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 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...

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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...