Publishing stories of fascinating Prairie People and Unsung Heroes

Welcome to the blog of Deana Driver - author, editor, and publisher of DriverWorks Ink, a book publishing company based in Saskatchewan. We publish stories of inspiring, fascinating Prairie people and unsung Canadian heroes - written by Prairie authors including Deana Driver. We also publish genres of healing and wellness, humour, children's fiction, and rural poetry. Visit our website to learn more about our books.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What do we look for in a manuscript?

We are often asked by would-be authors to look at their written work and give them advice on how to improve it to make it publishable. So here are the Top Three components we look for in a manuscript when considering its potential for it to be a great book that is self-published or published by DriverWorks Ink publishing:

1.     Unique story line:  What is it that makes the story you want to publish unique from all other stories out there? If you’re writing a memoir or autobiography, what is it about your experiences that are different from those of other people in a fascinating way that would make others want to read your book? The same question needs to be answered for any other type of book. Is it the location of the story, the story line, the uniqueness of the main character(s) or something else? While each person does have his or her own unique story to tell, it is true that some stories are far more interesting and publishable than others. If you aren't sure of the uniqueness of your story, we can help. Contact us for some advice on your work.

2.     Great writing:  You might think this is a component that we would not need to mention, but we do receive requests from people who have a potentially good story and no idea of how to write it as an engaging manuscript. Again, we can help. We can suggest ways to beef up your writing and improve your story. For example, if it's a biography or memoir, we often suggest using the chronological approach to telling the story. It's surprising how many would-be authors aren't aware of that method. We can also assist with the writing process along with our usual jobs of editing, layout and help with marketing.

3.     Marketability:     Just because it's a story that you love, that doesn't mean it's a story that will sell. That is one of the hardest parts of the book publishing business since there is no definitive way to be certain that a book is going to sell well. Publishers use a variety of tools including market research, experience, calculated guesses and gut instinct - in various combinations, depending on the book. Sometimes we know a book will do well. Sometimes we take a chance and we are rewarded with readers' responses to a title. As an author, do your own research for the greatest chance of success for your book. Search for a publisher who works with the same types of books as your story. For example, we specialize in non-fiction biographies but we also publish humour and children's fiction, so we have particular knowledge of those markets. We help authors self-publish all variety of work including non-fiction, fiction and poetry. Go to book stores and look at other books that are similar to the one you want to publish. Look at how the subject is presented. If there are already 10 books like the one you are wanting to publish, go back to Point 1 and reconsider.

The bottom line is - not every manuscript makes a good book, but if you consult with industry professionals near the beginning of the process and are open to accepting advice and making changes, you have a better chance of success as an author.

Good luck with your writing!

And contact us if you would like some advice and assistance.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day - and a video too!

My husband (and DriverWorks Ink partner) Al and I have been known to wear several silly costumes and fun get-ups over the years - usually connected to a Halloween party. (Picture a male Dorothy and a female Scarecrow, a six-foot-tall bumblebee and an adult baby, etc.) For the past two and a half years, I have dressed up at times to support and spend some time with seven-time cancer survivor Dionne Warner and her wingman husband Graham during some of Dionne's chemo treatments. And Al has joined me in some of those adventures.

Since December 2009, Dionne has dressed herself and Graham in costume on her chemo treatment days - for 78 different themes - to bring joy, laughter and hope to other patients in the chemo treatment room of the Allan Blair Cancer Centre in Regina, Saskatchewan. (There are 32 pages of colour photos in our Never Leave Your Wingman book.) In January 2012, Dionne was told she was in remission from Stage IV liver, lung and bone cancer. Remarkable!

So the chemo treatments stopped, as did the costumes.

In August 2012, tests found cancer in her liver again (for the fourth time), so she went back to chemo but without the full-blown costume themes this time around. Instead, she and Graham invited friends, family, readers of our book and Earth Angel supporters in general to send them matching T-shirts and "Dress Us to a T", to keep hope alive during this round of treatments.

Which brings us to Valentine's Day 2013.

Every year on February 14, we celebrate the people we love (or hope to be loved by) with greeting cards, flowers, chocolates, gifts, hugs, kisses and well... you get the picture. Whether you view Valentine's Day as the pagan fertility festival to the Roman gods or the more modern Day of Love, it remains today as the latter... and that's what we're celebrating in this little blog post.

Here we are, ready to meet Dionne and Graham at the cancer clinic. As Graham so aptly wrote in his emailed My Beautiful Dionne Update #91 about that day's chemo treatment: "Me thinks someone leaked to the press what our theme was going to be. Oh well, Al and Deana (NeverLeave Your Wingman publishers) get a big Attagirl and Attaboy for going all out!"

Don't you just love Al's tie?

And here's Dionne, all ready to go into the chemo treatment room:

You have to love the deely boppers on her head, and her 'foxy roxy' wig. Usually, this pretty lady sports the au naturel look...

...and ROCKS it!

'Ring for a hug', the bell says. 
Too bad you're all just looking at this now instead of being there in person, but the treatment room isn't that big. Oh, well. Can you feel the virtual hug coming to you from Dionne? ... 


... There, doesn't that feel good? 

So Happy Valentine's Day - from me, Al, Graham and Dionne! No matter where you are and what your story is, somebody loves you. And we're sending out good vibes from our place to yours.

And as promised, here's a special wish for all of you from the inspiring eight-time cancer survivor and her special wingman Graham. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Sask's new Creative Industries Agency

You may have seen the recent announcement by the Government of Saskatchewan about a new Creative Industries Agency and a $1-million transition fund that will be available for all creative industries. There has been some confusion about what exactly constitutes a 'creative industry' and what the fund will do etc. Surprise, surprise. There's always confusion about new agencies and funding and it usually takes some time for the fog to lift and reality to surface.

As a writer and publisher in Saskatchewan, I have a vested interest in this announcement. As a small publisher who also does self-publishing, DriverWorks Ink does not qualify for the majority of grants out there (which are few in number across Canada anyway) - so we look forward to anything that can help us publish more quality work by Prairie authors.We are hopeful that some new program will arise that can assist Saskatchewan publishers in producing books based on the quality of the product and not on whether it is self-published or not.

As a publisher, I was disappointed by the absence of representation from our publishing sector in the media coverage of the government's announcement. As a journalist, I get it. You can't talk to everyone in every industry about every announcement, and the film industry's recent loss of a provincial tax credit has drawn a lot of attention and is worthy of follow-up. Still, it would have helped the general public to better understand some of the impact of the fund if book publishers had added a few words to the discussion... and it's a reminder to us as publishers in Saskatchewan to speak up a little more about our work, our great books and what we contribute to the province and its culture.

With that in mind, here's a blog that caught my attention for its knowledgeable explanation of Creative Industry versus Arts in Saskatchewan and what the new announcement might actually mean. I can't say I agree with everything the writer says because I'm still struggling to understand it all myself, but I particularly like the explanation of the Arts Continuum and how the Creative Industries are the producers of artistic products."Writing is an artistic endeavor. Publishing is a creative industry." 

Nicely said. I'm just going to print off that blog and keep it handy to remind me of who we are and where we might go with this in the future.