(i.e. Writers who are new to the crazy world of self-publishing, self-marketing, and everything else that comes when you decide to take your writing from your private hard drive to the next step.)
I sat down a few weeks ago with a friend’s young adult son, who would like to pursue writing as a career. He had some questions and wanted to talk “shop” with someone who understood the passion and pursuit of writing. Still feeling like a novice myself most days, I wasn’t sure I was the right person; but the chat seemed to go well, and as he’s young, he has plenty of time to experiment and learn (not that we all don’t, but you know).
As I prepared for this meeting, I came up with some pieces of advice to respond to questions I thought he might ask. (My INFJ is showing – I don’t do well when put on the spot.) Some of these topics came up during our talk, and some did not. Nevertheless, I saved the list for myself, for possible future discussions with budding writers. And, of course, the blog.
Some of them I feel are common sense; some I’ve learned through experience (read: lots of “duh” moments). Some you’ve probably read or learned on your own. But I thought it would be nice to have them all in one place, particularly for those who are just embarking on this wild and crazy ride.
Join a writing community (WordPress). Start a blog, make connections, write in the blog several times a week. Write about yourself, your writing experience, practice your writing through flash fiction and short stories. Set a tone for your blog and market yourself.
Write something every day. Poetry, short story, or part of a larger work. Write an article in your blog. Edit something that you’ve finished. Whatever it is, write every day.
Read. Read fiction and nonfiction, read in your preferred genre, read other people’s blogs, read articles about writing and other people’s writing experiences.
Create an author Facebook page. Create an author twitter account. These are the two biggest social media platforms in addition to your blog. LinkedIn is also useful, as is Google+. Don’t take on more social media accounts than you are willing or able to keep up with. Utilizing the ones you have is more effective than have too many that you can’t keep track of. (Hint: WordPress allows you to automatically publish blog posts to these four accounts, making them less time-consuming.)
Keep a list of story/book ideas. At some point you will have ideas that just come to you while you are working on something else. You will have more ideas than you have time to write. Keep your ideas in a single list so that you have something to refer back to when you are ready to begin a new work.
At some point, it will be time to choice the genre you will write. You can write more than one genre, but you will most likely have one (or two) that you gravitate toward. That is yours.
When it comes time to publish:
- Get an editor. This person will help with grammar, flow, word choice, consistency, etc.
Get Beta readers. These people will help purely with storyline. Will this story sell? Was it interesting? What would help?
At a minimum, publish on Kindle. Offering your book in paperback shows shoppers options; even if paperback sales are slim (you make more on Kindle anyway), showing that it’s available gives your book credibility. Publish on Nook yourself, and publish on Smashwords to get your book out to lots of other e-book distributors. (Smashwords will manage Nook for you, but Nook is so easy to manage yourself that it’s worth it to get the extra % in royalty.)
These are my top tips for getting started.
For those of you who have been in this business for awhile, what helped you most when you first started out? What do you wish you had known before starting? What do you wish you’d done differently?