SDW/EG member and The Writer’s Life newsletter editor, Laura Roberts, provided the top ten takeaways from Jonathan LaPoma’s presentation on scriptwriting at the October meeting on her blog, Buttontapper Press, shared below.
Last night I attended the monthly meeting of the San Diego Writers and Editors Guild. The guest speaker was Jonathan LaPoma, author of Developing Minds: An American Ghost Story, and winner of 101 screenwriting awards. He spoke about his screenwriting process, as well as giving the audience tips for punching up the drama in a script, and creating great dialogue. Here are my Top 10 Takeaways from his speech: Read more . . .
Join us on Monday, November 28, our regular monthly meeting, for the launch of the fifth edition of the San Diego Writers/Editors’ Anthology, The Guilded Pen. As a preview, we offer a few words from Kathi Diamant in the anthology’s Foreward.
“What is written is merely the ashes of our experience.”
This collection of short stories, poems, and imaginative essays is the culmination of lifetimes of experience, of memory, of love. Of determination, perseverance, and hard work. That you are holding this book in your hands in an essential final piece in the natural order of the writing process. By reading this book, you make the cycle—from germination of the idea to the writing, rewriting, editing, critiquing, copyediting, and so on until finally, publication—complete and whole. In exploring the prose and poetry within these pages, you will enter the writer’s world and at least for a few pages, expand and enrich your own world. This is the promise of reading.
Most, if not all, writers start off as readers. The more we read, often, the more we are inspired to write, to tell our own stories, write our own histories, reveal our own truths. Ah, but then there is the writing. The actual putting pen to paper, or fingers to the keyboard. As anyone who has ever sat down with a bright and shining idea, a story, an unrealized reality, a dream, and tried to put it into words knows the immensity of that undertaking. The heartbreak. The frustration. The relief. The joy. The deeper you go in the process, the more you lose your way, and find yourself. But we writers are not alone. Although the act of writing is by necessity solitary, the writing world itself is brimming with help and support.
There are few professional communities with as much collegial advice and guidance as writing. There are myriad magazines, classes, books, meet-ups, blogs, websites, and writing support groups. The writers in this anthology are members of the San Diego Writers/Editors Guild, a nonprofit organization which promotes, supports, and encourages writing for youth and adults. Royalties from the sale of The Guilded Pen help fund the worthy endeavor of supporting San Diego writers, allowing for the fullness of their expression. In a vital way, this anthology promotes writers by presenting an opportunity for publication, a fine and noble achievement. It encourages reading, by offering the best efforts of our local writers, from best-selling authors to previously unpublished poets, and the opportunity to discover the many literary styles and subjects found in our own communities.
As a writer who learned to write because I had a story I had to tell, I know the long, unspeakable process of getting a manuscript ready for publication, even if it is just a few pages. I know how important it is to see one’s work in print, the encouragement derived from a dream made real. My first book publication was an essay in an anthology, and it gave me the strength and certainty that I was on the right path.
To all the writers published here, thank you for sharing your talent, skill, and hard work. To those seasoned pros, thank you for showing us why you are successful. To those published for the first time here, congratulations and well done! To the readers of this new fifth edition, know that in buying this book, you are actively supporting writers who may be your neighbors, colleagues, friends, and family. You are fulfilling the hope and promise of their labor by bearing witness. Bless you, dear reader.
Kathi Diamant is an author, writing instructor, and coach, and above all, a reader.
November 28, 2016: Anthology launch
December 12, 2016: Holiday Party (note this is the 2nd Monday, not the 4th!)
IN THE NEW YEAR…
February 27, 2017: Diane Hinds, How to Promote Your Book
March 27, 2017: Mark Reichenthal, attorney for literary matters, to discuss contracts between authors and agents, publishers and others.
For those who are wondering what on earth to do with Twitter, here’s a novel approach: pitch your book!
Pitch parties like #PitMad and #PitchMAS make use of Twitter’s hashtags to call attention to your 140-character hook and alert editors and agents to your manuscript’s availability. Those who are interested in what you have to say will favorite your tweet to indicate that you should contact them (via email) with a partial manuscript or query for further reading.
Think of the whole process like speed dating for books: You can hook up with agents and editors online, quickly gauging their interest in your book, and moving on from rejections more swiftly. Better yet, authors who successfully pitch during these online parties get to skip the slush pile altogether!
Some important things to keep in mind when pitching on Twitter:
- Make sure you pitch a completed novel that you’d be querying about anyway. Agents and editors only want to read about and vote on pitches for complete manuscripts.
- Be sure to use the hashtag for the pitch party you’re attending, or else agents and editors won’t see it.
