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Right Writing News, December 1, 2004, Issue #014
December 01, 2004
Welcome to the fourteenth issue which highlights a best-selling author's writing life, numerous writing articles and some new links to check. This publication appears monthly. If you are reading this issue forwarded from someone, be sure and use the link below to get your own free subscription.
If you like what you see here, please forward this copy and use this link to subscribe.
Table of Contents1) Honoring Christ in Cartoons--Johnny Hart By W. Terry Whalin
2) Achieve Your Writiing Goals With a 'Can Do" Attitude By Karen O'Connor
3) Why Do Books Fail? By Eva Shaw, Ph.D.
4) Writing Opportunity
5) How to Improve Your Negotiating Skills By Amy and Bob Bly
6) Questions About A Writer's Income By Kelly James-Enger
7) Why Nonfiction Books Sell with Book Proposals
8) How Do I Take The Next Step By Marita Littauer
9) Alternative Publishing By Sandy Brooks
10) New Links to Check
Honoring Christ in Cartoons -- Johnny Hart
By W. Terry WhalinThe wires were everywhere but it was the television test pattern--Christian programming--that caught Johnny Hart's attention. For the last 44 years, this renowned cartoonist has drawn the daily comic strips, B.C. and Wizard of Id. Syndicated in over 1200 newspapers nationwide, many people get a boost for their day from Hart's humorous look at life.
Several weeks earlier, a real estate agent called Hart. "I'm not interested," he told the agent. "We're remodeling our home and love it."
"It's a sizable estate of 150 acres and includes a 30 acre lake," the agent said.
Hart and his wife, Bobby, liked this heavily wooded property in upper state New York. They moved to the property several weeks later and were now trying to get the television to work. The reception was terrible.
Each day when Hart works at his drawing table, he likes to have something else going on such as jazz music or television. Hart's carpenter from Endicott, New York encouraged Hart to purchase a satellite dish. The installation process for the satellite hook up wasn't a simple connection from the house to the dish.
Johnny wanted TVs in different places of his home and several places of his studio. His 5,400 square-foot studio was located across an inlet from the lake. In order to properly set up the satellite dish, the installation meant digging underground laying wires and testing the connections.
"Every time I walked into the room, these men had Kenneth Copeland, D. James Kennedy and other Christian preachers on the television," Hart recalls this incident from 1987. As children, Johnny and Bobby had attended church. Then when he married Bobby, he says, "I knocked church out of her."
"Is this all we're gonna get?" Hart grumbled as they set up the satellite connection. When the men offered to change it, Hart permitted them to continue. Before too long, Hart began sneaking into empty rooms and watching sermons. If his wife walked through the room, Johnny changed the channel.
One Sunday morning, Hart asked his wife, "Do you want to go to church?"
"Church? Not really," Bobby responded firmly. Hart accepted the decision and quietly prayed for his wife. Another Sunday, Bobby came bounding into the room and asked Johnny, "Do you want to go to church?" Johnny quickly agreed and they attended the nearest church in Nineveh, New York. This small town has a grocery, a post office and the Nineveh Presbyterian Church.
For the last several years, Johnny teaches the young adult Sunday School class that he calls "the spill over class." Hart explained about these junior and senior high school teens, "They're the kids too old to care about Sunday school anymore. I teach things from the Bible which fascinate them and me."
When it comes to cartooning, Hart is a master at his craft. His fellow cartoonists have often recognized him as the best in the field with awards like Best Humor Strip in America, six times (The National Cartoonist Society) or Best Cartoonist of the Year (France's highest cartooning award). While 98 per cent of the response from readers to his cartoons are positive, sometimes Johnny strikes a blow for Christianity through his humor and stirs some controversy.
"No one had any problem when I was drawing Santa and Easter bunnies," Hart said, "but their attitudes changed when I began giving a Christian message." For Good Friday several years ago, Hart simply drew four black panels, which went from gray to pitch black. Underneath the final panel were the words, "Good Friday." On the pages of the comics, Hart uses almost any occasion for his characters to reflect the Good News about Jesus Christ. Particularly on the holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter or even Halloween (for an anti-Halloween cartoon) Johnny slips some Biblical truth to his readers.
The newspapers receive his cartoons several weeks before they are printed. Because of the liberal viewpoints in the newsroom, Hart says that these newspapers reserve the right to "edit" his materials. "Edit" is their code word for omitting the B.C. comics with a spiritual message. Often, Hart doesn't discover about these "edits" until his readers write or call and tell him.
One of the worst culprits is the Los Angeles Times. Several years ago a Christian ministry stirred readers to complain about the issue of Hart's B.C. cartoons around Easter. In cynical fashion, the L.A. Times moved the cartoons from their usual spot to the religion page. According to Hart, they ran the comic strips for Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Easter on the same day--and in "postage stamp size."
Before drawing his Christmas comic, Johnny will often re-read the Christmas story from the Bible for inspiration. Recently for Christmas, Johnny had his cave girl looking at a cross-shaped Christmas star, positioned over a skull-like mountain (Golgatha), saying, "Wow look at that star!" A little further to the right, a snake, lurking behind an apple tree (readers see the Garden of Eden) says, "It's show time."
