c. 1885. (Left to Right) Anandibai Joshee of India, Kei Okami of Japan, and Sabat Islambooly of Syria.
At first glance, this photo might appear like another yellowed, grainy relic of the past, but contained in it are the faces of change.
Since humanity’s inception, the practice of medicine has endured. Around the world, men and women took it upon themselves to learn more about the human body. Through painful – and often fatal – trials and experiments, mankind slowly garnered a deeper understanding of life and the microcosms that affect humans.
While both men and women sought to uncover the mysteries of the human body and contributed equally to the reservoir of knowledge from which humanity could draw, it was men who were given the go-ahead to specialize in certain fields and practice professionally.
There have been numerous identified groups throughout the ages regarded as keepers of medical knowledge. In the West, the charter for the Company of Barber-Surgeons was granted by the infamous Henry VIII of England, allowing doctors – male doctors – to specialize in medicine.
Just because women were barred from entering the guild, however, didn’t stop their pursuit of knowledge. Women made great strides in nursing, midwifery, and pharmaceuticals around the world.
In the late 1800s, women began pushing back, demanding with stubborn vehemence to be admitted into schools of medicine. Because the prevailing school of thought at the time for most nations was that women should be keepers of the house, demure and stewards of morality, the surge of female determination that rose against the conservative majority was greatly unwelcomed.
While many women backed down with disappointment, there were those who did not. Of that small collection of determined individuals are the three women photographed above. All three women completed their medical studies; each became the first woman physician in her respective country to hold a professional degree in Western medicine.
Dr. Anandibai Gopalrao Joshi, born in 1865, was encouraged by her husband from an early age. Married at the tender age of nine, Anandibai found an advocate in her vastly older husband who was surprisingly progressive and supported women’s education. Despite being poor in health, Anandibai’s husband encouraged her to set sail for America to pursue higher education. Anandibai applied to the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania and was accepted at the age of 19.
Although her health failed her often, Anandibai graduated in March of 1886. Later that year, she returned to India where she was appointed as the physician-in-charge of the female ward of the local hospital.
Dr. Kei Okami of Japan, like Anandibai, was also a student of the Pennsylvanian Woman’s Medical College. After marrying at the age of 25, she and her husband traveled to America where Kei enrolled in the college. She graduated in 1889, becoming the first Japanese woman to attain a medical degree from a Western university.
Upon returning to Japan, she began work at a hospital in Tokyo. Throughout her life, she opened several clinics where she taught nurses and tended to the sick.
Less is known about the third medical professional in the above photo, Dr. Sabat Islambooly (Islambouli). Born circa 1867, though that date has not yet been confirmed, Sabat was also a graduate of the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania becoming the first woman from Syria to be licensed. Shortly after graduating, she returned to Damascus before moving to Cairo, Egypt in 1919. After that, there are few records of her life. All that is known is that she died in 1941.
The lives of these women might seem distant and inconsequential, but they were the progressives of their time. They were the determined, the fierce, the dedicated. They were harbingers of change.
Not unless you’re willing to create a whole identity for that name. If you are a prolific writer, you will need to have a website, email address, marketing copy, etc. for that identity. Everything that is tied to your actual person will need to be created for your made-up one. If you are worried about someone discovering that you write inflammatory political rhetoric or niche erotica, then try to find a way around using a pen name. Use only your initials; ensure your writing won’t ever come across in their sphere of influence (via social media or otherwise).
You want to be recognized for your work. Why let your fictitious name take the credit? You will never be able to brag about your accomplishments if you use a pseudonym. Say your erotica series takes off and you start earning big money. Do you think people will really care that you’re writing about scandalous rakes and Scottish lads in kilts? No! Take the money and be proud! Claim what is yours!
Using a pseudonym also opens you to legal issues regarding taxes. Of course, pen names are legal, but you’ll have to check with your state or country of origin to ensure you aren’t putting yourself in some sort of financial or legal jeopardy. You may need to register your pen name as a trademark.
Remember, creating and using a pen name is like a lying. It’s okay initially, but it can snowball. The logistics of working with a pen name are rarely considered, so take the time to explore your options!
You have chosen to self-publish which means that how successful you are is directly correlated to how active you are in marketing. You do not have an entire marketing team and publicist purchasing ad space in magazines/newspapers and setting up book signings. You have to make that happen. If you do nothing, your books will not sell. Thus, get creative!
Who is your audience? How can you sell to them?
If you’ve written a young adult book, get in contact with local schools and see if they would be willing to let you come do talks about your book. They probably won’t let you sell your book on school grounds, but if you generate enough interest—and provide marketing materials such as takeaways that route to a professional website—you could earn yourself new readers.
If you’ve written a nonfiction history book about a particular region, say, the American Southwest, get into contact with tourist centers in those key states. See if you can partner with them to present your findings.
If you’ve written a fiction book that takes place in the Catskill Mountains, look for venues, such as resorts, in that area and start reaching out.
Make friends and always be pleasant. You are no longer an author; you are a brand. Market yourself and your book.
