Saturday, February 25, 2012

Benefit From Critiquing Other Non Fiction Writers

If you wonder whether or not to join a writing list that requires you to critique other writers I'm here to tell you the benefits are many!

In addition to receiving invaluable critiques of your own work, you learn a great deal by reading critiques given to many other writers.

By reading what other's have to say about a manuscript they critique you gain insights into how readers perceive what they read.

That in itself is a invaluable revelation! There is simply no better way to get into your potential reader's mind and learn how your words are construed.

Another perk is the variety of writing you encounter, especially if you join a nonfiction group such as IWW NonFiction. (Reach Administrators at

An additional benefit comes from the wide variety of offerings. Because two submissions I helped critique demonstrate vividly how your world can be broadened in ways you may never imagine, read these articles  as examples -- from Jenaki Lenin's informative and entertaining column, My Husband and Other Animals. and

I'm among the IWW NonFiction list members who regularly critique Janaki's submissions, and consequently, I get a peek into a world very very different from my own.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Do Descriptions Stump You? Visit "The Bookshelf Muse"

Writing descriptions can be fun, challenging, or downright frustration. When you're stumped, browse around The Bookshelf Muse and before long you'll find yourself writing the perfect description.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Submittable - a Submission Manager

Sumittable (formerly Submishmash) is a program that allows an author to submit and multiple editors of the same publication to read and reply to that submission. It is not something you ever have to worry about unless you want to use it to accept submissions, or you want to submit somewhere that only accepts through their interface.

If you do want to submit somewhere and they use Submittable, you'll know it. The market points you there, then you have to create an account and submit through Submittable - the instructions are very clear at that time. Freelance writers report having to use it for almost 25% of their 2011 submissions.

When a piece is rejected or accepted, you can click on the story/poem title [in your account] and read the comments from the editor. One freelancer got a pleasant surprise when she clicked on a flash piece she'd submitted to a market a year or so ago.

"I was so discouraged after it was rejected, I deleted it. Come to find out, the editor read it repeatedly, thought it was wrong for his publication, but praised the story and gave me the names of three other flash venues to try. And here I'd been thinking the editors were a cold, haughty bunch, not even taking time for a polite 'sorry, but no'."
You should get both submission acknowledgements and rejection and acceptance emails automatically because that's automated, unless you've opted out on the settings page.

Editorial comments should reach you together with the rejection. If they didn't, the editor chose not to send them (probably by mistake since "no reply" is a default in Submittable.)

Solution: click on the help button at upper right corner and ask for your settings to be checked. The help techies fix it.

Be aware that when Submittable receives a bounce for the reason "invalid email address" the system will not continue to send to a bounced address. Have the techs clear your email from the bounce list so that the system will start sending notifications to you again.

Submittable offers a free trial. Freelancers report its actually pretty handy. You may find it well worth opting for one of the Plans.

In addition to Submittable many writers also use Duotrope's tracker, and praise it highly.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Getting Quotations - Ask The Experts

Topics in this article include:
  • Getting Quotations
  • Megasources For Finding Experts to Quote
Getting quotations
Question: How does a new writer get quotes? If I'm writing an article for instance on ear infections, do I call my own doctor and get his\her quote so I have a professional? Do I call the University and talk to the medical staff?

When approaching experts you want to make them as comfortable as possible.

  • Tell them who you are
  • Where you got their name
  • What you are doing

Outline the questions you want answered. Ask them if they have any other comments, and be sure to thank them for their time. You should also ask for their titles and association \ organization name so you'll be able to credit them properly.

Megasources for finding experts to quote
Websites where you can get in touch with experts to quote:

Ryerson University:
Finding Answers, by Ryerson University Emeritus Professor, Dean Tudor, provides online resources to an enormous variety of pertinent topics, as well as links to publications. Typing find experts in the search box brought a page full of resource links.

The Faculty Experts link brings you here,

American Society of Association Executives ("ASAE"), brings a "Oh, no sorry ..." message, but don't be dismayed. Click on the provided search to be whisked to,

Click Publications and Resources (top tab.) It will take you to directories of associations, including those that are online. Very useful for contacting sources for articles.

The Yearbook of Experts is available at, Want to find a topic to write about? Near the bottom of the page, Find Experts provides experts by topic. Then select your topic. You can also search by Participant, and Geography.

Ideas are limitless! Read About Us, Site Map brings opportunities to choose your preference to Join.

ProfNet, which you're bound to read about, is a source for professionals only. It enables journalists to ask a group of academic, business contacts and other experts for comments on virtually any subject. ProfNet does not welcome queries from amatuers or students,

A Journalist's Guide at Robert site is a great place that will help writers and non-writers alike to find information and data (such as US Census),

Statistics can sometimes tell you as much as your human sources. Start at, Be sure to scroll down to Finding Data on the Internet.

Use this resource to search out published works, Online Books Page,

Xpress Press News Service hosts a e-mail free service, Press Query, for reporters looking for public relations professionals, information officers, authors and expert sources,

Click For Journalists and Subscribe (it's free.) Queries are sent within a few hours of receipt during business hours (9 - 6 EST). Follow the directions at the site to send your request.

