I have gleaned a mountain of information from others over the ten years I’ve been writing. If I have used a sentence from a workshop, it is an honor to the presenter. I stand on the shoulders of the talented writers who have gone before me.
All authors start out as newbies. The writing industry is a maze that writers must master to become successful.
Advice to a novice writer:
1. The best way to learn to write is to WRITE. Write every day! A page, a scene, or a chapter. Practice makes perfect applies to writing.
2. Read, read, read—in your genre. It helps to listen to the voices of other writers and observe their styles. Learn the rules of your genre.
3. Continue to learn the craft. You can never know enough about writing. Take classes, attend workshops and conferences. Be a perpetual student!
4. The first five pages are super important. You need a good “hook” to pull the reader in. You need to establish time, place, and character early in the story. Never overload the reader with too much back story—sprinkle it in along the way.
5. Practice patience. It may take you two to three years to write your first novel. Editing could take six months, finding an agent might add another year or more, and a book offer with a release date might add another two years. Five years is not an unusually long time for a first book, if you want to join a large publishing house.
6. Avoid the rush to self-publish. If you self-publish for expediency, you might not put your best work out there for the world to see. Once it’s out there, it’s in the spotlight. However, if you create a great product, self-publishing can be a lucrative route.
7. Check your ego at the door. A literary agent might tell you that your present work project is not ready for “primetime.” Go back to work and improve your product, get a good editor and make your story the best you can make it.
8. Ditch the stress. Keep the faith. Stay positive. Don’t get frustrated when your work is rejected. Look in the mirror and keep telling yourself, “I’m a writer. I am a writer.”
9. Be supportive of others. Guard your future reputation. Don’t whine and bad-mouth an agent, editor, or publisher. Never criticize a fellow writer in public.
10. Network. Get feedback. Find a writing partner, a critique group, and beta readers. It’s more helpful if your writing partner writes the same genre.
11. Find a good editor. This is the most valuable money you will ever spend. Most work needs a line editor, a content editor, and a copy editor.
12. Learn the business of publishing. Writing is a business. Take tutorials, attend webinars, and in-person classes. After you create a delightful story or write a good book, you must sell it.
13. Attend marketing webinars. Brand your product. Create a blog and other means of networking on social media. Drive the market to your website. Edie Melson’s blog, The Write Conversation shows you how.
14. Employ a business entity to help spread the word. WOW, Women on Writing, is a perfect example.
Remember—every published author was once a novice writer who did not give up.