A Writer’s Dream–An Interview With Shayla Eaton

Yesterday, I had a guest blogger who gave us some insight to the distractions that face the writer. The moral of the story is that distractions exist, and we can’t always eliminate all of them while writing and editing. I wanted to delve into the psyche of my guest blogger a bit more because she is the embodiment of what so many writers desire. Shayla Eaton is the successful owner of the small business Curiouser Editing. She has edited countless blogs, social media posts, articles, marketing campaigns and something like 150 books. What writer doesn’t want a successful business doing what they love? She is a writer and editor with a lot of experience for those of us who are just starting out. Here is what she had to say to my many questions:
1. How many years’ experience do you have total as a writer and editor? Five.
2. What was your first paying gig as a writer? I became a copywriter at age 20 for a publishing company. My dream of becoming a writer was the best day of my life.
3. How did you get that first gig? I had decided that it was time to get serious about becoming a writer—sound familiar? So I applied for a copy editor job, I believe, on a Wednesday, and the supervisor called me on a Thursday to interview me for the copywriting position. He hired me on Friday. I just knew I wouldn’t get it, so when he called, I was like, “Who is this?”
4. What does a copywriter do, exactly? A copywriter writes copy. Ha! Anything: marketing materials, email campaigns, web content, social media, bios—you name it. The idea of copywriting is to write with the intent to sell something.
5. How did you end up as an editor? You’re going to love this. After six months of working as a copywriter, I was asked to interview for the editing position. I was emailing the supervisor to tell her no, because I didn’t think I was ready yet. I called my sister first, and she said, “Tell her yes! Just figure out how to do it later.” I took the editing test, and when she called me in to hire me, I kid you not, I said, “Didn’t I fail the test?” She said, “No! Usually, the editors who take this test miss fourteen. You missed four. We want to hire you.” I forgot to capitalize Nazi. 
6. What is the single-most useful piece of advice you were given when you were starting out? Make it happen. Simple, yet profound.
7. What would you like to pass on to those that have writing/editing aspirations? To not let anything, including your lack of confidence, stop you. You’ll hear everything from “writers don’t get paid much” to “editors will destroy my work.” You have to drown out all of the negativity and replace it with optimism. If you truly want to be a writer or an editor, nothing and no one will stop you.
8. Publishing independently vs. getting published via an established publishing company—can you outline some upsides and downsides to each process? The first thing I hear from authors who want to self-publish is: “I don’t think traditional publishers will want this book, so it’ll just be easier to self-publish.” Self-publishing is a full-time job. Yes, there are people who offer services to help you—hint, hint—but in the end, it is all on you, baby. Regarding traditional publishing, Stephen King was rejected so many times he finally nailed his pink rejection slips to his wall, until he couldn’t fit anymore under the nail. Don’t choose self-publishing as a way out just because you’re scared. If you want to see your book published by HarperCollins, then make that happen. Research their guidelines. Look at their market. Get a developmental editor to take your book to the next level. Knock on the publisher’s door if you have to. And for heaven’s sake, write a killer query letter. 
9. Where would you suggest a new writer begin? Any suggestions for gainful, writing employment?  What is the first step? Networking, which is something I learned a year after starting my business. Go to conferences, workshops, book clubs. Join author Facebook groups and talk to people. People won’t know you’re a writer if you don’t tell them. 
10. As a business owner, what is the worst thing about being your own boss? Filing receipts, invoices, and pay stubs for taxes. That’s a mess, and I don’t much like it. But if that’s the worst thing of being your own boss, well, that’s not so bad. 
11. What is the best thing about being your own boss? Seeing your idea actually…work. It’s a great feeling to know that you started something from the ground up, and now it’s prospering. Also, working in your pajamas is pretty cool. “Is she kidding?” Yes. No.
12. Do you have any advice or suggestions for small business owners out there? Don’t do everything on your own. I did that, and I wish I would’ve let other people help me in certain areas. If you need direction, get a business consultant. Every person who has done it will tell you it changed their whole business. If it helps your decision, I had a 30% increase in profit after hiring mine, Mike Loomis: http://www.mikeloomis.co
13. How do you meet people that need your services? Almost every client comes to me through word of mouth or guest blogs. I’ve had a few who have seen me on Independent Author Network or from Curiouser Magazine. But it’s truly from word of mouth, the best form of advertisement.
14. As a freelance writer, I find it very difficult to set my own rates.  How do you decide how much to charge? I started out with the-efa.org rates and dropped them considerably. I started out very cheap and increased my rates as my company grew. I now review manuscripts before giving a solid price, because every manuscript is different.
15. For those that may not know, what is a query letter? Not to be confused with a summary of your book, a query letter acts as an ad campaign for your book—it’s the one-page wonder you’ll need to land a great agent.
Thank you, Shayla, for sharing with us! Shayla can be found online, on her blog, and on Facebook!