Whether it's the Christmas season or any other day, Hart is constantly looking for creative ways and humorous ways to challenge his readers with truth from the Bible. Keep an eye out for the subtle or sometimes not-so-subtle message from this master cartoonist. He shows his readers that Jesus is the Reason for the Season.
W. Terry Whalin understands both sides of the editorial desk--as an editor and a writer. He worked as a magazine editor for Decision and In Other Words. His magazine articles have appeared in more than 50 publications including Writer's Digest and Christianity Today. Terry has written more than 60 nonfiction books and his latest is The Complete Idiot's Guide to Teaching the Bible (Alpha Books). See more about his writing at www.right-writing.com/whalin.html. For more than 12 years Terry has been an ECPA Gold Medallion judge in the fiction category. He has written extensively about Christian fiction and reviewed numerous fiction books in publications such as CBA Marketplace and BookPage. He is the Fiction Acquisitions Editor for Howard Publishing. Terry and his wife, Christine, live in Scottsdale, Arizona.
© 2004 W. Terry Whalin
Achieve Your Writing Goals With a 'Can Do' Attitude
By Karen O’Connor"My goal," says Edel Jarboe, free-lance writer and web editor, "is to help others be healthier, happier, and most important, to be informed."
Jarboe was a bookkeeper at one time in her professional life, but she noticed herself growing restless with that work. She wanted to live her dream of becoming a writer. "I also wanted to learn more about how to have a fulfilling life," she adds. "For a time it seemed as though I didn't know how to be happy or content." So she quit her job and followed her heart. Now Edel Jarboe encourages others to achieve their goals by taking the necessary steps to bring them about--steps Jarboe herself once took.
1. Set a goal you believe in and can manage.
"A positive attitude is essential," says Jarboe. "You must first believe that you can have the result you want, even before you take that first action step." Relax and envision yourself in the role you aspire to--writing a children's story, interviewing a curator at the zoo for an article on elephants, seeing your first book in print. How do you feel? What do you see yourself doing in that new setting? "Immerse yourself in simple, positive images," says Jarboe, "so you'll have the strength and determination to keep going--even when you meet obstacles." If you can write only one story or article every six weeks, make that your goal. If you want to invest in a time of study that will lead to your goal, enroll in a class or attend a writers' conference. There is no right or wrong choice as long as you're moving toward your ultimate goal.
2. Slow down and focus on what the goal requires.
"Slowing down and focusing on the completion of your goal adds to your happiness," says Jarboe, "because along the way you'll be building self-confidence and knowledge," two things you'll need to succeed. Suppose you want to write one magazine article each month for a year. What will it take? List the steps you envision. Modify them as you go along. For example: 1) Select a topic; 2) Find a suitable market; 3) Interview an expert, if appropriate; 4) Write the article; 5) Edit and proof-read; 6) Review submission guidelines; 6) Submit.
Perhaps you wish to write plays for children or you want to break into the textbook market. Browse the Internet for leads, speak with people in those industries, read books that provide the information you need.
3. Watch your ethics.
When we lie or cheat to get what we want, our success is short-lived and leaves a bitter taste. "Remember," says Jarboe, "every act has consequences." For example, quoting someone else's writing without giving proper credit, deliberately misleading an editor regarding the authenticity of an interview, or any other unethical act designed to get you what you want with the least amount of effort, usually leads to guilt, low self-esteem, and the knowledge that you don't really deserve what you attained. "You’ll begin to question whether or not your success is real, and worry that you’ll be found out and lose what you thought you gained," she adds. "This is a good time to apply the timeless adage, 'If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.'"
4. Apply your life's lessons.
According to Jarboe, "keeping track of your life lessons and applying them allows you to learn what works and what doesn't work, and to discover that you are tougher than you think you are. Thanks to these lessons you know that if something doesn't work out, you'll get past it and emerge stronger than ever."
This is particularly good advice for writers who are sometimes tempted to give up when they receive a rejection, or the writing requires more time and effort than they planned. I remember the editor of Young Miss asking for two complete rewrites and the editor of St. Anthony Messenger requiring a substantial revision before purchasing articles from me in my early career. Because my father had taught me the value of perseverance, however, I did what was asked and I sold both articles!
Jarboe also encourages writers to look at situations and events they've conquered in other areas of their lives, such as earning a college degree, managing a household, leading a team at work, being a parent, and so on. "Those experiences will strengthen you for the present and future," she adds. "Temporary set-backs are just that--temporary! Set your mind on your goal and then move ahead with an I-can-do-it attitude."
Five ways to simplify your life as you work on your writing goals:
1. Drop time-wasters. These may include mindless television shows,unnecessary phone conversations, idle chatter, fancy meal preparation, and so on.
2. Curtail unsupportive relationships. Minimize the time you spend with people who distract you from your goals. Share your dream with those you can trust. Let them know how important it is to you.
3. Avoid volunteer work. Consider your writing a 'worthy cause' that deserves your time and attention.
4. Give up negative self-talk. Each day, stand in front of the mirror and affirm your progress, however small it might be.
