Dina Friedman's Monthly Writing Advice
Vol. 1 # 4, October 2001 - The "Dear Dina" Column
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ANNOUNCEMENT: NEW TIP SHEET FORMAT--THE "DEAR DINA" COLUMN
In order to better accommodate your needs, I've decided to change the
monthly tip sheet to a question-and-answer format. Send your writing
questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
, and I'll answer them in a "Dear
Dina" format. (You may use either a real or fake name.)
I never get the difference between it's and its. Who needs
apostrophes anyway? Could you straighten me out once and for all.
I Should Know the Answer to This, But I Don't
If you can say "it is, then the apostrophe stays. In this
case, "it's" is always the contraction. "Its" is a possessive pronoun
(like hers and his). True, if you substituted a name you would say
Jane's or John's. But even in our groovy New Age society, I've yet to
come across the name "It." I guess we aren't as alienated as we think.
I just got a letter from an agent who says he wants to read
my novel, but he charges a $500 reading fee. He sent me a long list
of books he's sold, and his interests seem to be a perfect fit for my
subject, but if I pay the $500, I won't be able to pay my electric
bill and then I won't be able to use my computer or have light to see
by. But am I throwing away the chance of a lifetime? What should I do?
A Star to be Born
Keep the computer and the lights on--and find another agent!
Agents who charge steep reading fees live by the fees they collect,
rather than from the income of the books they sell. Reputable agents
will read a sample, then request the whole ms. if they're interested.
If they sell your book, their commission is usually about 15%. If you
get that far in the process--and I hope you do--make sure to have
someone in the know go over your contract. That's when it's time to
join the National Writer's Union or a similar advocacy organization
so you don't get taken over the coals.
Dina Friedman, mailto:email@example.com
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Dina Friedman, M.S.W., has worked with
individuals and groups on issues for thirteen years. A
published fiction writer, poet, playwright, and journalist
and winner of several awards and honors, she coordinates
academic writing workshops for Mount Holyoke College. She
has taught rhetoric, English Comp, and creative writing at
the University of Massachusetts, Holyoke Community College,
and the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.
You can use our expertise for what you
need most: counseling on writer's block, an exercise to get
started or get through the stuck places, a thorough edit,
help generating ideas, a consult, or just someone to check
in with to keep your project going...
On projects involving business
marketing or large nonfiction, you may be working with Shel
Horowitz, author of five nonfiction books and more than 800
articles. Since founding Accurate Writing & More in
1981, he has worked with numerous business owners, students,
and employees to improve their writing.
click here to get started--this
will send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org entitled
WritingCoaching--or call 800.683.9673 or 413.586.2388 (9
a.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern Time).