Writing Books/oi vey


OK. So. I'm a published writer, and I make my living that way - years as a full-time journalist, short stories, but here's the first book. It's "as told to," and it already has an agent (new York, very legit, well thought-of guy) All is in place, and he's already sort of blessed in advance the proposal - thinks he can sell it - but I am breaking out in a cold, cold sweat at the prospect of a book-length project and trying to wrap my mind around inhabiting another's voice in first-person. I could *easily* do it as a fiction writer, but I am not sure how that works in "as told to. " I mean, what kind of leeway one has. And, the other thing is, it's really unnerving to have everyone peering over my virtual shoulder as I try to create a mental space in which to write. Because not only are people *on* me, but we are already going around about first serial rights and foreign rights and blah de blah, when the thing isn't even *written * yet. It's just, I guess, a different milieu than the ones I'm used to (you either have all the privacy in the world because it's fiction and so nobody *gives * a sh*t, or it's a journalistic piece and deadline -driven so it's by necessity short, if painful.
Any advice re how to do this? And how to stay sane while trying?
thnx so very much, Liz.
Dee Axelrod

Dear Dee:

Well, I feel you pain!  I also worked for a long time doing articles-short, sweating a deadline, etc.  And then! 300-500 pages of book length nonfiction!  Don't panic, it's easy to stay sane.

First, if my 'leeway' you mean fictionalizing anything you have none.  As the author you can't deviate from what the subject tells you.  I'd strongly advise though that you have a clause in your contract that states you are not responsible for any misinformation provided to you by the subject.

Second, stop scaring yourself with the increased length of the project and approach with the same methods you use (whatever they are) for writing your short journalism.  Create a list of chapter titles that cover all the aspects of the subject's life that he/she wants covered.  Then think of each chapter as a longish article.  Just as you would with your articles, you need to find the hook to lead the reader into the book and then into each chapter.  Like your fiction, there should be a cliff hanger of sorts at the end of each chapter.  You should advise the subject where the book should start and how it should be organized after that.  Just like you would with an article!

Third, you'll get plenty of privacy once the contracts are finalized.  You might even get the added benefit of a short deadline.  Not hours like at a newspaper, or days like a newsmagazine or a month like a slick, but maybe only six months to finish the book.  That should make the process feel very familiar to you.

Take it in chunks, Dee.  Don't look at it as a book look at it as longer articles strung together in an interesting order.  Again, just like your articles or fiction!

Finally, do you have representation of your own?  You need someone to look over all the contracts will only YOUR interests in mind.

You can do this, Dee!

Let me know how you make out.  And if there's anything else I can help with, feel free to contact me at AllExperts again.

Liz Aleshire

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Liz Aleshire


What is a book proposal and why do I need one? Do I need a book proposal for both nonfiction and fiction books? How do I write a book proposal? What are the required components of a book proposal? What is an overview? What is a synopsis? How do I find out what other books are available on my topic so I can make my book different? How do I pitch to an agent/publisher? What's a query letter? What's a 30-second commercial?


I am the author of four nonfiction books: Private Lives of Ministers' Wives (with Rev. Sherry Taylor,New Horizon Press, New Jersey, 1991)and currently working on a second edition; Bugs: Stingers, Suckers, Sweeties, Swingers (a FRanklin Watts Frist Book, Chicago, 1993); The Confident Collector Identification and Price Guid to Quilts (with Kathleen Barach, Avon Books, NY, 1992); and, Official Price Guide to Quilts 2nd edition(with Kathleen Barach, Random House, NY, 2003.) I've taught How to Write the Book Proposal for the past ten years at the week long International Women's Writing Guild annual summer conference, and, at the Manchester Community College Continuing Education program. I've taught in many local continuing education programs in central Connecticut. Five authors have sold books using my methods for writing the book proposal. I have spoken at the Big Apple Conference, an IWWG event held in NYC; both Connecticut chapters of the Romance Writer's of America other writing conferences

Internation Women's Writing Guild, past associate member American Society of Journalists and Authors

Books for New Horizon Press. NJ; Franklin Watts (Now Scolastic)Danbury, CT; Avon Books, NYC; and, Random House, NYC

B.A in Economics from the University of Connecticut

Past/Present clients
Carren Strock, author Married Women Who Love Women; Doris Larson, travel writer, Ohio; MaryLou Streznewsi author Gifted Grownups.

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