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Changing Perspectives: An Attitude and an Education That Helps Me Navigate the Publishing Industry

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As writers we often find ourselves needing to adjust to our swiftly-changing industry to stay afloat. We have to be good writers, editors, and business-savvy, dealing with agents, book reviewers, publishers, and our readers. It can become overwhelming, juggling all these aspects of our writing without compromising our creativity.

For me, I’ve found that by learning the points of view that I engage with, balancing becomes easier.

I contributed to anthologies and worked under (and over) several editors to better appreciate them. When I was daunted by marketing, I used my work experience (collaborating on marketing projects for a small business) and I became a book reviewer to learn the industry. I worked on book production and came to value the tasks of publishers. I similarly approached customer service, organization, and time management (though goodness knows I can always improve there), and the landscape of my writing world has become more and more manageable.

There are various books that make the areas more approachable; here are some that were either recommended to me by professionals in the field, or that have been personally helpful to me. (Those I have used link to my book review.)

For the perspective of:

An agent: (Reviewing opens up this perspective, as I have to make decisions on what I will review, usually based on a synopsis; it becomes necessary to learn judgment of worthwhile books quickly.) The Insider’s Guide to Getting an Agent by Lori Perkins and 2013 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino.

An editor: The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White; Stein on Writing: A Master Editor of Some of the Most Successful Writers of Our Century Shares His Craft Techniques and Strategies by Sol Stein; Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself into Print by Renni Browne and Dave King; and The Fiction Writer’s Handbook: The Definitive Guide to McGuffins, Red Herrings, Shaggy Dogs, and Other Literary Revelations from a Master by Shelly Lowenkopf.

Marketing: Talk Up Your Book: How to Sell Your Book Through Public Speaking, Interviews, Signings, Festivals, Conferences and More by Patricia Fry; and On Writing Well by William Zinsser.

Media: Media Magnetism: How to Attract the Favorable Publicity You Want and Deserve, edited by Christina Hamlett.

Publishing: (It’s overwhelming to read this without context; I recommend utilizing it as needed for a project.) Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual: How to Write, Print and Sell Your Own Book (Volumes 1 and 2) by Dan Poynter. (Another highly-recommended book is The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing by Tom and Marilyn Ross but my 2001 version has been succeeded by The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing, 5th Edition by Marilyn Ross and Sue Collier.

Book reviewers: (By reviewing the works of others, I have found unique insight into the industry, genres, and various authorial styles that opened up my own writing.) The Art of Assessment: How to Review Anything by Magdalena Ball.

Organization and time management: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey.

A writer: (Let’s not forget we have to take care of ourselves, too.) How to Be a Writer in the E-Age… And Keep Your E-Sanity! by Catherine Ryan Hyde and Anne R Allen, and The Productive Writer by Sage Cohen.

Taking these perspectives, one at a time, and learning how to change between them, has become my focal strength; when the overwhelm threatens to set in, I focus on the task and the point-of-view at hand, and that opens up the space I need to step back, catch my breath, and tackle the issue with renewed energy.

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About Joanna Celeste

Joanna Celeste is at heart a storyteller, writing reviews, short stories, poems, articles and the occasional novel-in-progress, as well as interviewing others to discover their point of view, in the celebration of story. She welcomes emails from her readers at joanna_celeste [at] ymail.com, though she is currently booked for reviews through to January 2014. Visit her at http://joannaceleste.com
  • Thank you, CS. You might also like “The Productive Writer” by Sage Cohen.

  • Great post, & I also recommend “How to Be a Writer in the E-Age” to anyone navigating the wacky waters of publishing/writing these days.

  • You’re welcome, Anne! Your book helped me a lot. I’m looking forward to your update in early February.

  • Thanks much for the shout-out for our book on “How to Be a Writer in the E-Age”. We also have tips for using social media effectively (without letting it take over your life) and an overview of the 21st century publishing world. Great overview with some awesome recommendations.