I have several published book and have been epublishing since 2006. The industry is constantly changing that’s it difficult to come up with hard and steadfast rules for a successful writing career. For what it’s worth, here’s are some tips that I find helpful.
1. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket – publish with more than one publishing house. I’ve had houses go under and it’s a bitch to get your rights back, so it’s nice to have income coming in from several sources.
2. Don’t think there’s one way to do something – there are always options, and sometimes rules are meant to be broken. You just need to know when you can break them.
3. Don’t freak out when someone writes a bad review of one of your beloved stories. Writing is subjective. There are best sellers that I couldn’t even get past the first chapter. It doesn’t mean it’s not good but that I just didn’t resonate with the book.
4. The best way to improve your writing is to do it. So keep writing.
5. Limit your critique partners – and be sure they respect your voice.
6. Above all, enjoy the journey – all of it. Have fun with your creative process, be an individual and give yourself permission to be yourself. Not all of us write with a story outline, or crank out three books a month, or spend eight hours a day writing. It’s OK. You are the director of your own movie.
FB and Twitter: VikiLynRomance
I can give to aspiring authors is the same that inspires me to keep writing, keep submitting, keep pushing. It doesn’t come from another author. It comes from an actor. THE actor whose words first nudged me into sending a manuscript into the ether and continues to inspire and encourage me in the most amazing way. A man I had the utmost pleasure of meeting at the start of June, and who is incredible in every which way (yes, I know I’m fangirling. Hush.)
Misa Buckley is a sci fi geek who escapes the crazy of raising five children by creating imaginary characters who experience adventure, romance and really hot sex on their way to a happily-ever-after. You can keep up to date with Misa’s latest news by following her on Twitter or at her website.
1. Keep the drama on the page.
I first heard this writing advice from a woman in a Writing Marathon Group. Essentially, the lesson here is to not let your life get so bogged down in drama that you don’t have the emotional room or time to write. Don’t lose your days to bullshit concerns like who said what to whom, or get dragged into making poor choices that end up giving you real life consequences that eat into your mind and erode your ability to get words on the page. If you’re going to have drama in your life? Keep it on the page. Write it into a story where it only hurts your poor, hapless characters; don’t let it hurt you or your productivity.
2. Write for only one person.
I heard this advice only two weeks ago from a friend who heard it from her writing coach. Don’t let the voices of your editors, your friends, the crowd, the reviewers, and the polls about what “our readers” want tell you what you can or can’t write. If you do that, you’ll no longer be able to hear your own inner voice and you’ll be paralyzed with fear. You’ll think things like, “I can’t write this story in first person! Everyone hates first person!” or “I can’t have the other love interest be a woman because the main m/m review sites won’t look at a story if there’s a woman in it, too!”
If you think those thoughts, your creativity dies. It shrivels up into a corner and starts to cry, “Everyone hates me, nobody loves me, guess I’ll go eat worms.” Then it will sit there and refuse to move, letting your miserable writerly self stew in panic over how you can’t write anymore!
Yep, that’s what will happen. So! Write for one person and one person only. No matter who it might be. It’s okay for that person to be your best friend, or that one reader you know will love the concept, or perhaps best and most freeing of all, write it for yourself.
3. Don’t get caught up in ideas of what you should be writing. Write whatever the hell you want to write. Write trash, write smut, write hoity-toity literature, write gay romance, write heterosexual romance, write threesomes, fivesomes, westerns, space-cowboys, write about circuses or trash collectors. Don’t cut yourself off from your creative source by deciding what kind of writer you want to be and sticking only to that.
People will tell you that diversification is bad because your following only wants to read what you’ve fed them in the past. Well, creativity doesn’t thrive on reproducing the same book again and again, and readers will either follow you into something new or or they won’t. Your creativity, though, won’t stick around while you batter it against the same wall again and again. If you do that, what you once loved–writing–will become a dreadful chore.
4. That’s right. It’s okay for your book to not be okay. It’s okay for it to not be perfect or even really good. It’s okay if people don’t like it. It’s okay if it only sells four copies. It’s okay.
Do you know why it’s okay? Because you wrote a motherfucking book! And not everyone does that. You know that quote, right? The one about perfection being the enemy of good? At some point just be done with your book. There’s a ‘good enough’ point that must be reached in order to let your book live in the hands of readers. Bow to that and submit fully to it. Be okay with the outcome. After all….
You wrote a motherfucking book!
5. Make peace with the fact that you’re not Jonathan Lethem or Catherynne Valente or Ernest Hemingway or any writer other than yourself. Make peace with the fact that you’re not going to be in TIME or win a prize. Make peace with that reality and write your books to the very best of your ability–and it might turn out that you were wrong. But even if you weren’t wrong, you wrote a damn book. Good on you!
