42 Tips for New Writers

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We recently had a chat about the things we wish we had known starting out as writers. Here’s the result for you, the new writier:

1) Start a Mailing List:
Start a mailing list. But don’t do what I did and wait for it to grow organically. WORK on that puppy! PROMOTE it! Don’t just sit and hope that readers will sign up to it: GO GET ‘EM! –Amelia Faulkner

2) Making The Book is the Easy Part:
That writing and producing the book would be the easy part. Getting people to actually fund and read the book, not so much. –Stephen del Mar

3) The Mid-Story Slump Is Normal:
Slumps in the middle of the manuscript are normal and the only way to get through it is to literally power through it. –Tabitha Creech
That slump is so true. For me it happens nearly every time at about the 20 to 25k mark. That’s when I also start to second-guess myself (and my sanity). To overcome, I just sit and tell myself to write one more sentence, just one. It works because before I know it I have a paragraph, then a page. After a couple days or so, the slump recedes. But it is very real.” –Wendy Rathbone

4) Promote a Little Every Day:
Promoting is a lot easier when one does a little bit every day.. –Tabitha Creech

5) Keep a Strict Writing Schedule:
A strict writing schedule is life. Otherwise, you’ll forget the important self-care stuff like eating.” –Tabitha Creech

6) Write What You Love:
Write what you love, or your life will be hellish.

7) Be Wary of Long Multi-Book Contracts:
I originally wrote a short story for an anthology, and the editor asked if I “had a book in me”. Thanks to NaNo, I had one mostly finished, and ideas for three more. And the short story was my first publication ever — I was scared that if a publisher didn’t commit to the whole series, I’d find myself in the position of publishing the first book in a series and then not finding anyone willing to publish the rest. The publisher was very happy to get a four-book commitment out of me, as it turns out. And then once I started writing the series, my Fae got bossy (they do that) and said, no way are you finishing our story in just four books. After the first four were done, I ended up changing publishers, and the new publisher wanted to republish the first four books and pick up the rest of the series. And I hadn’t learned my lesson yet, apparently. And I’m currently working on book number 8 — hopefully I’ll be starting 9 by February 1. *stares hard at light at the end of the tunnel, praying it’s not a train* –Rory ni Coileain

8) Tackle One Genre at a Time:
Establish yourself in one genre before jumping on others. Promote more and always.

9) Check the Catalog:
Consider very carefully before contracting with a publisher that publishes very few other books similar to yours. –Heather Rose Jones

10) Don’t “Write What You Know”:
It’s not “write what you know”. It’s “learn about what you want to write, and respect the communities you write about.” –Scott
Write what you know is the worst lesson ever to be taught to writers in the history of the writing universe! –Wendy Rathbone

11) Everyone Hates Novellas:
Everyone who reads your novella, even those who bought it knowing full well that it was a novella and not a novel, will criticize you for not making it longer. Take this as a compliment. –Scott
Oh, they bitch if it’s long too. –Stephen del Mar

12) Do NOT Read Your Goodreads Reviews:
Never, ever, ever read your Goodreads reviews. If you do, have a friend (preferably someone who knows what a wonderful writer you are) close at hand. –Scott
I ask a friend to glance over reviews, alert me to 4/5 star ones and summarize lower ones if there is anything useful. Rants are completely ignored or asked to be removed if they are hateful. I dont read them at all. –Christine Wright

13) Do Not Eat at Your Desk:
Do not eat at your desk. If you do, you will not only gain weight but have crumbs in your keyboard. Get up, walk around, take the dog for a walk, and let the dialogue flow. Eat a snack. Then come back to your clean keyboard and write some more. –Tali Spencer

14) Wear Your Reading Glasses:
And for the love of Chuck, don’t ever forget to wear your reading glasses while you’re at the keyboard! You may think you can do without them, just that one time, and walk away with a headache that’ll last days. Despite promises that you’ll never make that mistake again, you will and not even two weeks later. Post-it note that to your keyboard! –Tabitha Creech

