Frequently Asked Questions

The Greenleaf Online Writing Workshops

The Fundamentals of Novel Writing Workshop

Advanced Novel Writing Workshop

Publishers and Publishing

Literary Agents – Pros and Cons

Copyright and Other Legal Issues

The Writing Life


The Greenleaf Online Writing Workshops

Q: What is an online writing workshop? Do students in your workshops “meet” online at specified times for lectures and instruction?

A: No. Some writing workshops are set up that way, but I don’t like that approach. They don’t provide the one-on-one attention newer writers need, and the time schedules are too rigid. When you enroll in a Greenleaf Online Writing Workshop, I’ll send you (via email attachment) a Guidebook in MS Word or PDF format (your choice). The Guidebook will give you the instruction you need in the various topics, and it will include the assignments you’ll complete and email to me for review or critique. That will give you the one-on-one feedback you need, and you can set your own schedule.
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Q: How much time will I have to complete each workshop assignment?

A: There are no deadlines for assignments. Some will take more time than others, and I don’t want to give you the pressure of assignment deadlines.

I do want you to keep making progress, however, and each workshop has to be completed within a certain time frame. You must complete the Fundamentals of Novel Writing workshop within one year. The Advanced Novel Writing workshop must be completed within eighteen months. If you can spend a few hours per week on the workshop, that won’t be a problem. If unforeseen circumstances prevent you from completing the workshop on time, you can send me an email and tell me why. I’ll give you an extension if you have a valid reason.
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Q: What’s the difference between the Fundamentals of Novel Writing workshop and the Advanced Novel Writing workshop?

A: The Fundamentals of Novel Writing workshop starts with an evaluation of your story idea and takes you through the development of your plot, characters, and other elements of your novel. I’ll work with you at every step by reviewing and critiquing your assignments, helping you over the bumps, keeping you on track, and making sure you learn the skills and techniques you’ll need in order to become a successful novelist. In addition to all the development work for your novel, you’ll also prepare a working outline and you’ll write the first 10,000 words of your novel. I’ll give you a detailed critique of that, and you’ll be on your way toward completing your novel.

The Advanced Novel Writing workshop consists of critiques at various stages as you continue writing your novel. I’ll critique your novel in 20,000-word increments and give you the detailed feedback you’ll need to complete your novel and to make sure it’s the kind of novel today’s publishers are looking for.
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Q: My local community college offers classes on creative writing, and I know of at least one local writer’s criticism group. Why should I enroll in a Greenleaf Online Writing Workshop if I can get what I need from the college or the criticism group?

A: Because you won’t get what you need from them. You need help from someone who’s done it. Most creative writing instructors in community colleges have few, if any, publishing credits. Criticism groups are usually composed of writers who are in the same boat with you – trying to get their first books published.

The Greenleaf Online Writing Workshop will give you one-on-one guidance and feedback from a successful novelist and creative writing instructor.
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Q: If I enroll in one of your workshops and have questions about a lesson or assignment, can I call you?

A: Send me an email instead. With my own writing schedule and work I do for clients, I like to organize my day so I can spend blocks of time on each project. That doesn’t work if I have to take a lot of phone calls throughout the day. With email, I can take care of all of it at one time and I can focus on your question without feeling rushed or distracted.
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Q: Should I copyright my story idea before sending it to you or anyone else in the business?

A: Story ideas can’t be copyrighted. Only manuscripts can be copyrighted. A manuscript is automatically protected by copyright laws as soon as it is created. When the manuscript is published and offered for sale, the copyright must be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. But whether it’s registered or not, the copyright for your manuscript belongs to you. Anyone who stole it or plagiarized it would be breaking the law, and they would also be ensuring that they’ll never work in this business again.

You can get copyright info at: www.copyright.gov.
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Q: Will I be sending my assignments to you via regular mail or email?

A: Everything in the workshop will be handled via email attachments. Sending email attachments is easy, it’s free, and it’s much faster than regular mail.
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Q: I’m sixteen years old. Can I enroll in a Greenleaf Online Writing Workshop?

