In the thick of holiday prep, so I’m going to give you my cut-to-the-chase list of my best advice:
Write it all the way to the end! You don’t know what you’re capable of until you type “the end”. Push through and finish! It will most likely be at least partially cr*p, but so what? You’ll have something to build on.
Get feedback on your work in a way that works best for you…
Contests or professional editors, or beta readers, or…critique groups.
And, here’s a controversial point: critique groups are not all equal. You’re dealing with personalities and egos here. Listen to your gut, and don’t hesitate to move on. Finding the right critique partner is harder than finding a spouse.
Anne R. Allen has some helpful blog posts on this subject. Here’s one of them.
Especially in your targeted genre.
There are lots of free craft websites and inexpensive craft books. Some of the books you’ll want to throw against the wall, but keep trying. Not every craft teacher makes sense to every writer. Find the ones that speak to you, and keep learning.
Look to your character’s motivation.
Gosh, I think this is possibly the most important thing in storytelling. Every word, action, thought, has to be logically motivated. I do several edits of every story trying to fill in these holes.
My favorite reference on this subject is Dwight Swain’s, Techniques of the Selling Writer. He covers Scene and Sequel and Motivation Response Units in depth. For the short version of those subjects, the best blog I’ve found is Randy Ingermanson’s take on this topic.
Join a writers’ organization…
One that focusses on your genre, and be nice to everyone you meet. It’s the right thing to do, plus you never know who can help you later.
Keep informed about the industry.
I like to read blogs, and not just the ones devoted to trad publishing. This is not the publishing industry of the 20th century or even of the first decade of the 21st century.
Learn about copyright and contracts.
And before signing a contract, weigh the long-term costs (lost royalties) of bringing your book out through a publisher vs. indie-publishing it yourself. I hear some publishers are not budging on asking for rights for the life of the copyright, which is at least 70 years. That’s a lot of lost royalties and probably sadly neglected promo, but maybe it’s worth it to get your name out to a wider audience. You have choices! Read the fine print on the contract. Hire a lawyer to help you if need be.
You pay your agent a percentage, but midlist authors are a dime a dozen. Unless you’re a big star, it’s very likely that agent is more invested in keeping good relations with editors than with you. Not that there aren’t some wonderful, professional agents out there. There are. If you’re set on having an agent, find a good one.
Never, never challenge a reader or reviewer.
Or maybe I should say “Never, never, never.” Your job is to write the best book you can. The reader’s job is to read it. Some readers will like the book, others won’t. That’s okay!
Do it your way. Your time/money budgets and your best practices may not be the same as another author’s. It’s okay for you to be you! (Except for that part about being nice. For God’s sake, do your best to hide your personal Grinch! Something I struggle with all the time, LOL!)
And on that note, let me wish a very, Merry Christmas to all of you who celebrate the holiday.
Sorry, I guess that was lengthier than I first intended and pretty dang opinionated! My apologies! Let’s see what advice my fellow MFRW Authors have to share on this subject.
Image credits: Books and Woman at Desk Writing, Wikimedia Commons; Picture from signing, the author