5. Delegate household chores to family members. Ask and you are likely to receive the help you need.
Karen O'Connor is a sought-after speaker and award-winning author of more than 45 books for adults and children, including the best-selling Help, Lord! I'm Having a Senior Moment (Regal Books), Getting Old Ain't For Wimps, (Harvest House) and In Step With Your Step-children (Beacon Hill). She is a wife, mother, grandmother and writing mentor for the Long Ridge Writers Group (www.longridgewritersgroup.com) and for the Christian Writers Guild (www.christianwritersguild.com). Karen is known for her wit and wisdom on the platform and in print. Visit Karen on her web site for more information: www.karenoconnor.com.
© 2004 Karen O'Connor. All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission.
Why Do Books Fail?
By Eva Shaw, Ph.D.Every year in the US, more than 60,000 new books are presented to readers. There's never been any study, but one would imagine at any given time there are about five times that many writers gathering ideas, doing research, working on books concepts, completing manuscripts, contacting agents and pitching their proposals to publishers. Most books fail to capture the attention of publishers and often those that are published fall dismally short of the writer's goals for success.
The majority of the books that do not make it to the bookstore fail because of SEVEN reasons. To "bullet proof" your book, so it's not shot down before an agent or editor has finished reading the manuscript, review these tips. Then if necessary change your "game plan."
Just FYI: These are the same techniques I have reviewed with each of my over 70 published and ghosted books. Currently one of my ghosted books is #3 on Amazon.com's best business books of the year, another title won Book of the Year by the American Journal of Nursing and scores have received rave reviews in USA Today, Washington Post, San Diego Union Tribune and other media.
Before you send out that manuscript or during any part of the preparation process, check these eight points. How does the work measure up? What should you or what can you change to make it a GO?
Confusion. Emerging writers and sometimes even seasoned authors do not have a clear view of the entire book and mix format, construction, thesis, structure and points of view. Books have categories, or genres, and too often emerging authors do not study the genre that they're targeting OR they change genres while writing. This doesn't mean one needs to be a copycat, rather by reading the genre to be targeted one becomes familiar with length, structure and concept. Before offering a manuscript to an agent or publisher, clearly know the genre and where your book will be placed on the bookstore shelf.
Lack of original insight. It's been said, "There's nothing new under the sun." As that's the case, smart authors discover ways to twist the "old stuff" and make it fresh. What's your twist? Check the competition for your intended book. Make your book out of the ordinary. Be able to tell a publisher, agent or editor about your book in 25 words or less. For instance with my book on garden therapy, Shovel It: Nature's Health Plan, the 25 words are simple: Shovel It tells how to find peace, health and happiness in your own back yard. What are your 25 words?
Poor or ineffective research. If you're in doubt about the authenticity of anything in your book, whether it's fiction or nonfiction, double check. Readers demand truth; publishers are leery of unsubstantiated claims. If it's been found that you've "stretched" any statistic or truth, it'll be discovered.
Insufficient self-editing. You really can do all or most of the editing yourself. Put your book away to cool and then keeping a copy, ruthlessly edit out anything that doesn't strongly support your book. Hint: Look for redundancy or repetition. Readers, publishers and agents do not need to be told things twice. That last sentence was an example of sneaky redundancy. Not a native English speaker or want some insight? Hire an editor that knows your genre.
"Hookless" beginning or lackluster end. Every chapter of your book must hook the reader. This takes skill with nonfiction and fiction. The end must fulfill the promises you've proposed in the text and support thesis. It must be done in a creative, fresh way.
Bad mechanics. If you need to brush up on grammar or the mechanics of manuscript preparation, do it before submitting your book project. You get one chance with an agent or publisher—they often receive more than 100 manuscripts a week. Submit the cleanest manuscript humanly possible. Messy presentation, unnumbered manuscript pages, and an incomplete and lack-luster proposal without a marketing plan thoroughly researched and do-able by the author are a few of the reasons manuscripts are rejected even before they're read.
Lack of perseverance. To have your manuscript accepted, you must continue to pitch it in a query letter or as requested by the publisher or agent. Editors at publishing houses and agents do not read minds, nor do they, quite possibly, even know you have a book to market. Make contacts, present your ideas (in 25 words or less), and keep at it. The first book I wrote back (when dinosaurs roamed the earth) was rejected by 49 publishers. Undaunted, I submitted it to Lucky #50. It sold. From then on, it's history: 9 editions in the US, throughout the UK with Simon & Schuster, 13 different foreign editions, sold to Henry Holt Publishers and it continues to be published even after 20 years. The book? 60 Second Shiatzu.
Writing is not for wimps. If you've "bullet proofed" your book with the above recommendations and it is rejected, it probably has NOTHING to do with you. It simply means you have yet to find the right publisher to recognize the book's worth.
Success in sports and success in writing have a lot in common. Hockey star Wayne Gretzky said, "You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take." Unless you try, you'll never score. And with these tips, scoring should be easier.
