Rants & Rambling has Topics for Everyone

By Steve Oetting

Has there ever been a writer who didn’t have a rant to ramble or a rambling to rant? Methinks not.

The monthly Rants and Ramblings meeting is the perfect opportunity to express your concerns and feelings about writers’ issues and to hear from others about theirs. It is an open forum in which each member can throw out any bone of contention they might wish to discuss and have other members gnaw away on it.

Neither the topics nor the responses in our Rants and Ramblings sessions are issued by the Guild or by me, they are provided by the participants. They are the questions and suggestions of writers just like you. There are some that may be highly beneficial to you and some with which you may not agree at all. If ever you feel we have overlooked an important topic or are not satisfied with the recommendations expressed, then jump on board! Rants and Ramblings welcomes every person and every thought that is presented.

Going forward the MWG will be publishing articles reviewing the topics of each Rants and Ramblings session on our website and possibly including any critical topics in our bi-weekly newsletter. The names of the participants will always be kept confidential. To start the process, here are a list of topics that have been discussed in the past as a sample of what you can look forward to in your next Rants and Ramblings meeting.

Marketing Questions – Marketing is an issue that challenges many writers. How do self-published authors find distribution networks and how do they promote their book? Here are some suggestions that came from the participants:

  • FriesenPress provides consultation services for $80/hour;
  • Instagram posts;
  • creating a website, it can be costly and time consuming but the more effort you put into it, the greater the exposure you will receive; or
  • connect with other writing groups such as Facebook’s 25booksto50k (marketing strategies) or wideforthewin.

Motivation Suggestions – It can be helpful to choose the same time and place for writing and to make a habit of writing every day. This pattern will help train your brain and prepare you for writing.

Plotters vs ‘Pantsers’ (Seat of the Pants writers) – Some participants’ suggestions for those who prefer to plot out their novels included:

  • apps such as Scrivner or Ulysses (for MAC) can help plot where the story needs to go;
  • Jonathan Ball’s Writing the Wrong Way podcast has also helped writers plot their stories; and
  • Save the Cat is a website that provides information on plotting and characterization.

Self-publishing – There is still a stigma around self-publishing but it is becoming more acceptable.  Some suggested platforms include:

  • Amazon is quite popular;
  • GooglePlay;
  • Smashwords;
  • Kobo; and
  • Draft2Digital.

It was also recommended that writers take heed and beware of vanity presses, they may not get you where you want to go.

Public speaking – How does public speaking help a writer? Participants felt that skill and comfort with public speaking are essential to book launches and readings. If you are looking for some guidance with public speaking, Toastmasters was suggested as a website that offers educational programs and resources related to public speaking.

Submitting a Manuscript – If you are looking for exposure for your writing, Submittable for Writers was recommended as a website that can provide access to magazines, publishers and contests. Many publisher websites will provide guidelines for writers to follow as well, but it was suggested that before submitting your manuscript to any website, be sure to verify their authenticity. One place you can check for fraudulent websites is Writerbeware.

AI Stories – A lively discussion revolved around Artificial Intelligence inundating publishers and being used to steal content from self-published work for people to present as their own. For information on how to fight a big company like Amazon when fraud is discovered, it was recommended that authors check out other organizations for answers such as:

  • the Authors Guild of America;
  • Alliance of Independent Authors (U.K.); or
  • TWUC (The Writers Union of Canada).

Illustrators – Where do you look for illustrators? Most publishers have their own stable of illustrators they refer to so an author can choose the right look for their manuscript. If you are self-publishing and looking for cover art, consider using programs like:

  • Canva;
  • PIXLR; or
  • Photoshop.

One important comment was to be sure to use images from the public domain or acquire the appropriate rights from the creator.

Reviews – Are they good or bad? Our participants felt that it really depends on the quality of the review. Sites that post reviews include:

Future workshops – Participants offered suggestions about workshops they’d like to attend, including:

  • Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way;
  • Poetry critique groups;
  • plotting stories;
  • world building; and
  • creating characters.

Revealing your work – Should I show people a first draft? Suggestions included using Grammerly editing software, or ProWritingAid editing software. You may also consider finding folks with expertise in your particular genre to assist you or join a critique group like MWG’s Critique Circles.

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