Dianne G. Sagan – Best Selling Author

Christian and Women's fiction, with a little mystery thrown in for good measure


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Evaluate, Consummate, and Propagate

Book FestivalDon’t get excited, this isn’t a blog on sex education. This is advice for my fellow writers. Here we are in the seventh month of the year and if you haven’t evaluated where you are with your writing goals so far for 2013, then its a good time to take a few minutes out and do that. That’s where the evaluate comes in. I recommend that you take a look at those things you’ve already accomplished or how far you’ve come on the  projects you’re still working on. Give yourself credit for what you have done. Don’t beat yourself up for everything you have not done. At the same time, unless there is a good reason why you haven’t accomplished more then ask yourself what prevents you from getting more done on your writing goals? What do you need to do so that you can accomplish your goals. What do you need to do so you can write? At times in the past, the answer for me was to leave the house and go to the library or coffee shop for a couple of hours so I could clear my mind enough to write. Maybe it is sitting out in your backyard away from the family for an hour every evening while they watch TV.

What could I possibly mean by consummate and what does it have to do with writing? The meaning of consummate is to complete or perfect in every way; to finish. First, get it done. Then be sure that you edit your work. Whether you self-publish or go through a royalty publisher you want your best work out there. Who wants the reader to wonder how you ever got “this thing” into print with sooo many errors in it. How embarrassing. I know from experience that no matter how many eyes are on a manuscript that sometimes a few typos or mistakes can slip through, but do your best to perfect your work as much as possible before you put it out there.

Last but not least — propagate. Keep on writing. Don’t stop. A lesson that I’ve learned in the last couple of years is that you don’t want to stop the flow of articles or books coming out. I focused on writing a couple of nonfiction projects and didn’t keep my fiction series coming out at a regular interval so that there has been a gap between book 2 and book 3 of over two years. That was not very good planning on my part. I won’t let that happen again. I’m back on track again with one in production with the publisher now and another that should be out by Christmas. I need to discipline myself to keep propagating my novels so that the readers have them. If you don’t feed your readers they may go somewhere else.

So all you writers out there — come on and evaluate, consummate, and propagate with me!


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OWFI and DIY Alphabet Soup

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We live in a world of alphabet soup. Everything has an abbreviation that comes down to either a letter combination that we use instead of the name or the anachronism we use as a word in place of the full name. Have you noticed we even do that for the names of the churches we attend, at least we do in our area. Those of us who text and tweet a lot write and read in an abbreviated language that I’m not sure I even understand part of the time. I have to admit that my daughter had to explain what lol and roflol meant and then I felt quit smart and hip, one of the in-crowd because I knew what that meant. Then? I found out that there was a whole lot more to the shortened vocabulary … so much for speaking fluent text and tweet … lol 🙂

My friend and fellow author, Kimberly Black, and I went to the Oklahoma Writer’s Federation, Inc. Conference this weekend or commonly known as OWFI, this past weekend.  About 300 attendees and a great faculty presented workshops for people of all levels — we all found something of interest and learned a lot. I found out I’m a hybrid author and here I thought I just aspired to owning a hybrid car someday to be environmentally responsible. With the changing publishing industry, many authors are combining the traditional pathway with a traditional publisher and then self-publishing as well.

I have a great relationship and wonderful books produced with Buoy Up Press from awoc.com, Dan Case publisher. He is a royalty publisher and produces great quality books and takes good care of us authors. We have to give him top quality writing and the editing process is stringent, as you would expect. About 18 months ago I waded into the shallow end of the pool as a self-published author with my nonfiction book, Tools and Tips: What Every Writer Needs to Know to Go Pro. At the time I wrote and published it, I have no plans to go out on my own with everything, but I had no idea that made me a DIY and hybrid author. It seems to be part of the journey for many of us. We as authors need to be flexible and adapt. A couple of jewels I learned this weekend are:

1. The fastest growing market for ebooks in the next three to five years is in the third-world countries because of the explosion in cell phone availability. Inexpensive ebooks available on iphones give us a market previously not available.

2. Ebooks priced at $2.99 – $3.99 sell approximately 4.2 – 4.3 times more books than those prices $.99 – $2.89 or some catagories prices more than than, up to $9.99. You actually make more money selling at $3.99 than at $9.99 in the long run.

3.If you’re interested in publishing your own ebooks, check out Smashwords.com – I’m not actually endorsing them, but their founder was one of the presenters at OWFI and had a lot of impressive and valuable informative information that was backed up with substantial facts. They have a lot to offer including marketing.

For those of my blog followers who are authors, as well as readers, a lot of what we do besides the actual writing is a do-it-yourself process. We cannot afford to hire a staff to do everything else for us, at least not to begin with in our careers. That’s why it’s important that writers share and help each other with what we’ve learned, not only through our books, but also when we meet each other and talk over a cup of coffee or a glass of tea. In my experience, those authors who are ahead of me in their careers have always been quick to offer a hand to bring me along and it’s my turn to pass it on. We all have the opportunity to pay it forward to someone else coming up behind us with a bowl of alphabet soup.