The list of best-selling books that were rejected again and again is shocking. Here are a baker's dozen:
1.Dubliners by James Joyce
2. Mash by Richard Hooker
3. Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison by Charles Shaw
4. Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacificby Raft by Thor Heyerdahl
5. Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
6. The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain
7. Chicken Soup for the Soul series, Hansen and Canfield
8. Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis
9. The Peter Principle by Laurence Peter
10. Dune by Frank Herbert
11. Harry Potter series, by J. K. Rowling
12. Peter Rabbit series, by Beatrix Potter
13. 60-Second Shiatzu by Eva Shaw
Eva Shaw, Ph.D. is the author of more than 70 books and ghosted book-length projects. She teaches writing through Education To Go at 1200 colleges and universities worldwide and is a popular speaker at writing conferences. You can reach Eva at www.evashaw.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
© Eva Shaw, Ph.D. 2004
ATTENTION WRITERS – Send your true short story now!God Answers the Prayers of Soldiers and Their Families to be Published by Harvest House in Fall 2005
STORY SUBMISSION DEADLINE: FEBRUARY 28, 2005
GOD ANSWERS PRAYERS is a new book series under the God Allows U-Turns® brand. Published by Harvest House Publishers, volumes one and two will release in March 2005. We are now accepting stories for a “fast track” volume three in the series; God Answers the Prayers of Soldiers and Their Families.
SPECIAL MILITARY AFFILIATION: This special military volume will release in conjunction with the 50th Anniversary celebration of the Protestant Women of the Chapel (PWOC) in Fall 2005. The PWOC is an international resource network that unites, trains and encourages women in the military chapel community in their spiritual growth. A portion of proceeds will be contributed to the PWOC from the God Allows U-Turns Foundation.
TIPS: All stories must have a military component—any branch, at any era in time. We are especially interested in stories from the current conflicts abroad. All stories must contain the theme of Answered Prayer. We publish the nitty-gritty issues of life – few subjects are taboo. Be able to tell a compelling story with drama, description and dialogue.
Submit stories to us now at: email@example.com
Visit our web site now for complete Writer’s Guidelines and a Sample Story: http://www.godallowsuturns.com/apmilitary.htm
Please forward this message to writers groups, military groups, and/or email lists as you feel appropriate. Thank you!
The God Allows U-Turns Project ®
How To Improve Your Negotiating Skills
By Amy and Bob BlyMany writers look upon negotiating as an unpleasant, stressful chore to be avoided at all costs. And, because they're uncomfortable with negotiating and the confrontation and risk taking it entails, these writers frequently get the short end in bargaining sessions.
Success in negotiations can increase your salary; get you a better position, gather support for your project or department; gain approval for a budget; and Improve your chance for success on the Job. Therefore, it pays to overcome your aversion to haggling and to improve your negotiating skills. You can gain immediate improvement simply by following the suggestions presented below.
The Win-Win Negotiation
When most of us think of negotiating, we assume one of two things will happen: either we'll win or we will lose. But the pros don't look at it that way. They know that a successful negotiation is one in which both sides feel like winners...at least to some degree.
When you sit down to bargain, don't feel you have to win on every issue. Score major victories, but concede small points. Ask yourself, "What can I give up that will please the other person without putting a major dent in what I want out of this?"
Everything Is Negotiable
Many corporate workers like to think t at certain company policies and procedures are unchangeable, as commandments etched in stone. The fact is, nothing is unchangeable and everything is negotiable.
Knowing this fact is a powerful advantage in bargaining. For example, a consultant, negotiating his fee with a client, was told that the company could not go along with his request for partial payment in advance. "I don't see anything wrong with it but my hands are tied," explained the project manager. "Company policy doesn't allow payment until at least part of the work is completed."
The consultant knew better than to accept this at face value. "Bill," he replied, "I appreciate that that may be the way you normally deal with suppliers. But as an independent consultant, I receive payment up front from people who want to hire me. I know that this policy is just a guideline set by management and management can break it if it wants to. And I am telling you that you have to break it if you want me to take on this project for you." A week later, the consultant received a purchase order and a check for one-third of his fee.
The Rule of 3
Before you sit down to bargain, you should have three figures or positions fixed firmly in your mind:
• The maximum--the highest figure. The most you dare ask for without fear of "blowing away" your Opponent.
• The minimum--the bottom line. The lowest figure you'd settle for.
• The goal--a realistic figure you have a good chance of getting. The goal is probably between 50 and 75 percent of the maximum.
It pays to be optimistic and aim high when setting your maximum. For example, a scientist requesting funds to purchase a new piece of laboratory equipment might be able to buy an adequate machine for between $15,000 and $50,000. If he proposes $50,000, and management cuts his budget in half he ends up with a $25,000 machine. But by setting his initial request 20 percent higher, at $60,000, a cut In half would leave him with $30,000--and a machine with $5,000 more in capabilities and performance.
When negotiating, try for your goal but be prepared to accept any offer between the minimum and the maximum. In some cases you may be surprised to find that the maximum is approved without argument. At other times, your opponent may not even grant you the minimum. If this happens, you may be forced to consider more drastic action such as going to your opponent's supervisor, threatening to quit, or changing jobs.
YOU Set the Rules
The person who controls the negotiation is usually the one who has set the guidelines. Make sure this person is you--and not your opponent.
To do this, say, "Before we get started, I'd like to go over the situation as it stands, and outline what we hope to accomplish here." Then go on to state things as you see them. The other person will generally agree, interjecting only to make a few minor modifications to what is basically your point of view Thus, when you begin to negotiate, you're in control of the situation--because you defined it.
You Pick the Time and Place
To succeed in a negotiation, you must be prepared physically, mentally and psychically.
