Interview with Terri Giuliano Long

Continuing our interview series with authors and industry experts we’re pleased to post this discussion with Terri Giuliano Long. Terri is a novelist and a teacher of writing in Boston, USA. Without further ado, here she is…

Q1: For the benefit of the members of iWriteReadRate.com can you tell us a little more about what you do, your sites/blogs, and your expertise?
A1: These days, I consider myself a novelist first, but I’m also a writing teacher. I’ve taught creative and nonfiction writing at Boston College for 15 years. I’ve also written copy for marketing, advertising and public relations, written and edited technical articles for trade journals, and edited a small trade magazine. In Leah’s Wake is my first novel.
Q2: From your experience, what advice would you give an aspiring writer about how they should go about self-editing their work in the first instance?
A2: That’s a tough question. Unless he or she has an outstanding grasp of language and grammar, I suggest professional editing. The truth is, we all make mistakes – even writers who’ve published for years. After you’ve spent a certain amount of time on a manuscript, you stop seeing mistakes. I’ve read and reread my novel; I asked family members and friends, independently, to proof read; my writers group read it, and an editor read and proofed it – yet, this morning a very generous reader/writer pointed out 3 typos that every one of us had missed. Publishing a novel with three minor errors is not the end of the world– most books have a few. If prevalent, mistakes like this make us look unprofessional. Agents and traditional publishers will likely reject the work; if you self-publish work rife with grammatical or technical errors, you’ll open yourself to criticism and heartache.
Yes, professional editors can be expensive. Now, with a wonderful service like iWriteReadRate.com, where readers and other writers can read and rate your work, there’s no excuse not to have your book edited. When you consider the stakes, the time and emotional energy you invest in your work, it makes sense.
Q3: In your opinion, what challenges do unpublished writers face in their dream of becoming published?
A3: Five years ago, I would have said withstanding rejection. Some writers, particularly those holding out for a traditional contract, still struggle with that. But the indie publishing revolution has opened doors that didn’t used to exist. This is an exciting time for writers. The traditional gatekeepers no longer hold all the power; today readers can choose from a rich selection of traditionally and indie-published books. The big houses are trying to find their way, and that’s hard. But writers whose books might have been lost under the old system are enjoying phenomenal success. I’m awed and encouraged by this. At the same time, I’m seeing a push to get as many books on the virtual shelf as possible. Apparently, this increases sales numbers. That may be true. Still, writers need to be patient – this may be a challenge for some. It’s exciting to finish a draft. In that first flush, the work glows; every word seems perfect.
You can’t wait for someone to read it – as a result, a lot of writers, I suspect, are putting work on an ebook sales-only platform before it’s ready. After you’ve finished your draft – of a story, a novel – take a step back. Let it sit. Try to gain some distance and perspective. Stephen King waits six weeks, then rereads and edits. Wait at least six weeks, and then reread, start to finish, before even thinking about publishing. Better yet, ask someone you trust, a family member or friend, to read it, and give you honest feedback (it won’t help if they tell you only what they love). Or submit to iWriteReadRate.com.
A good critic will evaluate your work honestly – and push you to produce your best possible work.
Q4: How do you think the publishing industry will adapt to new and emerging technology over the next five years?
A4: Right now, no one knows how this will all shake out. My guess is that publishers will follow the route taken by the film industry. The big houses will continue to underwrite and support big name authors, books they believe will make money or win major prizes, while new and mid-list writers will publish with indie houses, if not on their own, or join forces with other indie authors. This is already happening. Organizations like iWriteReadRate.com and the Indie Book Collective, among others, are uniting indie writers, and working to end the stigma that’s surrounded self-publishing. That’s indie spirit in action!
Q5: What are your thoughts around the new community for writers’ unpublished work being launched by iWriteReadRate.com?
A5: I think it’s a fantastic idea – and I encourage unpublished writers to join! I’m not an agent or editor, so I can’t speak for traditional publishers. I do know that indie writers who’ve sold a lot of books have landed huge contracts, so this may be a good way to go about it. Hitting those numbers, though – that’s a challenge. It seems easier for genre writers, and it’s certainly easier for writers who hit a trend. Paranormal novels, for instance, seem to fly off the shelf.
