What You Need to Know to Get Started and Join the Writing Community
by Victoria M. Patton
So, you want to write a book… Fantastic! Start writing NOW. Don’t put it off. Don’t think about it. Just get it done. When you have finished writing it: STOP, WAIT, and BREATHE.
As a new author, (moving towards Indie Publishing, quite rapidly) I have learned a few things I hope will help all new authors.
WRITE THE BOOK
So easy, right? Just start it. Quit saying you want to write. Just write. Go to writing conferences in your area. At one conference I went to I met three editors. Each one took three chapters of my story and gave me feedback, for free.
Get involved in a local writing group. This is so important. You will meet other writers and get feedback on your own writing. (I used MEETUP to find a group in my area.)
GET ON THE INTERNET
I don’t mean surf the web, I mean build your author platform. NOW. Before your book is even completed. I suggest reading Jane Friedman’s blog post on Building a Platform to Land a Book Deal: Why It Often Fails. You need to get yourself out there as an author, but not to get a book deal. You want people to be interested in you.
NOT YOUR BOOKS. You. You want to build relationships with people who will ultimately want to read your books. Nothing Any Good how to build your audience via social mediahas some great insight into .
You don’t have to start a blog right away. Once you’ve read Friedman’s post on landing a book deal and Buri’s 5 tips for building a social media audience, read Friedman’s How to Start Blogging: A Definitive Guide for Authors. After that, you can decide how serious you are about writing.
Do you want to sell your books and make a living or do you just want to write them for family and friends? What you want from your writing will set your path for you.
You do not need a website of your own to start this endeavor. Wait until you have decided where you want to take your writing. Ultimately, if you decide you want to have your books published you should have an author website. You can combine this with your blog. Almost all the providers allow for a minimal free website. You can play around on them and see what you like best. Joanna Penn has a great article on author websites.
This goes hand in hand with building your platform. Start out small. I suggest Twitter and maybe Pinterest. I suggest reading Marcy Kennedy’s Twitter For Authors. This book will explain Twitter so that you don’t get overwhelmed and curl up in a ball on the floor crying. (Maybe that was just my reaction.)
Follow other authors in your genre. Follow industry people. All the people listed in the article are on Twitter and I suggest you follow them. (And for crying out loud, follow @DanBuri777!!!) If you’re goal is to land an agent, find agents who represent your genre and follow them.
As you get more comfortable on Pinterest, use CANVA to make your own pins.
My only warning about social media—pay attention to what you want your author brand to ultimately be. Everything you put out there will be linked back to your author brand.
Read up on Facebook for authors. When you have decided where you want your writing to go, then you will have a better idea of how to approach Facebook. Sarah Jarvis wrote an excellent article on Facebook Advertising on this site. (These websites also have great articles concerning Facebook: Jane Friedman, THE AUTHOR ONLINE, Digital Book World.)
I am just now learning about Instagram and using it for my author branding. (These websites have great articles on how to use Instagram as an author: The Book Designer, DYI Author, and Where Writers Win.)
YOUR FIRST DRAFT IS NOT YOUR FINAL DRAFT. I can’t express this enough. YOUR FIRST DRAFT IS NOT YOUR FINAL DRAFT.
Finding an editor that knows you and understands your voice is important. Leslie Caplan has a wonderful Keys to Editing Your Book on this site that discusses choosing the right editor for you.
There are great tools to use even before getting to your editor, though. I use different editing software to help with getting my manuscript ready for my editor. BUT, it will not take the place of an actual person.
- Gram marly—I do this before it goes to my editor. But after her first edit, I don’t use it again. She makes corrections that Grammarly doesn’t correct. The browser extension is free, or you can pay $140.00 for the year.
- SmartEdit—This is a great tool and my favorite. It allows you to correct your writing in the body of the manuscript. This is the one I recommend you buy if you can only buy one. I use the version for word. It costs $67.00.
- WordRake—This is a great tool, but I no longer use it. At $129.00 I found that SmartEdit did the same job. It will help tighten your writing.
- Hemming-way App—I use this app at the very end of my editing, just before it goes to the editor. It shows you long complicated sentences. It is a hard app to get used to, but at $9.00 it’s a steal.
Most of these are free to try. But you only have a limited trial period, so don’t try them until your manuscript is ready for editing.
I use two resources when I am editing/rewriting my manuscript. Marcy Kennedy’s Busy Writer’s Guide Series. I especially refer to Showing and Telling, (you can put her list of words to watch for in the SmartEdit app, and let it find all of them for you.) Her books are my most valuable resource.
Along with her, I can’t live without Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi’s book – The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression. These help me get my book from the first draft to the final draft much easier. (All of the books their website offers, Writers Helping Writers, are worth the money.)
If you choose to self-publish or submit to an agent/publisher, you need have an editor go through your manuscript. I can’t stress this enough. Most will review a portion of your writing for a small fee, and you can determine if they are a good fit for you. This is where the bulk of your money should be spent.
TRADITIONAL PUBLISHING—QUERY LETTERS AND SYNOPSIS
If you are going to try the traditional route you must know how to do these. Find agents who handle your genre, and follow their submission guidelines. Each agent will have a different submission process. Some will want a synopsis, some won’t. Some want a CV (a resume for writers), I used Lucy V Hay’s post to figure out how to do this.
Writer’s Digest has several posts regarding searching for an agent/publisher and how to write a query letter and synopsis.
Query Shark can give you the best tips on formatting your query letter.
Jane Friedman has a lot of information on these topics as well.
This is a post all unto itself. There is so much information out there, Nothing Any Good’s Author Resources has tons of stuff on the Indie Publishing route.
You can also check out these writers and their websites. Frances Caballo, Joanna Penn, Derek Murphy, Joel Friedlander and yes, Jane Friedman.
The information out there on how to self-publish is prolific. I list the websites above because they are trustworthy and the information you get from them will help guide your ultimate decision as to what you want to do in regards to publishing your writing. They will cover all things from where to place your book for sale and how to format your book, how to make your book cover, as well as how to market and sell your book.
Don’t be overwhelmed. This is a process. But it all starts in one place. WRITING THE BOOK.
NOW, JUST GO WRITE.
Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.
About the Author: Victoria M. Patton lives with her husband of twenty years and her two teenagers, as well as three dogs and a cat. Her years in the Coast Guard doing Search and Rescue/Law Enforcement and her BS in Forensic Chemistry have led her to write Crime Fiction. She gears her blog Whiskey and Writing towards helping new authors in their endeavor to write their first book. Check out her author website at www.victoriampatton.com. Email her at email@example.com. She would love to hear from you.