To throw you off guard, the other person may try to force you into a surprise negotiation. A boss, for example, sticks his head in the door and makes a request to which he wants an immediate answer. Or, the phone rings. and a customer suddenly wants an on-the-spot price quotation on a project you and he discussed in vague terms months ago.
Don't be bullied into a negotiation You're not prepared for. Say to the boss, "Gee, I'm in the middle of a rush job. Why don't I drop by your office later this afternoon." Say to the customer, "I'm with someone right now, and it will take me some time to put the figures together. I will call you back tomorrow." No reasonable person would deny these requests, and you will gain time to prepare your case. You'll also enjoy the advantage that comes from holding the negotiation at a time and place of your choosing.
An Arsenal of Facts
The best way to prepare for a negotiation is to gather all the facts, statistics, precedents, case histories, documents and other evidence supporting your position.
Printed evidence is especially potent. People are skeptical of oral arguments, but they assume that words printed in an article, book or report are true. Collect surveys, studies and article clippings, make copies, and highlight or underline key facts to make them leap off the page. Unleash this powerful support when you fee! you are losing ground on a key point.
You may end up using only a small percentage of this material, but you'll negotiate with greater confidence knowing it is available. Experience proves that people who succeed in debates and negotiations are usually the ones who have the most facts.
Don't Be Hasty
Writers and other people who think logically are eager to achieve what psychologists call closure." Closure is a neat, final, well-defined solution to a problem. Technical people seek closure because they are trained to find precise solutions.
But life isn't an equation; negotiations and other "people problems" can't always be wrapped up as neatly as a mathematical proof or engineering design.
When negotiating, you should expect and be willing to accept at least some ambiguity in what is resolved. If 90 percent of the issue is settled, and people in the meeting are beginning to grow restless, let the other 10 percent go for a while. Don't insist that every last detail be buttoned down that day; otherwise, you risk angering people and losing the ground you've gained.
On the other hand, don't start giving in to your opponent just because you're tired and cranky and ready to go home. Instead, call for a break. Sum up where you are so far, and suggest wrapping it up in a future session...when, thanks to a few days rest and contemplation, everyone will be able to approach the situation with fresh Ideas--and fresh minds.
The Human Touch
Above all, remember that you're dealing with human beings, not machines or chemicals.
You'll have an edge if you learn as much as you can about your opponents before you sit down to negotiate. Be aware of the personalities involved and adjust your "sales pitch" accordingly. Top executives, for example, usually want to get to the bottom line in a hurry. They are concerned with the "big picture" and don't want to waste time with minutia.
The poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said, "If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility." You may dislike your opponent or be angry at him for blocking your way, but your negotiations with him should be civil and friendly not argumentative and hostile. Keep your cool when attacked, and respond with sound arguments and supporting facts. not an outburst of temper or shouting.
Try to highlight, whenever possible, the common goals and points of agreement between you. After all, this isn't war, it's a negotiation. The two of you have, for the most part, similar goals; it's your ideas on how to achieve these goals that differ. When responding, use phrases that show your empathy with the other person's position, such as "That's a good point" or "I agree with most of that, but . . ." Make the other person feel like a winner and both of you will be.
Amy Bly, a freelance public-relations writer and Bob Bly is a freelance copywriter and the author of more than 50 books, including The Complete Idiot's Guide to Direct Marketing (Alpha Books), The Copywriter's Handbook (Henry Holt) and Write More, Sell More (Writer's Digest Books). Used by Permission. You can learn more about Bob Bly at his website: www.bly.com
Questions about a Writer's Income
By Kelly James-EngerQuestion: What's the minimum when it comes to reporting income? Another freelancer I know only reports amounts over $600 as income on her tax return. She says that if a business pays less than $600 to a vendor it's not required to send a form 1099 at the end of the year, so the government doesn't know about it. Is this legal?
Answer: According to the Internal Revenue Service, businesses and people who pay more than $600 in services to another person or business must file a form 1099-MISC with the IRS and the person or business who received the payment. (The 1099 form is used to report payments to non-employees—employees receive a W-2 form at the end of the year.) Some writers mistakenly think that since businesses are not required to file a form 1099-MISC unless they hit the $600 minimum, any amounts less than $600 need not be reported on their federal and state income tax returns.
Well, if you're one of those people, we've got bad news—as far as the federal government goes, all of your income is reportable income. And besides, as a freelancer, it behooves you to report these amounts, says Charles Petit, an attorney based in Urbana, Illinois who represents authors in publishing law matters.
"Absolutely report those small payments," says Petit. "It's ordinarily to the writer's advantage to do so. Keep in mind that if you're not showing a consistent profit, the IRS may treat your writing activities as a hobby and reduce or eliminate your deductions. (This applies to your total writing business, not project by project.) If you're keeping good track of all of your expenses, the additional tax burden of even a fair number of payments below the 1099 requirement will be minimal, and it's unlikely that you can earn much over $2,000 in a year without triggering the reporting requirement from at least one publisher. Remember, that's $600 from a given publisher during a calendar year—so three $250 articles will trigger a 1099."
If you're confused or have questions about your tax liabilities, Petit says it's important to educate yourself. "Writing is a business, and as the CEO of your writing business you need to understand your business plan and responsibilities," he says. "I strongly advise writers to read the IRS's guide for small businesses (Publication 334) and sections 1, 8, and 13 of the IRS's guide to business expenses (Publication 535). Both are available for free at http://www.irs.gov." Still have questions? Consulting a certified public account will probably be more cost-effective than hiring a lawyer. Check your local phone book for one in your area.
