The Word Weaver Podcast
Gratis podcast

The Word Weaver Podcast

Podcast af Louise Claire Johnson

The best podcast for writers! Learn how to write a book, listen to author interviews, and get tangible writing tips, advice, motivation and inspiration to achieve your dream of writing a book. 

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25 episoder
episode Ch. 25 | Bookstagram 101 with Yeldah Yousfi (@beautiful.bibliophile) artwork
Ch. 25 | Bookstagram 101 with Yeldah Yousfi (@beautiful.bibliophile)
On today’s chapter of the Word Weaver Podcast, I chat with Yeldah Yousfi, one of Canada’s first and most beloved bookstagrammers (55k followers), better known on Instagram as The Beautiful Bibliophile (@beautiful.bibliophile). Yeldah gives us a behind-the-scenes look at how, in two short years, she transformed her side hobby into a business and became one of the biggest bookstagrammers in the country. Before the word even existed, Yeldah began what she called a “literary and lifestyle” Instagram account while she was still in university. She merged her dual interests in photography and books by using them as the subject of her Instagram posts. After the account attracted over 55,000 likeminded literary followers, Yeldah began a blog with the goal to connect with people from all over the world and inspire readers - as well as herself - to dream big, read more and travel often. In short, the term bookstagram is a hybrid of books and Instagram. It’s a bookish community on Instagram where people post anything book-related; what they’re currently reading, to book hauls, to how they organize their bookshelves, to bookish events. The #bookstagram aesthetic is recognizable in that books are the focus of every photo and the feed is cohesive with similar colours, a mix of flat-lays (i.e. overhead shots of books on a flat surface) or a photo of someone reading and/or surrounded by a stack of a books. Cups of coffee and tea are used often and the most common locations for bookstagram shots are cafés and cozy bedroom nooks (bookshelves and twinkle lights galore!) There are other variations of bookstagram on other social media platforms, except that it’s called BookTube or AuthorTube on YouTube and Booklr on Tumblr. What piqued my interest to learn more about bookstagram was how engaging, positive, inclusive, and supportive the online community seems to be. It’s like a global, virtual book club where everyone is just happy to connect, share knowledge and chat about all things bookish! Social media can often lead to a lot of negative emotions, but if there’s one good thing to come out of the darkness that can be the Internet, bookstagram is one of them!
20. feb. 2019 - 19 min
episode Ch. 24 | A Complete Guide of Literary and Publishing Terms artwork
Ch. 24 | A Complete Guide of Literary and Publishing Terms
For today’s chapter of the Word Weaver Podcast I thought it would be helpful to walk through a complete guide/glossary of literary, writing, and publishing terms. I know that when I first started out on my book publishing journey — and even now — I found myself Google-ing all of these new words, phrases, acronyms and jargon. Lots of websites, books and publishing veterans are so well-versed in this literary language that they just assume you know what they’re talking about! After asking a million times, “Sorry, what exactly does that mean?” I decided to create my own simple, easy to understand guide for these new-fangled publishing terms. I hope this is a helpful breakdown and handy reference guide for all of you word weavers out there too! I also received a listener question asking me to go over manuscript specifications and formatting so I included that below as well :) How to Format Your Manuscript Manuscript: evolved from Latin and means “written by hand.” Manu is “hand” and scriptus is “to write." It refers to a writer's unpublished work whether it's handwritten or typed. A full manuscript is your fully finished body of work, whether it’s your first or final draft. A partial or unfinished manuscript is your work-in-progress. Many literary agents, editors and publishers simply refer to a manuscript using the abbreviation MS or MSS (plural). In terms of manuscript formatting, the disclaimer is that each literary agency has specific requirements (outlined on their website) – so make sure that you follow their guidelines before firing off your MS to an agent. That being said, the general rule of thumb for a completed manuscript is: Times New Roman font (boring but it’s a classic!) Double spaced (always, always, always double space your manuscript! Even if you think it looks better at 1.5 spacing, all professional literary agents and editors expect double spaced) Standard 1” margins Simple cover page that includes the book’s title and subtitle (if you have one) centered about 3/4 of the way down the page, with the author(s) name(s) centered below the title. In the bottom right corner (or left-hand, but I prefer bottom right) include your contact information: email, phone, address, website and any social handles if necessary Page numbers (I do the bottom right corner) on every page except for the title page Header at