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 Tricia Goyer

3. Relationships with other writers are the most valuable resource in a writer's toolbox. I attended my first writers conference in 1994. I was 22-years-old and pregnant with my third baby. I was the most unlikely person there to become a published author, and while the knowledge I learned about writing has benefited me...

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Ben Stroud

1. Writing Routines Are Only So Valuable. I used to be a stickler for routine. My desk needed to be just so. I needed the room (and preferably the apartment) to myself. I needed non-vocal music (classical or soundtracks). Then I moved to a one-bedroom apartment in Germany. I couldn’t get a good radio...

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Emmie Mears

2. Go tackle a new quest. There’s nothing like a new obsession to keep you from obsessing over submission. Sure, some books get snapped up by editors faster than you can say “six figures,” but for most of us, it takes longer. A lot longer. To dull the ache and fear of the inbox,...

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Liz Tolsma

3. Publication will happen when you least expect it. You’ve sent in your amazing manuscript, one that will have editors clamoring to publish it, pushing the advance into the stratosphere. For the next two weeks, you sit by the phone (or carry it with you wherever you go) willing it to ring. With each...

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Charlie Lovett

1. Rejection is required. I used to see rejection slips as the bane of my existence. Every rejection felt like a backwards step in my writing career. But every writer has been rejected at one time or another—usually before ever being accepted. Once I began to look at each rejection as a necessary step...

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Kay Kendall

2. Keep a writer’s notebook. Brilliant thoughts are fleeting. You need to pin them down before they get away. Because I write about the sixties, I often find character traits and plot points when reading obituaries in the New York Times, for example, and if I don’t capture those flashes of insight, they will...

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Kate Maddison

2. Don’t start writing until you love the premise. Whenever I find myself playing the avoiding game with my writing, I ask myself why. The answer always seems to be that there’s something about where this story is headed that I don’t like. Sometimes this happens with the very first page. When I rework...

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far: Diana Wagman

2. Never quit for the day without being excited about what you’re going to write next. Forget finishing the chapter or getting to a good stopping place. It is absolutely imperative to stop in the middle. I get up only when I have the next sentence or event in my mind. That way, I’m...

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Jon Steele

1. Know the last sentence before you write the first one. Everything I know about the writing craft, I learned from my twenty-four year career as a television news cameraman. I’d get dropped into some far flung corner of planet earth with a deadline looming over my head, and I’d look for two things...

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Pamela Sherwood

1. Know when to let go. We’ve all heard about the hazards of sending your manuscript out too soon, before it’s properly polished, edited, etc. It’s also possible to let your fears paralyze you into not sending it out at all. When you start fiddling with your work just to fiddle with it, dithering...

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Sharon Short

3. Your opening is probably not your opening. My least favorite part of creative writing is drafting that opening scene. It always feels so forced, so awkward. I have to get pretty far into the story before I know how it really should begin, and to realize (for the millionth time) that ‘dumping backstory’...

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Kate Southwood

5. If you let life get in the way, it will. I finished my MFA knowing that I would be moving to Oslo with my Norwegian husband right after graduation. I had allowed myself to stop writing while I was preparing for the move, rationalizing that I was busy selling or shipping all my...

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Susan Stockdale

1. Write down every book idea you have as soon as you have it. Otherwise, you’ll forget what might have resulted in your (first) Caldecott, Newbery, or National Book Award. Keep a pencil and paper nearby - in your purse, your briefcase, your car. Transfer your ideas to a “book idea” folder in your...

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by You Byun

3. Please yourself as a reader. I have the highest standard and expectation as a reader, like you do. When I walk into a bookstore, I want to be surprised to find a new picture book that will astonish me. I want to fall in love. I want to feel jealous because I didn’t...

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

1. Learning to write synopses well is a golden skill. You’re probably aware that if you can master these little guys, you’ll have a leg up on selling manuscripts on proposal, competing in writing contests and applying for grants. But did you know they can also play a big role in selling subsidiary rights?...

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Chandler Klang Smith

This is a recurring column I’m calling “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,” where writers (this installment written by Chandler Klang Smith, author of GOLDENLAND PAST DARK) 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...

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by A.J. Colucci

1. High Concept is easier to sell. Within three years of writing fiction, I had a couple of books, a few partials and had a lot of story ideas in my head, but agents kept telling me that The Colony was my best shot at getting published. They said the premise was high...

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Elisa Lorello

This is a recurring column I’m calling “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,” where writers (this installment written by Elisa Lorello, author of ADULATION) 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...

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Jordan Jacobs

7) There's absolutely nothing the matter with kids today (at least nothing that wasn't wrong with kids yesterday or the day before). The foxtrot did not destroy the greatest generation, MAD Magazine did not dissolve the moral fiber of our parents, and the PS3 will not rob our children of their souls. Every school...

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Elizabeth Richards

4. Buy lots of swag. You’re going to need it! Bloggers, readers, bookstores, other authors, book groups, librarians and schools will all want some, so you better make sure you’ve got plenty to go around. If you want to keep costs low (and I do!), I highly recommend you just order bookmarks, as they’re...