Great Advice For First Time Writers

By on May 20, 2017
Great Advice For First Time Writers - Writer's

For a first-time writer, the idea of getting published can feel as far away as another universe. When you first sit down at your computer or desk to begin that very first chapter, imagining your book out there, on the shelves, being read by actual people just doesn’t feel like it could ever become a reality.

The truth is that while we writers like to think of ourselves as whimsical, creative creatures, the process of writing a book and getting it into a publishable format is a much more practical task. First-time writers need to know that as much as having talent and being able to harbour and express exciting and unique ideas, it’s also about being super organised, dedicating lots of time to the craft, and approaching it from a very practical point of view as well.

So what can the first-time writer do to help get them from the first chapter to a published novel?

Have an end date

The first thing to do is to decide when you want to achieve this goal by. Without a self-imposed deadline, it is far too hard to organise yourself, stay motivated, stick to a schedule and structure the writing days/ months/ years ahead.

One you have an end date in mind you must concentrate on actually writing your story. In order to do this, it is imperative that you:

Do your research
Create an outline
Read continuously
Get advice from other writers
Create a writing schedule and stick to it no matter what.

Once your first draft has been completed next comes the editing stage. The editing stage can feel very daunting, particularly for first-time writers, but it is so important that you take this part as seriously as getting your story down in the first place.

When you edit you must:

Look out for inconsistencies
Check spelling, punctuation and grammar
Get feedback from as many people as possible
Check structure and pace
Remove and rewrite chunks that simply don’t fit anymore.

The editing process can be time-consuming and it may take you until your third, fourth, even fifth draft until you are happy with your novel. When you are it is then advisable to hire a professional editor to check your work to make it in absolutely the best condition it can be.

Remember you only have one shot at showing your novel to editors and publishers, so don’t waste it.

When your manuscript is ready for submission you need to think about several things.

Who to send it to
How to approach them
Following submission guidelines
Making the effort to submit on an individual basis.

Make a list of relevant publishers and agents who you think might be interested in your novel. Look at the lists of books they have, check out their submission guidelines and follow them exactly. Always write an individual letter explaining why your book would be a good fit for them and why their readers would love it. Make sure your synopsis is the absolute best it can be.
Keep track of who you have sent it to and their responses. Remember it can take more than six months before you get a reply!

Alternatively, you could self-publish your novel. If you wish to do this you must have your book cover professionally designed and come up with a detailed and exhaustive marketing plan. Be prepared for lots more hard work!

Understanding the basics of what it takes to write a novel is a good start for any first-time writer. And, if you plan your time carefully and make sure you follow all the steps then you can work methodically and sensibly towards your goal, and you are sure to get there in the end!

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

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