Friday, April 17, 2009

Dear Lisa edition - advice for aspiring authors

Tip of the day: If you are a Mac user and struggle with the distraction of the Internet, you might want to try Freedom. It allows you to set a timer so you don’t have access to the internet during that time, so you can write in peace! It’s free to install and easy to use!

I’m feeling this need to try and say something helpful today. To give you guys advice of some kind. It's fun to play "Dear Abby" once in awhile, isn't it?

In interviews, I often get asked, what’s the one piece of advice you like to give to writers? And I think I usually say something like, read a lot and write a lot, make sure you experiment and play and discover where your strengths are.

And I believe that. But there are probably ten other things I could tell you I believe as well. So today, I'll give you a few other nuggets of mine. Oh boy, aren't you just so lucky! They’re all over the place as far as topics, but that’s okay. As you know, there are many pieces to this writing and publishing puzzle!

1. Don’t let the desire to be published ruin your life. Please! I know it’s something that can make your heart ache, wanting to see that book you sweated over sitting on a shelf in a bookstore. I certainly understand that desire to have someone read your words, and to connect with you through the story you created. I know. I get it. But I also know it’s a tough business, and it can be years of trying and writing and writing some more and trying some more. Life is short! Don’t live in misery while you wish and wait for a book to sell. Find other things you like to do and that bring you joy, and recognize when you need to take a break from the madness of this business.

2. Learn how to write a hook that describes your book. How? By reading others. If you have never joined Publishers Marketplace before, I recommend you do it for a short period of time (cost is $20.00 for a month) and study deals, retype them, and work on writing up a short, juicy description for your own book. Learn how to write a really short one, a medium one, and the longer one-page synopsis. Again and again, I’ve seen how this skill is so important. Yes, my editors write my jacket copy, but I like to read it and provide input. Even now, when I don’t have to try and woo an agent, I certainly want to try and wow the one I have! So I’ll write up a one or two sentence pitch about the book I’m working on, to give her an idea. If you’re still looking for an agent, practicing and getting this skill down is only going to help you when you’re writing your query letter, trust me!

3. More than anything else, work on craft. Sometimes I hear of writers who keep trying and trying and trying to get published with one book. If you really want to be a writer, guess what, you have to KEEP WRITING. I know it’s hard sometimes to think you spent all that time writing a book that won’t ever be published, but it’s really not wasted time. Think of those books as schooling. I’m guessing most first books don’t sell. Do some? Sure, of course. But you have to be willing, at some point, to let go and move on, I think.

4. Find writers who are in the same place as you. This is SO important. You need friends by your side, to laugh with, to cry with, to read with, to critique with. How do you meet people? You can find them at places where writers hang out on-line, or go to a conference with the goal of finding a couple of people to start a group with.

I think that’s all I have time for today, but if there’s anything you’d like to know about, leave it in the comments and we’ll tackle it in a future blog post!

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career


Kate Fall said...

I love Dear Lisa! Note to self: work on those hooks.

DeenaML said...

#4 is SO IMPORTANT! I think ppl get frustrated when they think "everyone has huge success!" bc that is what they see publicized. I am so glad to have connected to writers in all different places in their careers!

Christina Farley said...

Great thoughts. I think the craft of writing is so true. After taking a writing class recently, it changed the way I write. I need more classes I decided. Plus they're fun!