Manuscript Monday:

It’s Manuscript Monday! How are you using your words?

One way to make your manuscript shine and take it from normal to exceptional is to push your word power. Here are some different ways to say “dark”.

In the comments, leave us a sentence with your favorite subsitution for the word dark and we will randomly select a winner for an ebook of your choice from either Pen Name Publishing or French Press Bookworks.



Manuscript Monday: Word Power – Happy

It’s Manuscript Monday! How are you using your words?

One way to make your manuscript shine and take it from normal to exceptional is to push your word power. Here are some different ways to say happy.

In the comments, leave us a sentence with your favorite subsitution for happy and we will randomly select a winner for an ebook of your choice from either Pen Name Publishing or French Press Bookworks.

Manuscript Monday - How else can you write "Happy"? | Pen Name Publishing

Manuscript Monday: Word Power

It’s Manuscript Monday! How are you using your words?

One way to make your manuscript shine and take it from normal to exceptional is to push your word power. Here are some different ways to say laugh/to laugh.

In the comments, leave us a sentence with your favorite subsitution for laughand we will randomly select a winner for an ebook of your choice from either Pen Name Publishing or French Press Bookworks.

Word Power: Other options for laugh | Pen Name Publishing

We’re Writing Wednesday: Genre Talk

Greetings all of you genre knowledge hungry writers!

It is time for our next Wednesday installment of Genre Talk (talk amongst yourselves – did I just show my age? Anyone get that reference?)

When we introduced Genre Talk, we started with the BISAC codes for nonfiction and were lucky to get some really general ones in Antiques & Collectibles and Architecture.  We’re going to keep moving down the list.  We’ve had some requests for diving in to fiction, so we’ve made the decision to alternate weeks between the nonfiction and fiction lists.  Happy?  Good.

Today, the first category is ART, followed by BIBLES and then it pairs into the first sometwhat confusing but very helpful BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY (yay!).

The biggest part of selecting a code that trips people up is usually located in the first two sentences of a code description: what the code is not.

In the case of ART, books should be discussing historical works or techniques, NOT how-to’s or crafts.  This sounds very familiar to Antiques & Collectibles where the books focused ont he finished art and not the process.  While we may think, “Wow, great, this book I just put together shows how to cross stitch cats into the Sistine Chapel,” it does not belong under art because it features the Sistine Chapel.

Could you give yourself a secondary, third, fourth, or fifth code in ART? Techinically, yes.  Should you? No.  People that are serious about the Sistine Chapel and likely to buy art books dealing with the time period, location, etc., PROBABLY do not want to make cross stitch throw pillows or thrift store frame wall hangings of crocheted cats in their favorite scene.  Now I say probably because after using Pinterest I’ve realized anything is possible (Thanks Urban Outfitters).

Even if you want to touch this small class of people who love art and color outside of the lines because they’re hardcore artists, we still recommend not crossing that line as bookstores, libraries, and even category systems will likely write you off and you may find yourself on one of Jimmy Fallon’s “Do Not Read” lists.

So according to BISAC, “For works discussing technique from a craft viewpoint, use subjects in the CRAFTS & HOBBIES section. For works on general principles of design that can be applied to various disciplines (such as art, architecture, crafts, and technology), use subjects in the DESIGN section.” (

Art is also placed into further sub-categories:

  • Techniques (techniques involved in a discipline)
  • History (reproductions or history of art/artists)
  • Subjects & Themes (discussing or illustrating specific themes but can be a secondary theme to techniques used in these subject/themes)
  • Color Theory (theoretical works on color)

And here’s where it gets hairy.  The crossing of assignments and sub-categories.  For instance, BISAC recommends always pairing ART/Subjects & Themes with ART/Techniques IF ART/Subjects & Themes is “assigned to works on the techniques used to produce art depicting these subjects and themes.”

Likewise ART/History can be assigned to Western and Non-Western Art, however, it does not negate categories such as ART/Asian, ART/African, etc, etc.

There are actually some extremely radtastic categories in ART.  For instance:


  • ART055000: Body Art & Tattooing
  • ART058000: Street Art & Graffiti
  • ART060000: Performance

As well as categories for textile, book design, etc.  As you can see, BISAC really works to create codes that encompass a full range of what people need.  If you consistently see a missing hole, you can actually email the awesome team at BISAC and suggest they add some new codes.

For the full list of codes associated with ART and to familiarize yourself with what we chatted about above, check out:

The next code on the list is BIBLES.  We feel this is pretty self explanatory and you can check out the link and divisions here:

So our next nonfiction Genre Talk will be on Biographies & Autobiographies.  Next week, we will start the Fiction list to let the genres mingle and get to know each other.


We’re Writing Wednesday – Know Your Genre: Nonfiction

Did you know that an estimated 80% of all books published are Nonfiction?  That seems crazy to some of us because it seems that what we really talk about are the fiction titles.

