Monday, September 15, 2014

Newbie Author Tip 1: Devour information on the craft and industry.

Tip 1 for newbie authors:

See those shiny little links over there in the right-hand column? (Well, if I ever change the blog layout that might change, but they'll still be here somewhere) Go check them out. See the books I linked to? Go check those (and others) out. Go sign up for newsletters.

READ THEM. I also have a lot more linked over on the front page of my main website at

"But, waaah, I don't have time!"

Would you trust a surgeon who wants to operate on you but claims he doesn't have time to learn as much as he can about the latest techniques? I know that's an exaggerated example, but still. Would you?

That wasn't a hypothetical question. Answer it.

No, you wouldn't. Not if you're reasonably sane. (Although if you're a writer, your sanity is in question to start with, but hopefully you've got a strong enough sense of self-preservation to counter that.)

Also, read books in your chosen genre. Forget the bullshit about accidentally plagiarizing stuff. If you're that worried about it, read stuff outside your genre after reading inside it, and then go write.

In fact, reading OUTSIDE your genre is also a good idea. Why? Because it stretches and exercises that blob of grey matter between your ears, that's why.

Also, use Google-Fu. Google search the heck out of things like, "How do I format a manuscript for submitting to publishers?" Or, "How do I submit to agents?" Or, "How do I work this damned word processing software?" Whatever it is, trust me, it's OUT there. If worse comes to worst, ASK ME. But if you learn some Google-Fu, it will greatly help you in your efforts. If you are lazy and don't do your own research, you'll soon find that other writers stop answering your questions because you're asking stuff that CAN be answered in most all basic resources on the art and craft and profession of writing. Writers in general don't mind being mentors. But we DO mind being babysitters to people who think they're entitled to having their hands held when we're already strapped for time doing our own work.

Don't think you are above learning about the craft of writing. You're not. If you think you are, throw in the towel right now, because you are in for a WORLD of disappointment.

I have nearly seventy books to my credit as of this writing. I am the FIRST person to admit I need an editor. And I'm constantly reading books on the craft.

Do I take every single piece of advice to heart? No, of course not, because some of it doesn't apply to my style of writing, or my creative process, or whatever. But I still READ it and think about it, because even if it doesn't exactly apply to me now, maybe I'll need that information at some future time, you know?

I also read books on the craft of screenwriting. Why? Because books are movies readers watch inside their head. And they're movies writers see inside their heads and then vomit onto the page. It all applies. If you think it doesn't, start stretching your brain, because you're already behind the curve.

Do you have your eye on a specific publisher or agent? Research the hell out of them FIRST. Then, look on their website. They probably have submission guidelines. (If they don't, that's a red flag.) And here's another hint, FOLLOW THOSE GUIDELINES. Yes, they DO apply to YOU. Don't think, "Well, I'll just slip this inspirational romance into their queue, just in case," when they say they're looking for erotica.

Do. Not. Do. It. You're setting yourself up for a rejection, and you're wasting other people's time. Not to mention your entitlement 'tude is showing just a smidge there, snowflake.

FOLLOW instructions. Don't try some dang gimmick and think it'll help you. (It won't.) If you look at agents' blogs, they'll usually outright tell you a gimmick is the fastest way to get shit-canned into the reject pile.

READ. LEARN. STAY OPEN. And above all, never forget this is a marathon, NOT a sprint.