the top of each page (example below) [LAST NAME BOOK TITLE GENRE] For reference, my full manuscript ended up being about 90,000 words and 400 pages long (double-spaced, TNR font). GENRES DEFINED Fiction: imagined, made-up story not based on facts Non-fiction: true, factual story Historical Fiction: a made-up story based on a real time and place in history but the characters and events are not true, accurate or real Historical Non-Fiction: a true story based on historical fact Science Fiction (Sci-Fi): writing based on real OR imaginary scientific developments and these books are usually set in the future Autobiography/Memoir: the writer’s story of his/her own life (note: many celebrity “autobiographies” are ghostwritten but are still marketed/defined as memoir) Biography: the writer’s account of someone else’s life LITERARY TERMS Novel: people often interchange novel and book, but a ‘novel’ is a fictional, untrue or imagined story (so since my book is non-fiction, I am not a novelist) Prose: literary work that uses familiar, conversational forms of language Protagonist: the main character, often the hero or force of good in a story Antagonist:  the person or external force that works against the main character or hero of the story Setting: the place, location, and time frame where the story takes place Exposition: at the beginning of the story where the characters are introduced, the background is established and setting is described Conflict: problems, obstacles or struggles that appear in a book — there are FOUR BASIC types of CONFLICT in a book: 1. Person vs. Person: conflict between two or more characters 2. Person vs. Self: a character has an internal struggle with themselves/their mind 3. Person vs. Society: problem between a character and the world or society in which they live (i.e. school, law, religion, etc.) 4. Person vs. Nature: conflict between a character and some natural element like a blizzard, tornado, a mountain climb, lost at sea etc. Climax: no sexual innuendo here but this is the high point in the action of a story, the big point of CHANGE where something happens that forces your character(s) on a path where some sort of transformation happens Falling Action: right after the climax / point of transformation and the subsequent consequences that lead towards the story’s end Resolution: what editors commonly use instead of “the ending” where all of the loose ends in the story are tied up Alliteration: repeating initial consonant sounds to emphasize and link words, used a lot in poetry (ex: I love alliteration so the drop-down headers on my website are: plot, purpose, portfolio, prose, podcast, places, and play) Simile: comparing two things using the words “like” or “as” – ex: “Her smile was as cold as ice.” Metaphor: similar to a simile in that a metaphor also compares two things that are essentially different but with some commonalities; however a metaphor does not use “like” or “as” — ex: “Her smile was ice. (note: you are encouraged to use similies and metaphors sparingly and to avoid clichés (they should be unique and specific) Personification: human qualities attributed to animals or objects — ex: “The wind exhaled.” Foreshadowing: hints that help the reader anticipate the outcome without giving away the ending (helpful to foreshadow at the end of each chapter to entice readers to keep coming back for more Imagery: use descriptive words or phrases that appeal to all five senses (smell, hear, touch, taste, sight) Onomatopoeia: words that imitate sounds — ex: hiss, buzz, swish, crunch POV: Point Of View — when this is circled or noted by an editor or agent on your manuscript it usually means that you aren’t using the correct POV or should think about switching it First-person: the narrator is a character, usually the main character, and written using “I” and “we” Third-person: narrator who is separate or outside the story, and instead uses “he,” “she,” “they,” etc. Third-person limited: the narrator tells only what ONE character perceives/their POV Third-person omniscient: narrator can see into the minds of all of the characters and writes from all of their POVs Unreliable narrator: narrator who is telling the reader the story but they themselves might not have all of the information (i.e. they seem suspicious or lack credibility) — common in thrillers and mystery novels (Gone Girl and The Woman in the Window use unreliable narrators) Reliable narrator: you trust that the narrator is telling the story with full factual information (most books are written from this POV) Publishing Terms Comps: in the publishing world, “comps” does not refer to product comps, complimentary, or computers etc. It means COMPETITIVE or COMPARATIVE titles/authors. A literary agent usually requires 3-5 “comps” to help them define your genre to publishers and the press. Comps should show how your book is similar but also different/unique from another title and author Acquisition: when the publisher buys the rights to publish a book from the author. Publishers have key meetings where the team sits around a big table and decides which books to buy – that meeting is called “Acquisitions” or the “Acquisitions