Sometimes I tweet writing advice. Sometimes people message me asking for writer advice And even more shocking is people actually seem to listen to me. So one day I opened up my notes app on my phone and began to type. I made a list of 10 and so I figured what the heck, here’s a blog post. Caveat that I haven’t been in this game long, and there is no right way to do things. At all. But I think I have solid advice that at least is worth a glance. This advice is also more geared toward writers who are working toward a full-time writing career. So here ya go:
1. Write the book you want to read (and write).
Recently I tweeted this.
And people responded to it pretty well. To be honest, it was a gentle reminder for myself that I decided to tweet. But apparently I’m not the only one who needed to hear it. Here’s the thing – no matter what, your book won’t hit a chord with everyone. That’s the great thing about books — there is a huge variety. You try to appeal to the masses and you’ll appeal to no one. Write what you want to read, and there will be others who will want to read it too.
2. Promote your books however you are comfortable.
#1: Promote your damn book and don’t apologize for it. If you aren’t excited about it, why should anyone else be? Promotion is for readers. Tell them why your book will appeal to them. What tropes are in it? What emotions will it evoke? Will it make them laugh or cry? Will they be so engrossed they burn dinner? Tell them!
#2: You have to find your comfort zone. You don’t have to be everywhere on every social media platform. You don’t have to promote like others do, with an FB readers group or discussion groups, or what have you. Your promotion is going to go over the best when you are comfortable and it’s semi-natural for you. So play around and find where you fit. Maybe it’s Instagram, maybe it’s making amazing teasers. Put in the work and find your fit!
3. Don’t. Respond. To. Reviews.
I’ll be honest, I rarely read reviews. I read ARC reviews from reviewers who know my writing because I like to gauge early interest and how this book is stacking up with the rest of my books. I’ll sometimes read reviews tweeted to me. Other than that, I stay away. Awayyyyy. If I stumble upon a bad review, or a review that’s flat out nasty (hey, it happens), I’ll DM a friend or two who I trust. Then I rant to them, and then I let it go. LET IT GOOOOOOOOO. What’s not okay? Taking lines from bad reviews and publicly posting or tweeting about them. Nine times out of ten there’s a power imbalance between authors and reviewers. Drawing attention to a review (and come on authors, don’t pretend like you don’t know what you’re doing when you do it), is making that reviewer vulnerable. Let. It. Go. If you really need to whine and complain, do it in private to a friends. It’s okay, we all do it. Just tell them not to tweet about it, haha.
4. It’s okay to write a crappy first draft.
Honestly. It’s okay. This has taken me many, many books to realize. (I’m slow I guess.) Magic happens in revisions. That’s when your book becomes a book. I truly think that what takes an author from good to great is revision skills. Do I kind of hate life and eat a lot of chocolate when I’m revising and rewriting? Of course. But you know what, it’s worth it in the end when that book is polished and better and the pacing is spot on so that your reader has to keep flipping that page.
But you can’t edit a blank page, so get writing.
5. Use betas.
No really use betas. Like several. And find ones who love your voice. Because remember number one on this list? Not everyone is going to love your books or the way you write characterizations. Find a beta who likes the way you structure a story and write your characters, and is also willing to give you solid critique. Betas recently saved me from doing some stupid shit in books. They are invaluable.
6. You will outgrow some readers. Some readers will outgrow you. It’s okay.
This is one that you won’t realize until you have a backlist. You grow with every book (I hope). Book one will not be like book twenty. Some readers will like how you evolve. Others won’t. IT’S OKAY. It’s okay if some readers decide you just aren’t for them anymore. It doesn’t necessarily mean you did anything wrong. People change. And vice versa, some readers move on. They get tired of a genre, or maybe your writing style. And again, that’s okay. Your readership will ebb and flow.
7. Be Yourself.
Always. In your books. On social media. At signings. Be yourself. It’s exhausting to be someone else. It took me 34 years to finally say, you know what? I’m too old to change. This is me.
8. Be someone people want to work with.
This is something I say a lot. Does this mean you have to always be kind? No. Does this mean you can’t post about politics? No. This means meeting your deadlines, networking at conferences, and overall being a professional person. I’ve been given wonderful opportunities in this business. And a lot of that is because I really do work tirelessly to be a professional with publishers, editors, and other writers. Yes, be yourself, but try to be your best self. This. Is. A. Business. Do you want to work with someone who’s doing nothing but writing tweets mocking other writers? Posting on Facebook about petty drama? Dragging past editors/agents, etc.? Probably not. There are times to make your voice heard and that’s okay. But think closely about how you are using your voice and how productive that is to you, your career, and this business as a whole.
9. Take breaks. Fill the well.
This is advice I need. It’s okay to take breaks and get back to a place where you can be creative. Don’t feel guilty for that. This is something I’ve really learned over the last year.
10. It’s a job.
You like writing? Me too. It’s fun. But you know what it is? It’s also a job. There might come a time in your career where writing will switch from a hobby to a job. You’ll know when it happens. And I think that’s often when some writers struggle. They want to know where their muse went. Welp, sometimes I don’t have time to wait around for my muse. Yes it’s okay to take breaks, but it’s also important to remember it’s a job, it’s a career. You have deadlines. It’s not always going to be fun. You might have to adjust how you approach writing when you hit this point. I know I did, and that’s okay too. I don’t treat writing the same way I did when I was drafting my debut.
Bonus: You are not your books. And you exist outside of your books.
Live a life. And if you decide that a writing career isn’t for you? That’s okay too! Maybe an illness or disability has you spending less time at the keyboard. Maybe you just get swept up in something else in your life. That’s okay too. This advice was solely for those who are interested in making a writing career work. But if it doesn’t work for you, that’s okay. You’re not a quitter, you’re just doing something else. 😀
Hope this helps. Feel free to add any advice in the comments. 🙂 Love you all!