Writing

Meet Max!: The Editing Process

From time to time, Archway Publishing turns over its blog to its authors, giving them the opportunity to share stories and perspectives about their individual self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of Elizabeth Rosso, author of “Meet Max”. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services. 

Welcome back! Last time was all about how I came up with the idea for Max and got everything preserved in writing. The resulting smorgasbord of thoughts was far from a finished product, however; it needed work. Lots of work. As overwhelming as that might sound, it really boiled down to length and page content.
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First, length. I needed to keep my target audience in mind. A child’s attention span is shorter than an adult’s, and younger children will lose interest more quickly than older ones. But which parts to condense, or cut out altogether? At first I wasn’t sure, so I saved all the deleted language into another file so I could add it back in easily if needed. As I worked, I noticed that certain sections felt like they were dragging, or that some parts seemed to need more work than others. Those are the sections I cut out – after all, if it was my work and even I thought it was dragging, what child would stick around to hear what happens next? In the end it came down to keeping only those parts of the story that moved – they had action verbs or involved dialogue. And when the storyline reached a point where it was naturally ready to shift to another activity or another day, that’s when this particular story ended. The new day would be a new story!

Next it was time to decide what text went on which page and with which illustration (even though I didn’t have illustrations…yet). Since it’s a children’s book, my initial thought was to keep it very simple, with just one sentence on each page. But after I divided the manuscript that way, it became clear that this was a bit too simple, because the story seemed to drag on forever. So I moved towards keeping one idea or concept per page: Max’s size, his family, his home, etc. I still limited the text so it wouldn’t be overwhelming for my target audience, but even with two or three sentences per page it felt neither too wordy nor too slow.

After all that – along with a lot of internal back-and-forth over word choice – I finally had my manuscript. Now I needed to bring it to life. More questions: do I go the traditional route, paved with rejection letters from big publishing houses? Or do I publish it myself? You already know the answer, but more on how I got there next time!

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub and Like the Archway Publishing Facebook page.  

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Publishing

Why I Self Published by Virginia Stringer

From time to time, Archway Publishing turns over its blog to its authors, giving them the opportunity to share stories and perspectives about their individual self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of Virginia Stringer, author of “Just Maagy”.  Connect with Virginia on Facebook and her website. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services. 

My book is “Just Maagy“. It started out as a fifty-minute children’s play but then turned into a short story that wasn’t so short. It was ignored for a few years and then it found its way to my face again and took on a life of its own spawning a six-book chapter book series over the course of eleven years. Then it became my fourth child!

In fact, the main character, Princess Melania Abigail Alice Grace, are my daughters and granddaughters in a manner of speaking.

SKU-000932177Maagy, as her father calls her, is a spoiled little brat who readers meet on her thirteenth birthday, when she throws a tantrum because there is no more spumoni ice cream for breakfast. Like I said, my daughters and granddaughters.

Maagy is strong willed, exceedingly smart, cunning and perceptive. She is also stubborn leading her father to give in and allow her to attend school outside the palace, where she begins to understand the meaning of true friendship. However, life is always full of twists and turns and Maagy is not spared.

When I decided to share Maagy with the world, it was a huge leap of faith and a gut wrenching choice, thinking of her out there on her own. I began considering my publishing options. I spent a considerable time researching literary agents, but found their websites and their entire business to be unfriendly and not at all encouraging to new writers. The overall theme was, “If you want to get published, you’ll have to go through me and hope your book parts the Red Sea, because that’s the only way you’re getting to a publisher’s desk! Oh, and we’ll rewrite it to suit us and you can kiss our grits!”

That attitude did not go over well with me! I was not about to put my life’s artistic accomplishment in the hands of literary agents to chop and “commercialize” it into their dream!

I spent a weekend, crying, uttering a few choice words and almost hit “delete”! My husband talked me off the ledge and said, “Why don’t you self publish? You’ll have all the control and no one will mess with your art.”

Writing is an art form…

So giving over my work to someone else to cut and edit, in my opinion, is like a museum curator saying to a painter, “I’ll put blue in place of red, change the man to a woman, remove the mountains and then hang it in my gallery!” I couldn’t live with that.

