Today’s topic is Tips For New Writers. Here are four suggestions based on things I did (or wish I’d done!) along the way from inspiration to publication.
1. Have some very generous friends read as you write.
If you’re writing a novel, that is a long journey with a lot of work and a lot of rejection. You’re going to need encouragement along the way. Now is not the time for friends that like to work a red pencil. It’s the time for folks who will ooh and aah over anything you send. So find your biggest cheerleader – your mom, spouse, grandfather, aunt, best friend – and send them each chapter or section as you finish. (Holly and Sarah, and Mom, thanks for being the best early readers I could ask for!)
2. Have some very mean friends read when you finish a full draft.
Done with a full first draft? You and your cheerleaders think it’s great? Now is the time for the red pencil. Find the best writers and editors you can and ask for their brutally honest feedback. It may sting a bit when they point out plot holes and undeveloped characters. But, trust me, constructive criticism at this stage is gold. You need to find and address every flaw if you hope to eventually query successfully. (I ultimately ended up working with a professional editor, Heather Lazare, to make sure the manuscript was as polished as possible.)
3. Figure out social media and the online world as soon as you sign your book.
Guess who didn’t bother with this until way too late in the game? I was busy with my day job and working on my second book and figured someone would let me know whenever I needed to start paying attention to the online world. Oops!
Do you have a contract for your book but still no website? Drop everything and go, right now, to squarespace to build your website. Haven’t yet figured out Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook? Get on there, my friend. Find a few debut authors you admire to see what they’re doing and follow along. You’ll get the hang of it soon.
4. Stick (mostly) to the marketing you love.
There are so many different approaches you can take. Love Instagram? Post every single day and make best buddies of Bookstagrammers. Love interacting with bookstores? Send handwritten notes with, say, bookmarks or other swag to every store you think might be interested in your book. Want to do book clubs? Let everyone in your network know and keep meticulous track of anyone that says they’re in a club or knows of one. Choose a marketing approach that will be fun for you and go with it.
Good luck to you on your journey! And let us know if the advice ends up working for you.