Publishing Insights May 2023

Greetings from Indianapolis during the Month of May!

If you know, you know. In Indianapolis, the entire month is a celebration of cars, racing, and community. Memorial Day weekend in Indy is always busy with race parties, a big parade, and the Indy 500. 

This month has been a rare month of working primarily on one project (I’m ghostwriting a book for clients.) I’m used to multi-tasking, but it’s good to have the time to focus. Don’t think writing comes any easier to me than anyone else. In a future newsletter, I’ll have to share my strategies for making myself sit down and get projects done. (Dear reader, I’m not always successful.)

In addition to warm weather and race parties, I’m excited about a whole bunch of interesting projects this summer. I’ve got some great books on my plate! June also means Adam Smith’s 300th birthday, so watch my feeds for some fun Adam Smith food events! 

Even when I’m writing, I’m never too busy to talk about new projects. Agents and publishers, I’m always here to help out when you need someone to pick up a project and run with it!

In the meantime, here are a few items I found interesting…

2nd Half Approaches:  Are you ready for your mid-year goal check ins?  If you don’t track your business and goal metrics quarterly, June is a perfect time to reassess.  Check in on your goal progress and pat yourself on the back for the goals you’ve met! And if you’re behind? Don’t be afraid to ask yourself the Big Q’s and make some revisions if needed. What I’ve learned in the past couple of years?  Dream bigger! 

More on Busyness – Scott Hess from Publicis Media in Chicago recently shared a Medium post by author Tim Denning on Cheat Codes for Life. In noting what he wished he’d known when he was younger, he has a lot of advice on the “busyness” trap that snares too many of us. “Busyness is a sign of poverty that will eventually lead to personal bankruptcy. If you say I’m busy a lot it’s a red flag. Stop being so freaking busy. Prioritize 2–3 goals and ditch the rest. Focus is what removes hocus pocus BS tasks from your life.”  Wow – that’s a powerful statement! He has other thoughts worth reading to see if you agree, but his ideas on how we tie “busyness” to our self-value are spot on. Give yourself some space for ideas to circulate. Stop thinking that just because you’re busy you’re getting anything done.

Code Switching:  Last month, I edited a terrific Caribbean cookbook and the author wrote something that stuck with me. She was discussing the debate over what Caribbeans call goat curry. “By now,” she says, “some of you may be unsettled by the fact I keep calling it ‘goat curry’ and not ‘curry goat.’  [Just like other food debates], the correct name at any given time is in the hands of whoever is wielding the large shiny spoon that is dishing your portion. Switch code, if you have to, to get your serving.”  Code switching is common for all of us. It’s the way we adjust our language for different audiences. Even more interesting is the concept of “register switching.” Academics note that code switching is most common for bilingual speakers between languages and cultures while register switching is use of language between audiences. There are more specifics, but the lesson is that sometimes we need to be aware of *how* we’re communicating to ensure the idea truly reaches who we want. Note when you code switch – or register switch – and consider trying it if you’re just not connecting with someone. Many business coaches focus on the need to eliminate code switching and the negative effects. You may have strong feelings one way or the other, but ultimately the lesson is this: Sometimes you do what you need to do to get your portion of a delicious supper.

Why you have to learn and use WORD or Adobe: A few weeks ago, I heard from an experienced, somewhat old-school author who was lamenting the “new” MS Word. It had become so complicated, and he’s been using Google Docs, and couldn’t understand why his publisher wasn’t able to use it. In his view, Google docs was easier and newer technology. I explained that for drafting manuscript or quickly sharing documents, Google docs is easy to use, but for professional editing work, MS Word is still the standard. If you’re going to submit work to professional outlets or work with professional editors or publishers, you simply have to use it. Think it has too many bells and whistles? Well, it does, but they’re all useful if you’re working in a publishing environment. Comments, trackable changes, footnotes, and more don’t fully stick through Google doc conversions. Additionally, many publishers design templates that allow them use complex formatting to help them easily use to layout programs, indexing platforms and even meta tags. Word may feel different than it was years ago, but it’s important you keep learning new things. It’s also important that you show publishers you’re capable and flexible, not married to publishing “the way it used to be.” And for the record? Adobe suite apps, even the free aspects, are a lot different than they used to be, so fire up the Google machine, find some tutorials, and learn how to use the right apps for the job. 

WGA Strike: Saw a note on a freelance message board the other day worth passing along.  “Freelance writers, be on the lookout for studios or production companies looking to outsource scriptwriting or other related projects. Don’t cross picket lines.” Several writers noted that studios may reach out to ghostwriters, contributing authors, or other book editors for assistance in story development or script writing. If you receive one of these offers, I can’t tell you what to do. (Everyone’s situation is different.) Just be aware that Writers Guild members are striking to make the environment better for everyone writing for television and films.

Publishing Facts – I don’t know what’s been in the air, but I am seeing a boatload of simply wrong information about publishing out in the world today, especially among authors. There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding about how sales works, timing, printing, and even what publishers do – and don’t do. Remember your publisher – or your editor if you have a professional helping you – is there to help guide you through the process.  Ask questions, set expectations, and educate yourself on the process. Publishers want to bring your book to life, but they’re going to need your help. Work with the members of your team to get the most up to date information. (Or call me if you need some help.)

Sonic Diaries — Some of us grew up recording cassettes from the radio or making CDs for friends. You may never know the joy of the mixtape (given to you by your best friend or the boy you liked), but don’t despair, because today, we live in the age of the playlist. You may have a favorite for working out or cleaning the house. Or, like NPR writer Theresa Xie, you may use playlists as your own sonic diary. They can be a great way to create a musical memory for a time of year or season of life. Even more fun, look for new music from fellow world travelers like Secretary of State Anthony Blinken or former President Obama. (His 2023 summer playlist is already out!) The NY Times’ The Morning even released a spring playlist with some fun, upbeat favorites. Better yet, create your own playlist and share it with me! (I’ll put them in the next newsletter.)

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

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 and early 2024. As always, visit my website for 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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