Thursday, March 29, 2012

Advice For A Budding Writer

Recently I received an email from an aspiring writer who had just read one of my eBooks. The writer asked if I had any advice for a budding writer. It led me to think about my writing career and how I got to where I am now.
I wrote my first short when I was in junior high school and somehow or another, it got into the hands of one of the girls in my 7th grade class. She, in her infinite wisdom, read it in front of the class...I didn't write again for almost thirty years.
In 1989, while struggling through a turbulent period in which I felt my life both personally and professionally falling apart (I have since learned I displayed all the behaviors of PTSD) I decided to write a novel dealing with my Vietnam experiences (that novel, ELEPHANT VALLEY, is now available through Smashwords.com, B&N Nook Books and the Kindle Store). Unfortunately, I had not a single clue about what GOOD writing was, but I wrote it anyway. For the next few years I wrote feverishly (and quite badly) completing two more novels and numerous short stories. One of my novels, THE WAR WITHIN, took second place in a literary contest and I made my first ever money as a writer ($1500.00) which I immediately wasted by working with a predator agent (I told you I knew nothing about writing...let alone about the business of writing) who charged me a $2.00 per page reading/editing fee (She told me it because I was unpublished). This bad experience led to me turning my back on any serious writing for another eleven years. In 2000 I attended my 35th class reunion and guess who confronted me saying "Why aren't we seeing any books by you in the bookstores?" yup, the same ones who embarrassed me into my thirty year long funk. This time however, I asked myself the same question.
I was going to fire up the word processor, only this time determined to do things differently. To make a long story short, I started to attend writing seminars (many at the Barnes & Noble Store in Manchester, NH) where I started to build a network of relationships with published authors. This led me to joining MWA and from there I was invited to start a writer group with several established editors and published writers (all female I might add). As a result of what those ladies taught me, I was able to offer the following advice to the aspiring author:
  1. Foremost: Get into a writer group. However, don’t join one unless all the members have a goal of being published. It does you no good if the feedback you get is from friends and family, they’ll love everything you write no matter how much work it needs. My first group consisted of two professional editors and two published authors. I walked in thinking my writing was terrific—I limped out of the first meeting so mad I swore I’d never go back again. After some serious thought, I did go back and I listened and tried what they recommended…needless to say, they were right… my writing got better within a couple of weeks. Try what more experienced group members suggest. If you feel that you aren’t getting better as a result of the group…find another one. Accept their criticism as an effort to make you better. However, if you feel that their feedback is malicious rather than constructive, leave the group.
  2.   Join a professional writers organization. Since most of my work is thriller and mystery, I belong to Mystery Writers of America. 
  3.  Find a GOOD writer’s conference and go. You’ll meet many writers who are still starting out, but you’ll also get to meet and talk with some very good, established writers. I’ve attended the first 10 New England CrimeBakes and have had the opportunity to meet and talk such noted authors as Lee Child, Robert B. Parker, Lisa Scottalioni and Janet Evanovich. Talk to everyone and anyone you meet there. It’s tough to get top writers such as those I mentioned to read your work but if you can get them to look at it you may get a reference to their agent—that is a tremendous help. Don’t expect them (or an agent, for that matter) to read anything at the conference, but take business cards and spread them out. They may ask you to forward something to them and will provide you with feedback. One thing I’ve learned is that writers love to help other writers. Make sure the conference is one that offers the opportunity for you to make a pitch to an established Literary Agent…they will usually as for a sample of your work if it interests them. My experience is that you never bring a manuscript to the pitch (the agent will not be able to carry all of them back so they will not accept it). Don’t restrict your pitch to the organized session. Try and obtain a copy of the conference program before hand and research the agents who represent the type of work you do. It does no good to pitch a romance to an agent who doesn’t represent it. Work the cocktail lounge! Agents love it when a writer will spring for drinks and will spend some one-on-one time with you. Also, do not be too aggressive when approaching an agent, they’ll be swamped with people and I’ve learned that I got more attention from them when I don’t approach them with an immediate pitch. I usually start by making small talk and eventually the agent will ask “What do you write?” Don’t go on a long dissertation of your work. Develop a 30 second pitch…imagine that you end up on an elevator alone with an agent and have 30 seconds to tell him/her about your book…make the best use of your time. 
  4. Develop a tough skin, learn to deal with rejection. Remember that writing is no different than any other business in that it’s about sales. You can write the book ever written, but if it doesn’t have a market no one will touch it. If an agent feels that it would require too much effort to sell your book they’ll pass on it. Even Stephen King was rejected hundreds of times before he made it. 
  5.  Read everything you can find by successful writers in the genre you want to write. Don’t read for enjoyment, read for how they advance the plot, develop characters and how they structure each and every sentence. 
  6. Last of all, write, write and them write some more. On average, once a person decides they want to be a writer, it takes about 10 years to really perfect your skill (not that many writers haven’t done it in a much shorter time span). Don’t get hung up on reading about writing. As a writer friend once told me, “You spend so much time reading about writing, you don’t have time to write!” You can’t learn how to drive a car or fly a plane from a book…you have to do it. 