A: Yes, as long as your parent or guardian gives their permission. Sorry, but I can’t accept anyone into a workshop who is younger than sixteen.
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Q: I want to write my memoirs. Will your novel writing workshops help me with that?

A: That depends on your goal. If you want to fictionalize your story, that would be a “novel based on a true story,” and my novel writing workshops will give you what you need. If you want to write a true account of your memoirs or autobiography, then the novel writing workshops won’t do the job. Memoirs and autobiographies require a different approach. However, I’m in the process of setting up a Writing Your Life Story workshop designed to help those who want to write their memoirs or autobiography. Click here to send me an email and let me know of your interest in the Writing Your Life Story workshop. I’ll let you know when the workshop is up and running, and I’ll give you a special price break for being one of my first students.
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The Fundamentals of Novel Writing

Q: What genres are covered in the Fundamentals of Novel Writing workshop?

A: You can write whatever kind of novel you want to write: mainstream, romance, science fiction, suspense – you name it. If you have more than one story idea, I’ll let you know which one I think is most likely to be successful.
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Q: I understand you’ll be evaluating up to three story ideas. Will you tell me which story idea I should use for my first novel?

A: Yes. Before you start writing your novel, I want you to fully understand the potential benefits or risks of your story idea. For each story idea you send to me, I’ll give you a comprehensive summary of both positive and negative aspects. If I don’t feel that the story idea can be turned into a publishable novel, I’ll explain why. If I like the story idea, I’ll let you know why I feel that it will work well for your first novel. I’ll also let you know if I see inherent risks which will make it more difficult for you to turn the story idea into a publishable novel. Based on my feedback, you can make any necessary changes to your story idea before you start writing.
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Q: Do I really have to complete all the assignments?

A: Yes. The Greenleaf Online Writing Workshops are serious workshops for serious writers. I’ll be reviewing or critiquing each of your assignments as you work your way through the sections of the workshop. That one-on-one feedback is the most important element of the workshop.
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Q: In addition to the story evaluations and the feedback on my assignments, you’ll be critiquing the first 10,000 words of my novel. What can I expect from that critique?

A: You can expect a thorough analysis of all the elements of your novel: characterization, viewpoint, background, scene development, central conflict, plot, and subplots. In addition, you can expect practical, specific, easy-to-understand suggestions about how to strengthen areas that need work. I like to show by example, bringing in excerpts from your manuscript to illustrate the points I’m making and rewriting some of those excerpts in order to show you how to correct problems.
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Q: I want to become a novelist, but I know how hard it is for a newcomer to break into this business. Should I even bother trying?

A: Let me offer some comments about that:

  • If you don’t write your novel, your chance of becoming a published author is zero.
  • If you write your novel but don’t submit it to publishers, your chance of becoming a published author is zero.
  • If you work hard, study and analyze published novels, write steadily, learn from your mistakes, and submit your manuscripts to the right literary agents and publishers, you’ll have a good chance of getting published.

Instead of fretting about your odds of being published, what you should concentrate on is learning the craft. You can do that with the Fundamentals of Novel Writing workshop.
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Advanced Novel Writing

Q: The Advanced Novel Writing workshop includes critiques of 20,000-word increments of my novel as I write it. How many of those critiques are you willing to do? What if my novel turns out to be exceptionally long?

A: There’s no limit on the number of incremental critiques. I’ll do as many as necessary to get through your novel.
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Q: As part of the Advanced Novel Writing workshop, I’ll be preparing a book proposal. What does that consist of?

A: The book proposal has three components: a one-page query letter, a synopsis of two to four pages, and a chapter-by-chapter outline. That’s what you’ll need after you’ve finished writing your novel and begin querying literary agents. When you enroll in the Advanced Novel Writing workshop, the material I’ll send you will include a sample book proposal which you can use as a model in preparing your own. I’ll critique your book proposal to make sure it’s up to the task of selling your novel, and I’ll send you a list of literary agents who will be right for your book.
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Q: I already know the basics of novel writing. Can I skip the Fundamentals of Novel Writing workshop and enroll in the Advanced Novel Writing workshop instead?

