Writing

Resources for a Writing Career

In my last blog post, I mentioned the the abundance of difficulties writers face getting published and adequately paid. But writers can find help in getting their writing careers started. Below is a list of resources that have helped guide me through the complicated landscape of the writing world:

 

  • Jane Friedman is a noted writer, editor, and speaker. She worked in the publishing industry for 20 years and now writes articles for Writer’s Digest and Publishers Weekly. Her newsletter, Electric Speed, gives updates on the writing world. Her website (https://www.janefriedman.com/) contains an abundance of resources. Friedman is upfront about what works and what doesn’t. Her latest book, The Business of Being a Writer, gives honest information and doesn’t candy-coat the challenges of writing. She offers advice for both self-published and traditionally published authors.

 

  • BookBaby (https://www.bookbaby.com/) is a self-publishing, book printing, and distribution company. They offer services to help an author publish, market, and distribute their book. There is a price for their services but they have a good reputation for helping guide authors. I haven’t used their services myself, but I did attend their writing conference in Philadelphia last year and listened as many industry experts gave presentations. BookBaby has also a newsletter.

 

  • Alliance of Independent Authors or ALLi (https://www.allianceindependentauthors.org/) is an organization for self-published authors. I love their chart rating self-publishing author services. They also have a watchdog desk that monitors possible scams. They offer free booklets, discounts, and legal advice dealing with contracts and other issues. ALLi also offer free seminars.

 

  • Independent Book Publishers Association or IBPA (https://www.ibpa-online.org/) is another organization that offers self-published authors services like discounts for marketing services and placement at book fairs and catalogs. They clarify the prevailing language  and procedures in the publishing world and offer writing and marketing webinars as well as advocacy. The IBPA partnered with BookBaby at the Philadelphia conference I attended last year.

 

 

  • Writer Beware (https://www.sfwa.org/other-resources/for-authors/writer-beware/) is an Internet resource I refer to often. I receive so much information from so-called publishers, invitations to submit to writing contests, and book marketing programs that the first thing I always do is go on the Writer Beware website to find out if they are legitimate organizations based on other writers’ experiences . If Writer Beware gives them a thumbs-down, I don’t bother to investigate them any further.

 

I just want to add that while I struggle in my writing career, I still plug away. Like most writers, I know I have to be persistent if I hope to succeed. But these resources provide invaluable guidance in the writing field today.

 

Idelle Kursman is the author of True Mercy, a thriller novel intended to bring awareness to two issues: families dealing with a loved one with autism and the human trafficking crisis. True Mercy is available on Amazon, IngramSpark, and Smashwords.

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Grappling with the Harsh Realities of Being a Writer

 

I admit I never read the book but have always remembered the title: Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow.

Oh, how I wish that were true for a writer!

But unfortunately, it isn’t. The reality is that most writers cannot make a living on their writing. They have to take on noncreative writing jobs like technical writing or work another job entirely and write on the side. This is as true now as it has been since time immemorial.

But still, deep frustration persists within me.

When a person trains as a nurse, they can make a decent living with nursing. When a carpenter trains in their profession, they can live on their earnings. So it is with a chef. And on and on.

But a writer, whether they receive a degree or learn through intensive studying, cannot make a living on writing. And as with all other professions, writing involves years of practice. Writers have to spend time learning the craft and staying on top of trends that interest current readers.  In addition, some forms of writing involve legwork and/or extensive research.

And for those yearning to make their mark through publication, tremendous obstacles abound.

Unless a person is blessed with miraculous good fortune, getting traditionally published normally takes years. Rejection is a way of life in this business. But today, writers are fortunate to have a chance to see their work in printed books through self-publishing. For me, since I did not want to go through the hurdles and years of rejection before getting traditionally published, which is always a big MAYBE, I decided to self-publish my first book, True Mercy. I don’t regret my choice, but many self-published writers do because they are many “publishing services” that help writers with the process of getting an author’s work to publication but they are also scam artists. You can go on the Internet or attend a writers’ conference to find stories of writers getting ripped off, losing the rights to their own work, and filing court complaints against self-publishing services. There are legitimate ones for sure, but if you are planning to enlist the services of one, proceed with caution and do your research.

Also, nobody can explain the ins and outs of the publishing world or where to submit a manuscript better than an agent. Yet again, unless a person receives divine intervention or has the luck of the Irish, it normally takes years to find an agent willing to take the chance of representing a writer who is neither a celebrity nor a prominent person with deep connections.

So, if your passion and vocation is writing, how can you face all of these tremendous obstacles?

In my next blog, I will make suggestions based on the advice of nationally-known writing and book marketing experts. As a struggling writer myself, one piece of advice I will give is despite being overwhelmingly difficult to make a living, don’t give up on your passion if that makes you happy. The joy one gets from writing shouldn’t be abandoned due to the lack of monetary reimbursement. The satisfaction and feeling of accomplishment from composing compelling and/or entertaining literary work that gives pleasure to others has its own rewards.

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True Mercy 2017 Winner in The Wishing Shelf Book Awards!

Great news!

