March 2023 Thoughts and Publishing Insights

How Is Your 2023 So Far? My theme this year is “insane bravery.” After so many of firsts last year, many of which involved putting myself out there in a big way, I wanted to keep up the momentum. AND! My theme has also helped me see the same insane bravery in others. When a potential client calls and just wants to talk through a project, I recognize the insane bravery it took for them to make that first step. Cheers to you all for bringing your ideas to life! Cheers to your insane bravery! Let’s work together this year to manifest something! On to a few insights for 2023:

Travel: Q1 has been busy especially this year with some vacation time in January and February. You all know how I feel about vacation and how important it is. Whether it’s full of wine visits, great restaurants, or time with friends, travel is an important reset. It helps me clear my head, experience some new sights and sounds, and get ready to tackle new projects! If a change of scenery is what you need to restore your view of the world, you have to prioritize it. And, there are leadership lessons in travel, always!

Passive/Aggressive Messaging: I recently read the study noting how college kids feel the thumbs up emoji is passive aggressive. For my generation, it’s just how we say “message received.” However, it’s worth learning that not everything means what you think it means to others. Case in point: I’m often invited to join writers groups and online forums. Some of these groups are created by people who, in their rush to create a community, unknowingly create an unfriendly space. Recently, the moderator of one group messaged me with “I’d appreciate a follow.” He might think that’s an appropriate tone, but all I heard was a passive aggressive man telling me that he feels entitled. Not everyone will read every message the same way, so go over everything a second time, and consider the audience.

The Overpayment Scam: Freelancers, beware a fraud scheme that’s making the rounds again. (I’ve been approached twice.) The overpayment scam can seem legit at first blush, but here’s how it works. You’ll get an email from a scholar/consultant who urgently needs a paper/presentation for a conference. They’ll seem legit and may even lift credentials from legit websites. They’ll have a very specific list of topics they need to cover and often a very specific word count. (3125 words? Really?) They’ll offer a generous rate/fee but need a tight turnaround. They’ll be very anxious to pay you which they’ll a) do by check or b) need your bank info for a transfer. The scam is that they grossly overpay you, then immediately demand a repayment. (Sometimes there’s a sob story about travel or a conference.) Their hope is that your payment back to them outwits your bank who often deposits money in your bank before the check is found to be bad or payment is stopped.Take the time to vet clients and meet with them face-to-face or video. If the project is real, it could be the first in a great relationship. Plus, make sure you have a contract clause and signed contract that covers what happens with overpayments. You do have a contract, right? Right?

Love Journaling? Me, too. So, I had a blast talking to journaling expert Elisabeth Andrews about how I journal. (Her newsletter is called The Naval Gazette newsletter – get it? Naval-gazing?! ) She recently shared a post on her time management system which she calls “Poms, Comms, and Noms”. And it’s pretty brilliant and something to try if you’re still trying to get into a 2023 groove. (She’s also developing a new program on what to do with those boxes and boxes of old journals. She’ll teach you how to purge the content to glean knowledge, leave the past, and move forward! Stay turned for her program.

Nonfiction Book Proposals: Selling a book into traditional publishing is a little more daunting each year, but it can happen! (It’s happening for some of my clients right now!) These days, it’s worth knowing that most agents and editors are expecting authors to present a finished – and saleable – concept along with a detailed proposal. Think of a formal nonfiction book proposal as a full business plan for your book. You may need an experienced publishing pro to help you focus your ideas into a marketable concept (along with a full outline, chapter summaries, audience data, and a marketing plan.) Call me if think you’re ready to have me write a proposal for you.

Editors and Being Edited: Editing is a craft and good writers know that good editors can make your text sing. As a writer, I appreciate good editors who make me better. However…lately, I’ve heard from quite a few of you who are concerned about some trends. Will writers be replaced by AI? Will editors? How do you handle getting to know a new editor? I’ve hired and trained a lot of editors in my career and read and analyzed their work. And while AI is going to enhance a lot of content creation, it’s not, IMO, going to replace writers doing great original writing for books and magazines.
Many editors today – both new and experienced – are coaching writers on SEO and online promotion in addition to crafting text that sings. It’s not an either/or proposition. But, a good editor has to also be a great writer. For those trying to find their feet in one world or another, here are some tips.

5 Essentials for Editors

*You are not your audience. Your audience might be more sophisticated than you are or less. They might know more about the topic than you do – or less. Separate what you know (or don’t) from what your publication’s viewpoint.
*Context is everything. Good writers know how to teach aspirational readers by context. They know how to write as if they’re sharing the world’s greatest secret. Let them. You don’t have to explain everything just because it’s new to you.
*Bone up on the basics. Strunk and White’s Elements of Style is your new best friend. Learn grammar. Learn good writing. Try not to rely on online tools like Chat GPT, Grammerly, or grammar checkers. Let your best writers teach you.
*Learn to compromise. You’re not always right, and sometimes when you are, it’s better to compromise with your writer than die on a hill just to prove it.
*Solve problems with words. If you find a speed bump in the text, good writers can find an elegant solution. Good editors can solve it, too, if they’re good writers.

And writers? You have an obligation, too. Don’t be afraid to push back. We editors aren’t always right and a good editor will appreciate the input. Push back *especially* if you feel an editor has inserted a mistake or changed a nuanced meaning that’s important. As writers, you have a responsibility to learn new things – like SEO and how content management systems work. Lastly, you should be promoting your work if you’re happy with it. You should be learning the latest software and be willing to try new things. And yes, you need to be on social media if only just for your writing.

Speaking of social media, let’s connect online. I have some exciting book projects coming up that I can’t wait to share with you all!

Let’s connect online:

At my website:
On Facebook: Renee Wilmeth
On Instagram: @feedmedrinkme
At LinkedIn: Renee Wilmeth

I’m always excited to hear about new books and writing projects. Contact me about ghostwriting and development projects for the rest 2023. (As always, you can see my list of topic specialties and what I can do for you.) If we’ve worked together, referrals are great, too. Let’s keep connecting!

Warm regards,

Renee Wilmeth

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