7 Things I’ve Learned So Far

Published authors share their best tips and advice on how to get published, how to find a literary agent, and how to be sell more books.

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Mike Meginnis

BY MIKE MEGINNIS This is a recurring column called “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,” where writers at any stage of their careers can talk about writing advice and instruction — by sharing seven things they’ve learned along their writing journeys that they wish they knew at the beginning. This is installment is from Mike Meginnis, author of...

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Dylan Landis

2. Be a dedicated reader for at least two people. Funnel some generous literary karma into the writing community by offering to be a reader, even if you don't have a dream reader of your own. (Such relationships are often not mutual, anyway.) Never doubt that in your writing life, what goes around, comes...

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Lee Thompson

This is a recurring column I’m calling “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,” where writers (this installment written by Lee Thompson, author of A BEAUTIFUL MADNESS) at any stage of their career can talk about writing advice and instruction as well as how they possibly got their book agent -- by sharing seven things...

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7 Things I Learned So Far, by Heather Sellers

3. Come in through the side door. If you are too on the nose, you lose your reader. Coming in through the front door means your piece is about exactly what it says it is about. But our pleasure in reading is figuring things out. Set up the writing so your reader gets to...

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Sally Koslow

5. Read your work aloud. You may sound full of yourself, but this is the best way to listen for rhythm--or lack of it, to zone in on klutzy spots and to hear words you may overuse: all, always, just, so, usually, very, perhaps, really… If you repeat words, be intentional about it. This...

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Craig Lancaster

3. Patience is a virtue: You’ve finished with your book, but your editor has nine manuscripts he’s reading before he’ll get to yours. Negotiations on a book contract can take weeks. Your book has been acquired but is still months away from actually coming out. I’m not a patient guy by nature, but the...

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Jackie Morse Kessler

This is a recurring column I’m calling “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,” where writers (this installment written by Jackie Morse Kessler, author of TO BEAR AN IRON KEY) at any stage of their career can talk about writing advice and instruction as well as how they possibly got their book agent -- by...

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Tova Mirvis

1) Enjoy the good days: The euphoria of a new idea! The sense that every thing around you has a place in your novel! That conversation you overhear? You know exactly what page it will go on. The dress that woman is wearing? You know which character is going to have it on tomorrow....

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by J. Kent Messum

1. The book business is a great business: Trust me. I spent fifteen years in a really bad business: the music business (a super sleazy viper’s nest of an industry). I’m not saying the book biz doesn’t have its problems, but I’ve largely found publishing to be a well-oiled machine. Most of those employed...

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Sam Zuppardi

5. Keep drawing and writing for yourself. While you’re working on projects that involve collaboration or a need to respond to and incorporate feedback, make sure you keep some creative time or space for just doing whatever the heck you like, for making things that are ‘just yours.’ Doing that can help diffuse...

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by A.B. Westrick

1. Stop trying to find time to write. Instead, make time. When you’re in “trying-to-find” mode, you’re not giving priority to your writing. Identify the time of day when you’re the most creative, then claim that time. Show up at the page. Get up early if you have to. Lock a door if you...

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Kim Fu

7. If you meet a writer and you like their work and you like them as a person, never let them go. Maintain that friendship at all costs. Across time and geography. Support them in everything they do. Celebrate their every victory (even if it coincides with your loss) and mourn their every loss...

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by E.L. Tettensor

2. Less is more. Everyone has their own style. Some prefer lean and muscular, others prefer something a little more florid. Both approaches have their merits, and their fans. That being said, I’ve never heard a reader say, “Gee, I wish there were more adverbs in this book,” and I’ve never read a review...

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Bradley Spinelli

4. “Getting the word out” can mean just about anything. Everyone knows about social media, but old-school “social” still works. I paid my fee and went to the BEA’s Blogger Conference, introduced myself to book bloggers and gave them ARCs. (I also sat in on a number of conferences where everyone talked about Twitter.)...

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Marion Winik

This is a recurring column I’m calling “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,” where writers (this installment written by Marion Winik, author of HIGHS IN THE LOW FIFTIES: How I Stumbled Through the Joys of Single Living) at any stage of their career can talk about writing advice and instruction as well as how...

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Jaime Lee Moyer

2. Don't be afraid to make mistakes, toss what doesn't work, and start again. Professionals throw away chunks of novels and stories all the time and start again. Not every story will work, not every plot will come together or every character come to life. None of the mistakes I made were a waste...

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Elene Sallinger

1. There is no formula for success. I’ve been writing for ten years. I’ve self-published and I’ve traditionally published. When success finally hit, it was a combination of persistence, timing, and luck. The only thing a writer can do to influence their success is write a good story. The audience will find it. Sometimes...

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Helene Wicker

1. Write everything down. I’m in the grocery store, staring vaguely at the produce, when the heavens open up and a great writing idea lands in my brain. I know I should stop and write it down. But isn't that a little weird, to pull out my notebook in the middle of the Safeway?...

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7 Things I’ve Learned so Far, by Laura Krughoff

3. Fix the end by fixing the middle. I routinely tell my students that if they’re struggling with the ending of a story, it is probably because they haven’t quite worked out the conflict. I spent a long time struggling with how to end my novel, and I rewrote the final chapter many times...

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Karen Dietrich

1. Write through the wait. When The Girl Factory was on submission to publishers last October, I felt like I was in limbo. There is a waiting game to play and I’m terribly impatient. The first few days, I spend a lot of time checking my inbox for emails from my agent and thinking...

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Natasha Solomons

1. Hearing voices in your head isn’t a bad thing if you’re a writer. When I start to hear voices in my head, it’s a good sign. It means that my characters are coming to life. When I start something new, I’m always waiting for that moment, when, Golem-like, my characters will take on...

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Jeanne Matthews

1. Keep your manuscript, not your head, in the clouds. I used to be casual and nonchalant about saving my writing to a remote server – until a heartless perp broke down my front door, rampaged through my house, and stole my computer containing my manuscripts and research notes, pictures, blogs in progress, and...

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by M.M. Vaughan

1) Don’t send your manuscript out to every agent at once. I learned this by mistake. I made a list of twelve agents that I wanted to send my book to and prepared a submission pack for each one. I then realized that I only had three stamps so I sent three out and...