Hi everyone, and a special hello to all my author friends!
There’s quite the number of aspiring writers among my followers. From those people, I get messages with questions every other day and I’m happy to sum them up and answer them here.
Today, we’ll talk a little about the basics. The five most important things to consider when you start writing your first book.
1. Your first draft will not be published.
I’m not saying this because I want to demoralize you, I’m telling you this because it’s the truth. And you should be prepared. If you’re an aspiring writer, there are things you have to learn. And you can only learn during the process of writing. Start with an idea. Write what you like. Write it how you like it. But after you’ve finished that first draft, let it sit for a few days or maybe even a couple weeks or more.
When you get back to it, you should have gained enough distance to your work that you can look at it with an objective mind. You’ll find that in some places you could have done a better job of describing something, that maybe the chemistry between two characters needs more work, or that you added stuff which isn’t really helpful for the plot or anything. If you’re lucky, you only have to do little revisions.
As for me, I rewrote my first book from scratch. 😉
2. Writing is a full time job.
Never think that writing isn’t hard work. Even if you have a day job and only write in your spare time, you’ll find that, if you’re a committed writer, you’ll spend many more hours with your books than in your ‘real’ job.
A while ago, I had a 4 hour day job as an accountant, and an additional 8 hour writing job. Now try to imagine how hard it was to squeeze in time with my family or for housekeeping or, oh my words, for friends.
And even if I only sit on my behind most of that time, I’m exhausted like hell at the end of each day. People often wound me up that I shouldn’t complain when I was only playing at the computer all day – which resembled doing nothing for them. But coming up with stories, being creative, working things out, making sense of stuff you write; it all is hard work. Brain work. Never underestimate that, and NEVER let anyone tell you that you’re actually doing nothing when you give millions of readers a good story to drown in.
3. You need help.
You’re not alone in this. And that’s good. No author can write a book without help. Since you work out all the details of your story in your mind, they are so clear to you that sometimes you forget to transfer them onto the page as well. That’s when a critique group comes in handy. They read your stuff, edit it, point out mistakes or vagueness. Take each single advice serious, but never stop to trust in yourself. If you’re unhappy with any changes they suggest, then just don’t take them. They are all here to help you with their opinions, not to make you write something you don’t like.
Of course, if you’re a more experienced writer, you won’t need as much help as a beginner, but still there’s the importance of a reliable critique partner, editors, proofreaders, etc. If you release a book, make sure it’s as polished as it can be.
4. You can’t please everyone.
That’s a hard lesson to learn. Whatever you write, there will always be those who love it, and those who hate it. In between you’ll find the occasional reader who doesn’t care.
But if you did your homework and wrote a really good story, don’t let bad reviews bring you down. Find out if there’s a point in what they say and make changes, but if it’s just about personal taste, don’t even waste a minute on being depressed because of it. It will happen. Time and again. Nothing can change it. So focus on the positive feedback you get and let that build your self-esteem.
5. Self-publishing isn’t as bad as some might try to make you believe.
A few years ago, the only chance an author had to publish his stories was with a traditional publishing house. Times have changed. The web made it easy for us writers to bring our stories to our readers. Faster and with more profit.
If you go the traditional way, you have to write a book, then query a literary agent and wait for a response for let’s say three months. You’ll probably be rejected, but if you’re lucky, you can send them your full manuscript and wait another six to eight months until you hear from them again. If they like your book, they’ll query a publisher. Response time? No idea, 4 to 6 months? And if a publishing house finally offers you a contract, there will pass another couple of years until your book is being released. Do the reckoning yourself and then compare it to this:
I write a book. I send it to an editor who returns it to me within two months. I do a final read-through and then release it. Job done. And I get 70% royalties instead of 6-10% a publisher grants me. Duh!
Some may think that self-published material is subprime work. That’s in no way true, because every author who takes his profession serious will do everything in his power to present the best possible work they can. They hire professional editors and proofreaders, who are just as qualified as those at AVON or SIMON & SHUSTER. Most often you can’t tell the difference between a self-published and a traditionally published book. So there’s only a plus side to this: Many, many more awesome stories are being released at the same time. 🙂
Think about it!