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Do or do not, there is no try. - Yoda

Writing Tips

I’m not a planner. I like to go with the flow and see how things unroll. I am like that in life, and I’m like that with writing. I know many writers who outline their entire novel – chapter by chapter. The aspect of this terrifies me. Before I begin a novel, I have a general idea of what the novel is about and where it’s headed (beginning, middle, and ending) but the rest happens as I write. By the same token, I’m sure my method  would frighten the Type A’s out there. To each her own. What works for some won’t work for others. And my pantser style works for me.

On various occasions, I’ve been asked to speak to writers groups. This is one of those instances when I can say with all sincerity, “It’s an honor to be asked.” There are lots of writers out there, and to be chosen out of many to offer some advice, well, like I said, it’s a compliment. That said, I don’t plan what I’m going to say before I go. I’m not a list maker. I know what the crux of my statement will be, but beyond that, it’s anyone’s guess.

I’ll be speaking to a young writers group later this week, which got me thinking (insert lightbulb and angelic music) that I should have some tips for them to refer to if they need advice in case I forget to address it since I won’t be outlining my speech. Of course when I say “advice” all I can picture is Lucy from Peanuts in her cardboard booth offer Chuck advice for five cents. Geez, I hope my advice is worth more than that. With the invention of self-publishing tools such as Amazon, IBooks, Nook, Kobo, Wattpad, etc., the market has changed significantly, and stories which would have only been seen by a few set of eyes are now available to the masses. Potentially, these aspiring novelists I will be speaking to will become authors thanks to these outlets. How awesome! How exciting!

I’ve been an Indie author (sounds so rogue, doesn’t it) since 2012. These are some things I’ve either learned or observed the past five years. Take these tips and do as you wish.

1) If you plan to self-publish, hire an editor. Your friend of a friend who knows where to insert commas isn’t enough. Hire a professional. Before you hire them, do some research. Ask for a list of writers who have used their services. Ask for a sample of their work to see their editing process. Comparison shop. Just hire an editor.

2) Pay a graphic designer to design your book cover. Don’t think that taking one measly class in Adobe Photoshop is enough to make you a book cover designer. It’s not. A poorly designed book cover sends the wrong message. Your novel could be a work of art on the inside, but it won’t translate as such if the cover isn’t designed well.

3) Find beta readers who will offer you constructive feedback and won’t sugar coat things. These beta readers should read your genre. They should be readers who can offer you an honest opinion about your novel. They should want to help you not hurt you. There is a difference.

4) Don’t use social media as a tool for “Me! Me! Me!” There’s nothing more annoying than people who talk of nothing else but themselves. Socialize. It’s okay to tell others about your book, but don’t make it your only message. Share things about yourself other than your writing. Let people get to know you and get to know them, too. Think of it as a first date. Imagine if the other person was talking only about themselves and how great they were at writing the entire night and didn’t ask you one question. Annoying, right? Don’t be that person. Share the love. If you discover a great read, tell others about it. If you have an Indie author friend with a new book release, share that with others. Sharing is caring.

5) Make sure your inner-circle is supportive of your efforts. Writing is a lonely business. You need to be around people who will lift you up.

6) Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Do not compare yourself to others. So what if they’re getting more reviews or selling more books. It doesn’t matter what they do. What matters is what you do. Are you writing from your heart? Are you proud of your novel? Did you enjoy writing it?

7) Critics exist. Sometimes a critical review can make you a better writer. I’ve learned from a few. Sometimes you just have to let the criticism roll off of your shoulders. Never, and I mean this, never engage in dialogue with a reviewer. This is tacky and unprofessional. So they didn’t like your book, move on. It happens to the best of us:)

8) Trolls exist. Don’t let them get to you.

9) Appreciate your bloggers. Send them some love. Write them a thank you note. Send them a signed copy of your book. Bloggers receive countless review requests. The fact that they chose to review your book should make you feel special.

10) This is a personal decision, but I don’t negatively rate or write negative reviews for books I’ve read that I didn’t love. Just because a book wasn’t right for me doesn’t mean it isn’t perfect for someone else. I realize the blood, sweat and tears the author put into their work and don’t want to diminish that. To me, it’s professional courtesy. But, like I said, this is a personal decision.

11) Do your research on self-publishing. Read! Read! Read! You can ask other Indie authors about their experiences, but make sure to do your own research.

12) Write and read all of the time. Even when you don’t feel like writing, write. Something. Anything. Just write. Read. Reading makes you a better writer. Read books by authors you admire. Read for fun. Read to learn. Just read.

I won’t have a 13th tip because I’m superstitious. I hope this advice helps. Feel free to contact me if you have other questions, and write on!