Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Online Writing Classes

Have you taken any online writing classes? I've taken several. The courses offered through RWA chapters are inexpensive, flexible, and perfect for anyone who is time-challenged. However, not all classes are equal. Some have great titles but fail to deliver what they offer, while others deliver all that and then some.

Most classes offered through RWA chapters cost between fifteen and thirty dollars. They usually are scheduled to last a month. All classes take place through a Loop, usually Yahoo! Groups. You get the assignment delivered to your e-mail, and you can ask the instructor questions and interact with other students on the Loop.

I have mixed emotions about the classes I've taken. I believe the class's effectiveness rests on one thing: the teacher.

The teacher needs to spend time coming up with focused assignments relavent to the course's title. If she gives assignments on a regular basis, makes it clear when they're due, and responds to students' work, the class is a success. But if she fails to regularly hand out assignments and none of them relate to the course's title, the class will not be a success.

Also, if a teacher doesn't respond to homework, students should be upset. How can you possibly learn if you have zero feedback?

Two wonderful resources for free--yes, free!--online courses are through RWA's PRO-Class Loop, and ACFW's course archives. To access RWA's Loop, you have to be an RWA PRO member. To access ACFW's course archives, you need to be a member of ACFW. RWA's PRO-Class Loop offers classes several times a year and each lasts a week or two. ACFW offers courses every month. Past courses can be accessed through ACFW's archives also.

There are also many writing courses available from other sites, and colleges offer online classes too.

As far as what classes are more valuable than others, I think it depends on the writer. Are you struggling with craft issues? Would you like to learn basic HTML codes? Are you dying to add more conflict to your books? There are classes for almost any topic related to your writing career.

Have you taken any online courses? What did you think--waste of time or totally worth it?

Happy Writing!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Read the Genre Books You Write

Our month of career research is coming to an end, and none too soon for me! I'm ready for lighter, funner topics. But, in the meantime, we have two more posts to get through.

Do you read the genre books you write?

How often? Do you always enjoy them? What do you do when you pick one up and it doesn't excite you at all?

I hate to think of any book as "homework," but we need to read many books in the genre we are writing in.

When you read four or five books in the same genre, you get a feel for the length, the pace, plot points, characters, and the tone. If you continue to read your genre regularly, you'll also get an idea of what themes are oversaturated.

It's vital to read current books. Why? Fifteen years ago, writing styles were different. You may have fallen in love with Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, but publishers might not be willing to take the risk on such long books now, especially by a new author. (The exception is if you're Diana Gabaldon, of course!)

Another reason to read a variety of books in your genre is to verify your book does indeed work for that market. If you're writing for any of the Harlequin category imprints, check the eHarlequin site often for their guidelines. Listen to the editor podcasts. It's vital to understand what editors want for the line you're targeting.

The best reason to read in the genre you write is because you love it. Trust me, the love will come across in your writing. Let's say you write an urban fantasy on a lark, but you've only ever read one urban fantasy in your life (you love to read political thrillers). Let's also say your book is genius, and a publisher quickly snatches it up. You're thrilled; however, you don't really want to write another urban fantasy because you want to write a political thriller; after all, that's what you love to read.

A publisher would not be happy to take a chance on a new author only to find out the author plans on writing future books in a completely different genre. When a new author builds an audience, the audience wants similar books to the one they initially fell in love with. Don't expect an audience to follow you from genre to genre unless you're on bestseller's lists, and even then, they might not. Do you think Stephenie Meyer fans wanted to read a warm, women's fiction after reading Twilight? No, they wanted more--much more--Twilight.

What do you think? Do you think it's important to read the genre books you write? I'd love to hear your genre, and don't be shy, throw in a favorite author, too!

Join me on Wednesday when we'll discuss online writing classes.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Publishing Industry Periodicals

Do you follow news about the publishing industry? Maybe a snippet comes to you here or there, or maybe you subscribe to a pile of publications. Whether I'm actively looking for it or not, publishing news tends to find me.

I get much of my information from fellow writers. However, I also make a point to read magazines, blogs, and websites that focus on the industry. My favorite publications are RWR (the monthly magazine RWA publishes), and Romantic Times BOOKReview. Both keep me up to date in the romance novel industry. In addition to great interviews and articles, RT BOOKReview gives reviews for the month's fiction releases in the following genres: romance, mystery, paranormal, erotica, mainstream, inspirational, urban fantasy, and science fiction.