Create takeaways, marketing materials that you can pass to someone. Ideally, we want someone to be enthralled with our books on the spot and to purchase a copy right there. But people are busy. They are running late to pick up their kids, or they don’t carry cash, or they hate chitchatting with strangers. Give them something they can take and review at home.
I recommend authors create glossy postcards as takeaways. Make sure to include social media and website information so readers can look you up. That’s why it’s so important to have a professional-looking website. If you send an excited reader to a website that appears immature, they will assume your book is not worth their time. Spend money on yourself and your work.
Reputable websites to create marketing materials include:
The UPS Store
As technologically advanced and user-friendly as everything has become these days, it’s ironic that we still have to go about finding an agent or a publisher the “old-fashioned” and tedious way; that is, querying. Querying entails going through lists of agents/publishers, identifying who might best represent you and your book (usually by genre), and following their guidelines to submit your work. Often, this means going to a publisher or agent’s website and uploading your manuscript or work according to their very specific rules (e.g., “include the first 15,000 words of your book, a cover letter, a synopsis, an explanation of your qualifications, a small sacrificial goat, and a magical purple woodland flower that bears thorns…”). Each publishing house/agent has their own guidelines. So, make yourself some tea, get cozy, and set aside a few days to knock out submissions.
Go into the process with the expectation that you won’t hear back as many offices don’t reply to submissions (aside from automated messages). If you do receive a response, it will be some four to nine weeks later, depending on the publishing house or agent office.
Google is your best friend as it will give you lists of publishers open to submissions. You can also visit Reedsy.
If you would prefer to go about querying with pen and paper, Writer’s Market is a good place to start. It lists all publishing houses and agents open to submissions for a given year. The book can be purchased online or at bookstores like Barnes & Noble.
It depends. If your primary selling platform is Amazon KDP or IngramSpark or if you are going to direct people to purchase from such print-on-demand services, then no. You do not need to purchase a barcode as those platforms will place your ISBN on the back cover along with their own barcode. However, if you are going to submit to a printing press or upload to multiple digital platforms, then you need to purchase a barcode with your ISBN.
If you purchase a barcode, ensure that you download all the files Bowker, or your respective ISBN office, provide. Often, this includes a PDF, PNG/JPG, and EPS.
The Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN) is a system-catalogued records in the Library of Congress. Libraries use the designated number to locate specific Library of Congress catalogue records in the national database and for other administrative necessities.
Because of the number of books the Library of Congress must review each year (which is literally hundreds of thousands), it is highly unlikely that a self-published book will be chosen to be added. Some authors, however, like to include the LCCN because it adds credibility to their book.
The Library of Congress also utilizes two, mutually-exclusive systems called CIP Publishers and PCN Publishers. CIP Publishing is not available for self-published or print-on-demand books.
Authors/self-publishers may, however, use the Prepub Book Link’s author/self-publisher portal to apply for the program and submit an application for an LCCN.
In my presentations to students and authors, I am repeatedly asked, “How do I make a character believable?” or “How do I develop a strong character identity?” It’s an interesting question because, initially, I didn’t have a consistent response. I hadn’t really considered what it was that enabled me as an author to write well-developed characters. I just listened to what they (the characters) said to me and wrote their words.
Nowadays, my answer to the complex question is quite simple, really. Motivation. The best way to write a compelling character is to analyze that character’s motivation. What do they want more than anything? What are they willing to do to achieve it? What are they willing to say to those who support and oppose them? How badly does that motivation propel them?
Consider the fictitious character Inigo Montoya of The Princess Bride. For those unfamiliar, Inigo Montoya—in the movie version—is portrayed as a Spaniard who excels at fencing. Although he initially acts as henchman to Sicilian criminal Vizzini, he eventually comes to respect the book/movie’s protagonist and joins his ranks. Despite his loyalties however, Inigo’s motivation, his purpose, remains consistent throughout his criminal pursuits and adventures: locate the six-fingered man who killed his father.
After witnessing his father’s murder, Inigo trains for years in fencing with the hope to avenge his father. This leads him to duels with strangers and general waywardness as he feverishly hunts the man. When he realizes it is unlikely that he will ever find his father’s murderer, he grows depressed and becomes an alcoholic. Only when the protagonist, the Man in Black (Wesley), sparks some life back into him via a rambunctious fencing duel does he regain the willpower to continue his search.
Inigo even goes so far as to tell Wesley what he will say the day he crosses paths with his father’s killer: “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” If you’ve not heard this famous phrase, well, now you know where it comes from. SPOILER: Inigo eventually meets his father’s murderer, Count Rugen, and defeats him in decisive combat.
Inigo’s motivation directed the paths he took in life. His determination to avenge his father made him pursue study under some of the best fencing instructors of the time, earning him the title of “wizard,” an esteemed rank greater even than “master.”
When writing characters, it’s okay to simplify their motivation. After all, a complex array of reasons can create a purpose. So, keep it simple.
Naruto Uzumaki wants to become Hokage.
Jeff Winger wants to earn a degree to replace his fake bachelors and get out of Greendale.
Michael Scott wants to be the best boss ever.
Katniss Everdeen wants to save her sister from the Reaping.
Veralidaine Sarrasri wants to find a job to help her escape the backwoods where she grew up.