Question: What about when a publisher reimburses me for phone or copying expenses? Is that considered income as well?
Answer: The short answer is yes—it doesn't matter that the publisher is reimbursing you. It's still reportable income. But remember that according to the IRS, if you're operating as a business, not a hobby, you can deduct expenses that are both ordinary and necessary. The IRS defines those terms in its Publication 535, "Business Expenses". An "ordinary" expense is one that is "common and accepted in your trade or business" and a "necessary" expense is one that is "helpful and appropriate for your trade or business". An expense does not have to be indispensable to be considered necessary.
"If you're doing your bookkeeping properly, you'll also be deducting those expenses (either on Schedule C or your corporate tax return), so those reimbursements should just wash out against the expenses," says Petit. "Further, if the sum of the reimbursements and the payment for the piece exceed $600, the publisher should be giving you a 1099 anyway, so you'll have to report it."
Freelance journalist Kelly James-Enger is the author of Ready, Aim, Specialize! Create Your Own Writing Specialty and Make More Money (The Writer Books, 2003.) She can be reached through her website at: www.becomebodywise.com.
© 2004 Kelly James-Enger. Used with Permission.
Why Nonfiction Books Sell with Book Proposals
According to some estimates there are six million manuscripts and proposals in current circulation in various publishing offices. With the intense competition to get the editor's attention, how can you cut through the publishing noise? If it's a nonfiction book that you want to write, the best way to cut through the noise is with a well-done book proposal. As an editor who has read a lot of this material in circulation, Terry Whalin knows the rarity of finding a well-done book proposal.
Terry Whalin has written more than 60 nonfiction books (all with traditional publishers). He understands what is required to produce a nonfiction book proposal. He has collaborated with a number of different people on nonfiction book projects. Also Terry is an acquisitions editor—often the first person to read these nonfiction book proposals. This book contains his insight and experience regarding book proposals that sell. His stories and insight will show you how to avoid the pitfalls of rejection.
If you want to write a nonfiction book, then you need Book Proposals That Sell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success and you can have this product in a few instant clicks for only $19.95. Besides the ebook, Book Proposals That Sell includes a real nonfiction book proposal that Terry wrote (and an agent sold) for a six-figure advance from a traditional publisher.
Besides several valuable appendices in this ebook, Terry includes several bonuses with each purchase.
How Do I Take The Next Step
By Marita LittauerAs professional speakers, we all started somewhere. No matter how far we have come, no matter where we are today, when we look at the professional competency of authorship and product development, there is always a next step to be taken. When our presentations are working, when they are touching lives and making an impact, people begin asking us for some form of our presentation which they can take home to remind them of the valuable message. This launches us on the "Authorship and Product Development" journey.
Most of us start with audiotapes. If you have not taken this step, the easiest way to begin is to allow each and every speaking opportunity to be tape recorded. You never know which one will be your personal best! You should have some type of taping agreement with the groups for whom you are speaking, which will allow you to keep the rights to the recording while allowing them to sell copies to their own constituency. On those occasions when you know the presentation was one of your best, be sure you do get a "copy-master."
Once you receive a tape from the meeting planner, you simply duplicate it in small quantities, 25-100, label it in a "poly box," and sell it. If you have a good relationship with your church, you might be able to go in and use their duplicating equipment (of course, you will need to pay for the tapes, or you might want to bring in your own) as I did for many years. If that arrangement is not feasible, you can look in your local phone book under "audiovisual" to see if there is a duplicating service near you. If you cannot find one nearby, you could work by mail with the company I use here in Albuquerque. Their name is Manna Taping, and you can reach them at 505/833-0065.
Once you have your tapes, you have an instant product which people can purchase to take home your message. If you have already done this, the "next step" might be to add a professional voice-over doing an opening or closing. Or, you may want to upgrade your labels or upgrade to the hard plastic Norelco style case with a printed J-card insert. Or, you may even want to develop an audio album.
A good source for both the tapes and cases is CAM Audio, Inc. You can reach them by calling 800-527-3458. Paper Direct sells both plain and some preprinted J-cards which match several different styles of their preprinted papers. Paper Direct's J-Cards are designed to be printed in your laser printer. You can contact Paper Direct at 800-A-PAPERS.
Recently I tried something new with my plain poly-boxed tapes I had been selling when I spoke. I heard someone from a tape company interviewed in the National Speakers Association's monthly tape "magazine." On this tape the person talked about how important the packaging was on a tape. She said that the packaging was the only thing the potential buyer had to go on in making a decision as to whether or not to buy the tape. She continued by pointing out that when you look at a book, you can flip through the pages, but with a tape, the packaging is all you have. This advice made sense!
Through CAM Audio, Inc. I purchased what they call clear view albums. These clear audio albums sell for around a dollar, hold one or two tapes, and have a place for you to slip in an insert which acts as a front and back cover and can also contain copy which will be read from the inside. Using the graphics program on my computer (I use Corel Draw), I created attractive, professional, and colorful covers for my best-selling tapes. I printed the covers on my color printer, cut them to size, and inserted them inside the clear view albums. I made labels for the tapes using the Avery label program, labeled the tapes I'd had duplicated, and put the tapes inside my new album covers.