Meeting.” TBR: To Be Read (referring to a pile or stack of books that a reader hopes to get through) i.e. “My TBR pile is overflowing!” Used frequently on Instagram and Twitter with the bookstagram community WIP: Work In Progress (writers often refer to their partial manuscripts as WIPs) ARC: Advanced Reading Copy or Advanced Review Copy (same as ARE/Galley) ARE: Advanced Reader’s Edition (same as an ARC/Galley) Galleys: When I first heard this I thought of Pirates of the Caribbean and Johnny Depp “down in the galleys” of the ship… but in the publishing industry galleys are the same as ARCs, AREs or uncorrected proofs. Galleys are created by the publisher months before the final printing and release of the book. They are sent to reviewers, booksellers, bloggers, journalists and other people crucial to the critical and commercial success of the book. There might be some typos but galleys/ARCs are bound like paperback books. Occasionally called “pre-first editions” Advance: sum of money paid to an author upon signing a contract with a publisher. The terms are negotiated by the author’s literary agent – the one catch is that the author’s advance needs to be “earned out” by sales of the book once released (i.e. it’s not “free money” the publisher is essentially investing in the author’s ability to sell the book). Upon the book’s release, the author will have to “earn out” - or sell at least the amount of the advance - before the author makes a profit. Advances are typically paid out in 4 instalments: after signing the contract, after the finished manuscript is submitted to the publisher, after the book is published in hardcover and finally after the book is published in paperback Backlist titles: books that have been published in the past or a long time ago but they’re still in print – ex: Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mocking Bird Blurb: short quote or paragraph of text on the back of a book; basically a short summary for the reader of what the book is about. Blurbs also include quotes from other authors or celebrities that you see on the cover and are often used to pitch the book to media. The House: In Canada we have “5 big banks” and in the publishing world there are “5 big houses” — term for Publishing Houses such as Penguin Random House, Harper Collins, Simon and Schuster etc. There are also many smaller publishing houses that are just as amazing and can often provide more individualized author attention. Beneath all of these “houses” there are various imprints that specialize in different genres, interest areas or types of books. For example, Penguin Random House has over 50 imprints such as Penguin Classics, Putnam, Bantam, Alfred A. Knopft, Crown, Doubleday etc. ISBN: every book is assigned a unique ISBN number and it stands for International Standard Book Number, a 13 digit number that’s used to identify each book The Jacket: term used to describe the book’s front cover (often removable on hardcovers). In key internal meetings at publishing houses where decisions are made about the graphics and blurb copy for the cover, these meetings are called “Jackets.” Literary Agent: you’ve heard this before (I use it a lot) but what the heck does it actually mean and what the heck does a literary agent actually do? They are the person responsible for managing an author’s entire career – including helping them to develop, pitch and sell their book to publishers. They also act as the facilitator or mediator between the author and their editor. In return, literary agents take a percentage (standard is 15%) of an author’s advance and royalties. PUB DAY: I also picture an English pub with pints of beers, which would actually be a great way to celebrate, but PUB DAY is the author’s official PUBLISHING DAY when the book is officially on sale online and in bookstores Pre-Orders: the period during before the book is officially released but is available for “pre-order” purchase online. Pre-orders are SUPER important and can make or break whether an author is a bestseller. For example: if you get pre-orders for 8-12 months, ALLLL of those sales count on the first day that your book is officially released (PUB DAY). The New York Times Bestseller list looks at sales by week, so technically if you had 8-12 months worth of pre-orders and they all counted on your first day of the first week, that is typically your best bet for making any bestselling list Slush Pile: this always makes me crave a Slushee from 7-11 (!!) but the “slush pile” is a stack of manuscripts that have been sent to a literary agent or publisher for consideration that they haven’t had a chance to read yet Unsolicited submissions/manuscripts: you’ll see this mentioned on pretty much every publisher’s website, whereas before a writer could often bypass having a literary agent and directly submit their manuscript to a publisher, nowadays every publisher requires a manuscript to be submitted ONLY from literary agent — i.e. they do NOT accepted “unsolicited submissions” or “unsolicited manuscripts” directly from the writer. Literary agents, in that sense, are gatekeepers and vet manuscripts for the publishers that they actually believe are worth their time. That’s why it can be so hard to even secure a literary agent in the first place, as they won’t accept any submissions that they don’t believe they could sell to a publisher. Word weaver links Website: louiseclairejohnson.com/podcast Instagram: @wordweaverpodcast #WordWeaverPodcast