For the larger picture, I like the website Publishers Lunch. It's a free, daily update of what's happening in publishing. For a fee, you can subscribe to its host, the in-depth site, Publishers Marketplace.

A few other great publications are Writer's Digest, The Writer, and Poets & Writers. No, I don't read all of these magazines every month, but I do check them out occasionally.

On an offbeat note, I also rely on Entertainment Weekly. It rarely, if ever, reviews romances, but it still offers several book reviews along with the fiction and non-fiction top ten charts for the week. Valuable, in my opinion. And about once a month Stephen King writes a column. You can count on it to be thoughtful, sometimes funny, and always entertaining.

What are your favorite industry resources?

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Writing Organizations

Writing organizations: useful or useless?

100% useful!

Slightly confusing signs
Photo by mukluk

I love the organizations I belong to: Romance Writers of America and American Christian Fiction Writers. Both offer tremendous resources for any writer. Each has a website filled with fantastic information for their members. There are online critique groups, writer loops, and they also have local chapters if you're lucky enough to live near one. Each hosts a national conference for members and sponsors prestigious writing contests for unpublished and published authors.

RWA also publishes a monthly magazine, Romance Writers Report, packed with helpful articles.

I've been blessed to live within driving distance to the local RWA chapter, Maumee Valley Romance Writers of America. You wouldn't believe the information about the publishing industry and writing in general that I've learned from other members. It's a boon to discuss queries and realize nailing the book's genre really is important. Or to attend a meeting and learn tips on a variety of topics like networking, writing the dreaded synopsis, promotion, and so forth. These reasons alone make it worthwhile.

I also appreciate the availability of a variety of affordable online workshops given by other RWA chapters. Many chapters host contests, and some even host small conferences.

However, what I most love about MVRWA is also what I love about blogging. I've made wonderful friends. Friends who understand the ups and downs of writing. Friends who support me whether I have good news or bad. Friends who share what they've learned, not because they have to, but because they're kind.

If a writing organization has a local chapter near you, give it a try. You don't have to write romance to belong to RWA.

I also wanted to welcome and thank all of the new followers. I'm looking forward to hearing your comments!

Join me on Friday when we'll discuss staying on top of industry news.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Internet Search Your Author Name

No matter what stage of writing you're at, it's a good idea to periodically do an Internet search of your author name.

By author name, I mean the name you plan to publish, or do publish, your books under. It could be your real name or it could be a pen name. Either way, enter it in a search engine to see what comes up.

You'll typically find one of the following:

- Nothing relevant to the name
- A slew of references to someone else by that name
- Incorrect information about you
- Sites offering illegal downloads of your book if you're published
- Tons of legitimate references to you, the author

Performing and Internet search of your author name is valuable for several reasons.

1. You'll know exactly what other people, including agents and editors, see when they type in your name. If nothing shows up and you're actively querying, maybe you should consider building a web presence.

2. You'll know if your pen name, which you slaved over but haven't registered the domain name for, is already in use by someone else. You may want to consider using a different name.

3. If you're published, you can issue a cease and desist order to any sites illegally offering downloads your books.

4. If you've been working hard at building a web presence, you'll know your efforts are paying off when page after page of references to you, the author, appear.

Agents and editors do perform Internet searches on authors who submit to them. I hope I don't sound like a broken record, but I am convinced authors shouldn't wait until they get published to start a blog, website, or join online social networks.

Yes, every agent and editor will tell unpublished authors to focus on their craft before worrying about a web presence, but the facts show it takes a long time (a couple of years) for most people to build an average web presence. Authors who are submitting should be simultaneously building their platform.

Get your craft to the highest level, but also work on your web presence so you'll have an audience to promote your book to when you get published.

Every few months, do an Internet search of your author name. You might be surprised what shows up.

Join me on Wednesday when we'll talk about writing organizations and how they can help you.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Author Websites

Don't click away! I know the term "author websites" is scary, scary, scary!

I used to get wobbly knees, icy fingers, and a bad case of the shakes at the thought of setting up an author website.

