Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Writers Wet Behind the Ears

Eeek. Beginning writers, I still feel like I’m there a lot of days. So I'm going to do my best to share with you the things I’ve learned from the mistakes that I made in the very beginning. This is in no particular order, number 1 is not more important than number 5.

1. Don’t think that your family can actually help you edit or beta read your work. They will lie through their teeth about how good it is because they love you. Trust me on this one. They don’t want to hurt your feelings, so they will do their best to sugar coat everything they say.

2. Plot your books! I have heard so many times people say things like “Oh, I don’t plot, the characters just take me where they take me.” Here’s the thing. I was like that, I had twenty five novels started, not one of them finished. Because when I got to the middle and I had no plot to work from, I got stuck and started a new idea. Sound familiar? So start plotting, even if it’s only a beginning, middle and end, that will give you a path to follow.

3. Please don’t think you are artist enough to do your own cover art (this is for Indie authors) You aren’t. And that’s okay, your talent is writing, focus on that. A cover can literally make or break your book, and yes, I did learn this the very hard way. Once I got my cover done right, my sales jumped to a degree I could have only hoped for.

4. Along with number 3. If you are self publishing, allow others to work for you. Hire people to do the jobs that you don’t know, or can’t do.  If you think that you can do it all, and do it well, you’re fooling yourself.

5. Don’t whine and complain that you can’t afford an editor. You cannot afford NOT to have an editor. They are essential to your success as an author, they will teach you things about your writing that you never knew. Like using the word “palatable” in every single chapter. Or using adverbs like Clearly, heavily, scarily, pushily. They will help you grow and they will help you make sure your ms is polished so that readers don’t want to throw it across the room because “Ooops” you forgot about the plot thread.

6. If you are going the traditional route and are going to query editors and agents, LEARN THE RULES OF THE QUERY. The fastest way to get booted out of an agent’s potential list is to not pay attention to the details. Do your research, and then have your query read by a few people before sending it off. I went the traditional route prior to self publishing, I landed an agent, in this, please trust me.

Okay, those are six points that I think every green, new, wet behind the ears author needs to take into account. Not that they are all the mistakes I made *clears throat* , but some of the bigger ones I tried on for size at least once. LOL.


R. Mac Wheeler said...

*grinning in an unmanly manner*

Very few Indies follow these rules.

I think I am in good company.

Hmm...maybe that's why I don't get past chapter three in a majority of the Indies I read.

One problem I whine about every day...I read books edited 'professionally' that look unedited. There are too many editors out there who really aren't.

(Mac, stop now before you really rant and ramble)

- Mac

Ciara Ballintyne said...

I can't agree more with point 5 above, although I also note the comment above from Mac that too many editors exist who really aren't, and he's right. I've come across writers who think THEY can edit because they've been edited, or done beta reading. It annoyed me so much I did a whole blog post on it. For the same reason you've said writers need an editor, writers can't BE the editor for another writer - wriyers can't be good at everything, and editing, PROFESSIONAL editing, is a whole other skill set. But it'sincumbent upon the writer to do their research and choose a quality, professional editor the same as they would research agents if going the traditional route.

A.M. Schultz said...

Tony the Tiger would commend this post!

There are tens-of-thousands of "writers," thousands of good writers, hundreds of great writers and a handful of masterful writers. Why so many feel their works are above or beyond a thorough editing process is beyond me. I think people expect that they are going to sit down and churn out the world's next masterpiece on one draft sometimes. Yikes! Patience and persistence, y'all!

As for the cover art, this seems to be just as bad if not worse a culprit in the no-no department. I wrote a post last week about this (my mobile device won't post the link but it is hosted at subject and threw a few mock "stinker" covers up. Kudos to those who go through the proper channels to make their works truly stand out. People should judge a book by its content, and they will inevitably judge it by it's cover before that.

If a book is worth writing, it is worth perfecting.


Shannon said...

Thank you for your comments. And I agree and will have to ammend in a later post that not all editors are created equal. In fact, I think I've got at least 3 wild stories about that . . .