10 Steps To Distraction-Free Writing (A Guest Post)

The new year has began! 2015 is in full swing already! Wow, it seems like 2014 was just the other day (internal chuckling, because I think I am so funny). I know I have set professional goals for my earnings as a writer for this year, and many others I follow are posting their personal and professional goals as well. I am all about achieving our dreams this year! I want to encourage others that dreams do come true. So, with this thought in mind, I would like to introduce a successful writer/editor.  Shayla will be providing some (humorous) writing tips for us today.

Shayla Eaton is an inspiring woman who has managed to make her dreams become her reality. She began dreaming of being a writer at age eight and by age sixteen she had made writing her top priority. By age twenty, she was gainfully employed as a copywriter! Shayla has logged more hours as a writer and editor than I care to ponder. As the owner of her own business, Curiouser Editing, and a professional with years of experience, Shayla has edited over 150 books and countless articles, blogs, social media posts and marketing campaigns. I feel the need to insert she has not edited my posts (obviously), so don’t blame her for my many, many mistakes! You can find her at:

Website: www.CuriouserEditing.com

Blog: www.CuriouserEditing.wordpress.com

Facebook: www.Facebook.com/CuriouserEditing

As I write this, my eight-pound dachshund, Chanel, lies in my lap, her red chew toy protected under her speckled nose. My arm uncomfortably rests on her rump in an awkward, this-is-not-working-very-well position.

IMG_4200

Writers are constantly distracted, so it’s important to void your life of distractions so you can focus.

Snort.

Most writers produce work in a sea of disorder—not all, but most. For those of us who want to write in an organized, clean, efficient space, these ten steps for distraction-free writing might be the answer.

Step 1: Assess the situation. How cluttered is your writing space? Is your desk messy? Are you unable to find your desk? Is there a plate of day-old chicken nuggets decaying next to your stack of notes? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then proceed to step two.

Step 2: Plan your distraction-free writing. This is no time to just go in full throttle. You need to think this through and plot out how you’ll achieve focus. Really think it through before you dive in. You must first focus on how to focus before you can truly focus.

Step 3: Tell everyone that you need to have quiet, interruption-free time while working. Emphasize the importance of silence.

Step 4: Yell at everyone when they insist you come outside to see what your crazy, hoodlum neighbor is doing. Re-explain step three. Go in to detail. Get in a verbal disagreement about your dreams of being a writer and how you feel suffocated. Laugh at the neighbor.

Step 5: Take action! Should you throw away those chicken nuggets? Yes! Should you organize those stacks of notes and books? Absolutely! Should you turn off Dancing with the Stars so you can actually hear yourself think? Probably!

Step 6: Admire your handiwork. Take in the clean, organized space in all its ethereal beauty. Pat yourself on the back.

Step 7: Announce your dedication. Tell all of your Facebook friends that you’re devoting time to writing and won’t be posting for a while. Answer their inboxes about your choice to be a writer. Instagram a picture of you at your snazzy writing space—#amwriting. Tweet a quote from Hemingway. Update your Twitter bio. And when’s the last time you pinned some gluten-free recipes?

Step 8: Turn your attention to your novel/blog post/journal and take a deep breath. Think of your characters or the steps you have lined out for your post—contemplate their eccentricities. Become the words you wish to create. Ommmm.

Step 9: Grab a snack. Seriously, how did you forget this? What is wrong with you?

Step 10: Give up. Embrace your distractions. This is your life now.

Don’t pretend like that isn’t what really happens.

In all seriousness, distractions are a part of life—a big part of life for the writer. Distractions are always going to be there. No matter how much you prepare and plan, life will interrupt your writing process.

The kids will wake up early from their naps; the dog will throw up on your carpet; the hoodlum neighbor will ring your doorbell in the middle of chapter 17; and dinner will burn—maybe all in the same day.

Handle the problems.

Be grateful for an interruption to give your eyes and brain a break.

And get back to writing.