However, no one can ever edit his or her own work, effectively!

Just MaagyI have a group of “readers” who function as editors. They give me content feedback, ask questions and point out typos and mistakes. They are all well educated except for the children who read for me and come from different backgrounds and professions. All are avid readers and will give me honest critique, without telling me I have to change this or that if I want it published. They do not interfere with my artistic process, but do speak to me from an outside perspective, which is vital to knowing how my work will be received. They are teachers, financial advisers, actors, poets, scientists, friends and family members about ten to fifteen, in all.

The big difference is I have the final say, as to whether I heed the advice. In most cases, I take the suggestions to heart and make revisions… some minor and some major!

Every new and old writer needs readers!

So… I looked up “self-publishing” and Archway was first on the list. Simon and Schuster Publishing is the parent company, lending credibility, before I even went further and spoke to a human, which, by the way, the literary agencies did NOT offer.

Having expressed interest through email, a real person called in less than 24 hours! The conversation was informative, enlightening and friendly!! All of my misgivings were put to rest and I asked for a week or so to mull it over. I was not pressured, “sold” a product or made to feel unimportant. A week or so later, the very friendly voice was back and I asked a few more questions and mulled some more.

Overall, I am pleased with my decision to go the self-publishing route and Archway has been fabulous to work with at every step of the way. The support services and staff have been exceedingly helpful, though, not inexpensive. However, I consider it money well spent!

In fact, I am publishing the entire Maagy series at present count, six books  through Archway Publishing!

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub and Like the Archway Publishing Facebook page.  

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Author Feature

Self-Publishing Children’s Books with Archway Publishing

From time to time, Archway Publishing turns over its blog to its authors, giving them the opportunity to share stories and perspectives about their individual self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of Dr. Amelia Rose, author of “The Straw that Broke the Camel’s Backpack”. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services.

StrawThe Straw that Broke the Camel’s Backpack is a lighthearted children’s story of giving, but perhaps giving of yourself a little too much. Its message relates the dilemma of trying to help others, but knowing your own limits at the same time. It illustrates how one’s self-esteem can be compromised by wanting to “fit in” by pleasing others. In essence, it is also a story about bullying in a different form, since others may ask you to do things that they may be able to do themselves, but it is simply easier to ask someone else to do their work.

This story and characters are based on my son’s dilemma that he faces to this very day by wanting to say “yes” and please everyone, even if the consequences of doing so may hurt him.

ameliaThe story began one day when I spoke to Christian (my Charley) about his broken bookbag, “That is the straw that broke the camel’s back,” I exclaimed when he told me he was holding all his friends’ hard-covered books back to the library when the bag broke. He replied, “Mom, I didn’t want to break a camel’s back!” It was then that I realized I had to explain the anecdote to him, and that he needed to stop doing everything for everyone all the time, even when it hurt himself.

I hope the book impacts all children who feel compelled to be “in” with the crowd or group of “friends” who may use them and therefore may not truly be their friends at all.  True friends will understand and try to help you.  So far, I have been extremely successful in having those who read the book appreciate, love, and understand Charley’s dilemma.  TSTB1You have no idea how young some children are who have the book read to them by their parents or friends, and understand the message – don’t be bullied into doing what you cannot do for others – and yourself – true friends will always be there for you.  I am also passionate about the message of the book because I lived it with my son, and I am so happy that I did finally write the book (as promised to Christian) so that the message will be heard by so many others who are bullied today, either overtly or surreptitiously.

TSTB2I have been at book signings and events in many areas hoping to get my message across to everyone – young and old.  It is so surprising, heartwarming,  and humorous to hear mothers tell me they wish they had this book when they were children because they are still doing too much to others to this very day – at 30+ years old they still succumb to bullying!  Mothers and fathers (and children in schools where I have read the book) absolutely love, love Charley!  They ask for stuffed animals of him so that they can hug Charley every night in order to get the confidence they need to stand up to the stress of schools and the bullying that occurs there every day.  They write letters to Charley telling him how much the book helped them.

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub and Like the Archway Publishing Facebook page. 

