Before I start this post I have a disclaimer. I do not consider myself a fantastic writer. I am still an author learning her craft and when I look back at some of my earlier attempts at writing romance I cringe. But that's exactly why I thought a post like this might be helpful.... because I have learnt so much about writing and the industry over the years that I thought I'd share the main tips that I have picked up so far...
Might seem kind of obvious but a writer does one main thing. Writes. And like anything you do the more you practice the better you will get. So write. Write lists of things you need to do each day, write in a journal, write a Facebook update, post a picture to Instagram and add a caption. Whatever you do. Write. And write daily. You might think that writing a Facebook update has nothing to do with finishing a novel but you are wrong. Every time you write you improve your grammar, your vocabulary and you are firing up the creative side of your brain. So write and write daily.
Just like writing you should read, read daily and read as much as you can. Read everything, but mostly read what you love. I have been in a reading slump for the past few months (will write about that in another blog post) and my writing has suffered for it. I find when I read I am fired up with creative ideas, mostly that have nothing to do with the books I am reading but which just seem to come out of my love for the different worlds created in books and the characters I meet. Reading is big in my world and if you're a write I can imagine that it's already big in yours too.
Join a writing group. This is so much easier to do these days thanks to the wonders of the internet and I would tell anyone who wants to write better that the best way to get better is to connect with other writers. I joined the Romance Writers of Australia and it was one of the best things I ever did. I learned so much from the various workshops they ran, I met so many other people and I learnt so much about not only the writing craft, but the publishing industry. My first critique partner was pretty much responsible for the publication of my first novel, Time After Time (Wendy Godding) as she was a massive champion of the story and really encourage and built up my confidence in my ability as a writer. That's what writers do. I'm always amazed by the writing community and how supportive it is of every single author.
4. Get Online
Get a website - even if you haven't written your first chapter yet, even if your story is still unfolding in your mind GET A WEBSITE. Pay to have a domain name that is .com or .net or something professional.. Make your webpage easy to navigate and make the content relevant to what you are writing. Don't have frills and flowers if you are writing sci fi. Likewise don't have stars and moons if you are writing historical romance. Make it relevant and welcoming and interesting. And keep it up to date. Blog regularly. I am guilty of not doing the latter but it's all about making time, keeping readers interested and just think... each time you blog you are ticking off number 1.
5. Write what you love
Publishers will tell you that vampire romances are dead (no pun intended). They will also tell you that historical romance is a dying genre. That is simply not true. All books, stories and genres come in and out of fashion and unfortunately no one knows what the next big thing is going to be. And it may be what you've just typed The End to. You will write better if it is something you are passionate, familiar and comfortable with and your story will be more authentic and appeal to readers if it is something you wrote because you loved it, not just because you thought it would be part of 'the next big thing'. I went to a talk by a famous author years ago who started by saying "There is one JK Rowling, there is one Stephanie Meyer and sorry to say... you aren't her." It should also be pointed out that the books that are selling big now were actually signed years ago by the publishing houses so if you start writing another Gone Girl book now, by the time you come to submit to publishers that genre will be as dead as the vampires. And besides, I'm one reader who still loves vampires and historical romances!!!
So there are my top five tips for the beginning author. I have lots more to share on the craft and the industry but I will save for a later date. If you have any specific questions please comment below!
bye for now
I have a confession to make. I am a stalker. It's true. Not the follow you home, hide in the closet and watch you sleep kind of stalker, but a stalker nonetheless. In fact, I challenge all writers to deny that they too have not succumbed to being INBOX STALKERS.
I have just gone through a period of inbox stalking and believe me, it is not pretty. At some points I actually thought I might need some kind of therapy, I mean, who checks their emails at 2 am when they just hop out of bed for a wee? Me. That's who.
Twenty years ago when I first wanted to be a writer it all seemed like such a hard, impossible career path to maneuver through. You write your story, print it out, edit and then in order to submit to publishers and agents you have to print of countless copies, bundle them up and post them. In the mail. And then wait. It was expensive and time consuming and I guess back then a different type of 'mail stalking' was going on.
Now, it's different. Now, after writing and editing and polishing your novel you can google search a variety of publishers and agents who 'might' be interested and send of various queries to them. I recently did this. I finished my latest WIP, polished it, and then sent it off to a few publishers. And then I waited.
Ridiculously I waited ten minutes for a reply. I mean seriously? Ten minutes. I'm in Australia so it was most likely the middle of the night at most publishing houses so they hadn't even checked their emails yet. I knew this. But for some reason I checked anyhow. And kept checking.
Every time I had a spare minute. Check. Disappointed when there was nothing, or just some spam email. I've been through this before. It's a roller coaster of emotions when you submit your latest 'project', 'baby' or 'masterpiece' or whatever other endearing term for your manuscript. You go through hope, excitement, anticipation, rejection, humiliation, pride...just to name a few. The highs - when an editor loves your book - are extremely high but the lows (when an editor not only rejects your story but rejects it with a vehemence that makes you feel as if you should never write again) are awful, just awful. I've been through them all and was given some advice on waiting out the submission process that I thought I would share.
And finally, enjoy the process! Keep a journal of everything you go through as a writer. Who knows that journal might be something you can share in the future.
bye for now...I'm going to check my inbox just one more time....
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