Carol Taylor always had a deep affection for books and always knew from an early age that she wanted to work in publishing. “I’ve always loved books, reading them, holding them and buying them,” she recalls. Following her dreams, she is a best-selling author of seven books, an award-winning book editor, formerly of Random House and now she is an editorial consultant. Her critically acclaimed book series Brown Sugar, “ created a new genre and became a template for other black erotic anthologies that came after it,” explains Taylor. With a thriving editorial consulting business, writing books and taking time to teach and lecture, Taylor understands the art of keeping calm and balanced.
She keeps it all together by “simply remembering to breathe. “I have interest s outside of book publishing which helps me to distance myself from the work and the pressures associated with it. I do yoga and I also create workable editing schedules.” When it comes to completing projects Taylor practices what she preaches and encourages others to “just do it. Whatever it is, be proactive, don’t sit and worry and wonder how you’re going to do something, just start,” she says. Presently, Taylor is working on two projects with her agent, two projects with editors and her editorial consulting clients. “I always have several projects of my own in different stages of development. This way I feel secure something will hit,” she explains.
As a successful editor and writer Taylor offers the following advice for writers.
Improving Your Craft
Read, read, read, across all genres; and write, write, write. Separate the artist from the work and treat writing like a job, don’t make it hard, but make it something you work at everyday, and give yourself a schedule and a timeline to do what you need to do. Keep a journal of your travel and your thoughts. You never know when inspiration will strike so always be ready to take notes. I always have a pen or I’ll write notes to myself as a text message if I don’t’ have a pen. I’m always seeing things that give me writing, story, dialogue, or book ideas.
Follow the tips above and network, find out what you’re good at, become adept at social media, join writer’s groups and go to book and literary conferences. Pay attention to what writers before you have done that has been successful and try to adapt that to your work and situation.
Take writing courses and be organized.
Adapt: Be willing to alter your plans to suit your market, or your schedule.
Seek out advice from people who’ve achieved what you want to achieve. Read their books, whether how-to or fiction to learn from them.
Learn to work quickly and cleanly and make intelligent and informed choices and decisions.
Understand that you’re not only a writer; you are also a promoter. Once you’ve written your book, and been published or you’ve self-published, you’ve got to get out there and sell it. Create networks of publicity and promotional contacts. Be familiar with bookstores where you can promote your work. Have a marketing plan and other creative ways to promote and sell your work and brand yourself. Think in terms of multiple books, as opposed to just one. I always think in series. When I pitch a book, I always include the option to the editor to also acquire the next book in the “series.” That way I sell two books instead of just one. Beyond that work hard, challenge yourself and never give up.
Getting Out of Your Own Way
Erica Jong said it best: “All writing problems are psychological problems. Blocks usually stem from the fear of being judged. If you imagine the world listening, you’ll never write a line. That’s why privacy is so important. You should write first drafts as if they will never be shown to anyone.”
Write like no one else will ever read the work. Put it down on the page raw and unedited and then when you have a (rough) first draft, only then can you go back and edit it. Always be true to your own “voice” don’t try to write like someone else. And always write the way you speak, not colloquially but casually. Use contractions, and simple words.
Read your work out loud, this gives you a feeling of the rhythm; if it‘s jarring or if it flows. Don’t try to perfect your work as you go, simply get it down on the page, that’s the hardest part, creating the body of work. Only then, when you have a beginning, a middle and an end can you go back and edit.
Don’t try to recreate the wheel. There are only 5 stories out there in the human experience: The search for love, the search for family, the search for self, found love and lost love. That’s really it. No matter the story or the genre, we’re just telling our version of it. No need to reinvent the wheel, just tell your story as best, and honestly as you can.
Carol Taylor’s Links
Facebook – The Ex-Chronicles A Novel
Facebook -Brown Sugar Books