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Agents

With the changing publishing industry and so many opportunities to self-publish electronically, it seems more writers are striking out on their own. I don’t know about you, but I find myself asking the question: Do I need an agent?

At the recent Frontiers in Writing Conference, I was on the faculty with Hilary Sayers, former fiction acquisitions editor for Kennsington Publishing Company. She has been in the industry for many years and is a wealth of information about the industry. I asked her “Do i need an agent?”

Her answer: In spite of the fact that I have books published with small publishers and have plans to release some self-published books using Nook and Kindle to broaden my availability to reach my market, Hilary said I still need an agent. The advantages of getting an agent include their connections in the industry and ability to get your book in front of editors in the big publishing houses. Most of the big houses cannot be penetrated without an agent. In addition, an agent knows all the ins and outs of the business. They are professionals at negotiating contracts and can get the best terms available for their clients. Getting an agent to represent you is still very much a part of the process to full success in publishing.


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Why go to a Writer’s Conference?

Writing is a solitary act. Most of us write because we can’t keep the words bottled up and need to express ourselves. To learn the skills and the publishing business we need to rely on each other and professionals to mentor and teach us. Our writing skills don’t necessarily grow in a vacuum. Some authors are a natural and write a bestseller first time out. However, even those writers have agents, editors, and publishers.

If you’ve never attended a writers’ conference, then I’d recommend selecting one. Some of my previous posts include information about conferences around the country (U.S.)  What are the benefits?

Get to know other writers

Meet agents and editors in the business

Become part of a network of people who know how to get from draft to publication and learn from them

Take advantage of 10 – 15 minute pitching sessions with agents or editors. It helps by-pass the slush pile.

Realize that others are going through the same experience you are

Receive information and handouts that can be career changing. Put them in a notebook and refer to them.

Find inspiration and encouragement

You’ll return home fired up and excited about your writing. I encourage you to find a conference or retreat in your area and put it on your calendar. Put the money aside for the event over the coming months. Research the editors and agents who will be attending and taking appointments. Enter contests in conjunction with the writers’ conference for prizes and great feedback on your work. Wear your comfortable shoes and enjoy yourself.


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Printed Books, Audio Books, and E-Books

Do you have a favorite? Some of us grew up going to libraries and reading. Others only read what they are assigned at school or at work. For me, I’ve always loved books. My mom read to us as we grew up. I love the smell of a library. About half of the books that sit on the shelves in my home came from Friends of the Library sales and second hand stores. The other half are brand new books and you can hear it in the binding when you open them for the first time. In case you didn’t know, I’m a tactile and visual person.

Publishing and the way we get access to books is changing, as you all are well aware. I treasure holding a book in my hands and turning the pages. Then, after hours on the computer five days a week, my eyes got tired and I wanted to read at night but my eyes bothered me. I’d heard of audio books but had never listened to one. After a trip to the Amarillo Public Library branch closest to me, the world of audio books opened up. A whole section of classics and new releases sat on the shelves and I’d never noticed. Audio books go on road trips, flights, and act as bed time stories. They are even in the yard with me sometimes while I get the garden ready for planting in the Spring. My mother-in-law lost her sight in the last few years of her life and she listened to audio books. She’d been a voracious reader all her life.

Enter E-books in all their forms. At first, many thought it wouldn’t be much more than a flash in the pan. However, it is revolutionizing the publishing world for all of us and opens up options for authors.

Now, I realize none of this is news to any of you, but as the industry has diversified, so must we. Keep a finger in all the pies. Versify your writing and use all the wonderful ways to get your writing out to others. I’ve learned this lesson over the past year and a half and am working on just how to get it all implemented. That’s where time management comes. The next post will address some time management tips for the busy writer.


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How to Learn Writing from Reading

Sometimes writers read books on the craft of writing, but other times read for pure entertainment. Do you ever find yourself sliding into edit mode while reading? At a recent Panhandle Professional Writers meeting here in Amarillo, I discussed this with another author. We find typos and minor mistakes in books that we would have never noticed before. It takes many pairs of eyes on a manuscript throughout the whole process from first draft to final copy on it’s way to the printer. Get other writers and critique groups to assist you in the process. It’s even better if you can get a professional editor to go through your manuscript before it goes to the publisher or turned into an e-book.

I don’t recall who it was, but a well-known author suggested in an article that writers should pick up a used copy of one of their favorite author’s books. I went to a thrift store. Then, as you read the book, mark sentence structure, elements of the conflict, character development, and study how the dialog is written. Read the classics and read contemporary fiction. If you are a nonfiction writer, then apply the analysis to a book on your favorite subject. It’s a great way to learn from other writers.

As you read, make notes in the margins or in a notebook. You can find spiral notebooks or small journals most places, even the inexpensive  chain stores have them for as little as a dollar. Date your notes. Be sure to include the title and author of the book. I even include the publishing company and copyright year.

The publishing world is changing around us on a daily basis. More electronic readers like Kindle and Nook are put on the market each week. E-books are exploding onto the market. In my opinion, whether you write traditional books or e-books, it’s still important for us to develop our craft and produce the best possible writing for our readers. Keep on writing and reading!