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Author Feature

My Side of the Story by Jessica Stafford

From time to time, Archway Publishing turns over its blog to its authors, giving them the opportunity to share stories and perspectives about their individual self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of Jessica Stafford, author of “My Side of the Story”. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services.

blog picMy name is Jessica Stafford and I am a twenty-one year old brain tumor survivor. At seven years old I was diagnosed with a rare malignant brain tumor that could have easily ended my life. At age sixteen, my doctors found two more tumors, this time it wasn’t only in my brain. It’s been a long, hard road leading up to this point in my life, but Gods been with me through it all. His healing powers have brought me safely out of the storm, but daily I face the remains that cancer and its harsh treatments have left with me.

SKU-000985928I knew that God had spared my life for a reason; I just had to figure out what that reason was. My purpose in life, I decided was to share my story with others so that they could understand that God can help them fight their daily battles too. No matter how big or small the battle, nothing is too big for my God.

I wrote my story into a book, taking memories from old diary entries and spiritual versus from the Bible. I searched for a publishing company and found Archway Publishing, I was excited to self publish my book titled “My Side of the Story”. Something I found really exciting was the fact that I will always own the copyright to my book. Self-publishing my book was an amazing experience. From the beginning point of submitting and editing information until the end when my book finally went onto the market, the staff of Archway Publishing were extremely helpful and friendly.  I even got to design the cover of my book. The most exciting part of the self publishing experience was actually being able to hold my book in my hands for the first time. Just knowing that you are a published author is a truly amazing feeling.

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub and Like the Archway Publishing Facebook page.

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Writing

4 Words to Unleash Your Creativity

Creativity is a very interesting and often debated topic. Is it something you are born with or something you can develop? Is it something that only happens when limitations are removed or is there a process you can follow to foster creative ideas?

Keith Ogorek, senior vice president of marketing for Author Solutions – which operates Archway Publishing for Simon & Schuster, shares 4 words that will help you unleash your creativity in his Indie Book Writers blog. In the post, Ogorek explains how 4 simple words can fuel your creativity.

Click here to read more >>

 

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub and Like the Archway Publishing Facebook page.

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Author Feature

From Plan C to Plan A

From time to time, Archway Publishing turns over its blog to its authors, giving them the opportunity to share stories and perspectives about their individual self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of Malika Dickerson (Auntie Liki), author of “Dog Gone Shame.”  For more about Malika and her book, visit her Website, Facebook or Twitter. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services.

“It took years to get here but I have always been determined to never become the type of person who looks back over her life and says “I shoulda, woulda, coulda.” I’m going to follow my dreams and if I fail, well then at least I gave it my best shot.” – Auntie Liki

 A as in Author

Unlike many people who spend their whole lives trying to figure out what they want to do for a living, I knew in elementary school that I wanted to be a published author. That was Plan A for me; A as in Author.

But I didn’t follow that plan right away. Going to college was always part of preparing for Plan B in case Plan A didn’t work out. My parents stressed that I should also have something to fall back on.

Pic_4 author photoThe Safest Route

I chose to go to Ohio State and majored in Communication (Strategic Communication). I double minored in Political Science and Spanish Education. I figured if I couldn’t make it as a creative writer, I could always work on some political campaign as a speechwriter.

I am very proud of my degree and my alma mater. But my desire to be an author never waned. Everything I was doing was to provide myself with a safety net – just in case I wasn’t as talented as I thought I was!

C Was Not the Plan

I planned on working for a strategic communications firm but instead landed a job with the Columbus Blue Jackets hockey team. Five years later I was still working there crunching numbers all day. It was a good job; a really exciting job, but C was not the plan. I had gone from Plan B to Plan C without ever even trying Plan A!

Taking Chances

So I moved to San Diego to try my hand as a screenwriter. However, my need for the stability of a steady paycheck kept me from giving it an honest try. I had been in California for only a month and a half before I was working in accounting again.

When the economic collapse came, the company I was working for had to downsize. I got a decent severance, had my 401K, and two years of unemployment. This was my opportunity to transition to the career I always wanted.