What exactly is Nonfiction?

First and foremost, it is one of the two main categories that divides the written word (fiction and nonfiction).

To narrow it down further, nonfiction is typically considered an essay, memoir, and other narrative forms that are based in factual support, regardless of delivery (straight forward vs. artistic liberties).

Things get even more fuzzy when you’re going through the list to find the world of semi-fiction, nonfiction that places fictional characters into the leading and supporting roles.  

Where do you even start to understand these genres?

To start, if you are going to publish a book or self publish your own book, you’ll get initiated to BISAC codes REAL quick.  BISAC codes are created and adjusted by BISG, Book Industry Study Group.

To see a full grouping and try to figure this out for yourself, visit

According to BISG, unless your book is a blank book and thus unclassifiable, it will have a subject identifier that it can be assigned.

The very first heading for BISAC falls into nonfiction and it is Antiques & Collectibles.

This is a great category to start with because it’s pretty self explanatory.  Your book is nonfiction, it’s written about the process of identifying, acquiring, and/or collecting the objects, and your book DOES NOT deal with the techniques needed to physically make these items (this would be CRAFTS/HOBBIES).  Your book will then fall in to one main category and 3-4 additional sub categories from one of the below:

  ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES / Automobiles see Transportation
ANT007000 ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES / Buttons & Pins
ANT008000 ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES / Care & Restoration
  ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES / Cars see Transportation
  ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES / Ceramics see Pottery & Ceramics
  ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES / China see Porcelain & China
ANT010000 ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES / Clocks & Watches
ANT011000 ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES / Coins, Currency & Medals
  ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES / Costume see Textiles & Costume
  ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES / Dance see Performing Arts
  ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES / Disneyana see Americana
ANT016000 ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES / Firearms & Weapons
ANT018000 ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES / Glass & Glassware
  ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES / Gold see Silver, Gold & Other Metals
  ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES / Hummels see Figurines or Popular Culture
ANT023000 ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES / Magazines & Newspapers
  ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES / Medals see Coins, Currency & Medals
  ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES / Movies see Performing Arts
  ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES / Musical Instruments see Performing Arts
  ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES / Nautical see Transportation
  ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES / Newspapers see Magazines & Newspapers
ANT028000 ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES / Non-Sports Cards
ANT029000 ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES / Paper Ephemera
ANT025000 ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES / Performing Arts
  ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES / Pewter see Silver, Gold & Other Metals
ANT052000 ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES / Popular Culture
ANT032000 ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES / Porcelain & China
ANT035000 ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES / Pottery & Ceramics
ANT036000 ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES / Radios & Televisions (see alsoPerforming Arts)
  ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES / Restoration see Care & Restoration
  ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES / Royalty see Popular Culture
ANT041000 ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES / Silver, Gold & Other Metals
ANT043000 ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES / Sports (see also headings under Sports Cards)
ANT042000 ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES / Sports Cards / General
ANT042010 ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES / Sports Cards / Baseball
ANT042020 ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES / Sports Cards / Basketball
ANT042030 ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES / Sports Cards / Football
ANT042040 ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES / Sports Cards / Hockey
  ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES / Stained Glass see Glass & Glassware
  ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES / Televisions & Television-Related seePerforming Arts or Radios & Televisions
ANT047000 ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES / Textiles & Costume
  ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES / Theater see Performing Arts
ANT055000 ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES / Tobacco-Related
ANT009000 ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES / Transportation
  ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES / Watches see Clocks & Watches
  ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES / Weapons see Firearms & Weapons

The next category is Architecture.

Like Antiques & Collectibles, it is very straight forward.  It is a category for professional related texts, or, texts aimed to advance the education of professionals.  This does not include texts created to talk about the actual construction and creation, these instead would be under Technology & Engineering, further subdivided into Construction.  Texts written for nonprofessionals would be moved to HOUSE & HOME.  

This category is a great example as we can look at home decorating.  Interior Designers would find industry specific texts under Architecture/Interior Design/General, whereas books written about how to decorate your home, such as those by Martha Stewart or Nate Berkus, would not as they are made for a more general audience.  These titles may use Architecture/Interior Design/General as a secondary code to seek placement in this category for search purposes in libraries, sales catelogues, or keyword searches, but it would not be the primary or recommended selection.

We aren’t putting the full list here for Architecture, but if you want to see it, click on the blue link above and check it out for yourself. 

See how specific this is?  This is pretty easy to understand.  It gets a little hairier as we move into other topics that aren’t quite as straight forward.  In some of the more iffy areas, we will look at each BISAC code individually and we’ll include some pop-quizzes of short synopsis and BISAC options for placement.

What are your big genre related questions?  Leave us a comment and we’ll address them in a future blog.

Cheers and happy Writing Wednesday!

