Monthly Archives: May 2013

Puppies at Gorham Printing

The three-day Memorial Day weekend is almost here and one thing on my to-do list (above working on my sequel romantic comedy) in my other spare time was to pick up two sweet bundles of fluff I was adopting from a woman in Vancouver, Washington. Two brothers (toy Pomeranians) born April 3 would be old enough to leave home and start a new adventure in Olympia. Best laid plans and circumstances change, of course. It came to be that the pups could be delivered Wednesday night.

Guess who I brought to the shop? That’s right, Brugh and Bouncer are spending these days at Gorham Printing

Kathleen Shaputis, Customer Service, and Brugh and Bouncer.

Kathleen Shaputis, Customer Service,
and Brugh and Bouncer.

All two pounds of them, each, maybe. Working with self-publishing authors all day, I typically hear dogs barking over the phone as the author talks about their book. I knew they’d probably understand if squeaky noises came from this side of the phone for a change but the boys have been fairly quiet.

Memoirs, novels and spiritual revelation books have come across my desk today and I wonder if the author has a dog. Writing can be a very solitary process, yet a warm four-footed friend at your feet helps keep you grounded and not alone. And piddle parties are a natural break to get up from the desk and stretch now and again.

Now time to get back to work.

“Show, Don’t Tell” — an old-but-true adage for fiction writers

Today let’s talk a little bit about writing. After all you have to finish the manuscript before you can publish your book, which a whole other topic by itself. Writing a novel is more about re-writing and editing than completing the rough draft. And one of the larger trolls hiding in pages of a first book or a fifteenth book is flat, boring writing.

What does “Show, Don’t Tell” mean? Telling your reader what to think or what to feel leaves no room for their imagination, their own perception of a character or what’s happening. You may ask, “Isn’t writing fiction telling a story?” Yes and no. If you “tell” too much of the story, your reader will lose interest rather quickly. Two obvious examples: 1) John was fat and very lazy. 2) Susan felt angry and frustrated.

Showing your reader is providing facts and details, engaging them into what’s happening at the moment. You want to “show” the story using the five senses or get them involved emotionally. Remember John? Rewritten: John forced himself from the chair with a grunt, spreading his legs to balance his pear-shaped frame, while muttering about the stupidity of mowing the lawn when the grass would just grow back. See the difference?  And what about Susan? Rewritten: Her face flushed a crimson red, lips pinched into a straight cold line, as she shuffled through the stack of papers again.

Showing will take more words to describe for the reader but the effects will be worth it. Do you always have to be more word fluent? No, there are times where telling is enough to move the story along. But overdo the telling and you may come across as a weak or amateur writer.

Just as good writing mixes long and short sentences throughout paragraphs and pages, so should you mix show versus tell in your writing. Paint a picture for your reader, splash color on the page. Let’s try another example: Jason sat on the couch holding his guitar. Now this is a decent sentence with basic information, we just don’t know much about what’s going on. Now compare it with this: With eyes closed, Jason cradled the guitar in his arms as if trying to hold on to something, leaning back into the plush couch cushion.

Read your pages and see where you can punch up your writing using “Show, Don’t Tell.” Pick out a book by a favorite author and flip to any page. Reading the paragraphs, spot where the author used Show and where they used Tell. The more you become aware, the easier it will be to spot this in your own writing.

Self Publishing: Boutique, Custom or Independent?

I recently returned from the inaugural Ghostwriters Unite! conference held in Long Beach, California. I sat as a faculty member on four different panels. This integral group of dedicated writers came from all corners of the world including England and Australia to discuss the industry of helping people get their stories told. Whether CEOs looking for a book to market their ideas or Vietnam vets finally releasing some of the nightmares to paper, a ghostwriter coordinates and/or writes the manuscript.

I am happy to relay that the idea of self-publishing has been thoroughly embraced by many of these attendees. Much of the discussion pointed to the fact that a writer needs to approach publishing in a professional manner with editing and design work to keep the quality of work at book industry standard.  The now “five sisters” publishing houses in New York have set high standards in the quality of writing and readability of pages.Any book published today should have no less attention paid to it. Self published books should look like they came out of New York.

Interestingly, the term self-publishing wasn’t always used during discussions. A Thesaurus has been thrown in to tweak the label or moniker and maybe shy away from the negative vibes still out there for do-it-yourself books. The most frequently used is independent publishing. Many small presses and mid-size publishing houses consider themselves independent publishers. As you’d find indie music labels. Now, though, in various groups the terms custom publishing or boutique publishing are gaining speed. Do you think there is more validity in calling yourself or using a boutique publisher? Does it seem more of a niche idea where the titles might fall into one genre or category?

It’s true anyone can publish a book today, and whether you call yourself an indie publisher or boutique, the book should be put through the rigors of decent (read here professional) editing and a dynamite book cover. 

Whether you write for yourself, for others or everything in between, the world of publishing is changing and the road to success is paved with a variety of stories. Short-run book printing is an excellent part of the publishing journey. You might start with fifty copies for friends and family or use them for advance review copies or place an annual order for a thousand copies. You can be a published author.