The Author’s Checklist by Elizabeth Kracht

The Author’s Checklist is a literal A-Z checklist. An amazing, wonderful, helpful list.

The Author’s Checklist An Agent’s Guide to Developing and Editing Your Manuscript

The Author’s Checklist: An Agent’s Guide to Developing and Editing Your Manuscript

Agent, editor and author Elizabeth Kracht based her book on common issues she noticed in the thousands of manuscripts she has read over the years.

There is a significant gap between manuscripts that writers believe to be ready for publication and those that agents or other publishing professionals do.

Elizabeth K. Kracht

Kracht came to the publishing industry from the author side. Now on the agent side, she wants to bridge the gap between authors and agents. The Author’s Checklist helps authors identify weak points in their manuscript. The goal? Empowering writers to fix these common errors so they can get published.

Offering tips for authors at every stage of their writing journey, the A-Z headings contain short snippets of helpful advice and recommendations. While some sections are definitions explaining concepts and jargon, others act more like warnings. (For example, under “Word Count” the first sentence reads, “Word count matters.”) Other headings include “Proofreading,” “Collections,” and “Voice.”

Here’s an excerpt from one of the tips about how unsolicited queries go. This is found under “Agency Guidelines.” I found it especially enlightening.

At most agencies, unsolicited submissions are first read by an intern or reader rather than by an agent. Often these readers are highly educated English majors seeking to enter the publishing industry. Such readers can be less tolerant of mistakes such as typographical errors and failure to follow submission guidelines.

Elizabeth K. Kracht

Hmm.

I’m relating to this piece in particular because I’m reflecting on how much I’ve eased up with my stringent editing/gatekeeping as I’ve matured in my career. I was SO picky when I was a new writer/editor taking submissions. I wanted everything perfect. Just so. No, exactly so. Now? Decidedly more tolerant. Interesting. And a good nugget to keep in mind.

Anyway, the tips included in this book aren’t overbearing or too bossy. They’re handy for catching slippery errors and making them right. The tips are also excellent explanations for what to expect when you’re querying. And there’s some good advice for how to make your book better in general.

The simple solution? Don’t take shortcuts. No matter how much urgency you feel to get your book out there. Do it right. Think through every aspect of your writing and prepare to dive deep. You’ll get there, you just have to do the work.

The Author’s Checklist: An Agent’s Guide to Developing and Editing Your Manuscript was published on February 4, 2020 by New World Library.

The Author’s Checklist: An Agent’s Guide to Developing and Editing Your Manuscript is a literal A-Z checklist. An amazing, wonderful, totally helpful checklist.

The Author’s Checklist Synopsis

An Indispensable Guide for All Writers in All Genres

The bad news: even really good manuscripts have weak spots that are enough to garner rejections from agents and publishers. The good news: most of these problems are easy to fix—once the writer sees and understands them. After several years of evaluating manuscripts, literary agent Elizabeth Kracht noticed that many submissions had similar problems, so she began to make a list of the pitfalls. The Author’s Checklist offers her short, easy-to-implement bites of advice, illustrated by inspiring—and cautionary—real-world examples. Most aspiring authors yearn for a friend in book publishing. The Author’s Checklist is just that.

Other writing-related book reviews

The Author’s Checklist: An Agent’s Guide to Developing and Editing Your Manuscript is a literal A-Z checklist. An amazing, wonderful, totally helpful checklist.

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How to Choose Fonts for Your Website

Can we just agree fonts are important and move on to figuring out how to choose fonts when you know they matter but you can’t tell what works and what doesn’t?

How to Choose Fonts for Your Website When You're Not a Designer

How to choose fonts for your website when you’re not a designer

Why are fonts such a big deal? I know they are but I don’t “get” it. But I understand, at least, that it does matter. So I’m here to tell you fonts matter and I could try and tell you why but I’d only be plagiarizing because I don’t understand it.

OK so let’s just do this. When choosing fonts for your website choose it for readability over anything else.

Ugh, no fun right?

But think of it this way: website visitors are fickle. If they drop in and have to squint to read your words, they won’t bother. So choose function over form in this case.

But don’t think that means you can’t do something funky—it just needs to be legible.

There are four basic types to consider when you choose fonts.

Serif

These fonts have “feet” at the ends of their letters. These are known as more traditional fonts and it’s argued they’re easier to read in print.

These fonts have "feet" at the ends of their letters. These are known as more traditional fonts and it's argued they're easier to read in print.

Sans-Serif

These fonts don’t have “feet” at the ends of their letters and it’s argued they’re easier to read on pixel-based screens.

With no "feet" at the ends of their letters, it's argued they're easier to read on pixel-based screens.

Script

These fonts are easy to recognize: cursive. These are interesting but can be difficult to read on a screen.

These fonts are easy to recognize: cursive. These are interesting but can be difficult to read on a screen.

Decorative

These fonts are meant to grab attention and are not practical.

These fonts are meant to grab attention and are not practical.

What I recommend when you choose fonts

When choosing fonts for your website try and stay with serif or sans-serif. Wondering what your options are? Check out Google Fonts. There are tons of options and they’re all web friendly. Pick out something you like in the safe zone and then, if you want, let’s move to the next step.