Ask An Expert Sources, offers useful catergorized links,

HARO (Help A Reporter Out), is one of the newer resources, Your query goes to thousands of professionals who have agreed to be a source. Within two days of sending your query, you'll find yourself with more expert sources that you could possible interview. Some that you may never have found yourself. Expect to get some good and some not so good resources.

Writers report they've received some replies that were way off target, but most are helpful and a few were incredible sources that they'd never have had a shot of interviewing if not for HARO.

Rebeca, a member of Internet Writing Workshop,, explained,
"It's a tool for publicists to get in touch with reporters who have specific story queries. But if you're a freelance writer who needs sources for a story, you can post your query and be flooded by publicists' emails. HARO operates in the same way as PROFNET, but it's more user-friendly."
Now, get started ~~ develop your topic and get expert Quotes!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Copyrights and Previously Published Works

Every writer needs to know and understand Copyrights. The topics you'll find in this article include:
  • History of Copyright in the United States
  • Copyrights: History of Copyright in the United States
  • Newspaper Copyrights
  • Database of Copyrights
  • Website Copyright
  • The Cyberlaw Encyclopedia
  • Termination of Copyrights
  • Citing Your Sources
  • Law Freedom of Information Act
United States Copyright Office official site, and the history of US Copyrights,

Check this link, Cornell Copyright Information Center,, it clearly defines what works are now public domain, by year.

Several private websites explain US copyright law. These are two of the best I've found:

Brad Templeton's "10 Big Myths about copyright explained,"

Alan Gahtan's, The Cyberlaw Encyclopedia, Be sure to refer to their Terms of Use.

Copyrights and publishing Letters,

Newspaper copyrights
Everything in the newspaper is copyrighted. None of it -- except the actual information -- is public domain. There is a legal reason to not plagrize a newspaper. The paper *probably* won't do anything about it if you make copies to hand to your group, but if you take one of their articles and resell it as your own, I bet they would find you quick. They can -- and would be more than willing -- to do something about it.

It is considered unethical to plagarize newspapers. What is not copyrightable is the actual news -- the facts. You can read a news article in the paper, and reword it, using them as your only source, and be perfectly legal. It's sloppy, but legal. But if you use their lead, organization, format, and conclusion, you're plagarizing.

Newspapers, magazines, books, newsletters, brochures, those little flyers you pick up in the doctor's office ~~ if it's written down, it's copyrighted.

Database of copyrights
Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of TX web site contains a link to WATCH File. The WATCH File (Writers, Artists, and Their Copyright Holders) is a database containing primarily, but not exclusively, the names and addresses of copyright holders or contact persons for authors and artists whose archives are housed, in whole or in part, in libraries and archives in North America and the United Kingdom.

Tip: You'll find useful information regarding copyrights and holders by exploring all of the links. Answers to questions here,

Website copyright
Laws protect website graphics, content, everything, from being used without permission. Study the Cyberlaw Encyclopedia,

Termination of copyrights
Copyright Termination: How Authors (and their Heirs) Can Recapture their pre-1978 Copyrights, by Lloyd J. Jassin,
You'll find many helpful articles here,

Copyrights and derivative works
When you wonder if revising and or excerpting original works changes copyrights read Ivan Hoffman's excellent article on the subject,

Ivan wrote that in part US Copyright law states, a “derivative work” is a work based upon one or more preexisting works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted. A work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications, which, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship, is a “derivative work”.

Read Ivan's entire article for the rest of the legalities involved in a derivative work.

Using previously published works
 Citation styles is one of the many useful links you'll find at University of California Berkley Library,

Law and the Freedom of Information Act
Freedom of Information Act is a federal law that applies only to federal executive agencies and has no jurisdiction over state or local agencies, Congress or the courts. In case you aren't familiar with this Act, which can come in extremely handy when some government clerk isn't too cooperative when you're doing research, here's the Freedom of Information Act site where you can learn your rights to government information,

In many states access to government records is governed by state law and the state's constitution. Open Government Guide, a complete compendium of information on every state's open records and open meetings laws, organized alphabetically by states,

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has the entire text of the Freedom of Information Act on its website,, as well as a guide for using the act. You'll find the text at, There you'll also find the

Also, the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) site, includes the text of the 1996 electronic amendments to the FOIA. Click, Freedom of Information to find links to what you want to know. Self-Help Law Center,, Your legal companion, where you'll find a multitude of answers.

Tip: Remember, websites that do not end in .org are not government sites They're private websites.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Joe Konrath Gives Great Advice and Inspires eBook Authors

If you've written an eBook - or eBooks - and wonder why they aren't selling, you may find some answers and inspiration by reading Joe Konrath's, A Newbie's Guide To Publishing.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Midwest Book Review Might Be Just Your Ticket

Midwest Book Review is a good venue to get self-published and small-press books reviewed. It's free, and you can probably be an unpaid reviewer for them as well.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

WORD Track Changes May Be The Tool You Need When Working With Editors

If you're going to work with editors, here's something useful you may need to know: UMass has nice advice for those using WORD Track Changes. If you aren't  familiar with this feature, you might want to follow the tutorial and get comfortable with the process,