What is it about websites that terrify us so? I don't know about you, but I felt completely inadequate. I couldn't even figure out how to research various ways of obtaining a website without getting nauseous.

I've written on this topic before. You can check out my article Five Things to Consider Before You Design Your Website for information on getting prepared to have your own site.

For those of you who are interested in designing your own custom website using a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) design program, I've written a Basic Website Design Guide. All of my articles are available at my website They are also linked in the sidebar of my blog for easy access.

Every day, more website templates crop up, so writers don't even have to customize to have a professional looking site. I, however, wanted complete control over the colors, the layout, and the pictures in mine, so I learned the basics.

My biggest fear was that I'd design a site and it would end up looking cheesy and unprofessional. My first website design was very simple. It had a Home page, a Biography page, a link to my blog, and a Contact button for anyone to e-mail me. About six months after I published the site, I decided it could look better. I changed the background and the layout and I added a few more web pages.

Why am I telling you this? Because I don't want you to feel your site has to be perfect, especially if you aren't published yet. You can tweak it and upgrade it as you learn more. I would never recommend anyone putting up a sloppy, unusable site, but I think many authors are so intimidated about having a great site, they don't have any site.

Please keep in mind that editors expect published authors to have a website. It's a terrific promotion tool. It's okay to have a free, template-style website as an unpublished author, but when you get "the call" your editor will probably suggest you get a professional site. I can think of a few reasons for this: many free websites do not utilize a domain name, and many free websites do not have a function for readers to e-mail and contact the author.

If you're the do-it-yourself type on a tight budget, hold off on spending big bucks to hire a professional website designer. Ask your editor or agent for examples of author sites they feel are appropriate. Spend time planning your site based on their suggestions. Study the layout, content, and appropriate web pages.

Build your own custom website using a web-hosting service such as Yahoo! Web-Hosting or GoDaddy. They offer easy to use design programs. Beware of less prominent web-hosting sites. Their design programs can be difficult to use. You can also purchase design programs, but they are expensive.

If you set up a site and your editor is still not loving it, or maybe you feel updating it is too time-intensive, you may have to pay a professional. If this happens, don't consider the effort of designing your own site wasted. You have to determine a clear vision for your website whether you design it or someone else does. Why not do it now?

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Publishing Trends

I love talking to writers. I mean, I L-O-V-E sitting back and having a conversation with anyone who writes. Unless they're residing in a nuclear bomb shelter, most writers are aware of the current trends in publishing, but, much like the rest of the general public, we have no clue what the future holds.

Since it takes a long time to write a book, it occasionally happens that the market for the book has either cooled or is beginning to cool by the time an editor sees a query for it. What's an author to do?

Well, I think most authors are pretty savvy. They see what books and genres are successful and try to emulate them. Unfortunately, the books in stores reflect last year's trends. It's difficult to know if a genre's popularity has peaked.

If I walked into Target or Walmart today, I'd conclude that the historical romance market is hot--if the only historical period is Regency England. I'd also conclude that vampire romance is hot, that James Patterson releases a new book every other week, and that books about vitamins are in ever-present demand.

Five years ago, I could have walked into the same Target or Walmart and seen romances set in the American West. I might have seen a few historical romances with Vikings. There would have been a slew of contemporary romances, many tongue-in-cheek like Bridget Jones' Diary.

This is where following agents can help an author. Agents who blog often post about what kind of books they would love to see right now. This is your cue to write the information down. Does it mean you have to write a gritty suspense set in Alaska? No. But it might make you tweak the idea for your next novel to fit into a genre agents are looking for.

If you cannot fathom writing anything other than your heart dictates, by all means, write the story. But if the book falls into a lukewarm genre, be prepared to polish it extra shiny, and even then you may end up sitting on it until the trend turns back around.

I don't think writers should chase trends in a desperate attempt to get published. We should nurture our strengths and write books we're best suited to write. However, we shouldn't be afraid of trying something different and expanding our creative wings either. Why make life harder on ourselves by writing books that sold well five years ago but aren't selling at all now, when we could be writing a different genre, a genre that sells, until the climate shifts. Don't give up on your favorite genre, though. Today's ice-cold category is tomorrow's hot trend.

