Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the one hundred and seventy-second, is of non-fiction writer Myrna Beth Haskell.
Myrna Beth Haskell has been writing for most of her life. She wrote for both her high school and college newspapers. She holds a MA in English literature. She wrote several book reviews for scholarly journals, including The Art Times (an international art literary magazine) and the English Graduate Review (an internationally recognized scholarly journal: State University of New York, New Paltz). Before embarking on a full-time writing career, she worked as a technical writer for IBM, and she taught in the Writing and Tutoring Department at Ulster County Community College in Stone Ridge, NY.
Her work has appeared in Better Homes and Gardens, PARENTS Magazine, and American Fitness. She has also been published in more than 200 regional print magazines and Web magazines throughout the United States, Canada and, most recently, in London (Today’s Child).
Myrna Haskell’s column LIONS and TIGERS and TEENS debuted in June 2009. It has a monthly circulation of approximately 500,000. The column was the inspiration for her first book, LIONS and TIGERS and TEENS: Expert advice and support for the conscientious parent just like you (Unlimited Publishing LLC, March 2012), a compilation of Haskell’s favorite column installments, including topics that have never before been published. It is a lighthearted journey through the ups and downs of raising teenagers. It provides advice from many perspectives – dozens of experts in the field as well as practical advice from parents. Topics include universal issues, such as bullying, how to deal with lying, and enforcing curfews.
And now from the author herself:
Most successful writers do not begin a career in writing with the intention of acquiring riches. Look around…how many wealthy writers do you know? Instead, most write for the joy of the craft. I know I do. Most writers are also voracious readers and enjoy reading works from others in their genre. As I contemplate this, I also believe most writers don’t write because they enjoy the “business end of things.”
With this in mind, I would like to discuss what I’ve learned over the years. Unfortunately, the necessities of business are what I find cumbersome. Although the writing flows easily, invoices, publication rates, keeping track of rights given, exclusivity clauses, and contracts bog me down. I find that I spend an ungodly amount of time with the “business end of things.” I wish someone had warned me about the daunting task of putting work up for sale. For me, it was a huge learning curve. The business stuff is a necessary evil, and one that gets in the way of my favorite thing – writing. I would not have embarked on a different journey had I known, but I simply would have been better prepared.
Therefore, I’d like to offer some advice to new writers – a checklist of things to contemplate before sending work out to editors/publishers.
- Read back issues of the magazine or journal you are querying, so as not to waste your time sending a piece along that does not fit with the style of the publication. Also, check to see if the publication has listed writers’ fees on their website under “Writer’s Guidelines.”
- Learn about publication rights BEFORE you send your first piece out. It is inevitable that an editor will ask for your rates for reprints and other typical questions. You don’t want to appear amateurish. Information on publication rights is easily found on the Internet. ALL RIGHTS is just as it implies. You no longer own that piece of work. Agree to this ONLY for a publication that will escalate your career path.
- Peruse sample writing contracts and have someone with experience in the industry look over your contract BEFORE you sign.
- Keep a log of all publications you work with. This log should include payment schedules (some pubs pay 60 days after printing, for instance), rights offered, exclusivity requests, competing publications, dates of e-mail and phone correspondence, and the date work should be submitted.
- Always ask for tear sheets or links (for online publications). Most editors ask for samples of your work.
- Check into “industry standards” for fees. This goes for flat fees, price per word/column, feature piece, reprints, etc.
- If you are a first-time author, ask for advice from those with experience. Prepare to do extensive research on publishing houses and agents.
- Be aware that the amount of time you will spend marketing your book will probably exceed the amount of time you spent writing it.
You can find more about Myrna and her writing via…
- Author’s website: www.myrnahaskell.com
- Publisher: www.unlimitedpublishing.com
- Book is also available at: Amazon and Amazon.co.uk
- Author on Facebook: www.facebook.com/myrna.haskell.7
- Author on Twitter: @myrnahaskell
If you would like to take part in an author spotlight, take a look at https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/submission-information/opportunities-on-this-blog or email me for details.
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As I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do. I welcome items for critique for the online writing groups listed below:
Morgen’s Online Non-Fiction Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Novel Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Poetry Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Script Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Short Story Writing Group
We look forward to reading your comments.