15) Rejection is Just Rejection:
Rejection doesn’t mean your writing sucks. It doesn’t mean your book is bad. All it means is you need to find the right publisher/agent. –Tali Spencer

16) You Are Your Idea’s Slave:
That once the idea has formed and needs to come out, you are its slave. Give in to it; otherwise it will never leave you in peace. –Trevor Barton

17) Read the Contract!:
Always read your contract thoroughly, even if it is with a publisher you have already published with and it looks the same. I failed to spot a country jurisdiction change once and now I read them thoroughly and check EVERYTHING repeatedly before I sign… no matter who it is with. –LM Brown

18) You Need a Website and a Brand:
Get a website, branded, get your stuff up there, and keep it current. –Tory Phoenix

19) Publish When You Are Ready:
Don’t let pressures from readers push you to upload until you are absolutely ready. –Alma Pagan

20) Hire An Editor If You Self Pub:
I was going to say: “have my first book professionally edited before publishing it (instead of publishing it and getting it edited as soon as it had made enough money)” but that actually worked out ok for me, and maybe I wouldn’t have met my primary editor, who has turned into a great friend… but I highly recommend NOT doing it my way. Spend the money to get it edited, no matter how well-written your friends say it is LOL –Bey Deckard

21) It’s Mostly Luck:
The business of publishing and selling your work is not a level playing field. Luck is a huge part of it. Below average books can become bestsellers and excellent books can disappear into obscurity. The cream does not necessarily rise to the top. The feelings of resentment over that can eat you alive. –Wendy Rathbone

22) Watch Your Bottom Line:
Don’t spend more money on a book than you will earn on it! –Stephen del Mar

23) Don’t Work in a Vacuum:
Do not work in a vacuum. If you’re having trouble getting accepted, even by small publishers, there are most likely reasons. Get help. Reach out. Don’t think you can figure everything out on your own. (I was proud and thought I could – and wasted a gods-awful amount of time.). –Angel Martinez

24) Too Good to Be True?
if a publisher approaches you and gushes about your work and wants to sign you. And then has a contract that’s better than anything else out there? Run. If it looks to good to be true, it most assuredly is. –Angel Martinez

25) Take a Break:
Always take breaks. And make sure your breaks do not involve more electronic screens! Your eyes and mind will thank you. –Tabitha Creech

26) Read it Out Loud:
Read your writing out loud. Notice how often you use “He/She said.” –EJ Runyon

27) Never Respond to Reader Reviews:
It will be incredibly tempting to respond to reviews, but for the sake of your sanity, *don’t*. It’s a rabbit hole you do not want to fall into, full of strange and dangerous things with teeth. –CB Lewis

28) It’s Like Homework – For the Rest of Your Life:
You *will* feel like you have homework due for the rest of your life. You’ll never be entirely satisfied with your work. You’ll feel simultaneously like you want to quit writing and like you’re utterly incapable of quitting. –Davina Jamison

29) Ignore Your Inner Critic:
Don’t let your own self-doubt keep you from promoting your work. Pretty sure I could have been performing much better, sales wise, if I hadn’t held myself back for a year. –Davina Jamison

30) Finish What You Start:
Learn discipline and time management—AND finish what you start! (Only learned those recently! 🙂 ) –Jeff Baker

31) Make Friends in Your Genre:
Make friends with other authors who write in the same genre and cross-promote. –Sorcha Black

32) You’re Probably Blocked for a Reason:
When the words won’t flow, it might be that your subconscious is trying to tell you there’s one more thing you need to figure out about your story before you can write it all down. It’s not a horrible thing if you take a little longer to think about a book before you write it. –Aidee Ladnier

Ten Other Things:
Deadlines can suck the fun out of writing, edits and blurbs could make you scream, a good editor costs money but is worth every penny, you wont be instantly rich, low reviews can hurt your soul (dont read them on GR), promo your brand not just new books, MAKE lots of friends on FB to help you, WRITE WRITE WRITE and write some more… do contests, try new things, innovate and above all else support other authors and the community. –Christine Wright