Join me on Friday when we'll discuss author websites.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Can't Contain My Excitement!

I don't normally post on Tuesday, but I had to today--HAD TO!!

My friends shared wonderful news yesterday, and I'm bursting to share it too!

Jody Hedlund, awesome blogger and a really cool, funny, interesting lady, just signed her very first book contract!!! I'm not even the one who got the contract and I can't stop grinning! Jody, if you're reading this, I'm jumping up and down with giddiness!!

And Cindy R. Wilson, awesome blogger and fabulous critique partner (yeah, I'm that lucky!), won a guest post slot on agent Rachelle Gardner's blog!! This was a stiff competition. There were nearly 180 entrants! Congratulations Cindy!

Guess who else won a spot on Rachelle's blog? Angie Ledbetter, awesome blogger and amazing cook (she puts recipes on her blog--yum, yum!)! Congratulations Angie!!

I couldn't leave out a runner up in the contest, T. Anne, awesome blogger and talented lady!! Woo-hoo!!

I was blessed to have Chris Roerden, author of Don't Sabotage Your Submission: Save Your Manuscript from Turning Up D.O.A., stop by and leave great advice in yesterday's comment section. Thanks Chris!!

Isn't it lovely when a week starts out this terrific? Sighing, with a huge grin on my face...

Hope your week is just as wonderful!!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Researching Agents

I've talked to multi-published authors and unpublished authors, and everyone has an opinion on agents. Talk about a hot topic!

What is a literary agent?

Literary agents represent authors by selling their books to publishing houses and negotiating their contracts. Agents rarely charge reading fees. They earn a percentage of the proceeds (usually 15-20%) when the book is sold.

Do I need an agent?

Few publishing houses accept submissions directly from authors. Most publishers will only accept submissions from agents.

Agents work very hard for their commission. They build relationships with editors and understand what books these editors are looking for. They also are well-versed in contracts and will do their best to get their authors the best deal possible. They will negotiate things many unpublished authors don't even know about, such as wrangling a good release month or getting more free author copies.

Nathan Bransford wrote a terrific snapshot of the publishing process over at his blog, Nathan Bransford, Literary Agent. Read his post "How a Book Gets Published" and pay particular attention to the paragraphs describing what happens after the contracts are signed. Agents help authors through this process.

Authors can get published without an agent. If you want to try to get published without one, you should research publishers who accept queries directly from authors. You'll also need to understand contracts. There are plenty of good books to help. One in particular, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting Published by Sheree Bykofsky and Jennifer Basye Sander, has several chapters on agents, contracts, and editors.

What should I look for in an agent?

First, spend a few minutes thinking about what you want from an agent.

-Do you want someone to praise your book, to hold your hand through the publishing process, and to be your cheerleader?

-Do you want someone who doesn't pat your back every five minutes, but who will aggressively sell your book?

-Do you want someone who will help edit your book before submiting it?

-Do you want someone who keeps you on track with deadlines?

Next, spend time researching reputable agents. What agency does the agent work for? Find out the company's policies.

Look for agents who represent the genre books you write. Check their client roster. Keep a list of potential agents to submit to. If you belong to a local writer's group, ask the members about agents. Read interviews of agents. If you attend a conference, go to workshops featuring agents and set-up a pitch appointment. Don't be afraid to ask questions.

The more research you do on different agents, the more you'll get to know if they offer what you're looking for. Always keep in mind, though, the relationship is a business arrangement. You are not their only client. Yes, agents should, and do, work hard for you, but they also work hard for their other clients. Don't have unrealistic expectations. Expect them to do their job, yes. Don't expect them to be at your beck and call. Always be professional.

And if you are querying an agent, please print out and double-check the submission guidelines. Don't sabotage your submission by straying from them. Give agents exactly what they ask for.

Join me on Wednesday when we'll look at trends in publishing.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Researching Publishers


One word. Three syllables. Simple, right?


The word "publishers" encompasses an entire book's worth of material. Have you physically picked up a Writer's Market lately? The book's got to weigh five pounds! Don't worry, I'm not asking you to read it, although it's a fabulous resource.

Do you know the publisher best suited for you?

