First, let me say:
There is no simple ‘recipe’ for success.
Many people ask me, what does it take to publish a book? While I certainly don’t know all the answers, I’ve been at this for many years. And what I’ve learned can be summed up in 5 major points:
- You Need a Fantastic Idea!
If you want attention from not only your readers but also the literary community, the first thing you need is a tremendous idea. But BEFORE you actually write the book, you need to research other books out there that may be similar. I’ve had several ideas I was convinced were potential best-sellers, but then, oh no, I found an almost identical book already on the market. Ideas are funny that way. Sometimes they float in the air and are public property.
Ok, so you’ve got this amazingly awesome idea. And, nobody has written anything similar. You’re off to a promising start! But a great idea is just that: a great idea. To make it come alive in a book in just the right way takes talent and a lot of practice. Your idea needs engaging characters. It needs a setting, and an ending but most of all, it needs conflict, plot and the right pacing. Once you hammer out the first draft, get back to the drawing board as many times as it takes to edit it thoroughly. Get critique partners. Be ruthless.
- Do Your Research!
It’s hard enough to achieve numbers 1 and 2 successfully. But if you do, the nest step is to do the proper research. Don’t just send it off to a batch of 50 random publishers. Many might not even accept that specific genre, or may not match with your writing style. It’s critical that you research the publishers that interest you to find the right matches. So when you do send your queries, it’s to editors who might actually have an interest in your work. Be smart about this step. And yes, this takes A LOT of time. There are no short-cuts. Don’t forget to keep immaculate records for future use. Read the rest of this entry »
I love writing!
And, I love giving writing workshops. Especially when my students get really enthusiastic about their own writing!
I recently worked with two schools: Royal Vale Elementary and Edinburgh School. I had the privilege of teaching four classes of Grade 5, and our mission as to create a complete picture in just three days. I’m happy to say that we accomplished our goal! Here’s how it went down:
We had an intensive first session to get the creative juices flowing. The students learned everything from character and plot development to how to write authentic dialogue. After a lot of back and forth, they also decided what the theme of the book would be.
On a theoretical level, we know that hard work pays off. But sometimes, in our eager rush to succeed, we forget one thing:
The truth is that things may not line up the way we want, when we want. (If only life were that easy!) All we can do is a have a dream, work hard at it, continue to persevere and believe, and then release it to the Universe. I guarantee you that the dream will eventually manifest, but it may not be on your preferred time table.
As writers, we have certain frustrations. A few months ago, I found myself working extremely hard one particular day. I slugged out promotional email after promotional email. I painstakingly edited two of my books. I agonized over the right wording for my monthly Newsletter. I researched agents and publishers until two o’clock in the morning. When I finally closed my bleary eyes, this thought jumped into my head:
Yeah, I worked hard today. Really hard. But what do I have to show for it? Read the rest of this entry »
Ahh….editing. For many writers, editing is a big challenge, one that is often accompanied by profuse sweating and anxiety. I, like many other writers, find it much easier to write than to edit. However, if you’re serious about your work and you don’t have an unlimited budget for a professional editor for each manuscript, you’ll need to pick up some trusted revising skills.
Here are some tricks that have helped me:
1. Walk away!
Believe me, I’ve been stumped in my writing many a time. I have literally bumped my head against the computer screen because I couldn’t find the right word or the best ending. But it’s remarkable what can happen when you simply walk away and allow the manuscript to breathe for a while. When you come back to it, I guarantee you’ll see your manuscript through fresh eyes, and you’ll pick up on things you didn’t see before. Suddenly, you have new inspiration.
2. Read it out loud!
This one seems obvious, but I admit I never used to do this. I would just read my book in my head, without ever listening to how the words rolled off the page. But that’s not giving it a fair trial. You won’t know how your manuscript sounds to others until you read the manuscript out loud yourself. You’ll have a clearer view of what works and what doesn’t. Read the rest of this entry »