Manuscript Monday: Brainstorming

Today we are going to venture into a crucial part of developing a story, characters, setting, plots and just about any other piece that you might write in your manuscript: brainstorming.

Contrary to popular belief, a writer does not just birth an idea and not have to think about a single thing from the point of conception.  I do not know of a single person who merely sat down at a typewriter, computer, notebook, or scroll and wrote down a complete manuscript without an iota of thought.

Whether it is a large cycle or whether it is a small cycle, the art of brainstorming comes in fast and furious in a writer’s process.  Anyone who has taken a writing class will be told that the simple act of prewriting or fleshing out an outline is a form of brainstorming.  Whenever I personally think of brainstorming, I am taken back to second grade.  We were given a topic such as “juice” and told to write down as many words as we could find to deal with juice.  Then, we were given the same word again and required to write down every single word that came to our mind in succession, i.e. stream of consciousness.

I’m not going to lie, to this day, I still do this.  And when this method doesn’t work, I go for a jog or hit the yoga mat.  There is something about a little physical activity that really gets the brain firing and ideas pounding.  This works so well for me that I am actually contemplating pulling a John Green and getting a treadmill desk. (Any thoughts on this from blog land?)

So why then, does something so crucial and seemingly effortless in our process make our stomachs toss and turn and our inner writer cringe?  Is it because the thought of stopping to formulate a collection of potential ideas makes us feel like less of a writer?  If we need to stop and work out ideas does it mean we aren’t able to craft a masterful story?

Absolutely Not.  Shake off that mindset.

My favorite rule for brainstorming is to throw out the idea that it has to be organized and follow any set of rules.  When you try to approach the creation of ideas, instilling mandatory organization is only going to stifle your potential output.  Open the window, throw that rule out, and get on with it.

Get messy.  Sketch.  Draw.  Scribble.  Write random words.  Make charts.  Make graphs.  Rewrite something you have already written word for word and draw around it.

Draw one of your characters and put them into a new setting just to see where it goes.

Take your ideas and write out a list of opposites or things that would negate them.  I can’t tell you how many ideas have come from looking for the opposite of what I had planned.  Sometimes, finding the opposite helps me progress in the original by shedding light on something I may have not thought of before.

The final piece of brainstorming that really ticks me off is when people say it has to be used appropriately to be effective.  Brainstorming is meant to create ideas, drive progress, and take an idea into reality.  Is there really an appropriate way for creation to be effective?  I would like to hear your thoughts on this and we will address that in a future blog post.

Talk to us in the comments and let us know your thoughts!  What are your favorite ways to brainstorm with your works?  Is there something such as effective brainstorming or is that someone just trying to impose rules on something they tell you to take the rules off of?


We’re Writing Wednesday: What’s Your Genre?

Ack!  The Genre! What is it, where do I fit, how do I market, WHAT DO I DO?

We are going to start talking genres on Wednesday’s in with our writing tips.  Now obviously, or at least we hope so, writing is distinguishable by being either Fiction or Nonfiction.  Fiction of course means made up (or mostly) and Nonfiction means true story (in vague layman’s terms.)

Now from there, that is where we often get slapped with the question of “What’s next?”

A “simple” search of BOSAC codes will tell you that actual classifications for your title are about as plentiful as actual titles in this great sea of bookstores and libraries.

Nonfiction is generally broken down further into essays, biography, autobiography, and speech.

Fiction, on the other hand, is broken down into drama, poetry, fantasy, humor, fable, fairy tales, science fiction, short story, realistic fiction, folklore, historical fiction, horror, tall tales, legend, mystery, mythology, fiction in verse, and then of course, broken down into the more popular sub-genres that we often toss around when describing our manuscript.

Whew.  That is a lot to take in and a lot to think about, isn’t it?  Well, lucky for you we are going to take one genre subcategory each Wednesday, tell you what it is, and the further breakdowns in that category.  If all goes well, we will finish describing and teaching you about genres by the time we are retired and buried.  If not, can we get a volunteer to take over the task?  Anyone?


Well, we will just work extra hard to get it finished.  Correctly categorizing your book and knowing your genre not only helps you market your piece, but it helps you look more credible in the eyes of those who might pick up your book or add it to their store’s stock.

Nothing is more frustrating than getting a book titled “Suspense” only to find there was absolutely nothing suspenseful about anything written in the pages.  Likewise, putting your book into a category that it might halfway fit into might damage your potential.

We have said it before, we will say it again.

Know your genres, work your genres, and be proud of them.

Next week we will start with nonfiction and then work through fiction.  I know, I know, moans of disapproval but it is estimated that 80%+ of all written books fall into the nonfiction genre.  Would you have guessed that?  Probably not, but it’s true, and so that is where we shall begin.

Any questions on genres, categorizing, or the such can be added into the comments and we will address them as we approach that topic.