Wednesday, May 6, 2015

DO'S & DON'TS FOR ASPIRING AUTHORS


No, I'm not suggesting you have your pug write your book. Although my pug, Homer, does make a contribution by being my muse. 
I have 30 books of varying lengths published. I do get contacted by aspiring authors from time to time. 
Here's  my list of do's and don'ts for aspiring authors:

1. Never send a manuscript of any length to a published author unless he or she has requested it. Always ask first. It's presumptuous and downright rude to assume that the writer is doing nothing except sitting around, waiting for you to dump your 200 pages on him or her. 


2. Are you sure you want their critique? If the writer agrees to read your work, are you willing to take the hard truth about your writing? Or are you expecting the pro to tell you your ms. is the most brilliant piece of writing since Gone With the Wind and you should submit it to a top publisher immediately, without changing a comma? I can guarantee that's not going to happen. If you can't take the criticism, then don't ask. 

3. If the writer is too busy when you ask him or her to read your work, do not take offense. It isn't personal. Professional writers are not sitting around sipping coffee. They are writing, editing, researching, marketing, rereading. They are an extremely busy group. I never read ms. sent to me by aspiring authors. I simply don't have time.

4. Before you ask a writer to read your work, what have you done for them? Have you read his or her book or books? Have you left nice reviews? Have you liked and shared their posts on Facebook? No? Then I wouldn't even bother sending a request. Life is a two-way street. If you are only traveling one way -- asking for an enormous favor for yourself  while giving nothing in return--you're more than likely going to get turned down.

    5. Study the craft by reading books on writing - Stephen King's book is the perfect place to start.
      6. Buy Strunk & White's The Elements of Style. Memorize it. There should be no grammar or spelling errors in your book. You're responsible for fixing that.
        7. Subscribe to Writer's Digest. It's one of the best magazines about writing there is. The articles in there are so rich, I often have to read them through again and again to absorb every morsel. 
          8. Submit your work to an agent or publisher. Accept their critique with an open mind. If you get rejected, and you will, don't be discouraged.
            9. Above all else, keep writing --if you truly want to be a writer. Gee, I said that already. It bears repeating. Writing isn't easy, but I love it and wouldn't do anything else for a living.

            Comments welcome. Thanks for stopping by.


            4 comments:

            1. I can't imagine anyone starting out without Writer's Digest. I always suggest it to people who want my help.

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            2. Great post!! Sadly, most of the people who need to follow the first part of the advice won't think it applies to them.

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              Replies
              1. Sad, but true, Jillian. We can only try.

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