The first time out with these new products, my tape sales tripled! Needless to say, I have since made similar covers for all of my tapes. Since there is increased cost, color cover, and more expensive packaging, I have raised the price. And I still sell more. If you'd like one as a sample, I suggest you call 800-433-6633 and order the two-tape package Gayle Roper and I did together called Everything You Need to Know About Getting Started in Christian Speaking & Writing.
Once you have tried out your material and know where you have great success and audience demand, the next step is usually the publishing of the printed page. This may take the form of a book, but can also include magazine article reprints and booklets, which are easy to produce on your own and in limited quantities.
Whether your first publishing ventures are large or small, don't succumb to the temptation to believe that you are all-knowing. Use the help of an outside professional, at least for the editing, and at the most for the entire physical writing process. There are many editors who know grammar and punctuation but do not have your creative or marketing prowess.
If you have been speaking for many years, yet do not have the desire to write a book, the article or booklet form may be your next step. This was the solution used by CLASS graduate and professional speaker George Fields, Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), who said, "I have to have something valuable to say--right now I don't have the burning desire."
What if you already have been speaking for a number of years and have numerous single tapes, several albums, and a few books? Your next step may depend on your market. Perhaps you are an inspirational and motivational speaker who does a lot of general session or keynote presentations where you utilize a few key stories which really touch peoples hearts. Or, if you have a symbol which has come to stand for the thrust of your message, you might want to look to support products.
Liz Curtis Higgs, CSP, Council of Peers Award of Excellence (CPAE) is a master at this. In addition to her books including, One Size Fits All and Other Fables, Only Angels Can Wing It, Bad Girls of the Bible, and The Pumpkin Patch Parables, Higgs carries a vast array of support products. These include kazoos, mirrors, orange pencils which are bent into the shape of a pumpkin, angel pins, and many other items which support her message. For Liz, who speaks to predominately female audiences, these items sell well.
My mother, Florence Littauer, CSP, CPAE, also carries many products which support her popular messages and books, especially Silver Boxes and Personality Plus. Of the 150 different support products regularly stocked in our warehouse, Personality Profiles in three different versions, Personality Testing Software, Silver Box pins, tie tacks, and earrings are some of the best selling. These items are popular with the church audiences which make up her primary market.
If your market is more of a corporate training environment, trinkets may not be appropriate, but you can still look to expanding and supporting the message of your successful books. With the limited time most audiences have for reading, audio books are growing in popularity. Rather than being the full book on tape, these are usually edited and condensed versions which capture the essence of the books in a one to three hour time frame.
Don't try to condense your text yourself. As the author, you will have too much difficulty trying to determine what to keep and what to cut. There are professionals who specialize in developing audio book scripts. Once you have a script, you can record the script yourself if vocal quality is one of your strengths, or you may want to hire a professional voice to insure a quality product.
If your books to date have been self-published, you may want to pursue a major publisher to get better distribution. CSP, CPAE Jim Cathcart's current goal is to develop a relationship with an agent who will share his excitement over his projects. While this may be a fantasy, Jim said he is tired of going into a bookstore and seeing his friends’ books there and not his.
An agent can act as an advocate for and on behalf of the author to the entire publishing company, as the agent pitches the project to the whole company, rather than just the acquisitions editor. Since a good agent has a relationship with the whole company, he meets with all the key players including the heads of marketing, sales, etc.
Leading agent Rick Christian of Alive Communications is currently working with more than 90 publishers. He works on books for which he raises the vision for what the title can do, working principle deal points, royalties, and advances. Additionally, he works on movie deals, comic strips, and other mediums. Since he works with a broad range of publishers and projects, knowledge of the concessions he has been able to get on behalf of one client sweeten the representation for all the authors with whom he works.
Like a publisher, agents see dozens of manuscripts a week, most of which they reject. Rick advises new authors to do their homework. He says that if a project has good quality writing and good ideas backed up with endorsements and references from big name authors, it helps bring the project to the top of the pile faster.
If you are in the place of courting an agent or a publisher directly, remember to treat him like you would a client who is thinking of hiring you. You have to sell him on YOU first. Don't just send in your manuscript. Include your entire press kit, audios, videos, previously published books, sales totals on self-published products, marketing plans, and anything else which will sell them on YOU.
I have had the opportunity to survey the acquisition editors of big, small, and in between publishers. Regardless of size, they all agree that they would rather take a poor, but workable manuscript from an author who is marketable, than a literary masterpiece from an author who simply sits at home and writes, but is not involved in creating a demand for the product in the marketplace.
When Liz Curtis Higgs had the opportunity to meet with the editorial team at Thomas Nelson Publishers, she brought in all her self-produced products with sales figures and all of her personal promotional materials. She had never been published before, but she wowed them and walked out with a five-book contract, four of which are now published. Liz reminds speakers who are used to producing their own products not to worry about the advance dollars, but instead to push for a low "buy back," the price you as the author pay the publisher to purchase your own books. As her income figures show, this is the number one thing to look at only four percent of her total income comes from the publisher, but 30 percent comes from product sales!
