Robin Kaye has a new book out named Call me Wild, and today she is visiting my blog. Stay tuned for a giveaway at the end.
What advice, tips or tricks have you learned from your writing that you wish you had known when you wrote your first book?
1. How to write. There’s a book I recommend to everyone—especially people new to writing toward publication. ON WRITING WELL by William Zinsser. I read it once a year just for a brush up. But it changed my life. You learn how to write active, strong and succinct sentences—which is the direct opposite of what most English teachers teach.
2. Get a good critique group. Ideally three to five people, writing different genres and at different points in their career. A great critique group is worth its weight in plutonium, but they’re not easy to find. You might have to try a few before you find one that fits. Still, they’re worth the work involved in finding a good one.
3. Make sure you have enough conflict (both internal and external—and yes, you do need both) to carry your book. It’s the biggest failing in both my early work, and the work I see in contests. If there’s not enough conflict, then you have a sagging middle and a black moment that’s more gray than black.
4. Network. I’m a great networker. It comes natural to me, but that’s not saying it’s easy. I think that getting to conferences and being seen is a huge help. The editors and agents see you at conferences and know you’re invested in your career. When I’m at conferences, I purposely sit with people I don’t know every chance I get. By doing this, I’ve gotten to know so many incredible giving writers, editors, and agents.
I go to spotlights on the publishers I’ve targeted, or editor/agent panels, and sit in the front row and make eye contact. I’m engaged and they always notice. Later, I’ll see them around the conference and they approach me thinking that they know me from somewhere. It’s a great way to form a relationship. I don’t hit them with a pitch, I’ll just chat about whatever… but more often then not they’ll ask what I’m working on, and then I’ll pitch to them.
Always be positive and professional. People are watching.
5. Go to workshops or get RWA National CDs. I have five or six years of RWA Nationals workshops downloaded on my iPod and I listen to them over and over and over again. I’ve learned so much while I drive.
I love Michael Hauge’s Six-Stage Plot Structure. I was a pantster and now I’m a planster because of Michael Hauge (storymastery.com). I’ve loosely plotted seven books using his method and it always works! It’s also the only plot structure that makes sense to me. I’ve seen him so many times, for a while he probably thought I was a stalker. Finally he came up to me and asked why I was there—after all, I’d heard it all before. I said yes I had, but every time I see him, I’m writing a different book and he sparks something wonderful.
Margie Lawson’s on line classes (MargieLawson.com) do the same thing for me. When I take them, I’m relearning things I might have forgotten and my writing is fresher and sharper even if I’ve taken the class three times. Margie and Michael are the reasons I’m published and stayed published. They’re both amazing instructors.
6. Don’t be in a rush to submit because you only get one chance. Enter it into a few contests to get feedback, ask a few published authors if they have time to read the synopsis and the first three chapters. Get feedback from people who have been around the block a time or two. Once you submit, if it’s not ready, you’ll get a rejection and then you usually can’t resubmit the tweaked manuscript to that agent or editor. You’ll have to cross them off your list for that project at least. Don’t be in such a rush. That’s the biggest mistake I made and most of the other new writers I’ve seen.
7. Writers write but they have to have a life to give them things to write about. Work on balancing your life, your family, your faith, and your passion for writing.
–Yeah, I’m still working on this one. Once you’re published, things just get more difficult, you have deadlines (not only for the new book, but for revisions, copy edits, and galleys) and all of a sudden you’re supposed to be writing a new book while on a blog tour, and revising the book you’ve just finished. Once you’re doing it all, balance is hard to come by. Be careful what you wish for!
8. If writing isn’t a passion, if it’s not something you have to do, if your characters aren’t keeping you from sleep and you don’t have imaginary people whispering in your ear and driving you insane until you write about them then give it up. You’re not insane enough for this business. It’s a hard business, and there are countless ways to make money that are a hell of a lot easier. If writing is a choice and not a sickness, then I’d say run like hell. If it’s a sickness, then welcome to the club.
Call me Wild, 1 copy
1. US and Canada
2. Ends Sep 7th
3. Just go ahead and enter 🙂
Unemployed New York Times sports reporter, Jessica James gives up her big city life and moves into a borrowed house in Boise, Idaho. She’s determined to become a great romance writer, and she only has one obstacle: she doesn’t believe in love. Writing quickly becomes a challenge, so Jessica decides to go out and find some inspiration. She soon meets sexy, outdoorsy doctor Fisher Kincaid, who’s more than happy to teach her all about love.