Completing a book typically requires a lot of rewrites, so what is the value of the first draft? The first draft can be the most important draft, depending on the final product. The National Novel Writing Month, after all, was started to get people to write at least 50,000 words.
Since 2006, more than 470 books have been written during this month that were later published with traditional publishers, and more than 100 books were self-published. Some books written in this period have reached the New York Times Best Seller List.
How the First Draft Benefits the Completed Product
The Writer Writes It Down
This is the first step of every effort. In the writing of the draft, the creative process unleashes the characters that will live in the story and may even develop a life of their own that was unplanned at the start.
The Draft Enlightens the Writer about What Works
It is where the writer tells the story but after completion may find it is imbalanced in some way. Imbalance can reveal, for instance, that some of the characters do not belong in the story, or that the story is missing a character, or a character needs to become more dominant.
In the writing, the writer may decide to change the intended story line or the point of view, and add more or less background information. To keep the writing going and creative juices flowing, it is better to make notes about changes and keep moving forward to tell more of the story.
In the First Draft, the Writer Decides the Book’s Genre
The writer may decide the story is one genre, but in writing this draft may decide to change it. It is an explorative venture that enriches the process of refining the final product.
After the First Draft
In completing the first draft the writer becomes an author, even if not a published one. An important milestone is passed en route to the final product. A completed first draft means it is not a false start, even though this draft is still an imperfect product.
The potential to be a writer has been realized; the story has been told. Next, the first draft needs to be refined through the editing process and however many rewrites and content discarding that involves.
After completing the draft, the writer should take time off before coming back to edit to make this process more effective. Yes, some writers edit during the first draft, but for other writers editing dampens the creative process.
A business plan is a written description of a company’s present and future. It lays out what the business is, what its chief executive plans to do and how he/she plans to accomplish it. The strategic document presents a roadmap for success. It projects three to five years ahead and outlines the intended path for revenue growth in that period.
The business plan reveals the current position and capacity of the business, and then how it plans to expand its revenue base, capacity, and associated factors between the present and the projected future.
How to Make the Business Stand Out in the Business Plan
What makes the business unique? Presenting this effectively will help you differentiate your business from its competitors and show that you understand the value of the business to the market or markets it is targeting.
Essential Elements of the Business Plan
The Executive Summary
Readers see the executive summary first, and it summarizes the business plan. In one or two pages, you emphasize the positive and play down the negative (when pitching to investors nor creditors). It can include vision and goals.
It should include a brief presentation of the main elements of your business plan:
Description of the Business
The business description provides information about the business, what differentiates it from others, and the market or markets the business serves or intends to serve.
Every business is structured differently. Discover the optimal organizational structure for the type of business and compare how yours stacks up against that model. Discuss the pros and cons.
Services or Products
What does the business offer? How does it benefit its current and potential customers? What is the product lifecycle of the products, if any? These are some of the important elements to include in this section.
Here research about the business industry, markets, and competitors is presented. Thorough research is needed to show you understand the market and the value of the company’s services or products.
Marketing and Sales
How does the business plan to market itself? What is the sales strategy? How many sales people does it have and what are their specialties and experience? These are some of the elements you need to include in this section.
If the business is seeking funding, include the necessary information investors want.
If funding is needed, providing financial projections to back up the funding request is essential. Find out what information you need to include in the financial projections for the business.
An appendix is not an essential part of a business plan, but it is a useful section for including specific backup documents, such as resumes.
The business plan functions as a roadmap for the business and as a pitch for funding from investors. The amount of information you include in each section will depend on its intended readers.
The Santa Fe-based Institute of American Indian Arts (“IAIA”) provides a Native American art and culture-centric curriculum. Since 2012, the IAIA has offered a MFA in creative writing. In 2014, IAIA established a bi-annual writers’ festival; and in 2017, it awarded its first Sherman Alexie Scholarship of $7,500 per semester.
A Unique Institution
IAIA is the only multi-tribal higher education institution in the country, originally established in 1962 as an art-focused high school. This unique institution is dedicated to the study, creative application, contemporary expression, and preservation of Native American culture and art. Indigenous students from the U.S, Canada and other countries benefit from what the Institute has to offer.
IAIA also offers Associate and Bachelor degrees in Indigenous liberal studies, creative writing, the cinematic arts and technology, studio arts, and museum studies. The MFA program in creative writing is a low-residency program (requiring five residencies) that also provides off-campus online education.
