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5 Pieces of Well-Meaning Writing Advice That I’m Glad I Didn’t Take

Honestly, I wouldn’t be where I am today without the advice of others in the publishing industry. Nevertheless, there’re several bits of counsel that I’m glad I ignored. Does this mean that you should ignore them, too? Not necessarily, as my grandpa said, “There’s more than one way to skin a rabbit.” Or to put it another way, your journey may be completely different from mine. However, below are five pieces of well-meaning advice that wouldn’t have worked in my favor.

Honestly, I wouldn’t be where I am today without the advice of others in the publishing industry. Nevertheless, there’re several bits of counsel that I’m glad I ignored. Does this mean that you should ignore them, too? Not necessarily, as my grandpa said, “There’s more than one way to skin a rabbit.” Or to put it another way, your journey may be completely different from mine. However, below are five pieces of well-meaning advice that wouldn’t have worked in my favor.

C.C. is excited to give away a free copy of her YA novel to a random commenter. Comment within 1 week; 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: Laura P. won.)

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Guest column by C.C. Hunter, a.k.a. Christie Craig, an
award-winning writer, motivational speaker, writing
teacher, and author of The Everything Guide To Writing
a Romance Novel. Her new humorous romantic suspense
trilogy, Hotter in Texas, has its first book, Don’t Mess With
Texas, coming out Aug. 23, 2011. Her young adult
paranormal romance, Born at Midnight (St. Martin’s Griffin;
March 2011; series) is written under her pen name C.C.
Hunter. See her website here.

1. Ignore the trends and just write the book of your heart.

I’m not saying don’t write the book of your heart, but I am saying don’t completely ignore the trends. As hard as it is for some of us to accept, if we want to see our books on the bookshelf, we have to realize that this is a business. And like all businesses, we are producing a commodity—a commodity has to have commercial value. Commercial value is often directly related to the trends. I’m not saying sell yourself out, I’m saying find a way to make the book of your heart more marketable.

Let’s say the book of your heart is a western, but westerns aren’t the hottest French fry in the pack. The genre that’s jumping out of the fryer and onto reader’s plates is paranormal. Can you add a paranormal twist to your western? Can you write a paranormal that takes place in the ol’ west?

2. Don’t worry about marketing or selling yourself, that’s what you have an agent for.

While many books are sold as a direct result of an agent’s submission, others are sold because you met an editor at a conference, because a published author read your book and recommended you to her editor, or because your book was requested in a contest. A good agent/client team works together, once you’ve made a personal contact, then your agent steps in and does her thing. The left hand should always know what the right hand is doing. Together your goal is to get your book sold, get a good contract, and to create a career plan.

3. Decide what you are going to write and stick with it. Best to be a master of one trade, than a jack of all.

Any form of writing will help you hone you craft. And isn’t writing what we want to master and not just a type of genre? Writing for magazines allowed me the opportunity to work at home, kept the wolves off the front porch and me away from serving up french fries, and allowed me time to work on my novels. Being paid for my work kept me believing in my talent and helped keep my dream alive while the rejections on the novels poured in. I’ve since written three nonfiction books—two or which are: The Everything Guide to Writing a Romance Novel, and Wild, Wicked & Wanton: 101 Ways to Love Like You’re In a Romance Novel. I chose to write these two titles to help build my name in the fiction market. Writing nonfiction, also helps me write PR for my fiction work.

When my first humorous romantic suspense didn’t sell after being shopped around, Kim Lionetti recommended I try my hand at writing a paranormal, which was the hot trend. That proposal was submitted to ten publishing houses, went to a buying committee at two, but much to our dismay, it didn’t sell. Does that mean it was a waste of my time? Heck, no. Two years later, a St. Martins editor who’d read and enjoyed my sassy approach to writing paranormals, phoned my agent and asked if I would write a young adult series for them.

My first YA novel, Born at Midnight, in my Shadow Falls Series will be released March 29, 2011 and has racked up some really nice foreign right sales to Germany, France, Brazil and Russia. Beats working in fast food any day of the week!

4. You can never spend too much time rewriting.

I’m not saying don’t polish or rework. But do not get caught in rewrititious. I know people who have been writing and rewriting the same novel for ten years. Truth is, you learn something each time you write a new book that rewriting doesn’t teach you. To grow, and hone your skills as a writer, you need to write and finish several books. During 2000 and 2006, I had written eight completed novels and six proposals. Six of those projects have sold.

5. Learn the writing rules and follow them.

While I’m a believer in rules and believe some should not be broken, often times it’s the bending of a rule, a slight deviation of what is considered the norm that helps a writer stand out. I was warned against writing dual romances in a book. However, my plots seemed to always include a secondary romance, and at times, even a third one. I knew the dangers of this could dilute the main plot of the book. However, I ran with my dual romance plots and worked overtime to make sure the addition of a secondary romance didn’t overshadow the main story line. Today, I’m often praised by reviewers for the layers of story and plot brought on by my secondary romances.

Basically, I recommend that when you bend a rule, you know why the rule is in place and protect your work from suffering from this breach.

C.C. is excited to give away a free copy of her YA novel to a random commenter. Comment within 1 week;
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: Laura P. won.)

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Writing romance? Check out the

excellent resource, On Writing Romance


by Leigh Michaels.

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