I’m about 2-1/2 years into the wonderful world of writing and I’m really just beginning my adventure down this rabbit hole. First, there was writing the novel, of course. But since that time, I’ve been introduced to the fearsome and sometimes frightening world of queries, synopsis writing, elevator pitches and most recently, Twitter pitches. Would you like to sum up your nearly 60,000-word novel of blood, sweat and tears into 140 characters? Sure thing! (Insert an extremely large dose of sarcasm here.)
I’ve also established a blog to share my every free-floating thought and to give updates on my writing journey to all my friends and family. Every day, I learn something new about the publishing business and sometimes, when I find out that new piece of info, I wish I hadn’t. Because as soon as I hear it, my mind inevitably rushes back to an earlier date when I actually committed whatever horrible offense I was just educated on. It’s at those moments I wish I had a time machine to go back and tell myself that valuable piece of advice before I stupidly walk smack dab into a big ole mistake.
For example, don’t send off a flurry of queries, even when you think you’ve read plenty about how to craft them, before getting them critiqued by a group of current writers. Fresh eyes are a writer’s best friend! This is something I wish I had told myself several months ago, but hey, you live and learn, right?
So, today my hope is that I will be able to help other up-and-coming writers who have yet to travel as far down the writer’s path as I have. Mind you, I’ve not gone very far myself, but even if you’re just starting, I think these will be of benefit to you. Please heed these warnings. They may just help you get that book you’ve slaved over for x-amount of time published.
HELPFUL HINT #1: As mentioned above, just because being a writer can be a bit of a lone wolf occupation, don’t keep yourself isolated. Reach out to others in the community. A group of writers can help give you perspective on your query, your manuscript, your synopsis, your character’s names and the list goes on and on. Awesome sites to help give you a sense of community and offers great help every step along the way are querytracker.net, agentqueryconnect.com, and absolutewrite.com. These are just a few of the great websites out there that can help you even when you may think you don’t need any (note to self).
HELPFUL HINT #2: Be receptive to feedback and critiques. Develop a thick skin early on because you’ll need it later for those inevitable agent rejections. Realize that obviously you have to have written a great book and it’s fresh and new and exciting and all that jazz, but this business is also very SUBJECTIVE. Do not get discouraged when you get that first stinging edit of a query or form rejection letter. I’ve now come to believe that there is a little bit of magic sprinkled in the mix when it comes to someone falling in love with your work (great writing/strong voice/unique characters aside). I tend to look at it this way. My book has a soulmate out there, in the form of the perfect agent, and all they have to do is meet and fall in love
HELPFUL HINT #3: Know thyself! Stay true to who you are. Don’t try to go with whatever current trends you think are out there just for the sake of getting an agent’s attention. Another invaluable thing I’ve learned is that what you’re trying to get an agent with now, will not be published for another 2-3 years. Yes, that’s right. You have to be a bit of a psychic in this business as well. This is why I fall back on a tried but true saying and that is, “Write what you know.” Only you can channel the emotion of teenage angst you went through in high school, the heartbreak at college, the racial profiling, etc. If you use that wealth of information and emotional fountain deep within your soul, regardless of your intended audience or genre, your writing will be fresh and unique and it will get published even if it is 2050 before it hits shelves!
Now that I’ve had my say, I’m calling on all my incredible writer friends to please help me out in helping others out. Post in the comments section below your tips and painfully-learned examples about the writing process. I’d love to hear from those just starting out to the successfully-published! It’ll be good writing karma if you do!