IF you want a secondary font, then you need to do something called font pairing. I find this part mind boggling, but others seem to understand it. If you know what you’re doing then go for it! But if you’re like me, wondering how to choose fonts for your website when you’re not a designer, stick to the basics. Serifs with other serifs. Sans-serifs with other sans-serifs.

There is an argument for having more than one font—it adds contrast.

Kind of interesting, right?

I have looked all over the Internet for helpful articles on pairing fonts for non-designers. One is for the visual learner—The Art of Combining Fonts, and the other is for ones who want a more scientific approach—Four Techniques for Combining Fonts.

People who are passionate about fonts will tell you they make you feel something and help form your brand personality. So let’s circle back to my original point: fonts are important. They are, trust me. Well, take my word for it. Well, just go with it.

Want to go deeper on branding? Check out Brand Your Blog A Step-by-Step Guide.

Can we just agree fonts are important and move on to figuring out how to choose fonts when you know they matter but you can't tell what works and what doesn't?

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

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I'm here to tell you fonts matter and give you some quick tips on how to choose fonts for your website when you're not a designer.

Four Decisions Every Writer Needs to Make

There are four decisions every writer needs to make before they get started marketing themselves online. They’re foundational to your writing life.

Four Decisions Every Writer Needs to Make

Want the worksheet for this training? Download the Four Decisions Every Writer Needs to Make worksheets from my resource library.

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Four decisions every writer needs to make

In the writing life, it’s easy to get swept up in tactics and strategies other people recommend. When you’re just getting started it makes sense! You don’t know what to do so why not try something that seems like it’s working?

Making decisions about who you are as a writer may seem overwhelming and restrictive, I get it. But in thinking this through, it will provide you with an important foundation. These decisions will help keep you focused when the writing gets hard and the rejections pile up.

The four questions

Consider these four questions and try and come up with answers that reflect your personal writing goals. What you come up with will help you stay focused in the wild west of online marketing. And yes, you can change your answers over time. Definitely!

Who is your target reader?

  • Try and form a mental picture of your ideal reader, your biggest fan
  • Where does this person spend time online?
  • What does this person care about?
  • Why does this person love reading your work?

For more on discovering your ideal reader, here’s a longer walkthrough.

Why do you want an online following?

  • This may feel like a selfish/self-serving question but it’s important to know what your goal is and why you want followers
  • There are no wrong answers so be honest with yourself!
  • It’s important to know your end goal so you don’t get swept up in every trend and fad
  • Understanding why you want an online following will help you hang in there when you don’t feel like being online or you encounter bad Internet people

Writers who want to be traditionally published should be working towards growing a platform. For more on author platforms, here’s a definition and an explanation.

What is your focus/niche?

  • What do you write about?
  • In a perfect world, what would you be known for?
  • What type of writing do you do?
  • While you may have diverse interests and write in several genres, decide on a primary topic or focus

Often, writers are resistant to choosing a narrow focus or niche. I’ve written about my journey and expand on why branding yourself is so important in the online world.

What problem do you solve for your readers?

  • What is something you offer your ideal readers that they both need and want?
  • Be as specific as possible
  • Think about what your reader is hoping you’ll help them with
  • The problems and solutions you offer can be big or small

Understanding why what you write is important to your readers is a fabulous opportunity to help people take the next step on their journey. It also helps you build your brand, which I expand on in this article.

Why do you write?

Bonus question: Why do you write?

No matter the reason, you should know why you write. If you can get clear about your why it will act as a beacon when your path isn’t clear. You know, when things like self-doubt and insecurity knock at your door. Or when success doesn’t come in the timeline you daydreamed about.

Your why will help you see past the discouragement of the day and keep moving ahead. Because you have a larger purpose! Your why is bigger than a momentary setback.

Ready to create your writer’s statement? Download the worksheet from my free resource library.

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And for the sake of an example and accountability, here is my recently-updated writer’s statement.

I write stories and articles to help others create vulnerable connections—with others, with themselves, with the world—so they can move towards the person they’re meant to be.

My goal in sharing is to help someone else discover they’re not alone and give them hope for the future.

Writer’s Statement, Robyn Roste (February 2020)

By the way, I worked through this at Laura Munson’s Haven 1 Writing Retreat earlier this year. Ask me about that incredible experience!

There are four decisions every writer needs to make before they get started marketing themselves online. They're foundational to your writing life.

This is an excerpt from my workshop Blogging and Social Media for Writers.

You’ve heard that, as a writer, you need to build an online platform, but what does that mean? While building a presence through blogging and social media is both a science and an art, there are consistent elements writers need to think about and commit to. This workshop reviews the top elements to consider and the four decisions every writer needs to know before they get started.

There are four decisions every writer needs to make before they get started marketing themselves online. They're foundational to your writing life.

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Boekenweek | The Darkness that Divides Us

This March commemorates the 85th annual Boekenweek. It’s a festival celebrating Dutch and Flemish literature and this year’s theme is “rebels and dissenters.” How wonderful!

