Five Things New Writers Should Always Do by A.S. Bond
So you want to be a writer? Think you’ve got what it takes? Maybe you are the next JK Rowling, but as everyone knows, even she languished on the rejection pile for a while…here’s how to give yourself the best chance of getting your literary voice heard.
1. Read. OK, I know it sounds silly and you probably devour books by the truckload, but are you doing the right kind of reading? Are you reading the genre you want to write in? If you love to read horror, but have decided to write romance because you think it is more ‘commercial’ or some similar reason, forget it; your heart won’t be in it. You also need to read quite critically. How does that author tackle introduce suspense or a new character? I highly recommend Bernard Cornwall’s advice, particularly the latter section, where he discusses how he analysed the work of successful authors before writing his own first novel http://www.bernardcornwell.net/writing-advice/
2. Start to think technically. You want to switch from being a consumer to a producer and that takes work. Writing is a craft, so learn it. Don’t buy into the rubbish about writers being born not made. To be successful you will need talent + luck + hard work. 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration is about right. Learn how to write fiction; do you understand ‘show don’t tell’? Can you create great dialogue? Have you eliminated all the cliché’s, overused adverbs and irrelevant description? Even if you have been writing for yourself for decades, it’s worth taking a class or joining a book group to get some objective feedback on your work. It’s easier to take than a pile of rejection notes or, even worse, a handful of cutting, 1* reviews on public forums.
3. Develop your own voice. The one thing both publishers and readers alike are looking for is originality. A new voice will excite your target readership and rack up those sales.
4. Don’t rush to publication. Are you confident your work is as good as it can be? Then take a step back. Put it in a drawer for a while and go do something else. When you’ve forgotten enough detail to make reading it seem fresh again, go through it. You’ll be amazed at what jumps out at you. Finally, whether you are going for traditional publication and submitting to agents and/or publishers, or taking the plunge into self publishing, I recommend hiring a professional copyeditor before sending out your manuscript. You don’t have to pay a big company thousands for this – although there are plenty out there ready to take your money – look up a well qualified individual on a freelance website like Elance or Guru. There are plenty of professionals who work at very reasonable rates. If you don’t want to spend a couple hundred dollars, you could be throwing away months or even years of your own work (and a possible new career) because of a few typos or easily remedied errors.
5. Whether you get a book deal, or self publish, be prepared to market yourself. Every day. The days of an author leaving all that to their publishers are long gone. Even really famous names still have to do a lot of ‘heavy lifting’ in terms of appearances, interviews etc. You’ll probably be focused on discoverability, which is particularly hard for self published writers. What all new authors should know however, is that even if you sign a deal with a big publisher, there won’t be glamorous launch parties, book tours etc. You will get a fraction of the attention of either an in-house or contracted publicist, who will send out a press release and everyone then waits with their fingers crossed. There’s libraries worth of advice out there on how to market yourself as a writer, both on and off-line, so take a look and get started long before your book hits the shelves.
A.S Bond is the pen name of Alexandra Pratt, an internationally acclaimed travel writer and journalist. Alexandra is also the author of six previous books, including Lost Lands, Forgotten Stories (HarperCollins, 2002), which is the story of her canoe expedition to Labrador that later inspired much of the ‘action’ in Patriot and The Day The Island Exploded, which is the story of her father-in-law’s real life escape from an erupting volcanic island in Antarctica. Now married and based in the west of England, Alexandra works as a freelance journalist and also writes adventure thrillers under the pen name A.S.Bond. ‘Patriot’ is an award-winning thriller, which debuted at #13 in its category on Amazon. It is the first title in her series of Brooke Kinley Adventures. For more information and the latest news, visit http://www.brookekinleyadventures.com