Talking Shop

Candid reflections on the writing life.

The art of copy

Who are copy editors and what do they do anyway? The short answer is that they are the secret heroes of publishing. They use a keen eye to spot grammatical errors and typos. In addition, a copy editor knows how to find and fix factual errors. The best copy editors also call attention to faulty logic, or holes in an article, or paragraphs in the wrong place. And the very best are sentence magicians, turning clunky collections of words into musical phrases.

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Freelancing 101

How to survive—and thrive—as a freelancer. Constance Hale shares the unvarnished truth about how to reach your dreams. If you are pondering a leap into freelancing or seeking ways to revamp your writing business, she offers a number of concrete tips.

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Finding fallow time

I’m going to use a week in January as a “fallow period”—what I call the down time in between major projects. I wait till I have nothing on my plate, and no deadlines, and then I orchestrate a mini-retreat for myself. I get into nature for a few days, exercise a lot, sit silently, read, and let myself wander back to my creative center.

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Indie publishing slakes a thirst for new voices

Indie author, IndieReader, indie lit—a new buzzword has clearly come into vogue in the book world. But what is “indie publishing,” anyway? For many, the term is synonymous with (and maybe less stigmatized than) “self-publishing”—an author’s do-it-yourself production of a work at his or her own expense. But for others, “indie publishing” stands in contrast to “traditional” publishing, often called “trad” or “legacy” publishing by doubters.

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More thoughts on hybrid publishing

It’s been two years since I last shared my thoughts on publishing as a hybrid author. And this month I took the plunge: I have two new books out, both published outside the traditional model. One is a children’s book, ‘Iwalani’s Tree, the other a book about hula, The Natives Are Restless. Digital Book World […]

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Constance Hale on creating your dream office

When I started my career as a writer, I worked on a wooden table in my bedroom. It was set right in front of the window, so when I sat down to write I could ignore the rest of my life, packed into that small apartment…. It took a while to get the perfect work space. I have found it useful to have a discrete office that is not a desk in my bedroom or the kitchen table—or even a table in café.

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Mary Norris on becoming a comma queen

I started reading The New Yorker in graduate school in Vermont. I sometimes visited my brother in New York. He had gone to the Art Students League, where he made friends with a woman in his portrait class named Jeanne Fleischmann. She was married to Peter Fleischmann, the chairman of the board of The New Yorker. His father, Raoul Fleischmann, had been the co-founder of the magazine, with Harold Ross. On one visit, I picked up a copy of the magazine. It was dated February 24, 1975. Eustace Tilley was on the cover, and the contents included a piece by E. B. White: Letter from the East. It was the anniversary issue—The New Yorker’s fiftieth anniversary.

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Constance Hale on writing collectives

Every artist needs solitude and society, which is why I am a member of the SF Writers’ Grotto—a workplace for professional writers that just celebrated its 20-year anniversary this December.

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Michael Shapiro on making it as a freelancer

Because I work with writers to develop, edit, and polish stories—and then place them in top publications—I’ve developed some tips that have helped me make it as a freelance writer. These suggestions cover the business of freelancing, rather than the craft of writing.

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Constance Hale’s update on e-books

Electronic rights are the chaotic bazaar of book publishing. Here authors barter with agents, agents haggle with publishers, and publishers brawl with e-retailers. Everyone is vying for his or her claim on the best pomegranate.

This frenzy, and a barrage of media attention, has left most people involved feeling confused. So what should a writer know in a labyrinth of twisting alleys and ad-hoc product stands? Here are some key terms and general guidelines to the unstable warren of the U.S. market.

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