7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by F.T. Bradley

This is a recurring column I’m calling “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,” where writers (this installment written by F.T. Bradley, author of DOUBLE VISION) 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 they’ve learned along their writing journey that they wish they knew at the beginning.

GIVEAWAY: F.T. is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Update: Linda Hatton won.)


 author-writer-FT-bradley           double-vision-middle-grade-novel

F.T. Bradley is the author of DOUBLE VISION (Harper Children’s,
Oct. 2012), the first in the middle-grade adventure series featuring
Lincoln Baker and Benjamin Green. Her husband’s Air Force career
has F.T. and their two daughters moving all around the world, but
for the moment the family lives on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. To
find out more about F.T and Double Vision, visit www.ftbradley.com,
doublevisionbooks.com; or find F.T. Bradley on Twitter.



1. Know Your Process. Before I even got my agent or my books found a publisher, I had a writing schedule, and set deadlines for each stage of the process. At the time, it felt a little ridiculous, but I’m glad I did this now. I know exactly how fast I can write a first draft, or how long it takes me to do a deep edit. So when my editor asks me to complete a task by a certain time, I know what it’ll take to get me there.

2. You’re An Apprentice. I always thought that once you have a publishing contract, you must know what you’re doing, right? Think again. I’m still learning new things about craft with each draft, and each stage of the publishing process. And that’s okay—I do feel like I get a little better with each book. By book 20, maybe I’ll be awesome, but for now, I consider myself an apprentice.

(How many markets should you send your novel out to?)

3. It’s Never Too Early. “I’ll go to that writers conference—once I have a book contract.” There are so many events I passed on and organizations I didn’t join, thinking that I needed to have that upcoming book to validate the expense. I now wish I’d joined organizations like SCBWI before—there are so many resources and guidance for writers pre-publication, it’s really worth it to join and go to events before. That way, once you have that good news, you’ll have more friends to share it with.

(Pitch agents at a writers’ conference.)

4. Not Everything You Hear Is True. “Editors don’t edit anymore.” Or: “You have to meet your agent at an event or know one of their clients to get your foot in the door.” My editors edit every single word over and over (and over) until the story is perfect, and my agent responded to my email query—we still haven’t met in person. Don’t believe everything you hear. Every writer’s experience is different, so forge your own path.

5. Be Social. I am on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, I have a website and a blog—I could go on for a while, but you get the idea: I’m comfortable on the web. It’s called social networking, but really, the secret to all of these platforms is to make friends. Make a personal connection, and then it’s extra cool when you meet these virtual contacts in person. The added benefit to this social networking? If you do it before the book contract, you’ve already done the legwork. That way, when the book comes out, you have friends to cheer you on.

(Be social by building your writer platform and connecting with readers.)

6. Attitude Is Everything. Writing and editing a book is hard work. You’ll have tight deadlines, you’ll get (sometimes painfully honest) feedback on your writing, and once the book is out, you’ll get reviews, some nice, some not. Bottom line: the ups and downs don’t end when you sign that book contract, and it’s your attitude that determines how you’ll ride the tides. Whenever I hit a speed bump, I take a minute to mope. I do some laundry, or clean the fridge (eating ice cream is also good). Then I tell myself: “I can totally do this.” Positivity rules.

7. It’s all About the Writing. With all the hoops you have to jump through to get an agent, get that book contract, and the worries about marketing and such, it’s easy to forget that all of it begins and ends with the book. If the writing and the story isn’t your very best, the other stuff is just noise. Put the writing first, no matter if you’re a newbie or a NY Times Bestseller.

GIVEAWAY: F.T. is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Update: Linda Hatton won.)



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18 thoughts on “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by F.T. Bradley

  1. esparhawk

    Ms. Bradley, I’m an agented writer, working on a new book. How do you find good beta readers? I’m already on Critique Circle, but it’s hard to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. Often the people I meet at conferences and online are either a.) not as dedicated to their writing as I am or b.) not critical enough or c.) not knowledgeable of craft (recommending that I add more back story or flowery language).

    1. FTBradley

      Finding readers is hard–I get this question a lot. I found my readers through a critique group, but a lot of that was luck.

      You can try online sources–Critters if you’re scifi; I used Zoetrope.com during my early years as a short story writer.

      Sometimes, plain reader (not writer) feedback is best: it gives you comments purely from a reader perspective. So finding people who like to read what you write might be a way to go. Once you have the craft down (if you’re agented, you likely do), it’s more about improving story than anything else.

      Not sure how helpful this is, but I hope you find the reader you’re looking for…

  2. Juliana

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on writing, F.T. I commend you for working on your literary career while your husband is busy with his Air Force one. My husband spent 26 years in the Air Force and I wish I had been more focused with my writing back then. As I’m a late bloomer, I can add to your list that it’s never too late to get started. 🙂

    1. FTBradley

      Amen to that, Juliana 🙂

      It’s hard to write when you’re busy being a military spouse, though, so I wouldn’t be too hard on myself. Thanks for commenting!

  3. Moovemkr

    Damn, F.T. is hot, very sexy.

    4. Not Everything You Hear Is True.

    Just kidding.

    5. Be Social.

    So, F.T., how you doing?

    6. Attitude Is Everything.

    See, me and you, dinner, drinks, good conversation, a nice walk…

    1. Know Your Process.

    …then my place. No, too soon?

    2. You’re An Apprentice.

    See, I know we just met but I think I may love….

    3. It’s Never Too Early.

    ….your writing.

    7. It’s all About the Writing.

  4. weberdiane

    Thanks, Ms. Bradley. I’m working on my own first MG novel. After teaching writing in public schools for many years, I finally decided to “put my pen where my mouth is.” Writing fiction to be published is a whole new ball game, exhilerating and frightening, but I’m loving it. I’m also reading as much as I can, so I appreciate your insights. Best of luck on your new series!

  5. Linda Hatton

    What great advice! Especially about knowing how long it takes to complete certain tasks. I can see how valuable this is. Also, I’ve been putting off joining a conference and joining some organizations for the reasons you describe. You’ve made a good point. Thanks for sharing!

  6. vrundell

    Thanks Ms. Bradley, for your insights. As a “pre-published” writer, it’s always good to hear how to develop a career in writing, even if it never moves beyond the writing efforts. Best of luck to you on the book series!


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