The World of Writing: According to Authors Dave and Lillian Brummet

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Question:

What was it like as new authors in the publishing world?

Answer:

As free-lance writers of informative articles, we had no prior
experience with book publishers. We did a lot of research
and were aware of some basic contract and publishing
procedures, yet there were many things we were not
prepared for. For instance, there was the book cover design
to conceive of – which our good friend Brian McAndrew
created. The back cover text had to be developed, an
author’s bio written, photos to have taken and lists of nearly
2 hundred contacts to sort out. The marketing research took
weeks to do, but it resulted in a 12-page plan to ease our
way. Then there were formal things like dealing with the
Library of Congress and Copyrighting. For instance, copies
of the book had to be sent to the Library of Congress at our
expense. There are rules to be aware of as well. The rights
for free use (using quotes from other people) is so gray that
we opted out of including this kind of text. Unfortunately, that
meant more editing. We were disappointed because there
were some very good quotes that would have added a great
deal to the book.

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Question:

What were some publishing experiences or unexpected turn
of events?

Answer:

While Lillian was browsing the Internet looking up
information on other publishers, she came upon Publish
America’s website. It inspired her to send a query in on the
spot. Within 3-days we received a request for a sample
manuscript. Now, these publishers only accept 20% of the
thousands of queries that cross their desks, so we were
excited to have such a good response in a very short time.
Unfortunately, we were also relocating our home from one
part of town to another, finishing a garden year and working
as well. Time was short and stress was high. We got that
sample manuscript off in a timely fashion, however, and we
received an acceptance within a few days. The heady
sensation of signing the 7-year contract flew by us in a blur.

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Question:

What time and resources do we put in for promoting the
book?

Answer:

Every day we put in 2-6 hours into some aspect of the book.
The Internet has proven to be a powerful tool where an
immense amount of information can be found from
newsletters, publishers, forums and authors. Every on-line
communication we have is an opportunity to plug our book
by simply attaching an auto signature. We developed
promotional materials (flyers, mini-posters, large posters,
bookmarks, labels) and, of course, galleys and sample
packages for editors and booksellers. Most importantly, we
had a great website built for us by Brian McAndrew of
Beyond Graphix.

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Question:

What did you learn in researching the book?

Answer:

We thought we were committed to the concept of the book
in our lives, but when researching and writing this book we
found we became much more motivated, more committed
and more informed about waste reduction.

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Question:

As a writer, what have you learned about staying organized
or motivated?

Answer:

Having a plan of action for every project is vital. Every project
should have an outline starting from the title through to the
end. There should also be a market plan laid out. Who are
you marketing to? How you are going about it? What will you
do first? These are the most important tools of a writer. Most
people think of a writing career being one where you have
lots of leisure time and creating with words. On the contrary,
most of the time is spent marketing and organizing projects.
For instance, we might write an article and query it to a
market. That market may take a few days to get back to us,
but it may also be as long as a year before we hear from
them. That article is idle and we do not get paid until after it
is published. A writer may have hundreds of pieces of their
work at various stages of writing and marketing at one time.
They need to know where it is and its status, at a glance. We
use the Excel program to take care of this. For the book,
plans were indispensable. The market plan alone is a book
in itself and will take us years to complete. That is normal,
actually. A writer must spend much of their time promoting
the book for years after publication in order to keep sales
happening. Unfortunately, promotion and writing time are
unpaid hours in the meantime.

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Question:

When do you write?

Answer:

We have to do a bit of juggling to manage our business, day
job and writing career with some kind of balance. Usually,
We work as a team, though we write separately and then
conglomerate and edit the work together. Because we
share one computer, this can be a bit of a juggle. Dave
works shift work so when he is at work or sleeping Lillian
will use the computer to research and promote.

Question:

What is your professional background?

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Answer:

Dave and Lillian began their (paid) writing career working as
staff writers at Openminder Newsletter where they
experienced the harried pace of getting several articles and
even feature or interview articles ready for a by-weekly
deadline. It was our start in the writing world and plunged us
head-first into the community, interviewing unique and
enterprising people. The concept of Trash Talk was already
developed and this market snatched up the column
immediately. When Openminder closed shop, we started a
free-lance career. Our articles have since appeared in a
variety of magazines including Seeds of Diversity, Country
Connection and ISKRA.

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Question:

Have you won any awards or contests?

Answer:

Yes, Dave has recently won first prize in the Nature category
of BC Cottage Magazine’s 2004 Photo contest. Lillian has
won several editorial awards for her poetry and has had her
work published in 5 hardcover anthology books of poetry
through contests.

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Question:

What is the most important lesson in your writing career?

Answer:

Research. If you know something is coming up, research it
and make a plan of action well ahead of time. If we did not
start the market plan and develop a plan of action and
estimated schedule soon after finding out the manuscript
was accepted, we would have never been ready for the
myriad of work ahead of us, much of which is time-sensitive.
Doing it right is essential – there is but little chance to make
an impression with a reviewer, reader or publication. Even
with the best of preparation you will be caught off guard or
unprepared. Don’t sweat it too much if you make a mistake.
Think of it as a lesson.

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Question:

Have you any advice for new writers?

Answer:

We hate to sound redundant, but again, do your research.
Join forums and research the previous messages for
several months ago. You will find many novice questions
are thoroughly answered with many different people
contributing ideas and opinions. Always research your
market and query them in a professional manner before
sending a finished product.

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Dave and Lillian Brummet, authors of the book Trash Talk –
a guide for anyone concerned about his or her impact on the
environment, that offers useful solutions to reduce waste
and better manage resources.

http://www.sunshinecable.com/~drumit

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