Just been having some ‘help, I’m a new author’ conversations so thought I’d consolidate some of the advice I have given here.
- Don’t use grammar checking software (Grammarly, ProWritingAid) when you write. It might be useful to edit, but ignore it while drafting.
- Write and finish the first draft. You need to practise finishing a work, because that’s as important as learning beginnings or middles. If you have a series of half-completed works, you’ve practised half-finishing a story. You have to practise finishing them too.
This holds true for finishing series.
- The boggy middle is common. Push ahead, even if it feels frustrating because we all experience that.
- On the other hand, if something doesn’t feel right and it gets increasingly harder, skip backwards to the last time you felt excited and read the last couple thousand words before that. You might find that when get to the part that started giving you trouble, you might have a new idea now of what to do. Take that energy and keep writing.
- Save deleted chapters and sections in a separate document.
- Start a world building file NOW. Write down after each chapter, if you can, the details you introduced (characters introduced, their names, descriptions used, any world building notes you have).
- Don’t worry about foreshadowing or knowing ‘what’ the book is about till you’re done. That can be fixed in the edit and you often won’t know those portions anyway till you are nearly done.
- Plan for your book to finish as a standalone, but with the ability to write more if it becomes a hit. Preferably, you should write in trilogies (or 5 books if you can’t do 2 trilogies) especially if you are self-publishing and write fast. Do not write a 12 book series that you HAVE to finish to start. Give yourself escape hatches so that you can end your work and leave readers satisfied at the same time.
- Consider workflow and budgets if you’re self-publishing. Good cover designers can often be booked months ahead of time, so if you have a specific timeline you want to hit, you might want to start looking at booking them early. The same with editors and proofers.
- Get recommendations for good editors from people you trust in your genre. Make sure you get sample edits from multiple editors. As a new author you won’t know what a good editor looks like most likely, so having multiple edit samples will begin to teach you what to look for.
- Start reading sample contracts if you’re going to be dealing with agents and traditional publishers. The Author’s Guild has a model contract. There are numerous samples out there of bad contracts via Writer’s Beware and good ‘model’ ones from other locations. (This does NOT preclude the use of a good IP lawyer though).
- Always check your royalty statements for accuracy. Even big corporations (especially big corporations!) get them wrong.
- Open a Wise account for receiving money (especially from Amazon).
And that’s about it for a really new author. Oh, maybe read my Marketing Strategy for Authors book and look up the top ten things I knew as a new indie author.
What kind of advice would you give a new author?
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