A: Sorry, no. Unless you’ve worked your way through the Fundamentals of Novel Writing and have completed all the assignments, you won’t have the foundation I want you to have when you move into the Advanced Novel Writing workshop to complete your novel and write your book proposal. I won’t accept anyone into the Advanced Novel Writing workshop unless they’ve successfully completed the Fundamentals of Novel Writing.
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Q: Can I enroll in the Fundamentals of Novel Writing workshop, and the Advanced Novel Writing workshop at the same time?

A: Yes, and you’ll get a tuition discount if you enroll in both Workshops. See my Tuition Schedule.
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Publishers and Publishing

Q: I want to submit my novel directly to publishers without using an agent. How can I find the right publisher?

A: Pick up a current copy of Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market. Besides providing a list of publishers, as well as pertinent information about them, the book has a lot of good articles about the business side of writing.
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Q: The length of my story is 30,000 words. Is that long enough to be considered a novel?

A: Not by most publishers. It will be considered a novelette or novella, and will probably be more difficult to sell than a full-length novel. A novel should have at least 40,000 words. A better range would be 60,000 to 80,000 words. Take a close look at your story. Is there a way to flesh out the story and boost the word count? Of course, you can’t just add padding. If you increase the word count, you’ll have to do so legitimately, with additional story elements, subplots, or characters.
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Q: What’s the difference between a category novel and a mainstream novel?

A: A category novel (also known as a genre novel) is one that can be . . . well, categorized. Science fiction, horror, erotica, western, romance – these are all examples of category novels. A mainstream novel is one that can’t be categorized in that way. While category novels place a lot of importance on strong plots, mainstream novels usually place more importance on theme and depth of character.
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Q: I’ve been told that it’s easier for a new writer to break in with a category novel than with a mainstream novel. Is that true?

A: Yes. Publishers see newer writers as risks, and today’s publishing business doesn’t encourage risk-taking. That’s because most large publishers are now owned by even larger conglomerates who are very focused on the bottom line. Senior editors in publishing houses have a good grip on what readers of category novels such as science fiction or romance novels expect. That makes it easier for them to recognize a science fiction or romance novel with potential. If it’s well-written and fits the “formula,” they can feel pretty confident that it’ll do well in bookstores. They feel much less confident about a mainstream novel. The reading audience is not as well defined, and most senior editors, at one time or another in their career, have committed a big blooper with a mainstream novel that looked great in their office but fell flat in the bookstores. For that reason, they’re less likely to take a chance with a mainstream novel from a new, untested author.
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Q: I want to write a mainstream novel. If it’s so difficult for a new writer to break in with a mainstream novel, should I just forget it?

A: Absolutely not. Even though it’s more difficult for a new writer to break in with a mainstream novel, it certainly isn’t impossible. If you want to write mainstream fiction, then write it. Work hard to make your novel as strong as it can be, put together a compelling book proposal, and get the ball rolling. While it’s easier to break in with a category novel, it’s also true that mainstream novels are more likely to make a big splash when they hit the bookstores. Dean Koontz successfully made the leap from horror to mainstream by focusing more of his stories on theme and character. If his novels were all categorized as horror novels, sales would be a fraction of what they are. So would Dean’s royalty advances.
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Q: Is it true that a new writer needs contacts if he hopes to sell his book to a major publisher?

A: No. “Contacts” are extremely overrated in this business. If your Uncle Herbie is a senior editor with Random House, he’ll probably agree to read your manuscript. If he likes you, anyway. Chances are he’ll resent it, though. He already has too many manuscripts waiting on his desk, and he’ll see yours as a burden. He may even take you out of his will. Instead of relying on contacts, rely on your determination to make your manuscript as good as it can be. Compelling manuscripts, not contacts, attract publishing contracts.
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Q: Literary agents and publishers receive hundreds of queries per week. How can I make mine stand out?

