Does this sound familiar? You’ve toiled, and toiled away at your beautiful novel, your masterpiece. Yet every second there is a dark hole ahead of you, just waiting to be fallen into. This hole is uncertainty. You ask yourself questions like ‘what the heck do I do with this thing when I’m finished?’ and ‘How do I even find someone to read it and tell me it’s worth anything?’.
I know that feeling very well! With that in mind, here are my top five tips for novice writers, or rather, five things novice writers should be doing now. Hope it helps!
1: Make a Brand: If you plan on eventually publishing, or self-publishing this will go a long way. Now there are two types of brands you can ‘use’ so to speak.
A: Your own name, your own face, your own life. Basically you are selling you, no filter. This is good if you want to be famous personally, because if you do make it big (there are no guarantees), say goodbye to your peace and quiet.
B: Create an online ‘persona’ that represents you (it’s best to still be you). Take my blog for example. I’m the herdless witch, I’m Meno Silencio, but I’m not, these are just my monikers, my pen names, how I present myself without truly exposing me. This is a very common thing for female erotica writers, simply because of the nature of our work. : )
Once you’ve picked A or B, settled all the little things like what picture you want to use, what theme do you want to stick to ect. It’s time to build that brand, be active online, which brings me to point 2…
2: Blog: Now I’m not saying you have to blog specifically, but you need an active online presence. This can be Twitter, Facebook or whatever floats your boat. This falls under marketing. See what a lot of writers don’t realize today is that book marketing is largely an online affair. Even if you get snagged by a top publisher who wants you to do signings and readings (may you be so blessed), there will still be a website (some publishers will require you to in fact have an online presence). People are going to be looking for you online, make it so they can find you! If they like your book, they’ll want to know what’s next. Maybe they heard your name, now they’re curious. Maybe it’s late at night and they’re drunk and looking for something to read…
Point is, people spend more time online nowadays than they do at the bookstore, so if you want people to see your book, you need to go where the people are.
3: Make writer friends: This ties directly into point two. The best way to make writer friends is to have an online presence. Hey I know we just want to be left alone as writers (most of us at least), we’d rather drink coffee and pet our cats while dreaming up amazing plot ideas, but trust me on this one. Having writer friends is indispensable!
Not only do you get to celebrate (and commiserate) with them, you also have someone to give you feedback. These sort of contacts can help you find beta-readers, or become a beta-reader yourself (something I highly suggest). They can also keep you in the loop, and trade tips with you. Best part is, no need to meet them face to face, because the socially anxious rule the web!
4: Write Short Stories: This is something I wished I would have learned so much sooner. It’s easy to fixate on one big long piece of work, in fact it feels natural. But writing a short story gives you a chance to roleplay what finishing that big work might be like, challenges included. It makes you see the plot through til the end, it makes you edit and subsequently find your most common errors. Basically it gives you the practice you so badly need.
Of course I don’t suggest just writing short stories and filing them away, by no means! Go the extra mile, find a beta-reader, or a beta-reading website. Get your work out there and let people pick it to pieces. This is the only way you can grow, painful as it might be.
5: Research: If you’re going to publish traditionally, research traditional publishers that might take your book. This means tons of google searches, and checking writer websites (AW is a good site for scoping out publishers). Make lists, know the business.
If you’re planning on self-publishing, learn all you can about the craft. Learn about how and where you can self-publish, and what you need to do to your book before you can.
Conclusion: I know this all seems like a lot, but let’s face it, you’ll probably spend at least a year working on that masterpiece (probably a whole lot more), so it makes more sense to spread all of this out over that time, rather than scramble to get it done once you finally finish your book.
Any tips for novice writers, or things you wish someone would have told you when you were just starting out?