Being an Author ~ A Story of Romance

I am the queen of romance, I romance so many ideas that if they all came to pass, they would be writing books about me. I would be traveling the world, a shining example of selflessness.

Ever done that? Just sitting there feverishly writing, when your mind wanders and you begin to imagine how awesome your book will be and the hoard of people tripping over each other to read it? Romancing the reward for writing a phenomenal book.

I have done that. I get ideas for fiction books and non-fiction alike when I tell myself stories while weeding the yard, or washing dishes. Keeping my mind busy while doing boring tasks has been something I’ve done since I was five. (Only at five I acted these stories out loud.) I imagine what the title would be for my story and revisit it over and over in my mind. My books on bestseller lists everywhere. It’s fun to day-dream; romancing the idea of being a famous author.

But . . . I don’t want to put the work into a book about one of my stories. Don’t want to research the subject or characters or verify whether one of the scenes would be an accurate portrayal of reality—you know, I might write a futuristic novel in the year 2071 without researching what I think life would really be like then . . . every minute detail. And details are important—vital.

Cactus Moon Publications, LLC is going on eight years in the publishing business. I am the owner and executive editor. One of the most common obstacles to success for new authors is not being aware of what it takes to make their book a success. It involves a great deal of work and effort—the images in romancing authorship are (hopefully) the end result—the end result of your hard work.

Writers are artists; the use of language flowing easily from their pen as they bring us to the brink of tears or falling over with laughter. But not every writer will do whatever it takes to be an author.

Being an author is a profession, writing is a hobby. By profession, I am referring to the author as the sole owner of a business. A book is one of the author’s products. This is the side of being published where many budding authors are taken by surprise. When you launch a new product, you need to get the information out to the public. Hopefully, BEFORE the book is published.

Here are some steps I recommend BEFORE submission to a publishing company—get ready because you will almost need to eat, drink, and sleep your book if you are a debut author.

  • Write and rewrite your manuscript until you have worked out all of the bugs. You would be surprised at how many changes you will have to make to your story before it is ready. For non-fiction writers, you will need to be ready to cite your sources and experiences to ‘prove’ your information. “My grandmother always told me . . .” is not an acceptable source of credible information. You may believe it but you will have to do research to cite sources to back up Grandma’s information. Yes, I did receive a manuscript with this source.
  • This isn’t a must but joining an author’s group in your area is a really good way to get tips and suggestions about your book. Not to mention the great friendships.
  • Once you have your manuscript where you are ready to move forward, I suggest a ‘beta reader’. This is someone who is willing to read your manuscript and give you suggestions for improvement based on a reader’s perspective. This does not have to cost money. If you look around you when at work or extracurricular activities, you can always find an avid reader. Friends work great if they like to read, I mean really like to read. You can always hire a proofreader. If you visit Fiverr.com you can find proofreaders for a very reasonable price should you decide to hire out.
  • After you have rewritten your story with all the suggestions from your readers, you are ready to submit to an editor. Editing can be expensive but if you understand the different types of editors, you will know which editor you will need. Fiverr.com represents a lot of editors as well but be diligent, there are many so you will have to put some thought into who you choose. It is not difficult to find an editor.
  • Now, after editing, your manuscript is ready to be submitted.
  • If you have been building your fan base and you have people ready to read your book, you can send queries out to publishers. Publishers will be interested in your ‘base’ when vetting you before signing.
  • Keep in mind: Authors and Publishers have different business goals. Your product is your vision and the Publisher’s product is providing a publishing service to an author. The marketing for the book will be primarily on the release and intermittently throughout the contract. Why? Publishers represent other authors and books; they market to draw more authors. This means you will carry the bigger responsibility to sell your book. There are abundant resources where you can learn to market your book successfully.
  • If you are very introverted, you can seek out an agent or publicist. The agent will help you submit your book to publishers and give you tips about the book. The publicist will market the book as is.

Still feeling the romance of being an author?

As a publisher, I don’t do everything the way other publishers will. We are all different, so I recommend knowing what you are looking for but being realistic about your chances. If you are a brand new author with no prior experience or platform, I don’t recommend hitting up the big houses. Your manuscript will go into a slush pile before anyone looks at it. Big Houses mean big money and if you are brand new with no agent it will be like winning the lottery if you are published. We are a small press and have taken many a debut author and while we assist authors in finding ways to market and build their platform through suggestions and links, we don’t do it for the author.

There are many resources online to help new authors build their platform, prepare a CV, and query to send a publisher.

If you are still feeling the romance of authorship, then you are ready to get your story out!

Currently, Cactus Moon is accepting non-fiction titles only for the next couple of years. We are a bit heavy on fiction. Need to get some balance!

We hope to hear from you.

Lily Gianna Woodmansee

Executive Editor, Cactus Moon Publications, LLC

www.cactusmoonpublishing.com

Anyone Can Bait a Hook

But it takes a fisherman to catch a fish.

Writing a novel or non-fiction title requires a bit of psychology if you want to catch a reader.

I think it is easy to believe that you can pen a novel, put it on Amazon for millions of readers and think you won’t miss one. Like I said, anyone can bait a hook.

Readers are like fish and right now, it is a reader’s world. There is no shortage of books out there just waiting to be read. With that much bait floating around, reader’s can afford to be picky.