MFA in Creative Writing
The MFA in creative writing program allows writers to work on their craft and learn more about the process of getting published and associated issues. Sherman Alexie teaches for the program, and do two of its first graduates, Terese Marie Mailhot and Tommy Orange. Mailhot and Orange are also the authors of the critically acclaimed “Heart Berries,” a memoir, and novel “There There,” respectively.
First Sherman Alexie Scholarship Recipient
The Sherman Alexie Scholarship’s first recipient, Jamie Natonabah, a Diné, is an alumnus of the IAIA, whose favored medium is poetry. She already has a distinguished resume. She is a winner of the New Mexico Slam Poetry Competition. “Red Ink: An International Journal of Indigenous Literature, Arts & Humanities” has published her work. She has also contributed to “Bone Light” and “Fourth World Rising,” two of IAIA’s literary anthologies.
Chelsea Hicks Bryan, an Osage, and Grace Randolph, a Wampanoag, were selected as runner-up and third-place recipients of the award, respectively. The MFA program provided more than $200,000 in scholarship money in 2017, including the Alexie scholarship.
Applicants for the annually awarded scholarship must belong to a Native American tribe or First Nation and submit a work sample. The deadline for the 2018 award was February 15.
The IAIA provides terrific Associate, BA, and MFA programs for Indigenous writers to help them improve and refine their skills. Since the 1970s, Native American writers have increasingly published their work for an English-reading audience. The IAIA wants to build on that foundation and nurture more talent by offering dedicated educational programs. However, since its expertise is also open to non-American writers, Indigenous writers who may not have such educational opportunities in their home countries should take advantage of IAIA opportunities.
Crime fiction usually involves solving a mystery or why it occurred (such as “Crime and Punishment” by Dostoevsky and “Chanson Douce” by Leila Slimani). Crime fiction captivates readers by engaging their curiosity and desire to solve puzzles, and providing escapist entertainment that offers a break from their mundane lives or touches an inner fear they have harbored (for example, untrustworthy mates, killer nannies, and death by medicine).
From Poe to a Niche All its Own
Since the 1841 publication of Edgar Allan Poe’s, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” crime fiction has blossomed to become a genre with an ever-expanding community of writers. A US phenomenon before it crossed the Atlantic, crime fiction was a recognized genre by the 20th century.
The Sub-Genres of Crime Fiction
The genre has evolved over the years to include several sub-genres. The most popular sub-genres are:
The Cozy Mystery—In this sub-genre the detective is usually not a professional, the violence is not graphically described and usually not visible, and the story often has a small-town or rural setting. The sleuth is typically an intuitive and intelligent woman whose professional connections may aid her deductive skills. In this genre the focus is on character development and plot. Think Agatha Christie and her Miss Marple character.
General Suspense—This usually involves an ordinary person whose need to solve a problem sometimes involves finding a way to exonerate themselves. Think Gillian Flynn, Lee Child, and Dennis Lehane.
Private Detective Stories—In this sub-genre, the detective often works in a notable city, and there is explicit violence. Think Mike Hammer, the detective imagined by Mickey Spillane. Modern examples include Sue Grafton’s character Kinsey Milhone, Lawrence Block’s character Matt Scudder, and Janet Evanovich’s character Stephanie Plum.
Police Stories—Think James Patterson’s character Alex Cross, Ian Rankin’s character Rebus, and Michael Connelly’s character Harry Bosch. The protagonists’ stories include professional and personal issues, not just the actual crime that sets the stage.
Legal Thrillers—Think Scott Turow’s and John Grisham’s stories. The writers are often trained lawyers with a talent for creative writing. For example, Turow not only once taught creative writing at Stanford but is also a Harvard Law School graduate.
The Medical Thriller— These are usually set in a hospital, and the story involves medicine or its effect on an actual character. Think Michael Crichton, Robin Cooke, and Tess Gerritsen.
The Forensic Thriller—Such stories usually have a protagonist who is a pathologist or a scientist. Think Patricia Cornwell, Jeffery Deaver, and Kathy Reichs.
The Military Thriller—In this sub-genre the protagonist typically is in government service or a former serviceman. Think Tom Clancy.
Writers who want a career should try crime fiction. To write proper crime fiction, read crime fiction. Joining a writing group or an association, signing up for one or more workshops, and taking classes will also boost writing skills.
Children’s literature has been a distinctive genre for more than two centuries. However, it has arguably never been as popular as it is today. For trade-specific knowledge needed to succeed in writing for this genre, you need a reputable source of guidance.