A: Your query letter will be the first example of your writing that literary agents and publishers will see. If you can’t draft a well-organized and well-written query letter, they’ll assume you can’t write a marketable novel. It’s important that the query letter be contained on one page. Even if they don’t know you, a busy agent and senior editor will be willing to read one page, as long as it’s comfortable reading. (By “comfortable” I mean easy to read. Some writers, knowing that the query letter should be only one page, accomplish that by printing it in a typeface so small the agent or publisher will need a magnifying glass to read it.) Get across the essence of your story in one or two paragraphs. Let the agent or publisher know what kind of book it is (mainstream, suspense, romance, etc.) and how long it is (word count, not number of pages).

The primary goal of the query letter is to convince the agent or editor to take a few more minutes out of his or her busy schedule to read the synopsis. To accomplish that, the query letter needs to be as perfect as possible. No typos, no punctuation errors. And it has to give the reader a good idea of what your novel is about.

The synopsis will be a brief (two to four double-spaced pages) summary of your novel. The goal of the synopsis is to convince the reader to request sample chapters or the entire manuscript. Again, it has to be as perfect as possible, and it has to demonstrate writing skills. Otherwise it’ll go onto the reject pile.
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Q: If a commercial publisher agrees to publish my novel, how many books will they print?

A: The print run for a novel from a new author typically ranges from 10,000 to 50,000 books.
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Q: How much can I expect to make from my first novel?

A: While some first-time novelists are fortunate enough to earn hundreds of thousands of dollars, or even millions, a more common range is $5,000 to $50,000. How much the novel earns will depend on what kind of novel it is, how well it’s written, and who publishes it. If it’s the kind of novel a lot of people will want to read, and if it’s published by a major publisher, then you’ll make more from it. If it’s a book with a limited audience of readers, and if it’s published by a small publisher, your earnings will be in the lower end of the range.
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Q: Most publishers don’t pay a set amount for a book, but instead pay royalties based on book sales. Does that mean I won’t receive any money for my book until it’s published and in bookstores?

A: You’ll probably be paid an advance against royalties. Half of the advance is usually paid when you sign the publishing contract, and the other half when you deliver the completed manuscript to the publisher. The amount of the advance will depend on how the publisher feels about the book’s market potential. When your book hits the bookstores and begins to earn royalties for you, the publisher will withhold royalty payments until the amount of royalties you’ve earned exceeds the advance you were paid. Then you’ll get royalty statements and checks every six months.
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Q: What are royalties?

A: Royalties paid to an author are typically based on a percentage of the retail price of books that are sold. For hardcover books, the royalty usually ranges from 10 percent to 15 percent, depending on how many books are sold. If the book has a retail price of $25, the author’s royalty would be $2.50 to $3.75 per copy sold. The royalty for paperback books is usually in the range of 6 percent to 8 percent.
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Q: How much will my advance be?

A: That depends on the type of novel and how badly the publisher wants it. Carl Sagan received a $2,000,000 advance for his first novel Contact. But . . . well, he was Carl Sagan and you aren’t. If this is your first novel, your advance is likely to be in the range of $5,000 to $15,000. If your book is represented by an ethical, well-respected agent, the agent will be working with you to negotiate the advance and other contract details. The agent should also be able to give you good advice about what you should and shouldn’t be willing to accept from a publisher.
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Q: What is “print-on-demand publishing?”

A: Traditional commercial publishers typically print thousands of copies of a book and ship them off to bookstores and book distributors around the country. Print-on-demand publishers print books only as orders come in. This means there will be no books returned from bookstores as unsold, but it also means that the cost per book is typically higher.
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Q: A print-on-demand publisher wants to publish my novel. I’ll have to pay for it, but my book can be available for sale within a few weeks. Isn’t that a better way to go than traditional publishing?

