When I first taught university-level business courses, I regularly asked students to analyze a company’s financial health and write a cogent research report. After a few semesters of putting my red marking pens to work, I grew frustrated with poor grammar, inconsistent logic and otherwise sloppy work from dozens of individuals. Whenever I received an assignment that read too well, my first task was to run blocks of text through a plagiarism checker. With great disappointment, few literate papers passed the test. Many students cheated by having someone else do their work entirely or extracting full pages of words from published professionals. Eventually I insistedRead More →

For the last year, I’ve been reading books and attending events about writing technique, how to market one’s book, what to look for in a contract, how to work with an agent and much more. After a whirlwind week at ThrillerFest 2016 during which many of these topics were addressed, I’ve decided that a writer has to do it all, especially if one is contemplating self-publishing one or more books. Even if an individual has an agent and/or is publishing with a traditional firm, my view is that it is still smart to inform yourself about topics such as intellectual property rights, cost-effective ways toRead More →

No doubt you’ve heard the maxim that good writers need to be good readers. Stephen King goes a step further, advising that “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” In “How to Make a Living as a Writer,” James Scott Bell recounts how he read lots of books strategically in order to better understand plot points and know “when it might pay off to leave a ‘blot‘.” I agree with both gentlemen that it is important to read. Fortunately, I love books so reading to write is far from a dismal task. That said, as I stretch my creative wingsRead More →

Seth Godin is one of my favorites when it comes to snappy punditry. In a recent blog post entitled “Hot: A theory of propulsion,” he wisely pens that “Words on a page or on a screen are asleep, inert, doing nothing at all until they interact with you, the reader.” He continues with two more pearls. “That takes effort” and “Without motion, the words get moldy.” The notion that promoting a piece of work is important is neither new nor trivial. However, this author of eighteen books reminds writers once again that it is our responsibility to advocate for our creations. The good news isRead More →

As most authors will attest, writing can be a lonely and frustrating endeavor and financial rewards are uncertain. A rational person might conclude that putting pen to paper is an exercise in futility if viewed only from an economic lens. Fortunately for readers, the artist’s hunger to flex creative muscles or a desire to make a difference with words ensures a continued supply of books and articles. This reality does not necessarily mean that what gets published will sell well or reflects talent or both. It does however mean that lots of people want their proverbial voices heard and are willing to incur an opportunityRead More →

I’ve spent the last week knee-deep in research for my soon to be finished book proposal and a draft literary agreement from a successful agency. Fortunately, there are lots of articles about contracting, courtesy of generous editors, publishers and writing consultants. My biggest stumbling block right now is whether to commit to a single firm for all of my future works rather than signing on the dotted line for one or two imminent projects. My preference, based on years of experience as a start-up company CEO and later on, a consultant, is to start small with someone and grow the relationship over time. This approachRead More →