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Archive for September, 2008

Mommytrack’d

Hey, hey, hey.

I still don’t have time to write a proper post. BECAUSE I’M KNEE DEEP IN COMPLETE AND UTTER SELF LOATHING. Nothing like a deadline to make you feel like you will never ever finish although you must. I’m writing about bad childhood drama and it makes me want to focus on something else, anything else. But, I do have a brand new column over at www.mommytrackd.com. It’s a very cool site and I’m excited to be featured there every week from now on. Go to features and check out my Make Mine a Double column. Then leave me a comment so I don’t look like a complete loser. Unless of course you want me to look like a loser. But you’re not like that. At least the you I used to know. Maybe you’ve changed! Is it your job? Or is it US? Do we need counseling? I still love you! Please, let’s make this work.

Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on September 30, 2008 10:19 pmUncategorized9 comments  

I’m Still Alive

Yes, things are fine but I’m on a major major major heart attack inspiring deadline for my book. Although the babies are screaming which I think is their way of conspiring against me to finish. They are very competitive that way. Mattie’s working on her own book called “Gerber 2nd Foods – Are They Really Any Different From 1st Foods?” and Sadie is doing a proposal for hers which has the working title of “Food – Why?” I feel they are a little similar but they feel that they are coming from very different angles and the market has enough room for both. I guess we’ll see. Their creative juices really start flowing in the middle of the night which is not working out well for me since I’m a little more awake DURING THE DAY. Wish us luck.

Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on September 22, 2008 6:34 pmUncategorized29 comments  

Frankie Say Relax

There are very few things that annoy me more than people telling me to relax. If you have to tell me to relax, the chance of me relaxing will no doubt plummet immediately. The same goes for smiling. Telling someone to smile will invariably have the opposite effect. And if you ever use a phrase like “turn that frown upside down” you are liable to get punched. I used to get told to smile all the time by all different kinds of people; teachers, my grandfather, mailmen even homeless people. Of course, when homeless people are telling you to cheer up – that’s not a good sign. But I naturally have a somewhat dour expression when I’m thinking or just plain old not smiling, so I guess I can see where people might think I’m unhappy when I’m not. But telling me to try to force an expression of happiness in not the right direction to go. Try giving me money.

Today, Sadie had a developmental specialist come and check on her progress. As I’ve written here countless times, I have let my worry about Sadie’s past feeding and growing problems lead me down a few bad paths (thanks Google) and I’ve had to be talked off of a few ledges regarding various syndromes, the latest being Russell Silver syndrome that I half convinced myself she had. I’ve since ruled it out. But mostly I’ve accepted that she’s doing things at her own pace and all I can do is make sure she has all the proper medical intervention in place to monitor her. Although I’ve accepted that, I’m still hyper vigilant and a natural worrier and I tend to ask a lot of “what if” questions. The development specialist checked out my petite baby, put her through the paces and announced that I needed to relax and stop looking for problems. Oh, okay, thanks. I hadn’t thought of that.

To tell a high strung, neurotic Jew who’s already had a lifetime of therapy; is already on a daily regimen of Zoloft, Xanax, and a few medicinal beers, is late on a deadline, and has gained an extra two children and ten pounds in the past nine months to relax is almost comical. Almost. But not.

I’ve been this way for 42 years and I kind of know how to deal with myself at this point. I know that cocaine is not a good drug for me. Neither is coffee, tea or almost anything you can buy at Starbucks. I know to stay off of Google (when possible), to avoid Scientologists, grape Kool-Aid and overly simplified answers like “The Secret.” If the Secret really worked my house would be built out of yummy yummy gumdrops and I would be soaking in a hot tub of hundred dollar bills right now. And please don’t tell me to get a massage, try Yoga, take a bubble bath or sip some herbal tea. If that worked I wouldn’t be still be paying off old shrink bills.

The good news is that things are where they would be expected for Sadie taking into account her IUGR, preemie status, fungal infections and possible reflux. She’s connecting, engaging, rolling, tracking, grabbing toys with two hands and doing well on her stomach. Now if I could just teach her to fetch me a Red Hook…we’d both be doing great!

I will do another installment of my book deal series tomorrow – we’ll talk more about finding your voice and whether or not you need a platform.

Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on September 10, 2008 10:23 pmUncategorized47 comments  

Book Deal Part 3

I’m excited to have Claudine Wolk guest posting to share some info on self-publishing today. A link to her site is toward the end. Here is her advice on this excellent book topic.

Self-publishing is a great way to publish your work or as a springboard to get a book deal with a traditional publisher. As you know from Stef’s pervious blog, publishing is no easy business. There is no rhyme or reason as to why one book gets picked and another book does not. Often the determination is based on who you know versus the quality of the book. That is why self-publishing has begun to grow in popularity over the last 15 years and continues to grow. An author has control over the project from soup to nuts and makes all the decisions, from book size, book cover and interior design, to the marketing strategy. The author also has the burden of total cost. (I am describing here traditional self-publishing as opposed to on-demand publishing or subsidy publishing – totally different animals)

The most important question to ask yourself if you are serious about self-publishing is how much passion you have for your material. As a self-publisher, you will be the author, the publisher, and the marketing person all rolled into one. You have to believe in your material and be willing to live it, eat it and dream it for a good solid year. If you truly believe in your message and your ability to spread that message, you will have no problem doing the tasks that are required to get your books self-published.

