Hello, SEers. I am delighted to be part of The Story Empire group. I have long admired the members and followers and am pleased to now be a part of the team. I feel like a kid who has been looking at penny candy with his nose pressed against the display case glass, and the shop keeper invites me to take my pick.
The good news is I’m in. The bad news is now I have to go to work. As you know by now, you can find a wealth of information on writing, publishing, and organization on The Story Empire. The authors here have a lot of experience and are willing to share.
To that end, for my first post, I’m going to discuss the top five mistakes that most new authors make and how to avoid them. Since I have pretty much made them all, I guess I’m setting myself up as a mistake expert. I hope you enjoy my debut Story Empire post. If not, please don’t tell me.
The Top Five Mistakes of New Authors and How to Avoid Making them Yourself.
Mistake one – Rushing to Publication.
We all want to get out books published. We’ve worked so hard getting the manuscript finished, and now we want the glory and honor that comes from being able to say, “I’m a published author.” I have to ask a question here. What’s the rush? You’ve lived this long without being published, why now?
The reason I ask is there is nothing worse than rushing a book into print or an agent’s hands, and then the need for editing pointed out. The second worse thing is to have a book published that no one buys. Lack of sales comes from not having an adequate plan on how to sell the book once it is published. So, rushing to publish has its downside. It is better to take the time to make sure the book is as error-free as possible and backed by a solid plan on how to communicate its availability to the target readers.
Mistake two – Getting advice from family members.
We all want to impress our loved ones with our erudite composition, but in trying to do so, we may encourage enough reasons to abandon the book. How’s that you ask? Picture if you will a loving spouse making an offer to read your material and provide some “editing” help. Next, picture a spouse reading that last love or murder scene. You got the picture? The first question they will want to ask is, “Where did you learn how to do that?” The “that” is the specific action that is going on in the love or murder scene.
Very few spouses or family members are qualified to give you feedback on your writing. They know you and will probably offer an opinion at some point that the writing sounds nothing like you. The downside when that happens is that you will naturally be discouraged and possibly quit the work entirely. To avoid all this mess, go to critique groups for input. If you don’t know where to find a critique group, here’s a link for a resource to help locate a critique group. https://thewritelife.com/find-a-critique-partner/ My final word on using a spouse or family member for critique work. Just don’t.
Mistake three – Failure to read several books in the genre in which you are writing.
This one baffles me a lot. I think almost every successful writer has repeated the mantra, “If you don’t read, you can’t write.” I guess I’m extending this thought to include not just reading for reading’s sake but specifically targeting books in your genre to read. The best way is to find the leading authors in the genre and read as many of their books as you can. The result will be an excellent knowledge of the kind of writing that sells. How can that be a bad thing?
Mistake four – Failure to finish the first draft in a timely fashion.
There are many reasons for this. Maybe the writing is just too hard. Perhaps the plot is too thin, or maybe the writer is off querying agents or publishers. Whatever the reason, an unfinished book is one that has no value. Finishing in a timely fashion is necessary so that the continuity of plot and characters are maintained. I have heard some excuses for not getting to the end of the first draft in a timely fashion. Most boil down to an underlying fear of getting the thing done.
It is understandable because the question after the first draft could be, “Now what?” There is plenty to do after the first draft, and the objective of every writer should be to get the first draft done as soon as is comfortably possible. The significant risk in not completing the draft is it will never get done.
Mistake Five – Not taking time to study the writing craft.
No matter how many books an author writes, there are still elements of the craft to learn. For a new author, it is especially important to learn to use the basics. The show/don’t tell aspects of plot, characterizations, and dialog techniques skills one learns. There is no such thing as a born author. If very successful authors still take time to hone their skills in writing, what makes a novice think they are above learning?
The only thing I can think of is a misguided belief that this writing gig is an easy thing to do, and there is no need to make it too complicated. Well, nothing is further from the truth. Writing is a soul busting way to express oneself, and the best way of doing it is to do it right. It is a saying that one cannot consider themselves a writer until they have written at least a million words. Think about that. Would you rather write a million highly crafted words or a million miserable ones? Study is the difference.