A: No. You shouldn’t consider using a print-on-demand publisher unless you’ve exhausted all other options. Some large print-on-demand publishers bring out hundreds of books per month. People in the business – including book reviewers and booksellers – won’t give your book serious consideration because they know that these publishers will publish anything, as long as the client pays for it. Chances are your only sales will be to friends and relatives – many of whom will resent having to pay such a high cover price.

If your book is good enough for a traditional commercial publisher, that’s the way to go. Major publishers have well-developed distribution networks and good relationships with book reviewers and booksellers. With a print-on-demand publisher, your book will sell only to people who specifically go online to find it. If it’s published by a commercial publisher, your book will be on the shelves of bookstores, supermarkets, convenience stores, and many other retail businesses across the country. Sales will be much higher than with a print-on-demand publisher.
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Q: What is a subsidy publisher?

A: A subsidy publisher is a publisher who requires that the author pay some or all of the costs of publishing his or her book. In contrast, a traditional commercial publisher will pay all the costs of producing the cover, printing the book, and distributing it to booksellers. The traditional publisher will also pay an advance and royalties to the author. If your book is good enough for traditional publishing, that’s always the way to go. Subsidy publishers are almost never able to generate a decent level of book sales. If you do enter into a subsidy contract, make sure the book is copyrighted in your name, and make sure you retain all rights.
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Q: If I pay a subsidy publisher to produce the book, I’ll make $6.00 for each copy that’s sold. Wouldn’t it be better to go with the subsidy publisher?

A: No. With a subsidy publisher, you’ll be lucky to sell a few hundred copies of your book. With the distribution networks available to major commercial publishers, you can expect to sell thousands of copies. Not only that, but you’ll begin to build up a readership which will carry over to your next novel, and the one after that. No subsidy publisher can give you that kind of exposure.
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Q: Should I include my Social Security number on the title page of my manuscript?

A: No. It’s the sign of an amateur. If the publisher needs it, they’ll ask for it.
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Q: How do I let publishers know I want to use a pseudonym?

A: Type your real name, address, and phone number in the upper left corner of the title page. Your real last name should also appear in the header of each page. The pseudonym should appear on the title page as the byline under the title.
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Q: Does my manuscript have to be typed?

A: Yes. Publishers won’t accept handwritten material. Your manuscript should be double-spaced, typed on one side of the paper, with margins of an inch or so all around.
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Q: I submitted my manuscript to a publisher three weeks ago and still haven’t heard anything. Should I assume they don’t want it?

A: No. Reporting times for publishers can run to as long as three or four months. If you check the publisher’s listing in Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market, you’ll probably find some information about their reporting times. Try to be patient. If you’re long past what they say is their normal reporting time, send them a polite note inquiring about the status of your manuscript.
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Literary Agents – Pros and Cons

Q: Why do I need a literary agent? Why can’t I submit my manuscript directly to publishers?

A: Many major publishers won’t accept unsolicited manuscripts (manuscripts they haven’t specifically requested) unless they’re submitted by an agent. In effect, publishers use literary agents to screen out the manuscripts that clearly aren’t publishable. An agent can also make things happen more quickly. A good agent will know which publishers are the best choices for your book. He can pick up the phone, call a senior editor at the publishing house, tell him a little about you and your book, and let him know he’s sending over your manuscript via courier. Believe me, your manuscript will get a lot more attention than it would if you mailed it to the publisher yourself. Your literary agent will also be watching out for your best interests when it comes time to negotiate advance amounts and clauses in publishing contracts.
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Q: I found an agent on the Internet who has agreed to represent my book, but it’ll cost me $50 per month. Should I sign up?

A: No. Legitimate, ethical literary agents earn their money from commissions when they make sales. Usually it’s 15 percent of what the publisher pays the author in advance and royalties. Most agents who charge reading or handling fees, or require that authors pay “operating costs” up front or on a monthly basis, do so because they aren’t selling enough books to make a living from commissions. These agents will accept any manuscript as long as the author’s check clears the bank, and publishers have no respect for them. You don’t want your manuscript to be represented by that kind of agent.

