7 Things I've Learned So Far, by K.M. Ruiz

1. Be Patient – The whole hurry up and wait aspect of the publishing industry is so very, very true. You will be waiting on agents, while on submission, through the editing process, right up until release day. Sometimes there will be little flurries of action (Cover! Blurbs! Reviews!), but for the most part, keep an eye on the book working its way toward reality and know that when it arrives, you might actually miss the lead up. GIVEAWAY: K.M. 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: Lisa won.)
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This is a recurring column I’m calling “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,”where writers (this installment written by K.M. Ruiz, author of TERMINAL POINT) 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: K.M. 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: Lisa won.)

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K.M. Ruiz studied English and American Indian Studies at San
Francisco State University. Her debut novel, MIND STORM,
released in 2011. Her newest novel, TERMINAL POINT, comes
out in June 2012. Kirkus said of her second book, “The action
is nonstop, insanely violent and mostly lethal, like X-Men on
steroids … It's a tribute to Ruiz's skill that, somehow, when
a winner finally emerges, it's the one you've been rooting for.”
K.M. lives in California. You can visit her on Twitter.

1. Be Patient – The whole hurry up and wait aspect of the publishing industry is so very, very true. You will be waiting on agents, while on submission, through the editing process, right up until release day. Sometimes there will be little flurries of action (Cover! Blurbs! Reviews!), but for the most part, keep an eye on the book working its way toward reality and know that when it arrives, you might actually miss the lead up.

2. Fingers On The Keyboard (Or Pen In Hand) – So you turned in your first or even latest book? That’s great! Where’s the next one? Keep writing, even if it’s just to flesh out an idea before you find the words to turn it into a story. Write a little (or a lot) every day if possible, no matter how busy your life gets.

(Getting specific: Agents explain what they want to get RIGHT NOW.)

3. First Readers Are Gods – When you find a good first reader, commit to keeping them willing and docile by bribing them with whatever is necessary to keep them happy. Every story needs a second pair of eyes (or more) to keep you focused. You’re not going to always see what’s wrong and a good first reader should be able to help you with that. Listen to them. You don’t always have to edit according to their suggestions, but keep listening.

4. Become An Extrovert – I’m not an extrovert but I can fake it really well! Seriously, no matter how much you hate talking in front of a group of strangers or putting yourself out there online, you need to be present. Being accessible online is a must, I can’t stress that enough. Consider Twitter and other variant blogging sites your social masters. Take any opportunity to do a reading or a signing, even if it’s just dropping by a bookstore to autograph stock. Bite the bullet, drink some alcohol, and get in front of the crowd.

5. Thick Skin Is All The Rage – You will get reviews. You may not like the reviews but you know what? Those reviews are for readers and the negative ones are just as valid as the positive ones because they’re someone’s opinion. (Unless it’s an attack on the author themselves, then it’s a whole different ballgame) Accept that not everyone is going to like your book as much as you love it but be happy and grateful they read it anyway. Don’t be a diva over reviews and attack bloggers or reviewers. It’s just not cool.

(What a movie can teach writers about how to start a story strong.)

6. The Internet Always Remembers – On the other hand, if you do trip into diva territory, know that the Internet will never forget and that social media can be a tsunami of humiliation. You don’t want people to hear the title of your book and think oh, I heard s/he is a rude author first instead of I must get my hot little hands on that book to read it. In other words, be nice. (For real, guys, BE NICE.)

7. Networking Is Required – Going back to being an extrovert. Writers live in their heads and are fairly isolated when it comes to their work. Get out of your headspace from time to time and get online to make connections with other writers and readers. It’s so worth it to be part of a community.

GIVEAWAY: K.M. 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: Lisa won.)

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