Have you ever considered writing a book? Or are you currently writing a book with the ambition of getting it published? Here are a few tips to know while you write the manuscript. Even if you’ve already written it, or haven’t started yet, you can find some useful advice here.
- know your target audience
- join a critique group
- join a writers group
- go to writers conferences
- hire an editor
- treat your book as if it’s your baby
- give your manuscript to family or friends
- harden your heart
- promote yourself too much
- give up
If you want your work published, the first thing you need to do is know who you are writing your story for. Are you writing for an adult audience? If so, then you need to make sure your story and characters are really in-depth. If you’re writing for a younger audience, simplify some things a little. Are you writing a science fiction? Make sure you put interesting scientific evidence of the new world you’re creating so your readers can get into it. Whoever your target audience may be, make sure it’s written with them in mind.
A good critique group will give you unbiased feedback to help you improve your story and characters. Listen to their advice. Just make sure you find one that has people who know the industry and can give you educated feedback.
This is different from a critique group. Writers groups generally hold monthly meetings that will have speakers in the industry to give presentations on various topics having to do with writing. Think of it as furthering your education.
Writers conferences may be a bit expensive, but they are worth it! At a conference, you will learn from the “big dogs” of the writing industry, and network like you wouldn’t believe. You never know how meeting people at these events could present opportunities for publication down the road.
After you’ve revised your novel so many times, you need to take a break from looking at it for at least a month. This is the best time to hire a freelance editor to take a look at your story. Be sure to go over your expectations (i.e., looking for feedback on content, or copy editing only) and pricing before fully engaging them to go through your manuscript.
This is essential, and something that writers have a difficult time doing. You must be willing to alter your manuscript according to general feedback. (When I say general, I mean the majority of the feedback–not what each individual may think.) You can’t think of your story as something so dear to your heart that you won’t be willing to take things out and make changes. Sometimes you may have to take out a beloved character altogether for the sake of pacing, etc.
If you want to share just for the sake of sharing, that’s fine. But don’t send it to a lot of people and do not seek validation from them. They don’t have a full grasp on the industry standards and will likely tell you that they love it, no matter what.
If someone tells you they really didn’t like your story, there can be many reasons why. Don’t harden your heart and say that they were just being a jerk. Ask questions that will help you understand what they didn’t like. It could be that your characters need fine tuning or that your story arc doesn’t flow smoothly. Whatever the cause, you should be able to improve your story from someone telling you why they didn’t like certain things about your manuscript. (And, not everyone will love it. No matter what genre you write, it simply isn’t for everyone.)
In the “Do” section above, it mentions networking. This is essential, but don’t spend all your networking time promoting yourself. This will backfire as people will get bored and tune you out. Act like a real person. You know, small talk–ask about what others are writing and their experiences in the industry so far. The more you ask about others, the more they’ll reciprocate to find out about you and your story.
There is always a way to improve your story or your query submission. It’s normal for authors to get hundreds of rejections before they sign a contract. Try to learn from every rejection and keep going. It does take time, but if you’re persistent, you will be successful.
Immerse yourself in the industry to find ways to improve your writing, to network, and find a publisher. Listen to the feedback you get from people who are well-versed in the industry; have an open mind when they tell you what they think, even if it hurts. You will succeed if you always learn from critíques and rejections. It’s also worth it to hire a professional editor to look at your manuscript before sending it out to agents and publishers. They will find problems that you couldn’t see yourself. Be willing to make changes and compromises, and don’t treat your manuscript like it’s your baby. It’s a product you want to sell to a certain market – not just keep it in your home. You want to see your book get published, right? Don’t give up!