11. feb. 2019 - 36 min
episode Ch. 23 | Legendary Bookseller Ben McNally on The Importance of Indie Bookstores artwork
Ch. 23 | Legendary Bookseller Ben McNally on The Importance of Indie Bookstores
Today’s chapter of the Word Weaver Podcast is my in-depth interview with Ben McNally, the legendary bookseller behind "Toronto’s Most Beautiful Bookstore” and his namesake, Ben McNally Books. The shop first opened in 2007 at 366 Bay Street in Toronto’s financial district but Ben has worked in the book business for over 40 years. We chatted over coffee inside his stunning shop, under the 14-foot ceilings, with the mahogany bookshelves as our backdrop. I was honoured that Ben would take the time to sit down and speak with me as he is somewhat akin to what a celebrity chef in the restaurant industry would be to the Canadian literary scene. Independent bookstores have long been thought of as a dying breed, particularly with the age of Amazon. Even big box superstores like Chapters Indigo are dedicating more of their retail space to housewares, a higher profit driver for them than books. Despite the recent revival of indie bookshops (much like the renaissance of vinyl records and polaroid cameras), many independent bookstores have been forced to shut their doors over the years as book sales are unable to cover their overhead. In a fraught industry, Ben McNally Books has managed to stay competitive, which he credits to building trusting, loyal and long-lasting relationships with his customers — a face-to-face interaction he fears is being lost in our overstimulated technology era. “On the internet you can find what you’re looking for; in our store you can find what you are not looking for.” - Ben McNally   In today’s podcast chapter we discuss everything from how he went from parking cars at the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) to being at the forefront of the literary industry. He also gives us a behind-the-scenes look from the booksellers perspective of the publishing industry and his stance on why books are sexy again. Don’t miss the rapid fire at the end where he tells us his favourite author, book of ALL time, and his favourite place to read! I don’t know if it was being in a bookstore on a quiet, snowy morning or listening to Ben talk about books, but I felt such a sense of calm during the interview. It was a magical conversation with a magical man! I hope you enjoy. ps. If you’re located in Toronto, Ben hosts a monthly Books and Brunch in the Vanity Fair Ballroom at the King Edward Hotel with up to four authors and various In Her Voice events at the bookstore that support emerging female writers and poets.
30. jan. 2019 - 41 min
episode Ch. 22 | How to Become a Freelance Writer artwork
Ch. 22 | How to Become a Freelance Writer
In today’s chapter of the Word Weaver Podcast I’m sharing the nitty gritty of freelancing 101 and how to get started as a freelance writer. There’s a lot to unpack on this topic so if you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments section below, on Instagram or iTunes. Before diving in, we have to define what exactly is a freelance writer? Freelance writers are self-employed and typically write for several publications at any given time. In this podcast chapter, we’ll go through the different types of freelance writing that you can do and earn money from. When you’re first getting started it can feel a bit overwhelming of where to employ your word weaving talents, but you’ll naturally gravitate towards the topics and the writing formats that you’re most interested in and best at. In general, the main types of freelance writing are (Note: I got more in-depth in the podcast): Article (or “Feature”) Writing Copywriting / Content Writing (including advertising copy, website content, press releases, white papers, print or digital newsletters, and even in-house or individual e-book ghostwriting) Social Media Content Blogging (for businesses or personal) Editing / Proofreading One of the biggest keys to being a successful freelance writer, with the goal of making this your full-time living, is to DIVERSIFY YOUR REVENUE STREAM. It’s no longer enough to rely on pitching a few magazine articles each month and hoping they get published. There are lots of companies, brands, and individuals looking to outsource various communication functions to freelance writers if you’re willing to put in the work. The three key traits that every good freelance writer requires is: self-discipline, self-motivation, and an insatiable curiosity. You have to constantly brainstorm new ideas, always have your antenna out collecting concepts, and reading a wide variety of subjects while analyzing what would make a good headline or unique story angle. Then, you have to have the self-discipline to sit your butt down, spend the time researching, outlining, contacting sources, writing and revising your