Now that I am multi-published across three romance genres, I am often asked what I wish I'd known before that happened...so I have put together my top ten tips. Enjoy!
1) The publishing industry is entirely subjective – just because one (or may thirty) agents or editors reject your manuscript (not you personally!), it doesn’t mean your book won’t find a home. Having said that, it’s important to take note of any feedback, especially if more than one editor or agent picks up on the same thing. It’s possible whatever it is, isn’t working. Listen and learn.
2) Point of View – SO important. If your reader gets confused who is talking and when, you have a good chance of losing them and the book being tossed aside. Keep the POV tight and the reader will be entirely invested in the character.
3) Online courses – It was a long time before I discovered the joy and advantage of affordable online courses. They are available everywhere and give such valuable learning and feedback. Some of the best I’ve found are here: http://www.writeruniv.com/classes/ and here: http://lowcountryrwa.com/workshops/all-workshops/
4) Writer friends – VITAL!! The more writers you surround yourself with, the more likely you are to succeed. This is just my humble opinion, but to have someone to lean on, cry with, laugh and succeed with is so, so important.
5) Critique Partners – leading on from friends. Find yourself a couple of good, quality critique partners (not your friends and family!). This may take a while to achieve and you might run into a few hard relationships before you find your perfect fit, but it will be worth it. Having someone to point out character and plot flaws, pacing issues and grammar without changing your voice could be the one thing missing in your process that could lead to publication.
6) Social Media – Vitally important. As is having a blog/website where people can find you easily. You might think this is only important once you’re published, but I’d say the sooner you can share your writing journey, the better. Do it now and establish a presence. Let people know you write and are looking for an agent or publisher. SO much useful information is shared on Twitter and Facebook.
7) Romance writing organizations – such as the RWA (Romance Writers of America) and the RNA (Romantic Novelists Association) are fantastic for places to attend regular Chapter meetings and get to know other romance writers in your area. The amazing annual conferences are worth the membership fee alone. Everyone in these organizations, and those that run them, have been where you are. Lean on them for support through your publishing journey and beyond.
8) Be true to yourself – it will be a complete waste of your time and energy trying to follow market trends or emulate your favorite author/s in any way, shape or form. Write what you LOVE, write from the HEART and you will succeed. Tenacity, determination and passion are what make writers succeed. There isn’t a formula, or strategy. There is hard work, learning and commitment to the art that takes writers through a tough business. There aren’t any shortcuts – sorry!
9) Promotion – aahh, promotion. It’s what will take up equally as much of your precious work time as the actual writing itself. I came to this a little late with my first three books and thought they would somehow magically sell themselves even if I didn’t tell anyone about them. Duh! Promotion is time-consuming, but vital. Not only will you sell more books, but you will give time for readers to get to know you as a person too. If you throw yourself into promotion as an enjoyable part of the job instead of a chore, I guarantee you will get a lot out of it. Yes, it can eat into your writing time, but talking to readers and writers while promoting has led me to some of my best decisions with regard to my career.
10) And finally…the best piece of advice I was ever given. ALLOW YOURSELF TO WRITE A ‘CRAPPY’ FIRST DRAFT. What else is there to say? If you don't rid yourself of your internal editor and that horrible demon sitting on your shoulder saying ‘you’re no good’, will ‘never succeed’, it’s highly likely you won’t even finish a saleable book. Get the words down and worry about the polishing in the following drafts. I promise your output will quadruple overnight. Good luck!