What if you are in the position of Cathcart, Littauer, and Higgs? Your next step might be to venture into a whole new genre. Both Florence Littauer and Jim Cathcart are working on novels. Since this format is new to them, they are using outside help. Cathcart has the heart of the message and the points the story will make but is using an experienced writer to put it together and make the whole thing work. Littauer has written the entire story and is working on technique with some experts who teach fiction. Also, she has a fiction editor who will clean up the final product.
Or, you might consider a co-authorship. Both Littauer and Cathcart have had success in writing with a partner. Once the money situation is settled, which should be done in the beginning, a team approach offers not only additional input on the manuscript but double the sales opportunity later on.
Wherever you are in your professional journey, the next step should include authorship and product development!
Marita Littauer is the author of 13 books including Journey to Jesus; But Lord, I Was Happy Shallow; Personality Puzzle; & Talking So People Will Listen, and is the President of CLASServices Inc., an organization that provides resources, training and promotion for speakers and authors. She can be reached through her website: http://www.classervices.com.
© 2004 Marita Littauer. All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission.
By Sandy BrooksAs an editor, I regularly hear about your triumphs and struggles. In the last few months many of you have reported unpleasant experiences with individuals and companies offering alternative publishing. Others have asked questions that reveal your need to know more about alternative publishing in order to make better choices. Before we get into specifics, let's get a good definition.
By the term alternative publishing I mean ways of publishing your book other than the traditional submission, acceptance, royalty contract route. Here is a brief description of the alternative publishing methods available to you.
Vanity publishers are slick, high priced, high pressure, high expectation publishers. They promise the sky is the limit. Their promises are highly misleading and unrealistic. Usually, the author is left with a garage full of overpriced books that can't be sold anywhere. The author has to do all the promotion and distribution. You get no help from a vanity publisher. They are your least favorable alternative.
Subsidy publishers are sometimes called co-publishers or cooperative publishers. They either suggest that you bear the cost (or a percentage -- usually half) of printing your books. The approach is similar to vanity publishing in that the presentation is slick and flattering. They may provide some promotion, but very little. It's mostly up to the author to make the product fly. Subsidy publishing is still not the best alternative, but a step higher than vanity publishing.
Self-publishers are usually honest, up-front, and realistic about the author's chance of success. They want to provide a service to authors who know their manuscript doesn't have a wide audience, but believe someone can benefit from what they have to say. Writers make a conscious decision to pay for the printing themselves knowing the risks. If you feel inclined to go the alternative publishing route, self-publishing is the most favorable way to go, but there is another alternative you want to consider.
Book packagers are companies who take your manuscript and package it -- covers, editing, pictures, illustrations, and other enhancements - to submit to a book publisher. It's similar to working with an agent except that the packager gets a much higher percentage of the selling price. Sometimes the packager makes a royalty agreement with the book publisher, then offers the author a flat fee for the manuscript. In return, the author trades all rights to his/ her work for the services the book packager provides.
More and more book publishers are turning to book packagers for help. The publisher receives a professionally prepared product which saves time and overhead for the publishing house, and the book packager receives royalty checks for as many years as the book stays in print.
As you're deciding which -- if any -- of these alternatives are right for you, keep these things in mind. They are red flags which signal a need for proceeding with caution.
1. Publishing companies who advertise in writers magazines or other reputable publications, aren't necessarily honest or ethical. There is neither time nor staff at most magazines to check on the ethics of every advertiser.
2. Beware of any agent or editorial service who recommends an alternative publishing company. Recently, I heard about an agent who recommended a particular publishing house saying he had no ties to it. Later the writer discovered that the agent's wife was a member of the directors at the publishing house.
3. If a publishing house asks for large sums of money -- several hundred to thousand dollars -- proceed with extreme caution. This is not just a red flag that you're headed for trouble, it's a waving red flag.
4. Study the contractual agreement you make with any publishing house thoroughly . Make sure the book is legally copyrighted in your name, that you can terminate the agreement at anytime you choose, and that there's no control over any of your other writing projects -- past or future.
5. Beware of any offer by a publisher to provide free publication of your book in return for client referral of other writers. Before signing a contract with any alternative publisher, pray for God's wisdom, do your homework on the company you're considering, and contact our office for help and advice. That's part of CWFI's ministry to writers!
Sandy Brooks has been writing professionally since 1980 and has served as CWFI director since 1993. Part of that role includes serving as editor and publisher of Cross & Quill, The Christian Writers Newsletter. A frequent faculty member at some of the nation's largest writers conferences, she specializes in nonfiction. She wrote the nonfiction units of At-Home Writers Workshops, a correspondence course for Christian writers. Recently, she has begun serving as a consultant on layout and design of children's books for a major Midwestern publishing house. The author of 12 childrens books and co-author of Religious Writers Marketplace, Fourth Edition, she's sold thousands of articles, devotionals, curriculum, poems, and columns to almost every denominational and non-denominational house in the Christian marketplace.
© 2004 Sandy Brooks. All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission.
New Links to Check
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Some people have written that articles are incomplete or broken in the newsletter. If you have this problem, then check the link for the back issues--which is availble to subscribers:
During the year ahead, what do you plan to write? Probably it involves a relationship with an editor--and for many of us it begins at a writer's conference. Learn why it's important at:
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