Create a motivation. What does your character want more than anything? Give your character direction and purpose. Once you have that, they’ll tell you what lengths they’re willing to go to pursue that goal. Their personality will take shape; how they talk and address others will follow.
Give them a foundation. Everything else will take root soon after.
It hits the best of us—writer’s block. No matter how many times you reread previously written sections or muse over next steps, you simply can’t see how to escape the corner into which you’ve placed yourself. This can happen for a number of reasons. Sometimes, the emergence of writer’s block signals a need to further flesh out a story’s plot. Other times, inspiration just vanishes. You could have your entire book planned and plotted and then--poof! Suddenly, you’re not vibing with it anymore. It seems jaded, boring even.
So, what’s a struggling writer to do?
Make a list.
If you’ve reached a crossroads of sort in your young adult fiction novel, make a list of actions your characters could take or things that could happen to them. Start with the mild (perhaps boring?) ideas you have considered. Write those down. Then, keep going. With each new bullet point, create a more fantastical series of events.
Assume your young female protagonist (Lisa) is stuck in a love triangle and her prospective partners (Jon and Sam) have decided to confront her, asking that she choose her heart’s desire. What’s a writer to do? Make a list! Below is an example.
Notice that as the list continues, the ideas become more fantastic, wild. But they maintain some realism. While your book might not lend itself to accommodating ROUS, something of similar madness could occur.
Now that you’ve got your list (it can be as long as you want), go through your ideas and really ponder on them. You perhaps don’t like the idea of Lisa et al being attacked by megamoles, but perhaps a different type of attack occurs. Maybe a riot breaks out between political groups congregating nearby. A terrorist attack destroys the local post office. An ambulance swerves to avoid pedestrians and crashes into a series of nearby cars.
Take elements of your ideas and mix and match! If, after spending time trying to flesh ideas out, you find yourself still stuck, then your list isn’t long enough! Keep going! Make your ideas crazy, outlandish. Perhaps as Lisa deliberates, Jon steps backward and slips into a wormhole! Maybe Sam determines that her love for Lisa isn’t as romantic as she thought; perhaps it’s more platonic or maternal!
Don’t be afraid to explore seemingly irrational ideas.
Working on a military sci-fi thriller but never served in the military in any capacity? Or perhaps you’re writing a nonfiction book regarding WWII but have little to no idea how to address officers? You’re not alone!
Authors should approach military ranks (fictious or not) in the same way they do titles like president, director, chairman. When immediately preceding a personal name, titles are capitalized.
President Joe Biden
Queen Elizabeth II
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
But if a title is not present before an individual’s name, it is never capitalized. Consider the examples below:
Joe Biden became president of the United States in 2021.
The longest-lived and longest-reigning British monarch is Elizabeth Alexandra, queen of the United Kingdom.
Justin Trudeau is a Canadian political who was elected prime minister in 2015.
Naruhito is the 126th emperor of Japan.
The exact same rules apply to military ranks.
Captain John Smith
General Rob Stark
First Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye
In formal prose and other generic text, titles are lowercased. Thus:
The captain appeared gloomy, sullen.
Ashton looked at the general, his mouth agape at the man’s decision.
“Where are you going?” asked the first lieutenant.
You’re ready to have your manuscript edited so you visit a prospective editor who asks, “I can’t provide an estimate without knowing what service you’re looking for. What type of editing are you looking for?”
“Uh… the normal kind…” you reply, bewildered. Was there more than one kind?
“Well, do you need your book to just be proofread, or do you want it copyedited?”
You stare at your computer screen, sucking on your lip in thought. If only you knew what the difference was!
Let’s pretend your manuscript is a microscope slide. Holding it in your hands (or viewing it on your own) you find minor mistakes, but overall, it looks pretty straightforward. Concerned you’re missing something though, you hand it off to a scientist (an editor) who takes the slide and slips it under a microscope.
Without zooming in on it, the scientist sees it has some issues. It’s got some typos, tense mistakes, inconsistencies in names – you know, basic stuff. This is proofreading.
But you’re curious now because those are things that you missed. What else did your eyes skim over? You want the scientist to really examine it, to copyedit it. The scientist fine-tunes the microscope, setting the objective lens and adjusting the illuminator. Now they can discern the flaws of the manuscript. These include problems with syntax and semantics, illogical content, poorly formed paragraphs, and style. They can see all the typos and misspelled words too, but now that they’ve really zoomed in, they can gain a better understanding of what needs to be done. This is basic copyediting.
Deciding that perhaps you missed quite a few things, you decide to ask the scientist to go all out – examine the manuscript to learn all its dirty little secrets. The scientist agrees and moves your manuscript to a powerful electron microscope. They adjust it and then peer through the eye piece. Not only can they see – and subsequently address – all that they’ve found thus far, but they can now perceive discrepancies in plot and character development. They can now discern weak scenes, dialogue that sticks out or doesn’t make sense, and rearrange pieces of your book to streamline its flow. This is developmental copyediting.
Now, go forth, Author, and find an editor!
Owner/Editor of Emerging Ink Solutions, avid YA/NA author, adamant supporter of the Oxford Comma, anime and music enthusiast.