About The Institute of Children’s Literature
The Institute of Children’s Literature (“ICL”) provides stellar education for writers who want to write for a young audience. ICL provides guidance that covers all the subgenres and angles of writing for children and young adults.
The ICL has helped writers become better at writing for young readers since January 1969. In addition, ICL provides expert guidance about optimizing marketing. An average of 300 ICL students per year have their writing published.
ICL offers rare one-on-one instruction and guidance by a writer or editor experienced in the craft of children’s literature. Instructors develop their teaching plans based on students’ skill levels.
ICL Course Offerings
The coursework is designed for anyone who is interested in writing for a young reader, including parents, working professionals, and individuals who require flexibility.
Current courses are Writing for Children and Teens; Breaking into Print; Shape, Write and Sell Your Novel; and advanced courses: Beyond The Basics: Creating And Selling Short Stories and Articles and Writing And Selling Children’s Books;.
Learn from Experienced Professionals
All ICL instructors are published writers or editors. They have written a combined total of more than 900 books as well as more than 20,000 articles and stories that have been published by newspapers, national magazines and online. ICL matches its students with instructors according to student interests and needs. Placement depends on whether the student intends to write fiction or nonfiction, books, short stories, articles, or a combination thereof.
ICL’s Satisfied Students
On its website, ICL reveals that 89.7 percent of its graduate students were “very satisfied;” 98 percent would repeat the course; and 97.7 percent would recommend ICL to a friend.
Author Submissions for Feedback
The ICL is located in a beautiful Connecticut mansion. Writers can also submit writing for critiques through its website. People who cannot come to the physical location but would like feedback and marketing guidance can use the online resource.
A Weekly Informative Podcast
ICL’s director hosts the Writing for Children podcast. The podcast discusses the craft of children’s literature, including how to write a book, how to write for magazines, how to earn income, and how to get published. ICL experts answer listener questions. In addition, the show notes provide hard-to-access resources and useful links.
If you have stories you want to write for young readers and wish to excel in the genre, you will benefit from ICL’s expert guidance. Visit ICL’s website to learn more about the Institute and what it offers for writers in the Children’s and Young Adult Literature genres.
Immigrant writers have a rich reservoir of inspiration that connects their personal lives and heritage. Readers travel to other countries vicariously through the descriptions in the books they read. The presentation of a lived experience enriches readers. The variety of immigrant writers in America has widened their readers’ exposure to other cultures.
Immigrant Authors Open Readers’ Minds about Immigrants
Reading makes readers more empathetic when they become absorbed in characters and experience their feelings. America is transitioning into a new era, the minority-majority era, which demands more empathy towards others so that all Americans work together for the betterment of their communities, states, and country.
The Diversity of Immigrant Writers in America
Chinua Achebe, an immigrant from Nigeria, wrote “Things Fall Apart,” describing the struggles of Nigeria’s Igbo tribe as their way of life was changed by white Christian colonists. Ghanaian-American Yaa Gyasi’s “Homegoing” presents the slave trade and its legacy through the story of two sisters and their descendants over a period of 300 years. Aspiring writers can see how the author skillfully manages to write a story of epic scope that is not compromised by excluding significant detail.
Jhumpa Lahiri’s fiction explores themes of immigrant life in America, duty, family, and freedom. Her debut short story collection, “Interpreter of Maladies,” was awarded the Pulitzer Prize; and her story about the children of immigrant parents, “The Namesake,” was made into a movie. Piyali Bhattacharya’s book of stories by South Asian American women, “Good Girls Marry Doctors: South Asian American Daughters on Obedience and Rebellion,” presents their work in an easily digestible essay collection.
Art Spiegelman’s serial comic, “Maus,” about life in Nazi Germany and the relationship between a Holocaust-survivor father and his son, brought serious respect to the graphic novel medium. The graphic novel, “The Best We Could Do,” by Thi Bui is about how displacement and immigration affected a Vietnamese-American immigrant daughter and her parents. Shaun Tan’s graphic novel, “The Arrival,” captures the immigrant experience from arrival to integration to growth.
Gene Luen Yang’s “American Born Chinese” is a graphic novel about a young student and the issues of identity that confront him in school. Christina García’s “Dreaming in Cuban,” and other works present the Cuban-American experience. Janine Joseph, an immigrant from the Philippines, writes stories and poetry about growing up undocumented in America.
