by Laura Kirkland

          • Author Harriet Robbins Ackert spoke to GCFW at our March 18 meeting. Her topic was: "You, Your Book, and Your Options: What Being a Published Writer Does and Doesn't Do for You." Here are some of the thoughts Harriet shared with our group.

            On Being Published: Harriet's book PRODIGAL SOULS was published by a small press in Santa Barbara. Publication has gained her publicity and a number of speaking engagements. Unless you make a concerted effort in your writing, the IRS considers it a hobby. Being published means you can call yourself a professional writer. Publication won't necessarily make you rich. And being published once won't guarantee you'll be published again. But it will help you to get read again, and so will help keep your foot in the door.

            On Promotion: Her publisher sent out press releases and arranged a limited number of signings. That was the extent of their publicity efforts on her behalf. She printed up her own bookmarks (cost: 20 cents each) and used them before her book was published to promote sales.

            On Critics: Everyone is a critic, but not everyone knows what they're talking about.

            On Writing Schedules: Everyone has his/her own pace. Harriet doesn't write every day. If she doesn't have a new burning idea, she doesn't write.

            On Re-Writing: The secret to doing re-writes is knowing when to stop. Beware of over-rewriting.

            On Perseverance: Don't stop trying; believe in yourself and in your work.

            On Future Projects: She envisions PRODIGAL SOULS as a television drama because of its cinematic quality. She has sent it to the agent of an actor she has in mind for the lead character. Writing-wise, she is currently working on a mystery series featuring a Jewish forensic psychologist who works with sex offenders. She's going to keep writing and pursuing further publication, because she feels she has something worthwhile to say.

            Our other meeting guest was Frances Halpern, host of "CONNECTIONS" on KCLU radio. When asked what you should look for in a book contract, Fran had a number of suggestions. The copyright should be in the author's name. Your next book should be at the same royalty rate. Give the publisher first look at your next book. Fran recommends that after making a sale, you get an agent to negotiate the contract. Keep your electronic rights. Don't give away your rights in your eagerness to make a sale. Cross out any clauses you don't like and ask the publisher to change them; everything is negotiable.

            Gold Coast Fiction Writers thanks our two guests for joining us and sharing their experience and insight.

        Harriet Ackert is a Friend of Gold Coast