I started with my children’s stories, rewriting all four books and turning them into serials. To use a basketball reference, I was moving without the ball; learning how to get published and looking for freelance work. I had to start at the bottom of the pay scale, making basically $20 a day writing web content.

SKU-001049202Archway Saves the Day

After sending my stories to several traditional publishers I had an idea; if I self-published my books, put in the work to market them, and if they are as good as I think they are, I could get picked up by a traditional publisher.

I saved up the money over several months to purchase the Storyteller Package from Archway Publishing. Three and a half months later on October 27, 2015, the first of five books in my “Dog Gone Shame” series was published!

Circumstance brought me to Archway and I am so glad that it did. Thanks to the team at Archway as well as Robert Colon and Jon Lineback from WestBow Press who referred me to them, I am finally living my dream. It was a windy path from Plan C to Plan A but I don’t regret a thing because every twist and turn prepared me for this moment.

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub and Like the Archway Publishing Facebook page. 

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Author Feature, Publishing

Journaling as a Foundation for Publishing

From time to time, Archway Publishing turns over its blog to its authors, giving them the opportunity to share stories and perspectives about their individual self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of Pamala D. Larsen author of “Finding a Way through Cancer, Dying, and Widowhood.” Here she shares some advice on how journaling is the foundation of publishing. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services. 

 

October is breast cancer awareness month, and although the survival rate of breast cancer has steadily increased, it remains an ever present threat to both men and women. Statistics from the National Cancer Institute indicate that in 2015, in the U.S., approximately 1.65 million individuals will be diagnosed with cancer, while 590,000 will die from the disease.

ResizeImageHandler (1)Although heart disease remains the most common disease and cause of death in this country,  cancer is the disease that strikes the most fear in people. Often we interpret a diagnosis of cancer as a death sentence. Thus when my husband, Randy, was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 2010, we approached the disease with fear. For some reason, the day he had the diagnostic test that would reveal the cancer, I took an empty journal with me to the surgical waiting room instead of my usual ‘work’ things. I didn’t know it at the time, but with my first entry in the journal on November 23, 2010, my Archway published book, Finding a Way through Cancer, Dying and Widowhood: A Memoir, had its beginning. My journal became my safe place. I could yell and scream “it’s not fair” in my journal. Randy’s cancer was never in remission and although he gave the cancer fight all he could, he died 18 months later at age 64. I continued to write in my journal throughout my first year of widowhood sharing thoughts that often could not be spoken out loud. I searched for books and articles that might help lessen the pain of losing a husband of 43 years, but I found few things that were helpful.

Sometime during that first year of widowhood, Time magazine published an article about ‘indies’, independent book publishers. I was instantly intrigued. I had never thought about publishing my journal, but perhaps my journal, telling it ‘like it was and is’ could help someone else through the cancer journey and widowhood.

With publication in mind, I began researching publishers. There is a large number of independent publishers.  I narrowed my list to 4 or 5 and then listed the pros and cons of each.  Archway met my needs by offering a variety of packages that could be customized to meet my needs. Working with the staff at Archway was easy and seamless. I wasn’t transferred from one person to the next, but I had a core number of individuals that I worked with that understood my book. From publication through marketing, the process went smoothly, and the final product was published in December of 2013. Thank you Archway!

For more information visit www.cancerandloss.com.

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub and Like the Archway Publishing Facebook page.

 

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Writing

Outline Before You Write

Mention the word outline in a room full of writers, and you’re sure to ignite a firestorm of passionate debate. Writers either love to use this tool to improve their writing or they hate it. While it may not suit every writer, a well thought-out outline can be a valuable asset, and serve as a road map to which a lost writer can refer to get back on the path to success.

Keith Ogorek, senior vice president of marketing for Author Solutions – which operates Archway Publishing for Simon & Schuster, shared three options for creating an outline on his Indie Book Writers blog. In the post, Ogorek reviews three popular options: the classic outline, the summary outline and storyboarding.

 

Click here to read more about outlines >>

 

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Author Feature

Author Feature: JC Colarusso Shares Her Self-Publishing Path

From time to time, Archway Publishing turns over its blog to its authors, giving them the opportunity to share stories and perspectives about their individual self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of JC Colarusso, author of “Short Tales of a Long Doggie.” Check out our free publishing guide for more information on Archway’s supported self-publishing services.

