Do’s and Don’ts for the Beginning (and Experienced) Writer
Week Five in the Writerly Chronicles from my Orangeberry Book Tour:
1. Do read widely. Yes, you must read historical romances if you want to write historical romances. There are familiar styles and jargon that readers expect, as well as trends in the market that you would be wise to know. On the other hand, don’t limit your reading menu to only the books you intend to write. Broaden your literary and imaginative horizons by reading widely. Think of this as you would your daily diet. Although I love chocolate (too much), I appreciate it so much more when I’ve enjoyed a widely varied palate of foods. Your writing mind will thank you if you’ve fed it a colorful diet of fiction and non-fiction, poetry and cookbooks. Okay, maybe the cookbooks are just for me.
2. Don’t talk about wanting to write your first novel. Write it. It has never been easier to become a published author. So if you truly want to be one, then start writing and don’t stop until you’ve reached the end. Attending conferences, reading books about writing, sharing your writing journey with your friends on Twitter or Facebook, are all wonderful parts of the writer’s life. But the most essential part is actually finishing that book! And do finish it. Get the first draft down as quickly as you can so that none of the above distractions will keep you from reaching your goal. Once you’ve finished the first draft, pat yourself on the back, tweet all your friends, post a pictures of the manuscript you’ve printed out on Instagram, and then go back to work. When you finally bring your book to the market, either through a traditional publisher or through self-publishing, you will win the well-deserved praise of your friends and family.
3. Don’t let the negative criticism of others stand in your way. Trying anything for the first time, such as writing a novel, can be intimidating. Most of your friends and family will be incredibly encouraging and generously tell you that they believe in you, just when you no longer believe in yourself. Savor those words and hold them in your mind when the fear of failure begins muttering in your ear. You’ll especially need those kind words when some unknowing or worse, uncaring, buffoon attempts to rain on your writing parade by telling you that there are too many writers in the world. That you’ve never been successful at anything, so why would you be able to write a book. And that self-publishing your book isn’t as valid as getting published by a traditional publisher. Those words are not the truth. They are a distraction. They are meant to keep you from achieving your dream. Which is why you must ignore them and keep writing.
4. Never give up. Or let a lack of funds stand keep you from publishing your book. Keep writing until you’ve finished your story. And then begin the hard work of getting it published. If you choose to pursue traditional publishing, start writing those query letters to literary agents. If money is a concern, go to the library speak with a reference librarian, who will gladly provide you incredible resources for finding and reaching out to agents and publishers. Many of these resources can also be found online for free, as well. If you choose to self-publish, don’t feel that you must wait until you can afford the fees associated with obtaining a professionally designed book cover, a beautiful book trailer, a professional editor, an industry recognized reviewer. Yes, all of those things are wonderful and sure to help you launch your book. But, with the help of your capable friends, and the free online resources such as Amazon.com KDP service or Createspace, you can literally publish your novel for free. One caveat: Line editing your manuscript is essential. If you can’t find a professional editor, try trading editing services with a writing friend.
5. Pay it forward. Once you’ve achieved your dream, soak up the adulation, revel in the notoriety, and then pay it forward. Share your hard-earned platform with another aspiring author. There are plenty of readers to go around, you won’t be losing yours by introducing them to your friend’s literary debut. Make it your goal to be the most generous of your writing friends and you’ll never be poor. And no, I’m not talking about money. But you knew that, didn’t you!