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.