Advice for New Authors by Karen S. Wiesner

Advice for New Authors by Karen S. Wiesner

Advice for New Authors by Karen S. Wiesner


Advice for New Authors

From Karen S. Wiesner


First, I don’t believe there are absolutes in writing. There are so many writing trends, no-no’s, and must-do’s. I admit I find most of them silly. The only rules are the ones you enforce yourself. Don’t let anyone else tell you differently. Here are seven pieces of advice for becoming a professional author:


1) Do your homework in learning to successfully navigate the extremely treacherous waters of trying to book writing and publishing. Don’t rely on anyone else to give you all the answers. Figuring out how all this works is your job and it’s vital that you learn all you can because you’re at the helm of your own career. Do you really want someone else who may or may not be trustworthy floating your boat?


2) Learn how to use a critique. Get used to having your work picked apart ruthlessly by your peers now because I guarantee that even an editor who loves your work can rip it to shreds. And let’s not even get into readers who live to destroy not only one book by an author by conceivably a whole career with their trolling. Develop a thick, tough skin before you get published, so you can handle it professionally when the time comes. But also keep in mind that an edit who’s rewriting your story the way he or she wants it isn’t helping you at all.


editing3) Even if–or more aptly, especially if–you’re choosing the self-publishing route, good editors will make your books better, even if it feels like they’re destroying them in the process. Don’t assume a heavy edit makes you a bad author (and vice versa—a light edit doesn’t necessarily make you a good one either). One way or another, editing is part of the process.


4) Don’t try to write what’s popular, what’s expected or what’s selling. How many more teenage vampire books do we need? Write what moves and inspires you, regardless of trends. In the same vein, don’t limit yourself to writing what you know. Honestly, I know nothing about what it’s like to be a werewolf—but I love writing about them! Write the book of your heart. Be true to your story first.


5) Develop self-discipline now, before your book is published. When you’re first starting out, it might work to write by the seat of your pants. A professional author knows the more efficient you are in the process of writing each book, the more momentum you build in your career because you can offer more high-quality books in less time. While not everyone can use a full-blown outline, some kind of a blueprint, however loose, is crucial. You can’t be a productive writer if you’re constantly going on blind treasure hunts, hoping that a story will eventually immerse from hundreds or thousands of pages of the written word (and may not). Be disciplined. Use a guideline instead of writing blindly and set goals for your writing so you’re always moving forward with continuous momentum.


6) Be responsible for yourself as an author in as many aspects of your career as you can. I realized early on in my career that there was little a publisher could do for me that I couldn’t do just as well for myself. I try to make sure every book I turn in to an editor is of the highest quality (and ensure that my editors hardly have to do anything at all for me) so in that way I’m my own editor as well the author of the material. I can’t blame anyone else if I’m not disciplined or subpar. I’m responsible for my own success (or failure) in that way. Authors are also capable of designing quality covers with software and utilizing cover designer services available all over the internet.


social media7) There’s a growing trend, especially with traditional publishers, for the author to “prove their worth” and become a social media star, if they aren’t already, by doing all the promotion for every book they sell–in fact, often there’s a requirement for the author to detail their aggressive marketing plans before a contract will even be offered. All of this means that most publisher don’t do a whit of promotion for their authors (though, in my case, I got lucky with a publisher who’s all over the social media blitz). Maybe it’s true that authors can market their own books better than anyone else, but publishers need to do their part as well. In the treacherous waters the book industry has become these days, publishers have almost exclusively placed the weight of promotion solely on the author’s shoulders in order to stay afloat in the shrinking marketplace. Many contracts signed these days force authors to promote in ways that may not be financially feasible for them (in that case, they probably had to forgo a contract altogether). Publishers have traditionally been the ones to make sure a book is available in all the formats readers use and to list the books at distributor websites. But publishers these days no longer want to be the ones to make the books move in those channels–and the publishers are the ones who can provide the biggest push and momentum. Without them, that means authors swim upstream right from the get-go. Because of this, it’s not at all surprising that so many writers choose to self-publish or “indie publish” rather than deal with the drama and bad contracts that give them little or nothing in return for a piece of their soul and the absolute limits of their blood, sweat, and tears.


Make the rules for your own career as much as possible, but remember your first priority is to provide the best quality book you can that readers will not only want to pay to read but will feel is worth every penny they spent after they read it.


About the Author

Creating realistic, unforgettable characters one story at a time.

Karen Wiesner is an accomplished author with 130 titles published in the past 20 years, which have been nominated/won 134 awards, and has 39 more releases contracted for spanning many genres and formats. Karen’s books cover such genres as women’s fiction, romance, mystery/police procedural/cozy, suspense, paranormal, futuristic, fantasy, science fiction, gothic, inspirational, thriller, horror, chick-lit, and action/adventure. She also writes children’s books, poetry, and writing reference titles such as her bestseller, First Draft in 30 Days, Cohesive Story Building, Writing the Fiction Series: The Complete Guide for Novels and Novellas, and  Bring  Your  Fiction to  Life:  Crafting  Three-Dimensional  Stories with  Depth and  Complexity.  Her newest, Writing  Blurbs  That  Sizzle–And  Sell!, is available now.

Karen used to run a blurb service for authors. She’s crafted back cover and high concept blurbs for all of her own books and series as well as those for the stories in several award-winning anthologies, and evaluated, revised and crafted series, back cover and high concept blurbs for the entire backlist of nearly five hundred books in one publisher’s catalog.

You can check out more of Karen’s many books with Writers Exchange on her author page (which will include the 130 mentioned above, plus more new books as they come out).


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