Before you can answer, you need to know the genre book you write. Take a field trip to a major book store and browse the aisles. Take notes on the publishers who release books similar to yours. Still aren't sure which genre you write? Start studying. There are blogs, articles in magazines such as The Writer, and books devoted to help you determine this.

Now that you know what genre your book fits into, you can start researching publishers. Consider the following questions.

-Is your dream to be published through a large, established publisher?

-Are you willing to break in with a smaller, newer publisher?

-Do you want a traditional relationship where the publisher pays you an advance followed by royalties?

-Do you want to see your book in print, or are you comfortable with it in e-form?

-Do you want to self-publish?

To understand the differences between self-publishers and traditional publishers, read the linked article from Writer's Digest, "What Can Your Publisher Do For You?"

When I say I want to get published, I mean I want my books to be published in print form by a traditional publisher, and I want to get paid an advance and royalties for them. There are many reputable companies, large and small, who publish books in print or e-form. These publishers take on responsibilities such as editing, cover art, copyrights, printing the book, distributing the book, and marketing the book. They pay the author an advance and royalties. The author does not pay the publisher.
Then there are reputable companies who provide self-publishing services. In this instance, the author may be responsible for cover art, copyrights, distributing and marketing the book, depending on the publisher. The author pays these fees or pays for X amount of books up front and only gets paid when someone purchases the book.

Traditional publishers make money from book sales, and they have a vested interest in getting your books in bookstores. It can be difficult to get your book in bookstores if you use a self-publishing service, and the author will need to employ intense marketing strategies.

Please, be leery of legal publishers who prey on those wanting to get published by seeming to be a traditional publisher but who actually offer a form of self-publishing. I have no problem with self-publishing companies who are up front about their practices. If an author chooses to go that route, that's her decision. However, some of these companies mislead the author into believing the book will be treated the same as a traditional publisher would treat it, when in reality, the author must pay to have the book published.

When you have narrowed down what you want out of a publisher, compile a list of possible companies. Go to each publisher's website and print out their writer's guidelines. Before you submit to them, verify their submission policy.

Why are you doing all of this? Because a publisher who specializes in non-fiction will not publish your contemporary romance novel. Also, some publisher's do not accept unsolicited material. You must have an agent to submit to them.

It never hurts to check out Preditors and Editors. It's a site devoted to helping writers discern between legitimate publishers and scammers.

We have a responsibility to research the publishers we query. When we have the information in front of us, we can make informed decisions.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Do You Respect Your Work?

If you're like me, you devote many hours to writing. I type notes, charts, and lists in Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. I type drafts, revisions, query letters, and synopses into Microsoft Word. And then there's my blog. I spend a lot of time typing and editing my posts in Blogger.

All of that time and effort is precious to me. The thought of losing any of these files gives me cold sweats. I respect every letter I type; therefore, I back up my work.

Do you back up yours? Your manuscripts? What about your blog posts? Your pre-writing notes?

I recently read about an author who blogged for years before she got published. Along the way, she also accumulated hundreds of e-mail addresses. A week before her first book was released, someone maliciously hacked both her blog account and her e-mail account and wiped out every shred of information. She lost every post, every e-mail contact--the base of her promotion efforts.

I've personally lived through two devastating computer crashes of our main computer. Every file disappeared. Worse, my laptop crashed on the same day as my main computer. If I hadn't had my files backed up on a disc, I would have lost three manuscripts.

It takes seconds to back your work up to a thumb drive or a memory stick each time you write. You can go further, too. There are plenty of companies who offer online back-up storage for a monthly fee. You could also try a few less secure, but free, ways of backing your work up online, but if you do, please be very careful to avoid posting your work on public sites and make sure you protect your files with passwords.

Do you back up your blog posts? How much do they mean to you? Mine are very important to me. I've come up with an easy solution. Simply copy and paste each post into a Microsoft Word file. Back the file up on a memory stick. You could also print out your posts and keep them in a binder. I do!

How do you back up your manuscripts? Your blog? I'd love to hear your tips!

Join me on Friday when we'll discuss publishers.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Happy Labor Day!

Just wanted to wish you all a wonderful Labor Day. Relax and enjoy the day!

I'll be back on Wednesday with more career planning.