The Internet isn’t the safest place to look for literary agents. Pick up a current edition of Guide to Literary Agents, which is published each year by Writer’s Digest Books. Besides listing hundreds of agents, the book also has some good articles about dealing with agents. The listings have pertinent information about the agents, including whether or not they’re members of the Association of Authors’ Representatives (AAR). Members of AAR are required to follow a code of ethics which protects newer writers. AAR members do not charge reading fees.
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Q: Is it okay if I submit my novel to more than one agent at a time?

A: Yes, but you should tell each of them that you’re making simultaneous submissions.
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Q: I live in Dallas, and I would like to find a local literary agent. But I’ve been told that the best agents are in New York. Is that true?

A: Generally speaking, yes. Most major book publishers are in New York, and most of the top-tier agents want to be where the action is. Agents and senior editors frequently get together for lunch to talk about books and authors. As with almost everything in this business, there are exceptions. There are some good agents who don’t work in New York, and there are some bad ones (i.e. unethical and/or incompetent) who do. If you’re thinking of turning your book over to a literary agent outside of New York, be especially cautious. Insist on finding out how many books he or she has sold in the past year. Make sure those books were sold to traditional commercial publishers rather than subsidy or print-on-demand publishers.
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Q: Two literary agents have agreed to represent my novel. How can I decide which one to go with?

A: Has either agent asked for up-front money? If so, that’s an immediate red flag. Legitimate agents work on commission. They make money from your book only if they sell it. You should also check their track records. How many books have they sold last year to legitimate commercial publishers? Specifically, how many books have they sold that are in the same genre as yours? If you’ve written a romance novel, you might not want to be represented by an agent who has never sold a romance novel. How enthusiastic are the agents about your book? If an agent shows little more than lackluster interest in your writing and your book, then that’s probably how he or she will come across to publishers. You want someone on your side who truly believes in you.
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Q: I want to submit my novel to a literary agent who asks for a synopsis and three sample chapters. I think the most exciting chapters in my book are near the end. Is it okay to send those three chapters to the agent?

A: No. Publishers and agents don’t want you to pick the chapters you think are best. They want to see the opening chapters of the book.
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Copyright and Other Legal Issues

Note: The information I’m including here is based on my experience and my understanding of the law. I’ve done my best to make sure it’s accurate. But I’m not a lawyer. If you have questions about copyright, you may want to check them out for yourself at the Internet site for the U.S. Copyright Office, www.copyright.gov. A good lawyer can give you answers to other legal questions.

Q: Should I register the copyright for my manuscript before submitting it to literary agents and publishers?

A: No. Under the Copyright Revision Act of 1976, the copyright of your story belongs to you as soon as you create the manuscript. A manuscript copyright must be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office before it is published for distribution to the public, but commercial publishers typically take care of that for the author.
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Q: Should I include the copyright notice on the title page of my manuscript when I submit it to a publisher?

A: No. The copyright notice shouldn’t appear on any book that hasn’t been previously published. When the title page of a manuscript has a copyright notice, most publishers will see it as an instant clue that the author is an amateur.
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Q: How long will the copyright on my book last?

A: The copyright will be in effect for your lifetime plus fifty years.
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Q: If someone helps me with my book, or ghostwrites it for me, will he or she be listed as co-author in the copyright?

A: No, unless you sign an agreement specifically stating that the ghostwriter or editor will also be named in the copyright.
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Q: I’m writing a novel based on real people and an actual event. Is it okay to use real names?

A: Unless the person is a public figure, and unless what you attribute to the person (what that person said or did) is public knowledge, you should get permission in writing. Mainly, that’s to protect yourself against an invasion-of-privacy lawsuit.
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Q: Can I use brand names in my novel? Is it okay for me to say that one of my characters took Tylenol for a headache, or has a Sony camera?

A: This shouldn’t be a problem as long as you don’t say something bad about the products. If you’re going to say that a character in your novel had a camera that gave him nothing but trouble, you should make up a brand name or just leave it nameless. By the way, brand names always should be capitalized.
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The Writing Life

Q: My husband wants to become a professional novelist, but he writes only when he feels inspired. Unfortunately, that happens only one or two days per week. I think it’s more important for him to write every day, whether he feels inspired or not. Who’s right?