As an author, you will have to be clever if you want to offer the right bait to the right readers for your novel. Otherwise, your title will float around in the water until it falls off the hook and floats to the bottom. Forgotten.

When I took a non-fiction writing class, one exercise included imagining what your reader looks like. Imagine them perusing the web or cruising through the bookstore. How will you snag their attention?

Knowing what your reader looks like will help with the plot, the book-cover, and the marketing. If you design a plot that would attract two different styles of reader from opposite sides of the personality-spectrum, your book will hang in the balance.

Here is an example – The novel you wrote is psychological fiction with a real gory bent. Your characters are complex and the plot is like a puzzle the reader will have to put together. . .then you add green slime coming out of the walls and when the characters go outside, they burst into flames or explode with their entrails flying everywhere.

Think about my example and imagine which kind of reader your book will attract. The thought I wanted to convey-your reader will be split in two – one loves the mystery and psychological complexities but what does green slime and exploding bodies have to do with it? That reader moves on. On the other hand, someone who loves reading about mysterious happenings creating a world where we have to start over – they will love the atmosphere blowing up humans and how they survive. The psychological puzzles may turn that reader off.

There will always be a few readers who will like both ends of the spectrum in my example but that is the point. A few. Sales for a few will not sustain you and it might not be a real motivator for a second novel.

Writing for fish that swim in different schools and waters will make it difficult to sell your novel. Be more cognitive of your plot and characters. My example could easily be made into two novels if the writer imagined which fish he wanted to catch before writing.

Give more thought to the readers your book will attract and market where they congregate. The easiest chance to catch a fish is to drop the appropriate bait into a school. You will still have competitive bait but at least you can catch a good haul of your own and most of all, know you are fishing in the right waters.

By: Lily Gianna Woodmansee – Executive Editor for Cactus Moon Publications, LLC

Persuasive Non-fiction

Lily.2016My second attempt at writing a persuasive argument in college wound up changing my perspective about the topic. I say second because my first attempt received a very low grade. This was my first journey into writing so my understanding of a persuasive argument would be to persuade my reader. Right?

I went to my professor to complain about the ‘D’ I received on my paper. In the moment, I assumed she graded me according to her own view on the subject and I marched over to her office.

I knocked pleasantly on her door with the rage of a Tiger brewing inside. Banging on the door was what I really wanted to do but that was beneath my behavioral standards. When she opened the door, in a calm voice, I asked to speak with her about my paper. By her demeanor, I believe she was already waiting for me.

I ranted, “You asked for a persuasive argument. I wrote one. It meets all of your criteria so what is this ‘D’ for?”

She looked at me and said in a tone not far from my own, “The fact that you followed my directions and wrote from a persuasive standpoint is why you got a ‘D’ and not an ‘F’.” She quickly explained, “In a persuasive argument, you want your reader to be persuaded but first you must present the contradictions and variables that persuaded you of the topic’s validity. Otherwise, it is just you writing about what you know in your own opinion. That isn’t a persuasive argument if you haven’t researched the topic from other angles, including viewpoints that contradict your own. This is necessary for persuasion. Present as many angles as possible, then present the evidence that supports your view. “

I won’t go into further details of the conversation but I sat in her office for quite a while learning the value of a persuasive argument that has been thoroughly researched.

Simply put, if you are writing a non-fiction title intended to persuade the reader, be prepared to thoroughly support your topic. The best persuasion is a persuasion that includes other facets presented through solid research. This builds credibility in the eyes of the reader as it proves you are not afraid to explore other viewpoints and evidence. If we really want a reader to believe what we write, we must be confident in the material. To be confident in the material, we must know it from every angle.

Writing persuasive non-fiction from only one perspective will draw readers who already agree with that perspective. You don’t need to provide evidence or research from opposing angles when it isn’t required by your audience. Where is the challenge in persuading readers who already agree with you? In fact, that isn’t persuasion at all.

After my discussion with the professor, she advised that I could re-write the paper and turn it in for a better grade if I present material from the opposition, as well as evidence to support my claim.

When researching as she requested, I found my original perspective crumbling under the evidence presented by the opposing view. In my case, I wound up writing a persuasive argument over the need for research in writing. I didn’t get an ‘A’ but I did get a better grade.

Not every non-fiction writer will consider researching another perspective. It isn’t against the law, or particularly taboo by today’s standards, to write on a topic from only one point of view. There are plenty of non-fiction titles available that prove this is so.

From CMP’s point of view, non-fiction titles need to be fully researched to the best of the author’s ability. If the topic is a theory or experience that cannot be proven with physical evidence, researching from angles that oppose your theory is a way to present in lieu of physical evidence. Variables are part of research in any theory or hypothesis and should be included for the reader.

Ultimately, for the success and credibility of a non-fiction title, present the whole and let the reader decide whether they are persuaded or not. To CMP, this proves the author is confident in the material they are presenting and a confident author will not cringe under opposing reviews.

Authors are not required to agree with opposing material and I encourage this truth to be stated. Perhaps the evidence says something completely different to you, as an author, than mainstream society. This is transparency in writing. Let the reader know your truth throughout and it will be broadcast through your voice.

Be confident, transparent, and thorough in writing your truth for persuasive non-fiction.

Remember: Truth is subjective.

By: Lily Gianna Woodmansee; Executive Editor for Cactus Moon Publications