Happy Labor Day!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Follow In Your Favorite Author's Footsteps

Do you have a favorite author? If you're like me, you have several. I love reading, and I especially enjoy finding new-to-me authors and checking out their backlist.

I still remember the day I picked up my first book by Stephanie Laurens. I couldn't put it down! And naturally, I went to her website and let out a happy whoop that there were more--many more--books of hers I could read. Yippee!

The same happened with Jodi Thomas, Eloisa James, Julia Quinn, Ally Blake, Jessica Hart, Linda Goodnight, and the scads of other authors I adore.

Something funny happened around five years ago. I wasn't writing books at that point, just reading everything I could get my hands on, and I noticed a pattern (bear with me--you know the pattern--I did not). The single title authors published two books a year, plus maybe an anthology. The category authors published as few as one and as many as four a year.

The cycle intrigued me, and I began researching the publishers they wrote for. It quickly became apparent that even had the single title authors wanted to publish more than two books a year, their publishers might not let them. But hey, two books a year is phenomenal!

Everyone says to read tons of books in the genre you write. I agree, but I'd say to take it a step further. Study authors websites. Check out their publisher. Keep track of the book lengths, the time in between book releases, and the marketing efforts they pursue. Read interviews.

I always read author bios, study their websites, and make mental notes on their promotion efforts. Five years ago, I discovered Harlequin Romance author Ally Blake. Her career amazed me--still does. She was someone to look up to. Someone to emulate. I read every book she put out, and when I felt my spirits lag, I only had to click on her website to get a boost. Her interviews, articles, and positive attitude inspired me.

Do you study your favorite authors? You might be surprised at the things you learn about the industry from them. I know I was!

Have a terrific weekend!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

September: Career Planning

Back in July, I insanely thought we could discuss career planning, but I wisely shoved it to the side. September's here and I think we're all ready for it. I'm looking forward to hearing your tips and tricks to keep your writing career on track.

Okay, some of you are snickering. I can hear you. What career? I'm not even published yet.

So what? You're going to be published someday, so it's time to plan now.

The first thing we're discussing is your career map. You may have never delved into what you want to accomplish as a writer, but I'll bet if you do, the answers will come to you fairly quickly.

A career map is a basic list of what you are doing, or plan to do in the future, to make your dream of becoming a published writer a reality. For those of you who are published, your career map would consist of steps you're taking to publish more books and further your career.

Grab a pen and a notebook and think about the following questions for a few minutes. Write down your answers.

Daily: What do you do on a daily basis to further your writing? (Write X amount of pages/words, read writing related blogs, post on your own blog, network with other writers via the Internet, subscribe to a word a day e-mail service, etc...)

Monthly: What do you do on a monthly basis to further your writing? (Read trade magazines, review how much you've written the previous month and set new goals for the next month, attend writing group meetings, take an on-line class or read a book on writing craft, add new contacts to your social networking sites, read books in the genre you write in, query agents, study publishers, back-up your writing, etc...)

Annually: What do you do on an annual basis to further your writing? (Write a goal list for the year, review your progress and compare to the previous year, attend one or more conferences, research ways to market yourself, etc...)

Five Year Plan: Where would you like to be in five years? (Do you have small children at home? Be realistic. Maybe where you want to be in five years will be more appropriate in ten. Do you have a full time job you can't imagine giving up anytime soon? Take it into consideration.) The point of a five year plan isn't to set unrealistic goals or to make you wallow in frustration at your life. It's to look ahead and see a possible and desirable future for your writing.

Five years ago, my plan looked very different from the one I have now. Back then, I decided I couldn't write much the first two years, but I knew I could find the time and energy to read. I read everything I could during that time. I also belonged to a writer's group with twice a month meetings and writing assignments. I knew that would fit my life as well. Then, three years ago, my schedule changed as anticipated. I had several hours a week to devote to writing. The following year, I had even more time to write.

The plan I have now is not only realistic, but it's attainable. And I'm pretty excited about it. It fits my life and keeps me focused.

We might not have much control over when we get published, but we have complete control over the actions we take to help us get published.

Do you have a career map? If yes, what excites you about it? If no, what's keeping you from writing one?

Join me on Friday when we'll discuss studying our favorite author's careers to further our own.