As a beginning author, you will probably have to walk a fine line between optimism and foolishness. Here are a few hints to get you there:
Notice what works; notice what doesn't. Read your favorite genre, of course, and your favorite authors. But don't stop there. Read bestsellers; they may give you important clues, whether or not you enjoy them. If you are a writer, your mind will absorb tricks of the trade without your being conscious of the process. Always be willing to learn from others. Learn to tell which authors are writing for enjoyment, and which are writing for money. Then . . .
Learn a trade.
So that you never have to write for money, learn a trade that you can enjoy. It may be years before your writing is profitable. Make those happy years!
So that you never stop writing, learn a trade that doesn’t deplete your emotional and artistic energies. Have something left at the end of the working day; that’s when you start to write.
Join a writers’ group.
The more often you meet with them, the more you inspire each other. And they can save you a lot in editing costs.
While you’re working on your first novel, write some short stories and submit them to magazines for publication. Getting published is like making a million dollars: The first one is the hardest.
Hire an editor, preferably me.
Before you send your priceless manuscript to a publisher, clean up that spelling and punctuation, the grammar and sentence structure. It’s true, most publishing companies have editors on staff—but you can make their job easier and more pleasant by submitting a clean manuscript. And making that editor your friend is a necessary early step in your writing career.
And remember that your cover letter is the first thing the publisher will see. It should be the best thing you have ever written.
Learn the technology.
You already know how to write a book in Microsoft Word. The editing functions of Word are what I ask you to understand before I start to edit your manuscript.
Publish a website.
I can help you with that; I built this one. However, if you want all the bells and whistles, like taking online orders or running a blog, better hire a professional—I don't claim that status. Or if you have lots of free time, take a look at Network Solutions and create your own. Once you appear in print, your fans will want to know more about you.
Get an agent.
Eventually, you should be concentrating your energies on writing, not marketing. Agents love this stuff. See Writer's Digest to find an agent of your very own. Finally,
Never give up, as long as the urge to write drives you.
There are about twenty books published every hour in the United States. Yours could be next!