by Kathi Kamen Goldmark and Sam BarryMay 2012
Practical advice on writing & publishing for aspiring authors
TIPS FOR SELF-PUBLISHING
Dear Author Enablers,
I’ve had a lot of success with my self-published book that teaches kids how to be safe from predators while also learning how to be better readers. My book, Let’s B Safe, is the foundation of an entire school district’s child safety and literacy program and has received the DOVE Foundation’s Family Seal.
Let’s B Safe could help so many more children if only more people knew about it. Are there any nationally syndicated book reviewers who review self-published books?
Brenda Zofrea, M.A.Ed.
Self-published authors continue to face a high hurdle when it comes to getting their books reviewed. Many book review editors, daunted by the sheer quantity of submissions, have to draw a line somewhere, and as a result, self-published books are rarely considered.
We suggest you stop worrying about the state of reviewing and concentrate your efforts on garnering publicity for your work anywhere you can. Focus on reaching out to teachers and school administrators, parent organizations, child-safety advocates, mental health professionals, pediatricians and any written, broadcast or online media that have demonstrated an interest in preventing child abuse.
One last tip: Always keep a case of books on hand. You never know when you might run into someone who can help you get the word out.
MORE ON FAN FICTION
In our October 2011 column, Parul Kharod expressed concern about her 13-year-old daughter’s participation in online fan fiction forums. In our answer we said this sounded like a wholesome hobby for a budding writer. Fan fiction writer Jessie Mannisto of Northville, Michigan, offers a different perspective:
“While fanfic can help a young writer develop skills, parents should consider two things:
“First, one hugely popular fanfic genre is ‘slash,’ featuring male sexual relationships. Fanfiction can be a great way for GLBT as well as straight youth to explore their sexuality; most slash, however, is by straight adult women. . . . My fanfic-writing friends gave me a pretty skewed view of the world when I was a teen; I wish my parents had known what was out there and helped me make sense of it.
“Second, if your daughter is interested in original writing, you can only go so far using someone else’s characters. I suggest CritiqueCircle.com as a great place for original writers to get feedback and support.”
Thanks, Jessie, for sharing your feedback. Others have told us that a good deal of fan fiction contains romantic and sexual content, both gay and straight, which parents may wish to discuss with their children. We’d love to hear from others about their experience with fan fiction and online writing groups.
CRAFT OF WRITING SPOTLIGHT
Les Standiford, author of Last Train to Paradise and director of the creative writing program at Florida International University, answers a few more of our writing questions:
How do you keep from forgetting the great ideas you have in the middle of the night?
If you can forget it, you probably should forget it.
When is it time to stop researching and start writing?
When you start to feel depressed.
What is your favorite writing tip for aspiring authors?
To understand that the only real reward in writing comes from yourself, at the end of a good day of work or when you finally put a period on a piece.
Email your questions about writing to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name and hometown.