Book cover image and author picture kindly supplied by Wendy H. Jones.
Some images created in Book Brush by both Wendy H Jones and Allison Symes. Other images from Pixabay.
I am pleased and proud to be taking part in Wendy H Jones’ new book – Creativity Matters: Find Your Passion for Writing. This came out earlier this week (1st September 2021).
Naturally I’m talking about flash fiction and short story writing. It will be my first venture in non-fiction in print and I hope to do more of this in the future.
About Creativity Matters
The book consists of chapters written by a wide range of authors, who are expert in their fields, and covering different topics.
The process of contributing to this newly released book has been fun and interesting but it is also a new venture for Wendy. She has self-published, written everything from crime to children’s picture books, but this is the first time she has published other authors.
So I thought it would be interesting to chat to Wendy about what made her decide to go down this route as combining publishing with your own writing work is not easy. Both take up a huge amount of (mostly enjoyable) time.
Again I find myself in the position of being edited and doing the editing. How come? I regularly carry out editing work for Bridge House Publishing and am currently doing so. I can see both sides of the fence and why the editor does what they do and why an author feels the way they do. It is an interesting dynamic to say the least.
But what I have learned is that every writer needs a good editor because we are all too close to our own work to scrutinize it objectively enough. A good editor will pick up on things you miss. And I am grateful to my editors for picking up the things I’ve missed or where I’ve written something that could be strengthened. A good editor brings out the best in you as a writer. What’s not to like there?
As I was working on my chapter for Wendy, the edits revealed things I had missed. Nothing earth-shattering, just the sort of things you don’t want to see in the final version of the book. As ever, I went over my text several times before submitting it but this is the way of it.
So then over to Wendy…
Obvious question first – why the venture into publishing other authors?
I believe being an author is the most fabulous job and feeling in the world and I love writing different series. I have a lot of knowledge of and insight into the world of writing and publishing. However, as any good author should, I know my limitations, especially when it comes to writing non-fiction.
Creativity Matters is a book about passion for writing in different genres and I knew I needed input from established writers in those genres to bring the book to life. So, I invited twelve writers to write a chapter about their own genre and, hence publishing. It’s an exciting venture, one which is a new step for me but it’s a good feeling to be working collaboratively.
When any writer goes in a new direction, there is a steep learning curve though usually it turns out to be interesting and beneficial, at least when you have had a chance to look back at things. How have you found dealing with the new skills you have needed to master to be able to launch this venture? Can you tell us a little more about what new skills you have had to pick up for this venture?
The obvious one is diplomacy as I have had to work closely with authors who are close to their own work. I know what it is like when an editor asks you to change something or says something which doesn’t come across well. We all believe every word is sacrosanct and changing it can be hard.
However, I should point out that all the authors in the book changed things willingly and enthusiastically and the book is all the better for it. They have been a joy to work with. I also had to learn to communicate clearly so every author knew what was expected.
I was going for a certain vibe – light and enthusiastic – and the authors had to have a clear vision of what that vibe should be. Again, I was fortunate they all caught that vision. I also needed to be clear about timelines and deadlines and communicate that in a way the authors understood yet didn’t feel under pressure.
What would be your three tips for a writer so they can get the best out of working with their editor and publisher? Especially for a co-operative venture such as this book, that kind of working well together is crucial.
Firstly, read any communication or instructions clearly and follow them. If you have any questions or are unsure about something, ask before you write your chapter
Secondly, attend any briefings that take place and get to know your fellow authors.
Lastly, remember that the editor is not trying to stifle you but to make the chapter the best it can be. Work together with them and you will have a highly polished product that will leap from the page.
How much planning did you do before deciding to go ahead with this? Did anything unexpected come up and, if so, how did you handle that?
I planned out the chapters I wanted in the book and then sought out authors who would fit the remit for that chapter. The only slightly unexpected thing that happened was one author said they couldn’t be involved due to deadlines for another book, and I wrote that chapter as it was a genre in which I also write.
I also planned out a timeline for the project as I wanted it to take three months from start to finish. The authors embraced that which was a good thing, and this helped me enormously.
How easy, or otherwise, did you find choosing the topics for this book?