12 comments:

Birthday Flowers Bouquet Delivery said...

I’ve learn a few just right stuff here. Definitely value bookmarking for revisiting. I surprise how so much effort you set to make any such excellent informative website.

Anonymous said...

Hello. Facebook takes a [url=http://www.freecasinobonus.gd]craps[/url] wager back on 888 casino deal: Facebook is expanding its efforts to put forward real-money gaming to millions of British users after announcing a order with the online gambling company 888 Holdings.And Bye.

Anonymous said...

This is my first time go to see at here and i am actually impressed to
read everthing at one place.

Feel free to surf to my webpage; http://www.bidenhistime.com/the-truth-about-personal-checks

Anonymous said...

for sDllkoAg [URL=http://www.cheapdesigner--handbags.weebly.com/]replica designer handbags[/URL] suprisely RTclGVCU [URL=http://www.cheapdesigner--handbags.weebly.com/ ] http://www.cheapdesigner--handbags.weebly.com/ [/URL]

Anonymous said...

buy a KGXRmNjU [URL=http://www.aaareplicahandbags.weebly.com/ - replica aaa[/URL - to take huge discount dlLymEpx [URL=http://www.aaareplicahandbags.weebly.com/ - http://www.aaareplicahandbags.weebly.com/ [/URL -

Anonymous said...

Тouсhе. Great arguments. Κеep uр the good
sрirit.

Ηere is my pagе; www.latinoink.com

Anonymous said...

Your pouches will degrade after time, so you will have to repair them
every once in a while in the abyss. This running water will in fact speed up your removal of the water and with a
simple flip of the valve can add water to the fish tank. Data mining is mostly a relatively new term that represents the
process by that predictive patterns are made
from information.

Anonymous said...

Your own aгticlе haѕ verifieԁ beneficial tо mе ρerѕonally.
It’s quite infoгmative and you reаllу are obvіоusly
extremely еducated in thiѕ area.
Υou pοѕѕess poppeԁ my own faсе foг you to varying
thoughts about thіѕ pагticulаr tоpic together wіth interesting аnd strong articlеs.


my site: buy Cialis

Anonymous said...

It's really a cool and helpful piece of info. I am glad that you simply shared this useful info with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

My page ... tao of badass

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure exactly why but this weblog is loading very slow for me. Is anyone else having this issue or is it a problem on my end? I'll check back later on and see if the problem
still exists.

Also visit my blog vakantiehuis huren ()

Anonymous said...

Mobi - CHM is perhaps the only e-reader which supports the CHM file format.

Ebooks are available in PDF format also and
some of websites provides booklet in various formats like Audio
textbook so it becomes more easy to understand these books.
So, without spending any money (assuming you already had a computer), you have your equipment.



My blog post; free pdf ebook download

Anonymous said...

costs of online dating services http://loveepicentre.com/articles/ single guys dating
dating executive personals single [url=http://loveepicentre.com/faq/]yorkshire post speed dating[/url] bi online dating
list of dating fears [url=http://loveepicentre.com/faq/]colombian dating services[/url] online dating history [url=http://loveepicentre.com/user/dimadl/]dimadl[/url] free adult dating personals