My advice:9781480816435_COVER.indd

Follow your passion!  If there is one formula I would recommend for writing, or in life, it would be that. I have always wanted to write a book.  I
have written about personal experiences, I have tried to write total fiction, but when it came right down to completing a writing project from start to finish, it was when I followed my passion.

About Passion:

I have always loved animals.  I grew up in rural Saskatchewan, where most of our animals were sadly considered as part of our next meal. I like to think that I was always able to recognize the beauty and the awareness of these animals, whether it was a chicken, or a cow or a deer.   It wasn’t until I moved to the city and saw the waste of these little, perfect spirits due to neglect or abuse, that I realized I needed to do something to help them.  But rescue work is very difficult, and the outcome often heartbreaking.  I found that the most productive thing I could do, and hopefully do well, was to write to young minds and help them understand this concept of mutual respect.   Buddy, my wonderful little dog was going to help me do that!

Buddy the dachshund was my “once in a lifetime” dog.   Determined, funny and independent, as dachshunds are bred to be, he spent his 13 years teaching me a myriad of life lessons.

Colarusso's advice to aspiring authors: "Follow your passion!  If there is one formula I would recommend for writing, or in life, it would be that."

Colarusso’s advice to aspiring authors: “Follow your passion! If there is one formula I would recommend for writing, or in life, it would be that.”

My Target Audience:

Children respond to dachshunds because they are short in stature and comical in nature- truly endearing. Today children are pushed to be active, and are kept very busy from the time they are very young.  I like to think that reading develops their mind in a whole different way than playing computer games.  Reading with your child, interacting and talking about the book is important and necessary.  Computers are great but there is a lack of human interaction that concerns me.

The other issue is that we have become a disposable society.  And pets have become increasingly disposable.  I wonder when families get rid of a pet for whatever reason, it sends a sad and fearsome message to a child who wonders if they could be disposable as well.

My Team:

Although I felt I had good instinct, if I wanted this book to become a reality I needed help. As a full time working person, the amount of time I could dedicate to this project was limited.  That was when I found Archway Publishing.  They helped me fill in the gaps with what I needed to know in order to produce a quality product.  They had experts who guided me along the way, and encouraged me every time I was ready to give up.

The Result:

Everything about this book is upbeat.  The character is always happy, and always ready for each new adventure.  He loves his life and where he lives and everything around him.  The graphics are bright and cheerful, and the location is a sunny, happy place called Florida. This is a truly endearing book, written with love.  How could it not be successful?

– AWP –

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet us @ArchwayPub or send us a message through our Facebook page – www.facebook.com/ArchwayPublishing

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Author Feature

Craig Swanson: Retired journalist, editor share writing tips

Craig Swanson is retired journalist and editor and author of  “The Selma Campaign,” released through Archway Publishing in November 2014. The book examines the impact of the “foot soldiers” in the Civil Rights struggle for voting rights. Swanson and his book were featured in a video on Oprah.com.

 When I retired from daily newspapering a few years ago, I tried writing a novel. The results were, to be charitable, uneven. What had once seemed a fairly easy proposition – develop an interesting narrative and present it in lucid and compelling prose – turned daunting.

For years, I was sure that the only thing preventing me from writing The Great American Novel was time – time to massage the story line and brood over character development; time to ponder plot twists and establish just the right tone. Mostly, I just needed time to think, which is what retirement gave me.

Six years, a lot of thinking and three abandoned novels later, I no longer aspire to write a great work of

Craig Swanson stands on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama.

Craig Swanson stands on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, site of the March 7, 1965, “Bloody Sunday” Civil Rights conflict.

fiction. In fact, I’ve determined that I couldn’t write a good — or even an average — work of fiction. A review of my failed manuscripts suggests that my main problem was story and character development.

Due either to a stunted imagination or, more likely, some 40 years as a daily journalist accustomed to gathering “just the facts,” I was unable to summon the creativity needed to see a novel through from beginning to end. I had some good ideas, but they went nowhere, and I grew frustrated trying to pull them all together.