- Vary your pitch’s wording up to three times throughout the day, to hook more readers.
- Literary Agent Carly Watters also urges writers to “include your book’s motivation, crisis and secret.”
So what does a good pitch look like? Here’s Carly Watters’ example, using Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland: Girl abducted by rabbit from family picnic to fight war in magical dimension. When put on trial for her life, will she wake up? #PitMad #YA
For more information on how to pitch your books on Twitter, check out http://bit.ly/1KGhYg4.
For information specifically related to the #PitMad event (which is open to all genres and takes place on December 1), go to http://www.brendadrake.com/pitmad/.
Interested in #PitchMAS? Head to http://pitchmas.blogspot.com for more info.
Participation is free, and those who manage to complete the first draft of an entire novel (defined by the organizers as 50,000 words) are eligible for writing-related prizes from contest sponsors. Past prizes have included discounts on Scrivener and other software that helps with the novel-writing process, publishing discounts from CreateSpace and Fast Pencil, and more.
Participants receive regular pep talks from published authors, badges to place on their websites and social media pages, and access to a word counter to make sure they stay on track with their writing throughout the month. Indeed, the contest’s rallying cry is “1,667 words or bust!” as this is the minimum amount you must write per day in order to hit 50K by November 30.
Perhaps the best reason to join the contest, however, is the community. Local Meetups and write-ins are regularly scheduled by organizers, and some San Diego writers even take a day-long train trip to LA and back for additional inspiration.
Will you be participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Let us know what your username is, so we can follow each other’s progress, and tell us what you plan to write!
To register, go to nanowrimo.org.
Manuscript Review is a membership benefit for all Guild members. You can submit up to 30 pages of your fiction, nonfiction, or memoir to our Manuscript Review Committee for just $20. All submissions receive a critique and rating (Highest Recommendation, Highly Recommended, Recommended, or No Recommendation), useful when contacting editors, agents, and publishers.
. . .SDWE/G member Frank Newton, who won first prize in the category of Best Youth Historical Fiction at the 2016 International Latino Book Awards. Frank’s novel, The Trials of Tizoc, is about an Aztec boy who struggles to save his parents from a gruesome death. The aim is to teach middle school and high school students about Aztec culture prior to the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors.
September’s guest speaker was David Wogahn, author of Register Your Book: The Essential Guide to ISBNs, Barcodes, Copyright, and LCCNs. He spoke about metadata, which is information about information, and focused specifically on its relationship to publishing and marketing books. Here are five helpful tips to take away from his speech:
Metadata is important
While we might chalk up metadata as being optional, it’s really not. In fact, metadata is what helps readers find your book online. So if over half of all print books are purchased online (and they are!), then you want to be sure your metadata is helping steer readers to your book instead of driving them away.
Metadata can help you research the competition
Why would you want to research your competition? Two reasons: 1) To learn how to market your book, and 2) To understand the audience for your book. Wogahn noted that successful self-publishers look for audiences first, instead of writing books willy-nilly. So how can you make use of metadata here? Find out what categories you can put your book into on Amazon, check out the keywords your competition is using in their titles and subtitles, learn more about how series books are described, figure out how to best price your book, and even find potential reviewers and blurb writers.
Write the back cover copy first
It may sound counterintuitive, but Wogahn recommends writing the back cover copy first. It will help you summarize your book, figure out how to best approach your audience and sell them on the benefits of your book, get your point across quickly, and be crystal clear about what you’re really writing about. Another bonus? You can use the back cover copy as your Amazon description of the book, too!
Personal metadata should be consistent
When it comes to personal metadata, Wogahn mentioned content topics (what you talk about in your book and on social media), bios and “about” pages, imagery, and a branded email address. Accurate and consistent metadata is the key to success, so he recommended starting a file for author bios and another for metadata, so you can be sure every piece of information will be the same across all platforms, including social media, publishers, distribution channels, and aggregators. Remember to stay on topic when blogging and using social media, and continue to develop your brand with an email address that reflects your website’s name.
Metadata is forever
Metadata is forever, so be sure these pieces of information are absolutely decided upon before you upload any information about your book: Book Title,
Subtitle, Publisher Name, and Assigned ISBN. You should also be sure you own and control each of the following: Domain Names, ISBNs, LCCNs, and Copyrights. If you’ve got each of those pieces of the puzzle put together, you’ll live happily ever after.
BONUS: Check out David’s Self-Publishing Flowchart at http://www.authorimprints.com/publishing/ for a timeline of all the different steps you’ll need to take, whether you’re planning to create an ebook or printed volume.