Sunday, January 22, 2023

The Value of A Template

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

As writers, we have many repetitive tasks. There are emails to write, articles to pitch, books to propose and many other forms to fill out. These various templates have value because you dont have to re-invent or create anything. Instead you simply fill out the form. Through the years I have found great value in templates. If there isnt a template that I can get from a program or someone else, I create my own template. 

One of the most common templates would be a printed business letter with the name of your company or your name at the top, then your address, phone and email at the bottom. For any type of document which is repeated, I find it easier to create a template in this process. Several years ago I wrote a detailed article about using a book review template. I've also written about creating a template to get your book into libraries.  To pitch at writers conferences or other times, writers often create a one sheet which is another common template because as authors we dont just pitch one book but many different books. 

Some agents will send their authors a proposal template to make sure the author answers all the variuous parts of a book proposal. Other agents have a distinct template they will pour an author work into before the agent sends it to publishers. The agent does this step to create a brand or distinct look for their publihsher submissions.

Publishers like Morgan James Publishing where Ive worked for the last ten years have a number of templates. For example, we acknowledge every submission with a letter in the mail and use a template. There is an acceptance letter and next steps letter which is a template. The book contract is also a template. We even have specialized contracts for different agencies and agencies because they have negotiated distinct clauses for their writers. Im sure you can see there are many different types of templates and Ive only scratched the surface.

While templates save time and have value, you also have to use them with caution:

1. Before you send it to someone, make sure you have rewritten it and personalized it to that particular person. Otherwise it comes across as canned. 
2. In general I give the form a second and maybe even a third look before I send it. Its one of the advantages to using the "draft" feature in a program.
3. I think about when Im sending an email to someone else and if I especially want them to read it, I make sure the email will arrive during their working hours. Most of the email programs allow you to schedule your email and I take advantage of this feature if Im concerned about such a detail.

While you may use a template for a professional look and to make sure you cover all the necessary details, heres what you should not to forget: you are communicating with another person and you want to connect with that person in the best possible way and make the right impression. Our communication skills as writers is an important aspect of our work.

Do you use templates in your work? Let me know in the comments below.

Do you use templates in your writing life? This prolific editor and author details the value of a template and some cautions. Get the details here.  (ClickToTweet)

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