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Beta Readers: The Fresh Perspective You ...

Beta Readers: The Fresh Perspective You Need

As a writer, you look at your manuscript over and over; at a certain point you can no longer “see” it. Beta readers offer fresh eyes to spot what’s working—or not working—from the reader’s point of view. While beta readers is a catchall term for early readers, you may also run across the terms alpha […]

Poetry and Nonfiction: A Beautiful Coupl...

Hand pointing color graffiti saying POETRY on a wall. Text: Poetry & Nonfiction? Beautiful!

April is National Poetry Month—no, don’t look away! You may be here for nonfiction advice and wonder what poetry has to do with it. Everything. Here are three specific things… Poetry techniques can enhance your nonfiction Poetry predates written text and likely was used as a way of making it easier to remember oral history. […]

Does your book need a foreword, preface,...

Does your book need a foreword, preface, or introduction? Here’s how to decide.

In the beginning was . . . the Foreword? the Preface? the Introduction? I was reviewing a manuscript the other day and couldn’t quite tell what the author’s intent was for the beginning elements of his book. The foreword, preface, and introduction play distinct roles. Having read, you know, books, you might intuitively know what the roles are, […]

How to Avoid Being Too Concise

How to Avoid Being Too Concise

A while back, as I reviewed a client’s writing, I found myself a bit puzzled about what advice to give. The language was clean and technically correct, but it was difficult to read. I had to actively concentrate to get through it, and I wasn’t quite sure what I was supposed to take away. It […]

Learning to Love Feedback on Your Writin...

Learning to Love Feedback on Your Writing

Many newer writers bristle at feedback. In creative writing workshops, they defend their work against their classmates’ observations. When beta readers offer suggestions, they explain why the readers are wrong. When asking for feedback, they are disappointed at anything but praise. Well of course! Criticism hurts! It feels like you’re killing my little darlings! It’s […]

Less Is More: How to Improve Your Book t...

Less Is More: How to Improve Your Book through Subtraction

“Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.” —Coco Chanel I heard this famous advice as a teenager exploring fashion and learning how to be a sophisticated, understated grown-up (hey, stop laughing) and it stuck with me (even though I’d forgotten whose wisdom it was until I consulted Google). […]

Eliminate Friction to Keep Your Readers’

Friction is a useful tool in the right settings—I mean, it’s nice when your car brakes work, right?—but when friction gets in the way of completing an action (like reading a book), it’s time to eliminate it. A classic example of friction is poor website design. You try to buy a product on someone’s website […]

Use Writing Constraints to Increase Your...

Use Writing Constraints to Increase Your Creativity

Powerhouse children’s author Beverly Cleary died last month at the astonishing age of 104, leaving a legacy of having written 50-plus books. Chances are you read some of her books as a child—Henry Huggins, The Mouse and the Motorcycle, Ramona and Beezus. Maybe your children learned to read with them; maybe you’ve heard the Ramona […]

How Arithmetic Can Help You Write

How Arithmetic Can Help You Write

The more I work with books, the more I realize how helpful arithmetic is (yup, just arithmetic—no algebra, geometry, or calculus needed). Whether you have too little content, too much content, or lopsided content, some addition, subtraction, and division (not finding a use for multiplication yet!) can help set guideposts to keep you on track, […]

Proofreading Oversights You Don’t Realiz

Proofreading Oversights You Don’t Realize Are Giving You Away as Self-Published

You know you want to self-publish—for control, for speed to market—but you don’t want your book to look self-published. You want it to be indistinguishable from books published by the “Big Five.” But even if you have high quality content and avoid common formatting mistakes, your book may still contain proofreading oversights that give it […]

When the writing process feels hard, can...

When the writing process feels hard, can readers tell?

After I offered a client some critical feedback that meant he needed to do some rewriting, he complained, “This feels too hard. I like to write when I’m inspired. How can it be any good if I don’t feel inspired?” I gave my client the same answer I always give: It doesn’t matter what the […]

Match Your Nonfiction Writing Approach t...

Match Your Nonfiction Writing Approach to Your Content: Gain Efficiency, Relieve Pressure

Originally posted on the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) blog. “I know it’s messy, but you know me—I’m a pantser.” My editing client knew his topic inside and out, but his book manuscript read like it was the first time he’d ever touched the topic. We had to do a lot of rewriting and revision […]