A common question that readers have for me is how do I write. For me the answer is simple, I write the same way that I breathe, naturally. At least it seems like a natural gift because I had been making up stories since I was six years old. Although I have been practicing my craft for eleven years now, it doesn't mean that I was always a great writer, in fact I used to be terrible. This brings me to my first point.
1. No matter your ability good writing takes time and practice.
It is very easy to be discouraged. Oh, I'll never be as great as this famous author. Even famous authors at one time were terrible. Many bestselling authors were rejected by publishing houses hundreds of times. My first book, Bloody Nightmares, was rejected a total of four hundred times before anyone was interested. I revised and rewrote my work until I was proud of the result. You aren't going to just wake up one day and write the best novel ever written. Writing takes time to perfect. Each time I write another novel, I look at the last and can see where I improved. The key is not to feel bad about your previous work and say that it is terrible, it's to say that you have improved as a writer. Visual progress is good. It means you are putting effort into your work.
2. Don't be discouraged if you have a hard time selling your work to publishers/agents.
Often times agents and publishing houses are looking for what they feel is marketable or would be easy for them to sell. They would have a hard time selling a product they didn't believe in. Just because one agent or a hundred agents don't want to take on your work doesn't mean that no one will. You have to believe in your work before anyone else will. Keep working on revisions and eventually you will get there.
3. Don't sell yourself short.
Don't jump at the first publishing opportunity you get. Make sure that any offers you get are legitimate. Meet with an attorney to go over the publishing contract. Even if it seems cut and dry sometimes there are hidden conflicts you would not notice. Remember that you don't need a publishing company as much as they need you. Without authors and their work they would not be in business. They don't care about your work as much as your readers do. They want to make a profit. Also make sure to research the company on Predators and Editors; it's a website that can tell you which companies/ agents are legit or not.
That's all the writing advice I'll give for this week. Remember to keep writing and when you aren't writing make sure to read your genre and books on writing. I'll be here next Saturday with another article. Chao.
Like Dark Fantasy? Make sure to check out my series, World Domination.
Everyone knows the cliche saying "Don't judge a book by it's cover". I think a lot of us try to follow this saying, but most times that doesn't happen. We as readers do judge a book by it's cover. That's why it baffles me when authors put such hard work into their story but do very minimal for their covers.
Readers DO judge a book by its cover. If you're cover looks rushed or looks like very little thought or effort was put into it, readers will feel that way about your writing before they even read it. Think of your cover as a job interview. When you go for a job interview you want to dress the part because first impressions stick. (There's another cliche that reigns true). If you wear sweatpants your interviewer will feel that you're lazy or not really care about the job. You may actually care about the job and be hard-working but your interviewer already made up their mind about you.
The cover of your story is the first thing that readers look at. It has to catch their eye before they consider looking at the blurb. By having an interesting cover readers think "Hey what's that?" Your cover needs to be aesthetically pleasing and show elements of your story in the art work.
Another part of the cover that is important is the title. You title needs to be intriguing and say something about the story. Readers are drawn in by the title then the cover.
How do you make sure that you have a good cover for your book? Most publishing companies design your cover for you but if you are self-published you have to go through a graphic designer to get a cover. Many self-published authors I know use Createspace. A good idea is to get two covers made then poll your followers on social media on what cover they find more attractive. (Don't do this if it is too costly of course). Don't use pre-made covers. Most of the time pre-made covers are put onto other books. It is not good to have the same cover as another book since people identify books with their covers.
In addition, make sure that in your publishing contract you have the rights to your cover art. With your cover art you can make t-shirts, bags, posters and etc. You do not want your publishing company to steal the money because they own the cover art. Make sure that all works of your book belong to you, the author.
To get an idea of what your cover should look like look at books in your genre. If your book is a fantasy book, many of them have dragons or fairies on them, elements of the genre. Pull elements from your genre and in the story. Make sure that your cover does not copy another author's artwork.
By having an attractive cover you will attract more readers' attentions. Remember readers do judge a book by it's cover.
To be a pantser or a plotter that is the question. A plotter is a writer who plans out their novel before they write it. A pantser, on the other hand, "flies by the seat of their pants"; they take the rollercoaster for a ride without [or with very little] planning.
Personally I'm a pantser. I've always hated outlines ever since my primary school teacher introduced me to them. They feel too forced and strategic. Writing is supposed to be a journey. On a journey one may have the destination planned and maybe a few pit stops in between but everything else should be in the moment. That's an important thing that I have learned about writing: if you do not feel surprised then your audience will not be surprised. That's why I don't use outlines because it feels more authentic. Another thing about outlines is that if you decide to steer off course you may have to change your destination and everything in between. Trust me, to redo an entire outline is a pain.
Unlike a pantser, a plotter has an organized direction. For a plotter the dreaded monster named "Writer's Block" is usually out of sight. It is not hard to get passed a roadblock when you know where you're supposed to go next. When writing, I get stuck often and have to dig myself out of a hole. Sometimes I get stuck for days or weeks making me abandon one project for another. I have several unfinished novels at roughly the same amount of words. I've tried making outlines, but it doesn't work out. I can't plan that far ahead. It just feels rushed. What do you consider yourself: a pantser or a plotter? What are the advantages or disadvantages of your plotting techniques? Leave a comment...