Interestingly, I also struggled with the simple act of writing. Though I had never lacked confidence in my writing abilities, I found myself questioning virtually everything I typed, afraid much of it would appear either inadequate or overwrought. This wasn’t the old Inverted Pyramid, and I didn’t trust my own instincts enough to move forward.

This novel experience gave me a newfound appreciation for the imagination and creativity needed to produce a fictional work and genuine admiration for those who do it well. It also taught me to stick with what I know best – straightforward nonfiction writing.

I’ve now had two successful books published – non-fiction, both – and while that doesn’t make me an expert on the genre, it has given me some insights that might be helpful to other aspiring authors. Following are a few of the important things I learned while writing “Something in the Air: Rock Music and Cultural Upheaval in Mid-60s America” and “The Selma Campaign: Martin Luther King Jr., Jimmie Lee Jackson, and the Defining Struggle of the Civil Rights Era.”

  • Write about what you know. Even though your book will require long hours of research, it’s best to tackle subjects about which you already have a broad working knowledge. Life will be much easier if you embark on your project with at least a general understanding of the history and significance of the issue or event you intend to tackle.
  • Write about something that interests you. All the knowledge in the world won’t help unless you are passionate about the story you want to tell. In my case, rock music and the Civil Rights Movement were obvious choices.
  • Maintain a narrow focus. It’s tempting to want to be as comprehensive as possible, but unless you have a team of professional researchers, a hefty advance and unlimited time, it’s also unrealistic. For me, that meant turning the history of rock and roll into a study of two key years, 1965 and 1966, and limiting my civil rights research to a single campaign. Much better to go deep than go wide.
  • Be prepared to invest in your work, but do it wisely. Obtaining new information can often be done via telephone or email, but it often is necessary to go to the source, which can mean travel and accommodations expenses. While researching Selma, I learned to carefully plan my visits to Alabama ahead of time. I scheduled interviews ahead of time, made lists of the places I wanted to see, contacted library and museum employees in advance to enlist their help, and plotted travel routes for maximum efficiency. Also be prepared to pay substantial sums of money for photo publication rights and permission to use other copyrighted material, such as song lyrics.

    "The Selma Campaign" examines the impact of the "ordinary people" who fought for equal voting rights.

    “The Selma Campaign” examines the impact of the “ordinary people” who fought for equal voting rights.

  • Be thorough. I frequently obtained useful information during casual conversation at the end of formal interviews, or by checking with one or two more sources even after I thought I had what I needed. This extra research might yield some facts that significantly alter the narrative or simply serve to add color and detail to your work. Either way, it’s worth it.
  • Document everything. The first order of nonfiction, of course, is to get it right. While it is said that newspaper reporters write the first rough draft of history, nonfiction authors must present a definitive history. If their work is to withstand the rest of time, it must be accurate. In writing Selma, I made copies of every newspaper article, every investigative report and every court transcript I reviewed. I also recorded every interview, whether conducted in person or over the phone. Those copies and recordings were invaluable as I sought to accurately reflect what I had learned. Personal note: Although many states allow telephone conversations to be recorded without the source’s knowledge, I consider it good practice and common decency to first seek permission.

Be alert for telling details. When describing something or someone, it pays to make note of the little things that will help bring your story to life. Paint a picture for the reader, but again, make sure you get it right. Relying on memory, I described a key source in Selma as “tall and slender,” and was dismayed to discover during a post-publication meeting that he was in fact of average height and slightly overweight. No big deal, perhaps, but it shouldn’t have happened, and it shows how easy it is to get something wrong.

Keep meticulous records of your reference material and other sources. When it is time to compile your endnotes, you will be lost unless you have a detailed account of where you obtained every bit of information included in the book. And don’t forget to adjust the end notes accordingly when you edit and rearrange your manuscript. Do this as you proceed. As I discovered the hard way, it’s no fun trying to retroactively match source and information once you fall behind.

That’s what I know. Not as sexy as writing a best-selling novel, perhaps, but very rewarding nevertheless.

-AWP-

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