by Catherine Rayburn-Trobaugh: President, Word Branch Media
I can’t help but look back on this amazing year with wonder. On a cold gray day in February, I went to the local courthouse to make Word Branch Publishing official, and it has grown like I had never imagined. Since then, life has been hectic, but satisfying, and I’m grateful for the writers and editors who have come along on this wonderful journey.
The publishing industry as a whole has seen changes this year as well. We’ve seen a transformation like no other during this year, and while some are scrambling to make changes and stay afloat, other factions of the book world are thriving. E-reader sales have nearly doubled in the last year, and tablets are overtaking even those high sales. The advances in e-publishing make it possible for indie publishers, like Word Branch, and authors to take more control of publishing and profits.
Large publishing houses have made some major changes too. Some of the biggest took some hits, like Random House and Harper and Collins, but others rallied to incorporate new technologies into their organizations. Despite the collapse of the Border’s bookstore chain and the consolidation of many smaller stores, it’s estimated that the average American household spends $55.23 annually on physical bookstore purchases. In addition, new technologies, like Amazon Affiliate Services are helping to expand physical book sales.
What hasn’t changed in publishing is the love of reading. Bowker, the leader in bibliographic management, reports that in 2012, readers between the ages of 23 and 33 surpassed Baby Boomers in their consumption of e-books. E-book sales rose 14% in the previous year and are predicted to rise higher once the data is established. Although e-books surpassed physical book sales this year, a healthy portion of the reading population prefer to read physical books citing that reading a physical book is a welcome change after looking at screen all day; they like the feel and weight of a physical book, or that they like to support their local economy by buying from the neighborhood store. Personally, I like the immediacy and portability of e-books, but I still buy ‘special books’ to add to my large collection.
There are most certainly big changes for publishing in the coming years, and I think many of the changes are to the advantage of both the reader and the writer. We looking at a greater variety of books by up and coming authors due to independent publishing and greater royalties and less red tape for writers. Jim Milliot,Publishers Weekly Co-Editorial Director, has said that this is a, “dynamic time in the publishing industry,” and that we are facing a “new publishing reality.” I believe that we are at the border of a new frontier that can only expand our options and increase revenue. I find that exciting and challenging, and given the changes in WBP, I’m looking forward to even more in the future.
by Catherine Rayburn-Trobaugh: President, Word Branch Media
Whether you are a pro, a novice or a wannabe, we all need reminders as to how to improve our writing. As you make your New Year’s resolutions, incorporate these ideas into your writing routine.
1. Write. Are you feeling a little cheated by this obvious tip? I’ve heard many would-be writers say that they have great ideas. Unless it’s on paper (or on a hard drive), it’s not writing.
2. Read every day. Not long ago I read about a study of the reading habits of journalism students. A majority didn’t think of themselves as readers—hmmmm. As Stephen Ambrose said, “There are many rules of good writing, but the best way to find them is to be a good reader.”
3. Write every day. Even if you are between projects, daily writing is the best way to keep your skills honed. Start a blog, write letters, keep a journal—whatever works for you.
4. Learn the basics of grammar. And don’t tell me that true art shouldn’t be constrained by rules. It’s why they call it a discipline.
5. Take a class. Whether your passion is creative writing or you want to sharpen your skills as a technical writer, an expert in the field can challenge you and lead you in new directions. Universities and community colleges often offer non-degree classes, and reputable online courses, like the ones offered by Writers’ Digest, are also an option.
6. Find a writing buddy. Sometimes releasing writing out into the public feels like sending a child out into the world. All sorts of insecurity and fears arise. Having a fellow writer or a trusted friend to bounce ideas and finished manuscripts off of can relieve some of the anxiety.
7. Set up creative scenarios to practice writing. For example, take a walk and pretend you are seeing everything for the first time or that you are a different person. How does that perspective change? Is it frightening or beautiful? Does the ordinary seem strange? Write a few pages or paragraphs about the experience. Creative Something has helpful ideas to promote creative thinking: http://www.creativesomething.net/
8. Keep up with writing and publishing trends. Writers’ Market not only has information for creative writers, but they also publish guides for most types of writing. Consider joining a professional organization for your particular genre to keep current.
9. On the other hand—don’t let fads and trends guide your topics or style. Remain true to your uniqueness.
10. Don’t be afraid to fail. We all fail at some point—Shakespeare has failed; Woolf has failed; Grisham has failed; I have failed. We have all had critics and some from unexpected places. But all writers have successes too. Feed your soul on the praise and learn from the criticism. Fear is the biggest stumbling block to your success as a writer—don’t let it stop you from becoming the best writer you can be.
While this white paper is copyrighted material, the author gives her permission for reprinting as long as the following is included:
“Ten Tips to Improve Your Writing” by Catherine Rayburn-Trobaugh
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