Help For Authors


     I believe most of us have stories to tell: from our own lives and experiences; from things we've seen and heard; from dreams and ideas that just pop in on dark nights and lazy afternoons. Probably nothing starts a story quite as well as actually being awake when the storm hits and the lighting is flashing or on a quiet morning with a cup of coffee while taking the time to simply see life around us.
     Writing takes the courage to put ourselves down on paper where others can criticize and poke fun. It also takes the desire to reach and inspire others with word pictures; pictures that will enable them to see beyond the moment, to go beyond their own space, and to dream. Sometimes, the only thing that keeps us going on the project is that this story, this work of art, is coming from our heart and it simply has to come out and be laid gently, lovingly, even tearfully, on paper where at least wecan see it. But, we’ve kept at it and it’s now sitting there, and the question again is, Now what?
     And the big statement is usually, I NEED HELP.
     I’ve noted a few things here to help aspiring authors, even some of the more established ones, get into this writing thing without the pain so many of us feel. Again, most of this is what I’ve learned over the years of writing my own books, but now I want to lay it out for you.
     The first thing for you here is perhaps a copy of my book, So You’ve Written A Book. Now What? The Second Edition is in the works and it will bring all the information up-to-date with material on e-books, self-publishing and so on. All the material that has come about over the last few years. However, the older, First Edition, is still available now and I’d advise you to get a copy. (Note: Anyone who purchases the First Edition will get a chance to get the newer Second Edition FREE as soon as it’s available.) Check the book out at The Books link at the top of the page. In addition, you can get a FREE copy as an e-book. Just follow the links.

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          In addition, here are some names of great books and materials that will help you get into this writing thing.

Stein on Writing
   by renowned editor, author, and instructor - Sol Stein

Self-Editing For Fiction Writers
   by professional editors, Renni Browne and Dave King

The Chicago Manual of Style
   The Essential Guide for Writers, Editors and Publishers
   by The University of Chicago Press.
   There are other manuals of style, but you need something.

   There are several, of course. I have the New Oxford
   American Dictionary and the Webster's New Collegiate
   Dictionary in my computers.
   Some dictionary is essential to your work.

   Both of the dictionaries noted above have built-in
   thesauruses. You must have one to get different
   words to use as you write.

Guide To Literary Agents
   Chuck Sambuchino, Editor
   Writer’s Digest Books

     Thirdly, here is a list of several people or organizations that will help you. Many of them have a lot of FREE material you can get. Others charge you for some of their help. All of it is worth it, though, if you are trying to figure all this out. (I haven't listed their addresses. You can look them up in Google.)

   FREE former self-publisher and branch of Amazon, now publishing directly under Amazon as Kindle Direct Publishing.
   (Look up Kindle Direct Publishing. Still FREE.)

Barnes & Noble Press
   FREE, fast, and easy-to-use self-publishing service.

Penny Sansevieri
   CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts.
   Editing, marketing, articles and plans to get your name out there, free articles.

Michael S. Hyatt
   Author, blogger, speaker, and the former chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers.
  Articles on writing and publishing.
   Especially an article on writing Introductory letters to agents.

Jerry Jenkins
  Novelist and biographer. He is best known as writer of the Left Behind series of books for Tim LaHaye
  (Check his website for a series on how he helps authors.)

     You’ve had this desire in you for a long time, but either you haven’t really known how to do this, or something has come up to put the blocks to your efforts.
     Okay, then get this in your mind, and DO NOT LET IT GO.
     Even the best writers have these same problems. Some of them have set specific times of each day to sit in their quiet den to write. Many of them have missed important family events because they have had to focus so hard on their writing. That nasty phrase “writer’s block” pops up over and over and…
     Having an idea for a story is easy. Starting the book might be easy. However, keeping the momentum going to the end may be difficult. So many writers just never make it to their goal.
     These kinds of things happen to all writers. Sometimes you just have to sit down and study this whole writing thing. What do you want to do? Exactly what is keeping you away from your story? Perhaps make an actual written list of what to do to break away from the roadblocks. Maybe develop a plan (in writing would be great) to get you back on the track of making this book happen.
     Maybe you need to imagine actually holding your book, or seeing friends read it to their children. Imagine reading reviews by professional groups lauding your story.
     So, what am I doing here? Just getting your mind off the problems, the roadblocks, and onto the creation of your manuscript. And that’s what you have to do. If you continue to dwell on the problems, they WILL stop you from creating. If, though, you think past them, you will begin creating, writing, and the story will begin to flow.
     Okay, how do we summarize this? Maybe with a little phrase that’s been around forever: Think Before You Jump. Remember getting dared to jump off the bridge when you were a kid? Everyone else was doing it and now someone has dared you to get in line. Now you simply had to do it or everyone would think you were…
     But, did you think? What if you hit some rocks? (Joni Eareckson Tada was born in 1949, dove into some shallow water in 1967 and became a quadriplegic, which she still is. But, what has she accomplished in these years since?) Have you thought it all out? If you haven’t…
     So, before you begin this writing journey, you are going to take off for a while and think. No, not go play with the intention of maybe thinking. I mean, you’re going to go off by yourself, maybe just sit out in the backyard several days in a row, alone, and really think this whole thing through. Maybe you’ll go visit a writer, or take a writing class or sit through a writing conference. Maybe you’ll just ask a good friend to come over and talk. Get another opinion – or six.
     But you will think.
     And maybe you’ll start gathering all the help from books and people you can get?
     Is this what I really want to do? Do I just have this one story in me, or do I have several? Have I considered the cost – to me, my family, my friends? The cost in money, time, things you need to learn, events you probably won’t be able to go to? Would it just be fun, or is it something you really want to do?
     Think. And ask dozens of questions. Do it now, not later after the pressure has built to the boiling point. Before you start your writing project. If your answer is still YES, I want to write this story, then…
     Is your name J.K. Rowling, or James Patterson? If not, ask the question why anyone would buy your book when it‘s in competition with all those other writers? Books almost never make you famous, and even a bestselling one won’t usually do it.
     I hope this didn’t appear to be mean-spirited, because it wasn’t meant that way. I just want to tell you that if your reason for writing is somewhat on the I want to be rich and famous vein, you really, really need to take the time to think this through. Get clear with the thought of what you want from this. Spend the time, perhaps with a friend or two who will listen to you and give you ideas, and determine what you really want to do.
     And, as I said, GET SOME HELP. Really consider what I’ve written above.