The Writer’s Craft – Teamwork

(Silverdale, Washington; August 17, 2020) – The successful creation of a writing project is driven by one person. However, the successful publication of a writing project is driven by the collaboration of a number of people. No one who wishes to present a professional product to the world can do it alone.

I present these blog entries as an example. When I taught media for the Navy, one of the core lessons I drilled into my students was the danger of acting as one’s own editor. The brain knows what it was trying to write, and will see that while almost instinctively ignoring typos, missed punctuation marks, etc. I would prefer to have an outside editor review my columns, but, for now, I’m on my own. I compensate for this disadvantage by writing my columns at least 24 hours before I post them on Mondays and Thursdays. I will then allow a few hours to pass before I review the column. This lets my eyes and brain freshen up for a better chance at spotting my own errors.

I then review the column at least twice the next day prior to publication by reading it out loud. Reading it out loud a full day later allows me to see it anew and root out mistakes. Only after all of these steps are completed do I publish it.

That’s a lot of work, but it’s the only way to ensure I publish a professional blog since I have to act as my own editor. I want to be taken seriously and not used as an example of bad writing. Confession: I’ve followed blogs in the past because they were laughably bad and made great examples for my students of what not to do. I might have to rely on myself for this blog, but I’m not so foolish as to edit my own books.

The launch date for Proud Lion, my first novel, is September 20. I’m researching what self-publishing platform to use even as my team tackles the book itself for quality assurance.

Yes, I said “team.”

Proud Lion is being developed for publishing by a team of media professionals I met during my career in the Navy. I put together this ad hoc team to make sure things gets done properly to ensure the best chance of success.

My friend, mentor, and fellow retired chief petty officer, Jerry, is acting as senior editor. He and I taught together for several years. Getting Jerry on board was one of my bigger successes. He’ll not only tell me where the typos are, he’ll tell me if the narrative falters and confuses him into another dimension.

Writers tend to know other writers, so it’s not a stretch to think you will have people you can rely on to help with editing. I caution you to be careful and get the right people to help you. Find an editor who will follow through and not leave you hanging. Be selective about who you askfor help.Friendship can sink a project if your friend is more concerned with making you feel good instead of helping you develop a professional product. Ensure the friends you lean will tell you not only the good, but the bad and the ugly as well.

Audio books are increasingly popular. The visually impaired are obvious consumers of audio books, but so are people who want to listen to a story while driving, flying, exercising, etc. Any author looking to be really successful needs to find a way to get their work converted to an audio book. For me, that’s my friend, shipmate, and fellow media specialist Rob.

Rob is currently exploring the rough draft of Proud Lion for development into audio book format. Rob is a single dad and still on active duty, so he’s quite busy, but he did agree to look into this project. Rob has invested in a great deal of recording equipment, and his voice is the text-book example of a classic broadcast voice. You might know a gamer with great audio software; if they have a good voice, see if they might be willing to do the audio reading.

Cover art is critical. Unappealing cover art will turn away potential customers no matter how good your story is. My own graphics skills are decent, but “decent” doesn’t cut it. I specialized in photography, writing, and teaching. I can work in Photoshop with the best of them, but cover art needs to be rendered into completed form using extremely high-quality vector graphics. I designed the cover art right down to the colors of the text and a bullseye motif, but I had to find someone who could take my raster-based image and convert it to vector-based graphics.

Enter Eric, a third media expert and former sailor I’ve engaged for this project. I didn’t meet Eric on active duty, but met him after he moved out here to take a job doing graphics work for a friend’s company. Eric is a wizard with vector graphics, and is rendering my design into a finalized, super-high quality file that will reproduce flawlessly for print-on-demand books. In other words, Eric will make my book look as professional as possible, ensuring the best chance an on-line shopper will notice it.

Marketing is the one area I’m still seeking assistance on, but I might have that covered soon. I’m good, but, again, “good” is usually not good enough. Therefore, I’m talking to yet another former shipmate for assistance in the marketing arena.

The final point your must consider is the compensation you will provide your team. The worker is worth their wages, as the saying goes. I cannot offer anything right now except for small, flat fees and official credit in the published work as a resume’ bullet. I was forthright about this, and Jerry, Rob, and Eric all agreed to those terms. Be open when talking about compensation, and be as fair as you can. People are often willing to work with you if you’re forthright and fair. Just don’t be stingy. Every author (whether new or established) needs allies to successfully publish a book, and stinginess will lose you allies every time.

I encourage you to have the wisdom and humility to reach out for help as you ready your work for publication. There are resources out there, even for those who don’t have my network of media professionals. Talk to the art and media departments of your local community college. There may be students seeking to further their own portfolios. Do an internet search for appropriate talent. It might take a while, but the time spent is a good investment. You can’t guarantee success, but you can stack the deck in your favor to better the odds!

Writing is a solitary effort; publishing is a team effort. Part of the writer’s craft is knowing when to reach out for help, and what help to ask for. “Participation trophies” might be great for little kids, but they aren’t given out to adults who submit substandard products to the marketplace. The only thing that will actually and consistently sell in the real world is quality. Be creative and find the right people to help you achieve that quality.

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Nathanael Miller’s Photojournalism Archives:

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