As a peer self-editing service, I think iWriteReadRate.com is phenomenal. This is something I’ve thought about – and considered doing myself – for a long time. It’s very much needed. And it’s an inexpensive way for writers to get their books edited. It’s also a wonderful, affirming way of building community.
Q6: What top writing tips can you give the aspiring writers on iWriteReadRate.com?
A6: Please forgive the blatant self-promotion – my blog, “The Art and Craft of Writing Creatively,” focuses on writing tips and inspiration. The URL is: www.tglong.com/blog. Writers will find all sorts of tips and information on craft, as well as inspirational posts.
My other top writing tip? Read. And read voraciously. Reading supports your fellow authors – more important, it helps us to become better writers. Writers learn to write by reading like writers – reading closely and observing and imitating craft.
Q7: If you could change anything about the traditional way that writers get their work published through Agents/Editors/ Publishers – what would you change and why?
A7: Probably the submission process. I understand all the reasons agents and editors keep the process impersonal. I’ve heard of writers writing nasty letters after a rejection. (If you’re tempted to this, don’t. Put the letter in a drawer until you’ve gained perspective, at which point you’ll probably delete it.) But writers have fragile egos and we make ourselves completely vulnerable, so receiving a formal rejection letter, though it’s clearly not meant this way, feels hateful and cold. It would be wonderful if there were a way to validate writers, let us down easily. But then, I’ve heard agents say that when they try when we receive the slightest nicety, writers take it as encouragement to hound the agent or editor to death. In that sense, I suppose, we writers are at least partially responsible for our own misery. Still, in the best of all worlds . . .
Q8: In your opinion, can aspiring writers and authors afford not to engage with readers in this age of Social Media? What are your top tips for these interactions?
A8: No, absolutely not – we have to engage. Readers are on the Internet – whether on blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads or some other network – talking about books. If you’re visible, maybe they’ll talk about your book. Really, though, these networks are about community. So even if you can’t directly link social networking to sales, you benefit from the mutual support. My advice: authors, indie or traditionally published – even before you publish your book – mobilize your networks. Spread the word to family and friends, send books to people who might be interested in reading, ask others to spread the word for you; ask friends to post reviews. If you can afford it, hire a PR firm you feel comfortable with and trust. Work hard with your publicist to promote your book. Over a million books are published each year, the majority of which sell very few copies. If you’re a name author or received a hefty advance, your publisher will promote you. For the rest of us, if we don’t take PR into our own hands, we’re likely to receive little or none.
The reality is, we can either promote the book we’ve put our heart and soul into creating or watch it languish. There are various types and levels of promotion, so you don’t have to spend a fortune.
If you can’t afford or don’t care to hire a publicist, do the work yourself. Create a website, build your social network, contact reviewers, bloggers; reach out to book clubs. Stacey Miller’s book, How to Market, Sell, Distribute, and Promote Your Book: Critical, Hard-to-Find Information for Authors and Publishers offers a wealth of information. You can also find information online. Check out Seth Godin and Jon Konrath’s blogs. It’s hard work, and it takes time — as long as a year or more, I’ve been told — but it can certainly be done.
Q9: Any final thoughts for the members of iWriteReadRate.com?
A9: Believe in yourself. I know many talented writers whose first, second or third books – really good, strong books – were rejected. To deal with rejection, boot your computer, day after day, when it seems as if no one cares, as if the stars are misaligned, to survive as a writer – to indie-publish in a world that privileges the traditionally published – you have to believe in yourself. Writing is a lonely profession. Most of the time, we’re alone with our work. The loneliness can wear on you, and cause you to question yourself. A few supportive writer friends can help and encourage you. Find them and treat them like gold.
Hold onto your dreams. You can make dreams happen. Don’t ever give up!
Thank you, iWriteReadRate! I appreciate your giving me this space and inviting me to share my thoughts with your readers and writing community!
Terri Giuliano Long teaches at Boston College and blogs at www.tglong.com/blog. Her first novel, In Leah’s Wake, was released in 2010. Connect on Facebook: www.facebook.com/tglongwrites or Twitter: www.twitter.com/tglong.

Thanks, Terri. We all appreciate your thoughts and valued advice, and are sure they’ll be of help and support to the members of iWriteReadRate.com. You can also check out Terri’s editing article she wrote for us here: Weed, Tighten & Shine.

Other iWriteReadRate Interviews:
Other iWriteReadRate articles you should check out:

Happy writing, reading and rating!

The iWriteReadRate Team

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