It was fairly easy as there are only a certain number of genres about which you can write. I did want to add some other things which wouldn’t be construed as genres such as, writing faith-based books and writing non-fiction.
My writing journey to date has been full of pleasant surprises, after nearly being derailed early on by a vanity publisher and agent. What has led to the wish to become a publisher and has your experience in self-publishing helped drive that? Has this been an unexpected but welcome twist on your own writing journey and are there twists you wish you hadn’t had but have learned so much from?
When I set up my publishing company the idea was always at the back of my mind that I would one day publish others. I love pushing the boundaries of what I can do, and this was the first step into moving that idea forward. Although it wasn’t completely unexpected, I did decide to do it on the spur of the moment, and I am glad I did as I work well under pressure. I’ve not really had a twist that I wished hadn’t happened as everything I’ve done has taken my writing and publishing journey further.
Name three top marketing tips for contributors to a book like Creativity Matters.
Market like a ninja – in other words get the word out everywhere: social media, telling your friends and family but only if they are interested in the subject matter, sending the word out to your mailing list, taking books to conferences, using promo materials.
Use images and graphics wherever possible. Pictures really do say more than a thousand words. I have given my authors promo images and have encouraged them to use these and/or their own promo images.
Embrace the marketing as an important part of the writing journey. Launching a book is not time to hide your book under a bushel, to mangle a well-known phrase.
How do you find balancing the differing demands of fiction and non-fiction writing? Also of still writing your own work and producing others?
I absolutely love every aspect of writing and publishing and embrace it wholeheartedly. Fiction and non-fiction use different parts of my brain and that is a good thing. Working with others has been a joy as I loved helping them develop as writers.
I am also an editor and run an online writing academy – Authorpreneur Accelerator Academy – so I am used to working with and supporting others. This collaboration was just another step forward in my journey.
I can’t think of any writer who has enough time to do all they would like to do. How do you manage your writing time? What would be your top tips here given we all have to find ways of using the time we’ve got in the best way we can?
Firstly, use all your time wisely. I’m a bit of an anytime, anyplace, anywhere girl and write whenever I can – trains, planes, sitting at the doctor’s surgery, coffee shops, literally anywhere.
Secondly, in order to do the above always carry a notebook with you or use a notebook app on your phone or tablet. I use Evernote which syncs from my phone to my computer, so I just copy and paste what I’ve written into my WIP when I get to my computer.
Lastly, talking of mobile phones, they all tell you how much time you spend on a screen in any given day. I can guarantee you will be shocked. Use that time for writing and you’ll crack out a book in no time.
Can you tell us a little about the technical side of producing books – I.e. how easy is it to produce an ebook or paperback? What can writers do to help their publishers make this side of things easier? I’ve often commented on how important it is to follow a publisher’s guidelines. What is your take on that? How does it make a difference to you as publisher?
I’m going to start with following the publisher’s guidelines as this aspect is crucial. The likelihood of a publisher accepting you if you have not followed the guidelines is zero. You need to be able to work effectively within a publishing house and if you cannot follow even the submission guidelines then why would a publisher think you will follow other guidelines.
It is now extremely easy to produce an ebook or paperback, however, doing it professionally is another matter. You need to make sure you have professional editing and professional cover design so that your book is as good as, or even better, than traditionally published books.
With regards to making things easy for the publisher – follow guidelines, be amenable to making changes, stay polite; if you feel that a change is unwarranted, put this forward calmly and avoid ranting, remember the publisher usually has the final say.
I want to end by saying, enjoy every aspect of it, including making changes. See it as an opportunity to grow, develop, and learn. It will make you a better writer.
I’ve mentioned before that the writing journey is not a static one and this is a good thing. It shows you are developing as a writer, which in turn will fuel further creativity. That in turn can lead to further opportunities for publication.
My journey in 2020 and 2021 has led to opportunities, amongst other things, to give talks and workshops and Zoom has made so much more possible there too. It is important to be open to opportunities. Nobody can take every single one on but I have found focusing on thinking yes this opportunity could help me later with things I want to do in this direction to be a useful guide as to whether I accept an opportunity or not.
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.
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