The poetry of Vietnamese-American poet Ocean Vuong is spellbinding and deep. Nigerian-British novelist Helen Oyeyemi often uses fairy tales and fables in her novels.
Immigrant writers can be an important part of building a more empathetic and diverse society. If you are an aspiring immigrant writer, you will benefit by checking out the stories of other immigrant writers for inspiration and guidance.
Without a doubt, the publishing world is changing. While high-profile authors continue enjoying their well-earned success, indie authors are starting to take center stage, thanks to a higher level of publicity gained by cheaper and more effective marketing options. Book platforms are changing, too, as are the ways books are written, edited, and promoted. Many of these changes will affect a writer’s bottom line, so being prepared for them will lessen the financial blow and give writers time to adapt.
E-Book Sales Continue to Explode
Despite the ongoing reports about Barnes and Noble shutting down its e-book store and discontinuing sales and support of the beloved Nook e-readers, Amazon’s Kindle line continues to grow and change. Amazon reports that more than 70% of its 2016 adult fiction sales were in digital format. What does this mean for new writers? E-book publishing is the most cost-effective way to break into the market as e-books can be widely distributed almost instantly. Focus on driving your digital sales.
Readers’ Perceptions about Indie Authors Are Shifting
A few years ago, an indie author may have felt successful if a few friends and family members shared word of their book with other friends and family. Now, readers are starting to shift away from the expected by best-selling authors and are widening their reading horizons to include new independent, self-published authors. Another report from Amazon shows small press and indie author sales accounted for a full 50% of its market share in 2016!
What does this mean for indie authors? It means as an indie author, you have doors opening for you everywhere you look. If you have the writing and editing skills to create a quality product, the market is yours for the taking. Competition among indie authors is fierce, with most e-books priced below $3.00, so you’ll want to beef up your social marketing skills and cultivate a loyal reader base. The hard work will definitely pay off on the bottom line.
Publishing “wide” is a trend writers, editors, and agents are starting to employ as authors seek to de-limit themselves from the U.S. market alone. While this involves extra cost, the author or agent can do some research into the reading markets of other countries to determine if their theme fits what is popular elsewhere. If the primary language of the target country is other than the author’s first language, they will need to hire a translator.
If you want to have work translated, expect to pay between $0.13 and $0.25 per word, depending on the complexity and commonality of the language. Alternately, hourly rates vary greatly by translator, but bear in mind, the industry average for translations is 360 words per hour. For a longer manuscript, you may want to hire a firm with two to three translators working on different parts of the same document, as this will make the translation faster and can save over per-word rates.
Keeping these publishing changes in mind will help writers reclaim aging markets with fresh outlooks and action plans for the coming years. Remember, e-books, international markets, and indie authors are just the start of shifts in the publishing world. Anticipating and preparing for different approaches to writing, editing, marketing, and publishing will keep authors at the forefront of this highly competitive business.
Business writing, like other forms of writing, is a skill that improves with practice and effort. It seems simple; but it isn’t. Since business professionals are hard-pressed for time, and have a limited attention span because of it, how specific information is conveyed is very important.
Stick to the Accepted Format
Different types of business writing have specific formats. Follow the standard for each type. Adhering to the protocol is less confusing for readers. Following the accepted form matters more in business writing than in other writing forms.
For instance, business correspondence that is not well written, properly formatted, and/or badly presented gets in the way and may irritate the reader.
Some Pointers about Effective Business Communication/Writing
Your writing must be professional. Professionalism requires etiquette. Being informal is not acceptable in professional communication.
Do an outline of what you want to convey. Use the appropriate tone. Make sure to go through your writing as if you are the reader yourself.
All forms of business writing require the same style of conveying the information. Be straightforward. The style should be clear and succinct. Keeping sentences and paragraphs as concise as possible is a common characteristic of business writing. Do not dally while getting to the purpose of your business writing. What you convey should be easy to follow.
Don’t use jargon or indirect/needless words. Make each sentence convey a single message. Clarity is key. Using precise words in compact content holds the readers’ attention.
Read business publications, reports and presentations to see how business communications are crafted. Some business writers are more effective communicators. Emulate the ones whose style resonates with you, as you need to be yourself in your writing.
Know Your Audience/Reader.
Make sure your writing considers the readers’ standpoints. Think about what readers expect. Depending on what you are writing, do not assume your readers understand the content of your message. In some cases, readers may lack the assumed knowledge.
