Q: Which is correct, self-publish (with the hyphen) or self publish (without the hyphen)?
A: If writing a book, you should follow Chicago style, and in section 7.85, page 382 of CMOS Sixteenth Edition, the hyphenation guide for compounds and words formed with prefixes says both noun and adjective forms are hyphenated, except where self is followed by a suffix or preceded by un. It gives the following examples: self-restraint, self-realization, self-conscious, the behavior is self-destructive, selfless, and unselfconscious.
If all that information is confusing, the simple answer is this: in books, anyway, "self-published" should be hyphenated, always.
Q: I have an interest in writing fiction. The unknown has always terrified
me, but I am determined to overcome this fear. The desire to be an author is stronger, therefore pushing me not to give up. Any advice for someone like me?
A: We fear only those things with which we're not familiar. Once you learn more about writing fiction, your fear will change to anticipation and excitement. For that reason, I suggest you do what all writers of fiction have done, and that's learn the craft. Read books on how to write fiction. Take classes. Join organizations for writers. Attend conferences and workshops. Subscribe to magazines and e-zines for writers (I hope you will go to my website and sign up for my free e-zine, "The Writers Network News"). Study the fiction you enjoy reading and decide what makes it fun for you to read.
Next practice, practice, practice. Use contests, prompts, and assignments to tempt yourself to write short pieces and then longer pieces. Be willing to work on a piece until it is the very best you can make it. For that reason, after you write (not while you are writing), revise, revise, revise.
Next get feedback from other writers. Join a critique circle.
Never stop learning about writing; it's an endless subject.
Go ahead. Dive into writing. It is nothing like diving into an abyss. Other writers, books, magazines, and e-zines will be all around to help you, and you will find yourself in the company of many other writers, the most interesting people in the world.
Q: I am in the process of editing my novel. I gave it to some people to edit, and one person came back to me thinking that the genre was not the genre I had intended the book to be. He thought it was a young adult novel, when I meant for the story to be an adult romance/suspense. I was surprised when he thought it was young adult, because of some of the sexual scenes. How can I create the story to be more adult, like those of Nora Roberts, so people won't confuse the genre?
A: Each genre has specific attributes that set it apart, such as a mystery usually involves a crime and the solution to it. Other factors, however, determine the intended audience. Those factors include such things as word count, complexity of language, and whether the subject matter and language are age appropriate.
If only one person thought the manuscript was a young adult novel, you have the opinion of only one person. Don’t make sweeping changes based on the opinion of one reader. Get feedback from others familiar with your intended age level and genre. Perhaps you should even pay for an evaluation from a professional book doctor.
If you want to write something that reaches the same audience as Nora Roberts, be sure to read plenty of Nora Roberts novels and examine how she develops her stories and characters. Analyze her techniques and word choices. Pick apart her work until you understand what she does. After studying her techniques for developing characters and revealing a story, apply the same techniques to your own plots, but in your own writing style.