To get started, I suggest you read the self-publishers bible “Dan Poynter’s Self-publishing Manual.” Do not do a thing until you have read this book. It is easy to read and gives a great overview of every aspect of self-publishing so that you know what you are in for. Sharing self-publishing information is a big business as well, but I promise you, most of what you need to know will come from this book. The next thing you need to do is write the book! Just sit down and write it. Once you have a product and know what the demands will be in order to get the book published, you can make a decision to go forward with your project.

I began my journey in self-publishing in April 2007. I had tried traditional publishing with a proposal and finished manuscript for an entire year before that. I was passionate about my book and truly felt that the book filled a need in the world. I decided to self-publish. By joining forces with (ie paying) some very talented marketing and book production folks (Brian Taylor, Pneuma Books.com and Sharon Castlen, Integrated Book Marketing), I had the book that I wanted. I pitched to a few distributers, got a contract, and by April 2008 my book – It Gets Easier! and Other Lies We Tell New Mothers was in bookstores, for sale on my website http://www.help4newmoms.com/ and on amazon.com and borders.com. With an author platform beginning to be built, I started contacting literary agents, who started to opening their doors to me. I secured a book deal with a traditional publisher who plans to re-release my book in the Spring 2009.

I am living proof that self-publishing can lead the way to a traditional publishing contract. If you think self-publishing is for you remember the three things I mentioned – a finished manuscript, good self-publishing how-to info, and most of all – passion! With these three elements, you’ll be on your way to being a published author!

Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on September 9, 2008 8:29 pmUncategorized12 comments  

Book Deal Part 2

Let it be known that I am not a professional. I’m not an agent nor am I a publishing company. Although I do have very strong opinions that I’m not afraid to express. Often. Sometimes unsolicited. That being said, there’s no accounting for taste so if you truly want to write and be published, your number one skill must be persistance. You should probably be a decent writer but, in all honesty, that doesn’t seem to matter as much as having a great idea and again, persistance. OR you need to have a strong voice.

What do I mean when I talk about a strong voice? When you read someone’s blog, what keeps you coming back? Let’s just say that not one person whose blog you read is ever going to be your friend on the Web or off. Let’s just presume that you are reading strictly for your own enjoyment and not reading your friend’s blog about their cat just because they loyally comment on yours. Now. Think about those blogs that speak to you. Why do they speak to you? Are they highly personal? Are they funny? Are they snarky? I will guarantee you that no matter what they are, they have a consistant voice. A point of view. A world view that most of their posts fall under.

This is what you need to write a book.

Here is how a book is very different than a blog: A book doesn’t presume that people know what the hell is going on in your life. A book doesn’t care how hilarious your life is with four kids at home and no outside help. It’s like when I used to do stand-up and people would say to me, “you should come to my house/job/etc. because hilarious stuff happens.” Really? but what’s the joke? My point is, if you had to be there, it’s not funny.

Okay, so let’s just say you have a strong point of view – now you need a story to tell be it your own (memoir), someone else’s (novel) helpful hints (self-help, how-to) or even essays (funny stories, memoiresqe).

For a couple of examples of what I think is a book go to Immoral Matriarch her posts called Dance, Dance are a book. Or try Crystal’s blog and read through her Crazy Chronicles. Those are both examples of good writers who also have a story to tell.

Here’s the hard part: you have all that. Now you need a connection. You don’t need to bust your balls going to the library and buying a book on writing proposals etc. No one is going to read your proposal from sending it out cold anyway. I say, have a few chapters that really showcase your voice, then find someone who knows someone who can refer you to their agent. You need a referral. Seriously. I can’t stress enough the importance of being bold and asking for help. But ask for help from people you do know at least a little bit and be prepared for them to say no. Did I pop your balloon? Sorry. It is possible to get an agent by cold calling but I don’t believe you need an official proposal. Just have some of your best writing and email it to agencies that say they are open to new clients. Run your chapters by someone first though to make sure you aren’t sending something that’s not quite its best.

It’s like this in any business right? If you send out a ton of resumes to companies who aren’t hiring, you probably won’t get a meeting. But, if a friend refers you, even if the company isn’t hiring they may just meet you anyway and then you’ll blow them away with your charm and wit and beauty, oh and willingness to put out.

Once you’ve gotten an agent – any agent by the way – to look at your work – be prepared for them to say “not interested” but they may know another agent who will take a look.

Once you have an agent interested, you may need to write a proposal. NOW you can get the book but make sure it’s not written super serious and business like. Nobody wants to read that crap. I don’t care what the agent says. I know better. Make it fun to read.

Okay, questions? Comments?

tomorrow I will have a guest poster named Claudine Wolk who wrote the book It Gets Easier and Other Lies We Tell New Moms. She self published although now she has a fancy book deal and is going to tell us all about the self publishing way to go.

Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on September 8, 2008 7:33 pmUncategorized19 comments  


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