Show Consideration and Courtesy in Correspondence
Get to the point early. Don’t make the reader wait to figure out what your writing is about.
Short and concise correspondence demonstrates consideration of the time limitations of the reader and shows respect for the reader. It is also the most professional and effective way to share or discuss information.
Carefully Proofread Your Writing/Communication
Read your content before you send/ present it and use spell check.
Business writing is simpler and less demanding than creative writing. But, it still requires practice and constant efforts to improve its quality.
When editors are solicited for their advice on what writers should look for in an editor, the answer sounds surprisingly like what any of us would want to look for in a partner. Honesty, teamwork, and strong communication skills are among the top traits they recommend. Appropriately so, when a writer hires the right editor, they become partners in the book’s – and the author’s – success.
The Three Classifications of Editing
To be their best, non-fiction books require the work of three different types of editing:
- Developmental Editing
- Copy Editing
These three levels of editing can be done by one editor or by one each. It is worth investing in one editor who will see the process through from beginning to end, as having one person involved is more efficient than having two or three who may have different ideas for the manuscript.
The developmental editor will look at the “big picture” of the manuscript, including structure and concept. They will also provide an analysis line-by-line for a perfectly clean read. This labor-intensive process should always be the first level of editing performed on a manuscript as it sets the stage for the next two.
The copy editing process is done to ensure all the language in the manuscript is spotless. This is especially important given the nature of non-fiction books, which is to impart specific, accurate information. This means the text must be free of grammatical errors and typos. Readers will not trust information, nor the person writing it, if it is spelled incorrectly or poorly worded.
The final step in the editing process is proofreading. The editor chosen should be willing to go in after the writer and previous editor, if applicable, to give a final once-over, hunting out any mistakes that remain. They will ensure the manuscript is ready for sale.
Pricing and Other Attributes
When getting quotes from editors, keep in mind these averages from more than 2,000 inquiries. The industry average for full editing of a 60,000-word manuscript will run around $2500. A general assessment runs around $720, while full content and developmental editing comes out around $1,440. Proofreading alone will run around $540.
Another attribute to look for in an editor is someone who encourages communication and is clear on the writer’s needs and wants. The editor should also be willing to offer constructive criticism while being informative and sensitive.
Also important in choosing an editor is finding one with experience relevant to the writer’s theme and vision. When an editor knows the field in which the author is writing, they can better help the author meet their vision and goals for the book down the road. The right editor will help the author express their voice, not try to change it.
Choosing the right editor can be a difficult and time-consuming process, especially when the subject matter involves specialized fields (like medicine or technology). The time and effort an author spends in interviewing editors until they find the one(s) that will fit their needs will be rewarded in the success of their book.
If there is one thing avid readers are frustrated by, it is reading a novel or other story in which the details of personality of any of its characters change throughout the read. When a story feels as if it was thrown together, it becomes hard to follow, and readers do not want that. They want a read that is engaging and makes sense. A major flaw in many stories is lack of character continuity, something authors of all experience levels need to pay close attention to.
The Problem for Readers
When characters carry inconsistent characteristics, it makes reading the story cumbersome and confusing. This situation can occur when more than one person is writing the piece or when the author is writing off the cuff, creating the story as they go without taking notes. It also happens when the story has not been researched ahead of time or proper character development wasn’t outlined prior to writing. Realistically, this can make readers abandon the book and generate poor ratings, killing sales.
The Problem for Writers
Any writer will understand that when inspiration hits, they need to go with it. Brainstorming and free-writing is perfectly fine for notes and first drafts; however, the writer must then take the time to check for consistency. Errors and oversights typically occur when self-publishing authors lack outside editing. This results in a poor quality book, low sales, and bad reviews of both book and author. It also prevents readers from returning to the same author’s future works.
The best practice for a writer during the creation process is to take notes as they go. No matter how well an author knows their characters and what they want from the story, small details can make the biggest difference in readability. Notes should be jotted down each time a detail about the character comes out, such as personality quirks, moods, or health issues. If a character has an eighth-grade education, note this! This way it will be clear not to have the character speak or act above their social level.
Once the story is written, the list of character details can be organized alphabetically or in order of appearance in the story. The latter is the easiest way to assist an editor and to introduce the reader to the characters if the list will be included as an aside to the story. If a character list is included, it is usually done so in very long works of fiction or in screenplays prior to the first chapter. Notes can of course be re-written for clarity once compiled. Regardless, this will add continuity to the writing and aid in ease of reading.