Monday, 12 February 2018
I tend to stick to the genre of my current WIP so I feel absorbed in the atmosphere of that era. I must have read 30 novels that are set during WW2 during the last eighteen months. Having said that, it’s helpful to see how other authors plot and construct their books so read whatever takes your fancy. Don’t just stick to fiction, either. There are some wonderful factual books that will guide you through the writing process.
Join a writing group.
I'm a member of Nottingham Writers' Studio and the friendship, support, encouragement and workshops I’ve attended have been an invaluable help to me as a writer. A small group of us have formed Ellipses and Ampersands, a critique group who meet once a month to give advice, praise and constructive criticism of each other’s work. I have no doubt that they have helped to improve my chapters.
Build an online presence.
It’s important to make connections so open a twitter account, a Facebook page, join Instagram and Goodreads, and most importantly, build a professional website/blog. Readers want to ‘meet’ you online. They want to know about your novel, what inspired you to write it, how you achieved publication, and where they can buy your book.
Writing your book is the easy part! New writers think their work is of a publishable quality when it isn’t, at least not yet. Read through your novel and you’ll gasp at the spelling, continuity and grammar mistakes you’ve made. You’ll see glaring gaps in your storyline, character inconsistencies, weak resolutions, repetitions and numerous other errors that will have you saying to yourself, ‘What made me think I could be a writer?’
Take a deep breath.
This is perfectly normal for a new writer. You’re learning, after all. By following the above three suggestions you’ll discover, through friends, reading and workshops, how to correct your early mistakes.
Get a professional critique.
Getting a professional critique of your writing is essential. Typos and continuity issues become invisible to us when we’ve read and edited our work ten times. Not only will it help when it comes to finding an agent/publisher, but you will be amazed at the improvement of your work. Take suggestions seriously and learn from them. I chose the Romantic Novelists’ Association. They have a New Writers’ Scheme that I have used for three of my novels. They are brilliant!
Before you submit.
There are many excellent online examples of how to write a submission letter and the dreaded synopsis. Both of these are extremely important communication documents. If a busy agent reads a rushed introductory letter that contains grammar or spelling mistakes, they will be far too busy to give you the benefit of the doubt that there won’t be similar careless mistakes in your book. If your synopsis hints at what might happen to your characters in order to keep an agent intrigued – he/she won’t be the slightest bit intrigued and your MS will be set aside. A synopsis is a concise, clear summary of your entire book, including the ending.
So you’ve sent off your manuscript to an agent or publisher. Great! Now what?
You start writing your next novel/article/short story – whatever your inclination, but keep writing. Don’t sit around waiting to hear back because it could take months and statistically, your first novel won’t be your first published book. Keep writing, continue attending workshops, persevere at learning your craft and maintain contact with writer friends and your writing group.
Develop a thick skin.
Your writing will be rejected.
It’s a fact - but it’s not personal. Different agents and publishers are looking for different things. They may have a full client list. They may be looking for historical women’s fiction and you’ve sent them a fantasy novel. They may not like your writing style. There are endless reasons, but develop a thick skin (moisturize it regularly) and keep writing!