articles, which can be anywhere between 500 to 2000 words. Self-motivation is essential when it comes to making writing a daily habit, while sticking with the relentless pitching process to editors, companies and brands. So, once you know that this is what you want to do. How do you establish yourself in the freelance writing space and actually find jobs? The three steps that I recommend starting with are as follows (Note: I go more in-depth in the podcast): Create a Website Portfolio Start Honing your Writing Niche The Pitching Process Once you land your first writing gig, whether it’s for a newspaper or magazine or a business/brand, I’ll walk you through the phases of submitting your work, solidifying a contract and payment schedule with deadlines (including how many rounds of revisions), to invoicing and getting paid in a timely manner. The reality when it comes to pitching is that even if you send 20 pitches, chances are you’ll hear back from 1. As freelance writers, the odds are NOT in our favour when you’re first starting out. I know a lot of people think that freelancers get to sit around in their pajamas all day and sleep in but it is a GRIND and you have to work your butt off every single day (eventually you can do it in your cute flower PJs from home once you’ve set up a system!). Don’t be afraid to follow up with editors after a few weeks, people usually need (and appreciate) a gentle nudge as their inboxes and requests are overflowing. If you still don’t hear back, never take it personally, just move on to the next handful of editors or places you’d like to pitch from your excel spreadsheet and eventually, you’ll get a bite. Don’t get discouraged, don’t give up, and try to take your ego out of it. Rejections have nothing to do with you (they don’t even know you!) so often it’s about timing or not having space in the magazine. As Lady Gaga has said many, many times “If there are 100 people in a room, and 99 of them don’t believe in you, all it takes is one and it changes your whole life.” The last burning question I dissect in this Word Weaver podcast chapter is how much money do freelance writers make? Often those who ENJOY writing feel guilty for getting paid to do something that they LOVE, but you have to remember that when it comes to freelance writing, you are being hired by a publication, company or brand for your unique skill set that they either don’t have time to do themselves, don’t enjoy doing, or haven’t thought of doing yet! Freelance writing is a JOB and you should absolutely be compensated for your work in any industry. Own your worth and be confident in your rates! TIME IS OUR MOST VALUABLE CURRENCY so the amount of compensation you receive should be worthy of the amount of time you put into it. Freelance writing can be an extremely rewarding career if it’s something you TRULY love to do. Success doesn’t happen overnight so be patient and kind to yourself. Stick with it as a daily habit, persevere through the muddy waters of rejection and treat it with as much tact as you would any other profession and great things will happen! FREELANCE WRITING JOB BOARD LINKS Media Bistro ProBlogger BloggingPro FlexJobs WORD WEAVER LINKS Website: louiseclairejohnson.com/podcast Instagram: @wordweaverpodcast #WordWeaverPodcast
16. jan. 2019 - 36 min
episode Ch. 21 | How to Hustle as a Writer with Paige McPhee artwork
Ch. 21 | How to Hustle as a Writer with Paige McPhee
Happy 2019! I’m so excited to kick off the New Year with the latest chapter of The Word Weaver Podcast featuring my interview with Paige McPhee. We met, nearly a year ago, at a writing event in Toronto where Paige was the keynote speaker. We got to talking after the event, she signed her own book for me, as she’s the author of the self-published non-fiction book entitled “I’m In Like with You” – a collection of almost love stories geared towards millennials. She knew from a young age that she wanted to publish a book…and she did it while juggling a six-course load at the University of Toronto, working multiple jobs (including Starbucks and as an intern/writer for various media publications). In addition to being a self-published author and public speaker, Paige is a freelance writer, social media manager/producer for Notable Life and video host for Narcity Canada. Based in Toronto, Paige covers the gamut from pop culture, news, food, travel, beauty, dating, entertainment and gossip across the country. As soon as I met Paige, I could tell right away she’s one of those rare people who is a real go-getter in life. She doesn’t just *hope* her goals and dreams come to fruition, she HUSTLES HARD for what she wants and finds a way, even with her busy schedule, to accomplish everything she sets out to. In this podcast chapter we discuss everything from her favourite and least favourite celebrity interviews, getting published at the ripe old age of 10 in the National Post, how being a Starbucks barista honed her communication, the importance of hard deadlines, her self-publishing journey, freelance writing tips, and how heartbreak can be a great writing motivator.
09. jan. 2019 - 36 min
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