This is a recurring column I’m calling “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,”where writers (this installment written by Debboe Fuhry) 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.
1. Look before you leap. Don’t immediately sit down and start typing as soon as you realize the story in your head might be turned into a novel. Go ahead and make notes so you don’t lose your train of thought, but then take time to study a few of the books on the art of fiction writing.
2. Don’t be cheap. The old saying is still valid, “You have to spend money to make money.” Be willing to spend money—think of it as an investment—on books, magazine subscriptions, memberships to professional associations, and writers’ conferences.
3. Find a writing group. In addition to joining a professional association, look for a smaller group that meets locally. You will be encouraged by spending time with others who share your goals and interests, and you can often learn a lot, too. Such groups often include critique sessions. You will gain from having your own writing critiqued as well as from listening to the members comment on others’ work.
4. Make the best use of writers’ conferences. Attend a conference with the primary goal of listening and learning. Many writers attend their first conference with purposes of pitching their novel and making contacts. You will miss some of the best opportunities a conference affords that way.
5. Don’t bypass the agent. It’s natural to think, “If I sell directly to a publisher, I won’t have to hand over 15% of my earnings.” Setting aside the fact that plenty of publishers will not accept unsolicited submissions directly from writers, a good agent knows the legal and practical end of the business and most writers do not. Also, an agent can offer a layer of quality control between you and the publisher.
6. Cheer on other writers. It’s easy to be envious of others' success, and if you feel that way, acknowledge it and move on. It’s something else entirely to be resentful about it, and usually indicates that you feel as though another writer’s success somehow diminishes your chances. It doesn’t.
7. Keep your expectations in line with reality. While it’s fine to be able to dream about writing multiple bestsellers, be realistic. Only a tiny percentage of authors are that successful. So keep dreaming and keep working toward your dreams, but don’t quit your day job yet!
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Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:
- Writing fantasy, mystery, literary, urban fan, sci-fi or horror? Query Shira Hoffman.
- Writing the Male POV: 5 Tips.
- Author Antonio Hill explains: 5 Keys to Writing a Great Thriller.
- Agent JL Stermer puts out a call for more women's fiction and young adult.
- 5 Ways to Build Solid Relationships in Your Story.
- Sell More Books by Building Your Writer Platform.
- Follow Chuck Sambuchino on Twitter or find him on Facebook. Learn all about his writing guides on how to get published, how to find a literary agent, and how to write a query letter.
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