My novel True Mercy was a Red Ribbon Finalist in The Wishing Shelf Book Awards. The books were marked according to EDITING, THEME, STYLE, AND COVER.

The following are some of the judges’ comments:

‘A good thriller this. The author works well with her central characters (the secondary characters get lost a little) and also portraying the terrible life the hero, Marina, is facing. I enjoyed it although, just to warn, elements of it can be hard to read; justifiably so.’ Female reader, aged 52

‘The autistic element is particularly interesting for me, being a teacher. Congrats to the author.’ Female reader, aged 48

‘Plenty of suspense and plenty of twists. Loved it! Note: this is a not a cheery, beach read and has upsetting scenes.’ Female reader, aged 59

‘Powerful stuff. I would think anybody with an interest in autism and/or human trafficking would find this of interest.’ Male reader, aged 62

To Sum It Up:
‘Not only a powerful thriller, it is also a captivating study of modern slavery. A Red Ribbon winner and highly recommended.’ The Wishing Shelf Book Awards

 

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Picking Myself Up: The Ups and Downs of the Writing Life

 

Photo by Joe Silva

Like everything else, there are ups and downs to being a writer. While I experience much joy getting my thoughts down on paper, there are many instances that I have to write for free. How many professions require one to work for free? Writing even a short article requires a lot of time and attention to make the writing the best it can be and then one has to polish it up before it is actually finished. What often happens is my hard work goes unrewarded and my spirit sinks to the point where I cannot find a flow in my words. What is the point of all this hard work if nothing comes of it, I’ve asked myself. Many times.I wish I was good at something more marketable and practical.

In the midst of this negativity and pessimism I realize I need to take advantage of resources to boost my motivation and inspiration.

That’s why I signed up to attend a writers conference. I registered last December but I could certainly use the boost now. It begins toward the end of this week.

When writers get together, I have found they are not competitive but to the contrary, very generous with encouraging fellow writers. They exchange resources, give constructive criticism in writer critique groups and applaud each other’s accomplishments. The speakers offer a plethora of information and tips to help writers succeed. There are pep talks about not giving up, to keep plugging away and eventually all our hard work and the long hours of writing will bear fruit. We may not rise to the level of Stephen King or James Patterson, but each of us will see some success if we just hang in there. The writing life is a long, slow, arduous journey for most. Overnight success rarely happens.

I know many writers write in isolation. Many do well, but I personally love being in a writers group. I find the support, advice, and friendship to be invaluable. I often don’t meet others who enjoy writing, so when we writers get together, that time is uplifting.

Weather forecasts predict a snowstorm, so I’m just hoping I’ll get to the conference this year. Wish me luck!

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Thoughts about Family While Writing

Photo by Nicole De Khors

I just returned from Florida to attend my uncle’s funeral. He was 95 years old and totally devoted to family. He leaves a huge gap for all who knew and loved him. I may write about him someday but right now I am still processing his passing.

In Florida, I saw and connected with relatives I hadn’t seen in years. All of us used to live in Rhode Island but now we are spread out in different parts of the country. Of course, we still share our connection as well as beautiful family memories. If only we could all live near each other once again. Fortunately, I keep in touch with many of them through Facebook and feel they are still a part of my life.When I saw my cousins’ children, whom I hadn’t seen since they were toddlers, I instantly recognized them because we share pictures and tidbits of our lives on Facebook.

No, this isn’t a Facebook ad. I only want to emphasize how much I appreciate the blessing of connecting with family even though we are all busy and live in different places.

Actually, I have been steeped in memories of relatives for the past few years. You see, another uncle has been occupying my thoughts. In my next novel, one of the characters is afflicted with leukemia. This beloved uncle passed away from this disease in 1983 and while writing the story, my thoughts kept turning back to him, his wife, their sons, the sons’ wives and the grandchildren. Memories of family Thanksgivings, cookouts, and other get-togethers have been on my mind. While I was growing up it never dawned on me these days would end and we would all move on to new stages in our lives, no longer having opportunities for visits throughout the year. I cherished these memories while writing, even though my novel has fictional characters that have no connection with my relatives.

This is one of the reasons I find writing so rewarding. Though my uncle’s leukemia was a tragedy for him and our family, writing the story has returned me to those days. When we all got together, my sisters and I would take turns sitting on my uncle’s lap and he would shower us with attention. When one of his sons had a daughter, my uncle would light up whenever he saw her and she became the center of his existence. He loved to joke and I remember his wide, generous smile and the good feeling all of us had to be around him. His wife, my father’s sister, was sweet and whomever she was speaking to, she made that person feel they were the most interesting and important person to her. She was smart and talented and always down-to-earth. For years she looked like she never aged. Like her husband, the family was everything to her.

In my next novel, I emphasize the importance of family above personal ambitions and individual pursuits. Life with its unexpected twists and turns doesn’t always go as planned and there can be much heartbreak and disappointment along the way. But I strove to make the responsibility of caring and supporting loved ones paramount while on life’s journey, modeled after my own family and relatives. Truly, our memories are what makes us.

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