Panic therapist Jim Woodward has written the book on this topic (title: False Alarm: You’re Not Going Crazy, You Have Panic, Here’s How to Solve It). He continues this discussion with checklists, strategies, and comforting stories.

Austin, I suspect you have little experience in both venues. Traditional publishing is broken. Bookstores are the worst places to sell books. Bookstores are a dying breed (use up your Barnes and Noble gift cards now). The publishers make more money on the authors' intellectual property than authors do. Publishers generally don't really edit (well) or help you with writing. And publishers want to tap into your social media to sell books to your followers and friends. Authors don't need traditional publishing. Indie publishing is not as expensive as you think (under $5,000). And with author/publisher models you have complete…

They are easy to fix so you don’t make the telling first-time author’s unforced errors

© Write On Inc, image by Addasta on Fiverr

Many self-published authors are making rookie mistakes that can easily be avoided (and fixed if you’re already in print). Here’s what to look for and avoid when you’re publishing your book.

Consider what happens when you shop for a new car (not online). First, you take a walk around the shiny new vehicle. You look at the exterior finish, admire the lines, the color, and then peek inside at the leather interior and wood-paneled dash. Right?

Same with judging a book. Even online, Amazon lets you view the exterior (the cover) and then click the “Look Inside” feature to see…

I'm a big em-dash fan, but just an editorial note (I'm an editor). The Chicago Manual of Style recommends no spaces on either side of the em dash.

As a book editor, I find my nonnative English speakers struggling with these points of grammar and many more such as word choice and punctuation. The final arbiter on grammar is a sound high school English grammar textbook (Harbrace) and the Chicago Manual of Style, which disagrees with a few of these points. But that disagreement keeps us editors in business. Thank you for the article.

Self-publishing (aka independent publishing) is no longer a sad second choice for authors rejected by agents and traditional publishing houses. Indie publishing is the best choice for most authors whose names are not John Grisham or Stephen King (actually the indie path is even better for them because they have a huge following). You retain control over your work and make all the profit if you publish yourself. With the demise of bookstores, with digital printing via Amazon's KDP, your book can play with every other published book (that's good news and bad news). Nobody cares who the publisher is. They care about a decent read. Write on.

Why writers can’t always agree where they go


There is a well-known meme about commas and where one should go. Consider this: “Let’s eat Grandma.” Or “Let’s eat, Grandma.” For Grandma, the comma is rather important unless you are Hannibal Lecter, and then Grandma would be breakfast. No comma needed.

I’m a book editor. I advise authors to use commas where they are required and consider the gray areas where they may or may not be required. The test is whether the reader can navigate your sentence, or not. (That comma I just used is a gray area comma.)

Some of us may remember an English teacher in…

I just posted on Medium my advice (as an editor) for How to Stop Staring at a Blank Page. The solution may be in what type of writer you are: audio (dictating may be your jam), visual (see it, write it), or kinesthetic (the movement or water technique). I offer more pro tips too.

Editors disagree about many of the finer points of their work such as whether to capitalize the word president (no, generally, but yes with President Lincoln), whether to spell out numbers (some styles say yes to every number lower than 10 or lower than 100), or whether to use the serial comma that preceded this clause (Chicago Manual of Style says yes). Some purists would argue that the headline should read among instead of between. But I digress.

Editors also disagree about whether to start a sentence with And. And of course editors disagree about what constitutes the levels of…

Imagine the first writer’s block. I recall a cartoon showing a caveman with a rudimentary stick staring at a large, blank rock.

Today’s equivalent of the blank rock may be a computer screen, and your process may seem like this:

When you sit down to write (and there’s a problem right there; you may not do well sitting down), do you find yourself with a sudden urge to clean out a file drawer? Throw in a load of laundry? Search the internet for ways to clean wine stains out of carpet? Check the refrigerator for the third time? …

Sandra Wendel

A picky nonfiction editor who helps authors write, polish, and publish their books. Author: Cover to Cover: What First-Time Authors Need to Know about Editing.

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