all of the above (i.e., the Perfect Query Letter).
Aside: Do NOT pander to the editor, do NOT get cute, do NOT get friendly, and most of all do NOT try to con him. He's seen them all and resents every single one of them.
3.) Yes, DO write your next book while waiting to sell your first, but not because a publisher is going to react positively and want to see a second title pronto. Uh-uh, folks, let's get real. Write your next book because it will be better than your last. Write your third book because it will be better than your second, and your fourth... Well, you get the point. We learn from writing (including, fortunately, how to write better). The more we write, the more we learn. The more we learn, the more we know. The more we know, the better our writing. See, and you thought this was going to be tough.
4.) Not giving up is good advice. But the reason for not giving up--that 90 percent of publishing success is being there at the right time--is ridiculous. The truth is more like 99 percent. Here's why:
Publishing is a business. Like all businesses everywhere, its goal is to make the parent company money. As such, it follows certainly proven formulae and practices, not all of which are positive (it is, after all, part of Corporate America, remember), but all of which are pretty much carved in stone. Give an editor an undiscovered Hemingway when he's occupied with something other than acquisitions, and it will most likely get turned down. (Don't laugh...studies have corroborated this!). So persistence--and not storyline, characterization, or quality of writing--is the primary factor in becoming a successful author. Of course, the other elements are necessary requirements, but you can't show off your literary brilliance by standing outside the front door. And you won't get invited in to the dance without a ticket--which is your manuscript in the right place at the right time. Persistence.
5. Similarly, not going broke mailing out complete manuscripts is good advice, but not good enough. In fact, we would suggest not going broke mailing out anything. If a publisher in this day and age doesn't accept e-mail transmissions of queries, you're not interested, because there are a thousand other publishers who do. Working via e-mail is quicker, easier, and more cost-efficient than the old-fashioned way. The best publishers know this.
6. Finally, sending a thank-you note as a means of making a positive impression for the future is amateurish and counterproductive. Busy editors couldn't care less about thank-you notes. What they care about is finding the property they're looking for exactly when they need it, all the thank-you notes in the world notwithstanding. So save your time and save yourself the embarrassment of looking like a school-age wannabe by remaining professional. Leave sending thank-you notes to giddy debutantes, caterers, and recent high-school grads. Anyone else should know better.
And these are tips you CAN take to the bank.