Today I’m welcoming Peter A. Brandt to the blog, author of Maple Express. Peter is on tour with Goddess Fish Promotions and is here today to share a guest post and excerpt.
Guest post: Five hints to new authors
Hint #1 – Take some lessons and learn how to write a novel. You might think you know what you are doing but to be commercially sellable, you really need to know how a story should be structured.
I attended about 30 lectures before I actually started writing. They were on such topics as “how to build suspense,” and “how to write for young adults.” Take good notes and keep the handouts available when you start writing.
Caution: Don’t fall into the trap that many workshop attendees fall into of spending all their time taking workshops but not actually writing. Don’t be scared to write.
Write and write every day…this was the whole point of taking the lessons in the first place.
If you don’t have access to writer workshops where you live or you are a lone wolf, then I highly recommend the “90 Day Novel” by Alan Watt. I like how he gets writers to start writing from day one and after 90 days, you will have a first draft completed.
Hint #2 – Hire a professional editor to edit your manuscript and polish it to a high standard. If you looked at your writing as a business, then a good businessperson doesn’t place inferior products on the shelf and expect it to sell. They will do everything to make it the best product on the market. That is just good sound business sense. Why spend all your time writing a novel and not having it properly edited.
Caution: Your Aunt Helen (who works in an office) is not an editor. She might do it free because you’re family but you get what you pay for. A good editor is as good at editing as you are at writing. Rarely is one good at both and the very first rule – you can’t edit your own work.
Hint #3 – Don’t become hung up on the being published with an agent and conventional publisher thing. The old system is on its way out, although still accounting for 80% to 90% of books sold in the USA. EBooks have really begun to bite into the paperback market if recent financial statements are an indication. Remember, literary agencies on the average get around 6,000 queries a year and only take 5 to 10.
Hint #4 – You will have only a few seconds to make people stop and check out your book. The cover must draw the buyer in and hold him or her long enough to read the summary. Get a professional cover made. I hired Kit Foster from Kit Foster Design to design Maple Express and my next novel “Holly Alexander and the Mystery of the Courthouse Square.” I could design a cover myself but a) I don’t have the time and b) Kit is just so much better at it than me, so I will focus on what I am good at doing – writing stories. I leave those things I am not good at (editing, making great covers) to someone much better at it than me.
Hint 5 – Buy a copy of “On Writing” by Stephen King and read it every 6 months to year as a refresher. I hardly need to sell books for Stephen King but I really found it inspirational. I was down on myself and I lost my will to write when my computer crashed and I lost 15,000 words (Hint 6- Backup your work every day!)
Authors seem to want to keep their writing stuff a secret. Stephen decided not to and for that, I am grateful. “On Writing” isn’t a how to book…there are plenty of them around. It is a glimpse inside his mind and his day-to-day life.
I extend an invitation for you to visit my video blog “Author to Entrepreneur” where I talk about what you can do to become a successful independent author through Smashwords, Amazon and other eBook publishers. As well, I always thought it would be cool to see where authors actually sit and write, so I put my money where my mouth is. I have a video that shows my office and where I sat to write most of Maple Express and where I do all my writing today.
Thank you for the invite today and I really look forward to the rest of 2012. I hope to have three books released by the end of it all (before the world ends December 2012!)