Spring Cleaning for Writers

Hello Spring! Tomorrow, March 20th marks the first day of spring! I can’t wait for warm weather (we’re on the East Coast) fresh flowers, and hanging up my winter jacket! Something else that typically comes along when warmer weather hits is spring cleaning… Some may look forward to it while others run and hide, but today we will be discussing the way writers can benefit from some spring cleaning!

Reorganize work space

First things first, some good old fashion cleaning. Make your work space yours again. This will be a great time to switch up the layout. Have you always wanted to be closer to your window, well make it happen! Think of how you can optimize your space to feel more comfortable. And while you’re at it clean off your bookshelves too! Go through your books and if you don’t see yourself reading it, then give it to someone who will.

Sort through old papers

Have your old papers piled high throughout the year. Now is the perfect time to go through them. Sort, shred and organize all your papers. Create a system that will keep you organized for years to come!

Declutter folders

Now hop on that laptop because we are decluttering all of your folders too. I find that my laptop organization lacks more than the papers sitting on my desk. I save everything on my laptop but never put it in a designated folder. Do it now! And I will too. Color code and use the folders to your advantage.

Clear your email

Next on the list is to clear your email! Are you tired of seeing 800 unread emails on your screen. Take a deep breath and go through them! Start the new season with a fresh email. Update your signature if you want to! Go nuts!

Update your socials

Has it been a while since you updated your social media? Take this time to switch up your profile picture, add more to your bio and go through your instagram highlights. Also, take the time to update your website if you have one. Do a deep dive and see what you’re missing. 

Happy Spring!

When Practicality Meets Accessibility

One of the many wonders of my job are the surprises. The unexpected successes of books you really never thought twice about. I found my most recent surprise in a book published this past fall. The book was a drop in title for its print publisher and was submitted to audiobook publishers in August, just a few months shy of publication. Giving that publication was only a few months out, no audiobook publisher jumped to snatch the rights. For a while, I didn’t either. Logistically, it didn’t make sense for most audiobook publishers. Many fall lists were already full and there just wasn’t enough time to find recording space and time in order to make simultaneous publication. A big headache for a book that, on the surface, didn’t have much going for it. The author had no track record in the United States. The book had previously been published abroad where it sold millions of copies. Impressive? Yes. But what did that mean for us? Would it have the same appeal here in the United States?

The author of the book is the creator and owner of a cleaning consulting business. The business has blossomed into a famous service that has an extensive wait list. The author’s business prowess was appealing and certainly another plus to acquiring the rights, but it also led me to one of my biggest concerns. Were people going to be interested in listening to how to clean their home versus reading about it? The self-help genre is very popular in audio, but cleaning? I wasn’t sold yet. I let the submission sit on my desk until its publication in October. One day I decided to check it out and guess what? It was selling. As a matter of fact, it was selling very well. How long would it last? Who knew, but the audio rights were something I wasn’t willing to pass up any longer.

Before I made an offer for the rights, I read the book. I needed to see what all the hype was about. To be honest, it only made me more skeptical. In my opinion, she took cleaning your home to a whole new level. I found some of her cleaning and organization suggestions extreme. Despite all it’s offbeat advice, something about it felt familiar.

Since, the audiobook has been published and it hasn’t disappointed yet. I have seen countless articles about about the author in all major magazines, newspapers, and journals and the sales haven’t ceased. What made this book so successful? What about it appeals to both readers and listeners? It’s self-help genre had something to do with it. People like to continually “work” on themselves- always seeking a better version of themselves. But, there was certainly more to it than that. Something that all writers could learn from.

It’s practicality and accessibility has a lot to do with the book’s success. Cleaning and decluttering is practical. Everyone can do it. No matter how old, what gender, or what physical shape you are in you can clean. It’s something we all need to do and unfortunately, can’t avoid. It’s also accessible. In our world of “stuff,” everyone can relate to the need to purge some of their belongings. Our society puts so much value on material things that eventually we become overwhelmed. We all have a need to clean out our lives once in a while. Cleaning is a topic that puts all readers and listeners on an even playing field.

How can writers of all different genres learn from this? First, think practicality. Could the reader see your story actually happening in real life? Does it make sense? This does not mean you can’t make up a fake world with alien, vampire, and werewolf characters all rolled into one. Science fiction is one of the most popular genres out there. What you need to think about is does your world make sense? Does the fundamentals of your world, it’s characters, description, and events all add up to make something believable? Could the reader close their eyes and see the story play out in his or her mind? Is it believable enough?

Second, think accessibility. Can your reader easily understand what is going on? Are they left wondering how you got from one scene to another? Are the laws/rules of the world in which your story takes place explained? Are any cultural differences pointed out? Always assume your reader knows nothing. Find a way to tell your reader everything they need to know without them even realizing it.

Whether you are writing about how to clean your house, an alien abduction, or anything in between, practicality and accessibility will always be two necessary pieces to your puzzle of success. Write on.