5. Yep, that’s right. Every book is a new creature and you’re going to have to face that fact. Don’t let the new and daunting stop you from going forward. Every writer struggles at times, some books are easier than others, and you just have to keep on keeping on.
6. What’s the most important thing to do as a writer? We all know the answer. The single most important thing you can do to become a successful writer is…*drum roll*…
FINISH YOUR WORK!!!!!
That’s right. That’s the single most important thing you can do to become a successful writer. Why’s that? Because if you finish nothing then you’ll never sell anything either. You have to start somewhere and that means you’ve got to have a finished product. Embrace “good enough” and finish your book. Don’t get overly distracted by the pretty, shiny of a new idea, or let yourself quit when the going gets tough. If you get bored, come at it from a new angle, introduce a new point of view, or throw away part of it. Embrace the rewrites. Just don’t quit and don’t stop. Finish. Your. Work.
Keira Andrews and Leta Blake write fairy tale inspired m/m erotica and romantica with Ellora’s Cave. Check out Ascending Hearts, available through Ellora’s Cave, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sony, and others! And also remember to look for Earthly Desires, the first book in the Tempting Tales series, available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Ellora’s Cave.
So I’m supposed to be all erudite and wise on our blog this week and lay out some tips for writers. Huh…okay. Although I’ve had a (I think) respectable number of pieces published—seventeen to date, with two more due out this year so far—I still think of myself as learning how to be a successful professional author.
And it doesn’t help when the landscape of publishing seems to change every time we look at it.
So, bearing all that in mind, here are my general tips for writers, and I’m afraid there probably won’t be any you haven’t heard before. And yes, as the title suggests, it’s all up to you.
1) Read. Figure out what you like and, more importantly, why you like it. This will help you decide where you want to concentrate your efforts, because if you don’t love the genre you’re writing in, it’ll show.
2) Study your craft. I really wanted to do ‘control+b’, ‘control+u’, ‘ALL CAPS’ when I wrote that, but I know that’s the editor in me. Oh, what the hell… STUDY YOUR CRAFT. There, I feel better. Here’s the thing…we can get away with a lot of stuff as authors when it comes to the quality of our books. This is not a new phenomenon, no matter what anyone says. There have been many very successful hack writers over the centuries, so let’s not pretend the publishing of mediocre books is caused by the internet or the new publishing culture. We often sacrifice quality for speed, or to be able to seize an opportunity we fear won’t wait or come again. That’s fine, but is no excuse for stopping learning and growing, so as to improve your writing. When your editor (be it at a publishing company or the freelancer you’ve hired) points out something you consistently do incorrectly, take it as a lesson and take it to heart. Having pride in your work doesn’t only mean being able to say you’re published, but also in being able to know you’re getting better and better.
3) Determine for yourself what success looks like. Don’t let what others are doing or saying make you lose focus. Figure out what it is you want and work toward that goal. Now, there are many ways to measure success, and there is nothing wrong with any of them, as long as it’s what you want. Some people want a traditional publishing contract, others just want to be able to say they’re published, however that’s achieved. Some are in it to say they make art, others want to make money, or any combination of the previous. Whatever will make you feel successful, go for it.
4) Accept the fact we can’t all be superstars. No, I mean that, and say it with all due respect. BUT…this ties in to what I was saying above…we don’t all have to be superstars to be successful. Again, it all depends on your definition of success. If there was some way for me to make a good living without anyone knowing my name, I’d be quite happy to go that route. Hmmm…maybe I should take up ghost writing…
5) Finally, take your writing career seriously but yourself not so much. This is very important for your sanity and that of the people around you. Believe me. Please. Keep the drama for your plots.
Now, I’m off to research ghost writing 🙂
I am a slow writer. I loath and detest being a slow writer, therefore, I’m doing my damnedest to change it and speed up my output. Hence, my writing advice stems from all of the advice *I’ve* sought out about how to speed everything up.
My first bit of writing advice is easy: Keep seeking out writing advice via other authors, workshops, conferences, and books, whatever you can find. Just about everyone who has finished a book or ten has a method for accomplishing their ‘write a book’ goal. Many of them are willing to tell you what that is. Try those methods out. See what works. See what doesn’t. You’re building a tool kit filled with different tools that all fit your hand. And in the things that don’t work for you, you’re learning to toss aside the tools that don’t serve you.
Second: Turn off the internet.