A: You are. William Faulkner said, “I only write when I am inspired. Luckily, I am inspired at nine o’clock every morning.” If your husband is like most writers, some days the words flow effortlessly out of him, and other days writing is like pulling abscessed teeth. Would-be writers wait for inspiration. Professional writers know that writing a book is more hard work than inspiration.
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Q: An agent who read my book told me it lacks a narrative hook. What did she mean?

A: A narrative hook is something that grabs the reader at the beginning of the story, reels him in, and makes him want to keep turning pages. Pick up some novels you’ve read and enjoyed. Pay attention to the first lines on the first page of the story. You’ll see how professional writers use the narrative hook.
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Q: I can’t imagine the thrill of walking into a bookstore and seeing my own novel there on the shelf. How did that feel the first time it happened for you?

A: It felt great. I had assumed that, because I had thought about it so much, it would be a let-down when it finally happened. But it wasn’t. There are a lot of other “firsts” too. Seeing the first literary review of The Tartarus Incident was also a thrill. And seeing The Pandora Stone in the rack of the convenience store two blocks from my house, and receiving my first fan letter. Those are some of the things that make it all worthwhile.
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Q: What writing software should I buy?

A: First, of course, is a good word processing program. I use both Microsoft Word and WordPerfect. I prefer WordPerfect, but that’s pretty subjective. Either will do the job. You may want a program like Microsoft Bookshelf, which has a dictionary, thesaurus, and other reference tools. You may want to have an online encyclopedia. Many good ones are available, and they’re very reasonably priced. Of course, Internet web sites like Wikipedia.org and Answers.com are also wonderful reference tools for writers.
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Q: I’ve heard about software that helps you develop your plot, characters, and story line. Is that something I should buy?

A: No. Those programs look good in the ads, but most writers I know who have bought them have been disappointed with the results. In my opinion, it’s better to work hard and learn the craft of writing rather than trying to turn the job over to a computer program.
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Q: What about a desktop publishing program? Shouldn’t I use one of those to improve the appearance of my manuscript with special fonts and visual effects?

A: No. Only amateurs do that. Your manuscript should look as though it was prepared on a good typewriter. Special effects and fonts are distracting to agents and editors.
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Q: I’ve tried writing a novel, but I always get bogged down. How can I overcome writer’s block?

A: Writer’s block usually stems from a lack of confidence, and that’s a common malady among newer writers.

When writer’s block hits, you can’t let it take control. Don’t run from it (and your novel) by abandoning your book. The only way I know of to overcome writer’s block is to force yourself to sit there at your computer and keep working. If you can’t move forward with your story, try having a dialogue between yourself and one of your main characters. Type this out, just as you would if you were working on the story itself. Ask the character what the problem is, and see if he or she will tell you. I know this may sound silly, and maybe this isn’t the technique that will work for you. But the point is, you’ve got to keep working until the block lifts. Even if you don’t feel that you’re accomplishing anything, keep working. Otherwise writer’s block will hook its claws into you and you’ll never get that book finished.

The good news is, as you gain confidence in your writing, you’ll find that writer’s block is less of a problem.
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More Questions?

Click here to send me email or call me at (505) 796-6895. I’m usually in my office weekdays from 9 to 6 (U.S. Mountain time zone).

Ready to get started?

Click here to enroll in the Greenleaf Online Writing Workshops. Payment can be made via personal check, credit card, or PayPal. I’ll send you the workshop materials as MS Word or PDF files, and you’ll be on your way! Don’t forget about my 30-Day No Risk Guarantee.

William Greenleaf
Greenleaf Online Writing Workshops
6003 Redondo Sierra Vista NE
Rio Rancho, NM 87144

Phone: (505) 796-6895
Fax: (505) 435-9001
Email: william@wgreenleaf.com

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