Boekenweek | The Darkness that Divides Us

Boekenweek | The Darkness that Divides Us

Thanks to World Editions, I’m participating in Boekenweek by reading and reviewing The Darkness that Divides Us by Renate Dorrestein, an important contemporary writer from the Netherlands.

This is a gripping tale of Lucy, a young Dutch child, whose life is changed forever when an incident on a stormy night sends her mother to prison for murder.

I found the story both chilling and captivating. And shrouded in mystery.

Broken into three parts, the first is told from the voice of observers, so the reader isn’t quite sure what happened to Lucy (then age 6) on that fateful night.

When the narrator switches to Lucy in the second part, the reader doesn’t learn much more. Turns out Lucy, now 12, is wilfully forgetting the past. Or perhaps repressing her memories.

It’s not until the final part when Lucy at age 18 finally confronts her past, her memories and her guilt. We all learn together what happened when she was an innocent six-year-old child. I cheered in hope that the truth would finally set her free so she could face the future with her former zeal.

The Darkness that Divides Us quote page 322

The Darkness that Divides us asks an important question about whether looking back or moving forward is the important thing. It also circles around the themes of how keeping secrets separates you from freedom and telling the truth, although horrible at the time perhaps, will save you from prison, real or imagined.

I found the literary devices Dorrestein chose intriguing (she writes the first section as a collective “we”—three six-year-olds!). Her writing challenges me to try new, more daring writing styles.

This is not something I would normally read but I’m glad I did, for many reasons.

The Darkness that Divides Us Synopsis

Beautiful, happy people? No.

Lucy is the most popular girl in the local elementary school of an idyllic Dutch housing estate. When a bizarre crime rocks her world and sends her mother to prison, Lucy is turned into an outcast and her childhood becomes an ordeal of constant, vicious bullying. After her mother’s release, Lucy’s family decides to escape and make a clean start on a rugged Scottish island. But even here, in this remote corner of the world, Lucy’s past holds a firm grip on her. Told in the alternating voices of the bullies and Lucy, this darkly atmospheric and emotionally gripping story is part family drama and part mystery.

About Boekenweek

In the Netherlands, Boekenweek (Book Week) is an annual celebration of literature, happening every Spring since 1935. Events are held across the country during Boekenweek, and include book signings, readings, and panel discussions. Every year, a well-known Dutch author is asked to write a novella specifically for Boekenweek that is given out for free in bookstores to each customer who purchases a book. These books then act as tickets for a free train ride anywhere in the country. In 2016, World Editions author Esther Gerritsen (RoxyCraving) wrote the Boekenweek gift of which 600,000 copies were handed out.

Other Fiction Reviews

Thanks to World Editions, I'm participating in Boekenweek by reading and reviewing The Darkness that Divides Us by author Renate Dorrestein, an important contemporary writer from the Netherlands.

One more thing. I think you’ll enjoy my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

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I Still Believe [Movie Review]

Based on singer-songwriter Jeremy Camp’s life, I Still Believe is a touching, inspiring story about love, loss and facing disappointment with faith.

I Still Believe movie review

I Still Believe

While I’m aware of Jeremy Camp and some of his songs (like I Still Believe, Walk By Faith and Right Here) I didn’t know much about his personal life. In 2013 he published a book about his early life, career and spiritual journey and it’s now becoming a movie.

It’s the story behind the song, the book and the movie and addresses some big questions we all ask at one time or another.

Faith Films I Still Believe Banner

Have you ever wondered…

  • What you’re supposed to do with your life?
  • Why do bad things happen to good people?
  • Is God really there in the midst of great disappointment or shattered dreams?

These are a few of the big questions this film wrestles with, all while unveling a beautiful love-at-first-sight story, which will sweep you off your feet.

It’s difficult to talk about the movie without revealing spoilers so I’ll just say this. The story in I Still Believe, for me, was unexpected. It’s emotional, lovely, exhausting, encouraging and asks important questions we should all wrestle with.

I Still Believe is a deep dive into one love couple’s story. It challenges us to live like there’s no tomorrow and to shine bright, because we don’t know who’s watching.

“Joy comes from having a relationship with the unchanging God and transcends any trial we can face on this earth.”

― Jeremy Camp, I Still Believe (book)

I Still Believe was released to theatres on March 13, 2020.

I Still Believe synopsis

From the creators of I Can Only Imagine comes an inspiring love story for the ages. Rediscover the wonder of love in I STILL BELIEVE, the real-life story of chart-topping singer Jeremy Camp. A hopeful reminder that faith tested is faith worth sharing, I STILL BELIEVE stars K.J. Apa, Britt Robertson, Nathan Parsons, Melissa Roxburgh, Shania Twain and Gary Sinise.

Selfie with the I Still Believe movie poster

Other Inspirational Movie Reviews

Based on singer-songwriter Jeremy Camp's life, I Still Believe is a touching, inspiring story about love, loss and facing disappointment with faith.

One more thing. I think you’ll enjoy my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

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Based on singer-songwriter Jeremy Camp's life, I Still Believe is a touching, inspiring story about love, loss and facing disappointment with faith.

This post is sponsored by Graf-Martin Communications Inc. on behalf of Mongrel Media. The opinions expressed are my own.