Third: Develop a ritual. A routine. Carve out a stretch of time – whenever and whatever length works for you. (Though I urge you to experiment with writing at different times of the day. You might be surprised to find you do your best work first thing in the morning before your brain wakes. Or last at night when your conscious mind is already half asleep.) Declare your chosen time sacred and inviolable. Stick to it. Don’t put pressure on yourself for word counts. Not yet. Just set your intention to sit down at your chosen time at least 5 days a week and write something.
You’re developing a habit, creating expectation within your own subconscious. This is a good thing. After you’ve established the habit and have managed to work for a few weeks in your routine, you can start pushing word count goals. Just remember to make the goals realistic – success breeds success. And above all, reward yourself when you make it. (Be realistic about those rewards, too – but a week of met word count goals totally justifies a mani/pedi if that’s your thing. I get a new book.)
The bad thing is that the moment you decide you’re going to write from 9 to midnight each night, the Universe at large is going to laugh in your face. Partners will come home in crisis. Children will projectile vomit all over and require a run to the ER. Pets will blue screen your computer or break their delicate little legs. If you’ve turned off the internet while you write, you aren’t caught up in the latest fire burning up the publishing world. Good. Now. Smile. Take a deep, calming breath and deal with whatever roadblock the Universe throws in the face of your dedication.
Then go right back to your routine the very next day. Keep coming back. Make your time pleasant (I get tea and goodies – pick your poison) so that you WANT to go back time and time again, despite opposition. If emergencies keep shattering your routine, look at your timing. Could you shift your writing schedule to another, calmer time of day? This is why early mornings are my writing time. The day seems to pile up on my family and by evening, the need for my attention means no writing happens. Ever.
The final and best advice I have to offer comes from Galaxy Quest. Yeah, you guessed it.
Never give up. Never surrender.
As a published author, two questions I regularly receive are, “What’s the best writing advice you can give me?” and “What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?” There are three pieces of advice that have stuck with me through thick and thin, and they’re the ones I’m going to share with you today.
1. Rhino Hide: This is like Thick Skin, Safari Style. If you ever want a sincere critique from a crit partner or agent, you’re going to need thick skin. No one wants to hear her manuscript, her beloved baby, isn’t as ridiculously beautiful as she thought. Reading comments about cliches, overused words, trite lines and more can truly rattle self-esteem, but these things are absolutely critical to truly hear if your goal is to improve. But if you sell? You’re going to need rhino hide. Period. See, editors are there to make your manuscript the best it can be. Feelings can be bruised very easily if a writer doesn’t learn to take in critique/editorial comments with objectivity and turn those comments into productive revisions. This was, honestly, a difficult thing to master. Now? Not even professional moisturizers can help. I’m like leather, baby!
2. Little Darlings: Stephen King wrote a book titled On Writing. If you haven’t read it? Do. Now. Abandon this blog post and go. It’s absolutely the most helpful book on writing I’ve ever read. Did it give me hardline craft notes and methods and fundamental outlines to follow? What it takes to be a guaranteed success? Recipes for lemon poundcake? Nope. None of that. What it taught me was much more valuable: sometimes you have to kill your darlings. This means that sometimes, when you find a line you’re head over heels in love with but your crit partner(s) advice is to ditch it, your agent says the humor is misplaced or your editor says to strike it, you do. Yes, you read that right. You kill it. Hold a memorial service if you must, but let that bastard go. It’s unwise to become so wedded to a word, sentence, phrase or section that you can’t accept feedback regarding changes, or deletions, that make your story better.
3. Time: This is a two-fold tidbit. First, make time to write. If you want it bad enough, the time will be available. I’ve known people who get up two hours early each day in order to get their words in before the day job. I also know people who have given up things that came second to their desire to write (sports, TV time, clubs, etc.). You can carve out time, even if it’s only 30 minutes a day, if it’s what you really, truly want.
The second have of this is to advise you to make time to read. Yes, read. So torturous, my suggestions! Seriously, though, reading is critical. Read across any genre in which you want to write. Read outside your preferred genres. Read books your friends recommend. I guarantee you won’t like everything you read, but two things will happen. First, you’re going to find authors whose voices you admire. They will help shape your own sound. Second, your vocabulary is going to improve. Neither of these things are bad things. So make the investment in your local bookstore or favorite online retailer and stock up on reading material.
4. Best Advice: This came from my agent very recently. She said, “Get out of your own way and write.” It’s hard to do because my internal editor is loud, obnoxious and rather bitchy. But Super Agent was right. Sometimes it’s a matter of setting all the advice and others’ best intentions aside and doing what you do.
So there you have it. My three little tidbits and the best advice I’ve ever received. What’s the best advice you’ve been given? And what questions would you like to ask that I might be able to answer? Feel free to drop me a comment here or shout out on my website or Twitter.