Over the last several months, I’ve had writers participate in the Author Interview series and dish out advice for aspiring novelists. Today, I’ve rounded up all their pearls of wisdom in one place. Lots of great advice below for anyone who wants to write fiction and get published.
“WRITE, WRITE, WRITE, WRITE, WRITE, WRITE, WRITE, WRITE, WRITE, WRITE, WRITE. Those are the main things they need to do. They can also join a writer’s group, and bug the hell out of other people they know who are successful writers and ask what they are doing. I’ll give you a hint: WRITE.”
“Be prepared for the long haul. I am trying to write one novel a year, coordinate the marketing campaigns, and at the same time hold down a full time job, because I don’t expect self-publishing to support me anytime soon. With twelve books now on Amazon, the Excalibur brand is just beginning to get noticed.”
“Read, read, and read some more. I see a lot of aspiring writers asking questions on Facebook pages and blogs devoted to writing that they could answer for themselves if they just read more. How long does a chapter have to be, for example? Read widely enough, as you’ll see that chapters can be dozens of pages or a single page or even a single paragraph. It all depends upon the story. Getting advice from other writers is valuable and can keep you from making rookie mistakes, but to discover an answer on your own really makes it sink in.”
- Finish your stories.
- Everyone writes differently, but if you want to be a writer, the best thing you can do is start stories, and most importantly, finish what you start.
- It helps if you start with short work, too. Short stories, or flash fiction if a short story isn’t manageable.
- Once you complete a couple cycles, you will wonder what you were making such a fuss about.
- And then you’ll write another. And another. And that’s what being a writer is all about.
“Reach out to other authors in your genre. Build your tribe and make sure you have a great support system to both lean on and ask for advice. I don’t know what I’d do without my tribe. They help lift me up, encourage me, and are there to lend an ear or answer a question I may have about the business. If the don’t know, they’re willing to help me find out. I really don’t know what I’d do without them!”
“Don’t give up. Dig deep and persevere, because every story is worth telling. Also don’t rush it – be patient, because it is a lengthy process. And hire a great editor.”
“Write every day. Write crap, that is how you learn. You can improve crap, but it is hard to do that if you have a blank page. I have been hit with inspiration maybe three times, and wrote effortlessly. Three times in four decades. You just have to keep putting one word after another.”
“There are going to be times where you will doubt yourself. I won’t pretend that doubt doesn’t exist. Voices on the outside and in your mind may tell you that you’re not good enough, that you’re not a real writer. You don’t write fast enough, or you’re not original. Do not listen to them. Do you write? Then you’re a real writer. Ignore those voices and keep pushing forward at your pace. There is no other voice like yours. Embrace that.”
“I think it’s important to get the first draft down and then walk away for a while. Come back with fresh eyes to do the re-writing. I also think it’s a good idea to read your work out loud. It sounds so different out loud than it does in your head! And once you’ve done all you can, get objective beta readers to give you their honest opinion and suggestions. Take their input and do one final round of rewrites. After that, don’t get discouraged. My favorite quote is, ‘You can be the ripest, juiciest peach on the tree and there will always be people who don’t like peaches.’”
“Never give up. There always is something that will get in your way. It may be health, family, money, outside forces that no one can stop, but keep writing! It helps keep you sane, and it also gives you a goal to reach. Also, be aware of the different traps out there for authors. Many years ago, I fell prey to a woman who made me think my work was the best ever! Only to discover she was scamming hundreds of thousands of dollars from people like me. But I never let it get me down, and I have the same drive now as I did twenty years ago.”
“Read a lot, especially in your genre to know the market, study your craft, and don’t give up. Keep writing.”
“Just write as much as you can non-stop and get your name out there. If you have an idea for a new story write it down as soon as possible and start writing your story. Getting your material and name out to readers is very important.”
“Read, read, read! Write, write, write! Really, those are the two best pieces of advice I could give anyone, because they are the foundation of EVERYTHING you do as a writer. You can’t write good stories if you don’t read good stories (or read craft books, advice columns, how-to writing blogs, current publishing news, etc), and you can’t publish anything if you haven’t actually written it! For more detailed advice, check out my becoming a writer series on my blog. I also highly recommend checking out Mark Dawson’s Self Publishing Formula podcast (found on iTunes and Youtube) and Joanna Penn’s really useful blog, The Creative Penn. Being a writer isn’t just about writing stories. It is about being a business person and knowing the publishing landscape today, so you can best decide how to manage your novels and rights and how to reach your audience.”
“Remember that a rejection letter is merely a reminder that you’re giving yourself opportunities to succeed.”
“Have thick skin. Don’t take anything personally. Get critiques, get beta readers, and listen to what they say. But be dispassionate about the feedback. Critics are not a commentary on your value as a person.”
“My advice to aspiring writers is to be patient. Nothing moves at the speed of sound in the industry and it is often frustrating, particularly trying to find an agent or publisher who will accept their work. But don’t get discouraged, ”
“View your writing as a part-time job, and not as “the expression of my soul’s song” or whatever. If you’re working a 40-hour week, guess what? Now you’ve got a 20-hour moonlighting gig! It’s a hard way to have fun, but this is the life we’ve chosen. Don’t view “the dream” as a dream. View it was “the boss” and the writing as your “shift.” Surround yourself with loving people. Writing is brain work. A cluttered mind can’t produce. Life will throw plenty at us, and we’ll never fully be able to escape the cares of the day, but we can choose our friends, our partners. I’ve been lucky in these areas. It could have been otherwise. If it had, I don’t think I would have ever finished the book.”
If you are an author, especially and indie author, and want to participate in the Author Interview series, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.