For any new writer, novel writing that is, my advice is to know what you're getting into, as writing the novel can be the easiest part to the whole process. It's after you write 'The End' that the real work starts.
Firstly, make sure you have the time to write. It's very important. Teach your family to respect your writing time.
I have always wanted to write, but I didn't begin to write my first novel until after I had my third child and I was home full time. With one child at school, a toddler and a new born, I decided to finally put down on paper the scenes that had been playing in my head for years. I started my novel on a type writer, but then a few months later my husband bought me a computer. Writing my first novel was an amazing feeling. I could only spare a few hours each day as the kids were napping but it gave me such joy that I knew this was what I wanted to do forever.
Read contemporary books to get the feel of the style editors are looking for.
Don't let your mother or sister, etc read the book, because they will say it's great, just so your feelings aren't hurt.
Find a good honest, trustworthy critique group and listen to their comments - good or bad. Perhaps not everything they say will be right, but they should give you a balance to help with revisions.
Edit your work well. There are a lot of online writing courses and articles to help you perfect your work.
Be prepared to spend a long time sending out your manuscript to agents and editors. While the ms is out being reviewed, start writing another book.
The biggest obstacle when it comes to pitching your work to a publisher or agent is ignorance. Read up on the industry, join online writers groups and ask questions. In the beginning my biggest obstacle was ignorance. I simply didn't know enough of the publishing industry to query the right agents and publishers. I had to study the market, the publishers, the agents and learn who was suitable for my writing. This took a while and I made some terrible mistakes, but I call it my apprenticeship. I think writers need to research the industry and target the correct agents and editors who represent the type of work they write and not send out queries to just anyone.
Once you have signed the publishing contract, you'll be expected to edit the work again, working with perhaps more than one editor from the company.
Then there is the actual promoting of the book. Don't expect publishers to do all the selling for you.
Books sales rely on marketing efforts. My best tip is to never give up and to think outside the square. Always be generous with your time when people ask about your book, as word of mouth is an excellent way to generate more sales. Look for unique ways to promote.
For example, I have a tote bag which I had my book covers printed on the outside. I take this bag with me everywhere and it's surprising how many comments I get about it. (Always have promotional bookmarks or cards inside the bag to give out.) Promoting can be done on any budget and you will only get out of it what you put in.
Remember, to be a novel writer you don't simply write a novel and think your job is done. There are many levels of becoming and being a published author and you have to learn them all.
Finally, don’t let people put down what you do. Stand up for your writing and yourself. If you’re passionate and serious about what you do, then people will respect that.
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