Friday, February 08, 2013

Writing: I Want To Write A Book

All authors have had it happen--someone says, "I'd like to write a book. What do you suggest?" Unfortunately, there's no advice that will guarantee publication, or even an easy road for the neophyte writer. And the approach is different for writers of fiction and non-fiction. But there are some general suggestions that are applicable in all cases.

First, find a good writing conference and attend it. Some names come to mind, too many to list. It depends on your genre, your needs, your location, and your budget. Industry expert Chuck Sambuchino has a good post on the various types of conferences here. (Note: he doesn't include all the great Christian writing conferences in his list. For a few suggestions on those, check the comments on this post). There are large and small conferences, those that limit their classes to only fiction and those that have a wider scope, national and regional meetings. The expense will vary with the conference. Find one that works for you. Attend it. Network. Talk with editors. Pay attention in class. And, if I may offer some advice, resist the temptation to jump into self-publishing--successfully self-pubbed authors have already learned the craft. At this point, you're not ready.

Second, delve into books on writing. Again, no links, because there are too many to list, and I'd probably leave an important one out. If you want a starting place, check this list I gave quite a while ago--it's still quite valid. There are books on craft, books on character, books on writing non-fiction, books on marketing. If you have specific questions, leave a comment and I'll try to answer them with specific recommendations. Find the books that speak to you and the area in which you want to write. Buy them, read them, highlight passages, commit the principles to memory.

Then write. Get your work critiqued by someone other than your mother or your aunt--someone who knows good writing and won't be afraid to say something bad. Then rewrite, get feedback, rewrite some more, and keep at it. Editors have told me that you sometimes have to write three or four books before you "get it." That was my experience, and other authors have told me it was their as well.

Those are my suggestions. There's no simple key to success, but I will say that a major factor is persistence. To put it in sports terms, you'll miss 100% of the shots you don't take. Go for it.

Got questions about writing? Leave them in the comments, and we'll see if I can help.

(photo: my office space)

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