John Howell – Day 6!
Welcome to the sixth day of the ‘It’s Reigning Men’ tour with my guest, John Howell. Being a full-time professional author, John has learned a great deal about the publishing industry and has decided to share some of that knowledge with us today. Take it away, John!
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We have reached the sixth day of the It’s Reining Men guest post, and it has been fun spending time on Traci’s blog. Once again, thank you, Traci.
Today I thought I would give a little insight into subjects that I feel can be helpful to new writers.
The best thing I could do for a new writer is to provide a list of things that can serve as a gentle reminder of what to do when the situation I describe comes up. This list is not a long one but does incorporate some of the pitfalls that are waiting for anyone who wants to write. My bio is at the bottom of this post but even before you read it trust me I do want to write. I made the decision to do so full time after my last child graduated from college.
Here are the things every new writer needs to know and the reasons they need to know them.
1. Do not show work to family and friends. Our friends and families love and adore us but will not give honest feedback on our writing. They will say positive things and then not be able to help a writer improve. The writer will have a nice ego boost that won’t help, in the long run. Those who offer suggestions are subtlety giving the author hints to do something else. If a writer listens, they could become discouraged and probably quit. The only people who should see the writer’s work are fellow authors who can provide constructive suggestions for improvements.
2. Do not show work to anyone until it is complete. This one always catches folks flatfooted. The question is, “How do I know if I’m on the right track if I don’t get opinions of where I am?” My answer is you don’t need to find out if you are on the right path. There is plenty of time to get an objective review of the work after completion. Having people give opinions as the writer goes along only invites discouragement and the risk of not finishing. I can’t tell you how many people I have talked to who have a book started but can’t seem to progress beyond a certain point. The cause most of the time is they became discouraged with the comments they were getting from their “critique group.” I belong to a critique group but what I do is compose original short stories for them to review. I get the learning without the downside discouragement on my larger projects.
3. Don’t stop writing even for a day. Writing is a full-time commitment. The writer must put something down every day even if it is only a few lines. Once stopped it is very hard to begin again. I write about one thousand words a day on my current work in progress. In addition, I write a blog five days a week, book reviews, letters, e-mails, and short stories. I never try to rationalize a one thousand-word shortfall by counting the other works. Another trick I learned is when it is time to stop for the day begin the next sentence that will then be a reminder of your thoughts when you come back the next day.
4. Be patient with the writing. There is no rush to get published. A writer wants to be sure the work is as good as it can be. Once the manuscript is complete find about five trustworthy folks who will give honest feedback to read it. Ask for opinions and help with plot holes and typos. Once the manuscript has been corrected then ask another group to read it. By now the writer will be very used to receiving comments and suggestions. It is up the writer which to keep and which to ignore. Once the manuscript is as good as it can be then start the query process for an agent or publisher if for traditionally published. If self-publish is the desire then now would be the time to investigate the various self-publishing alternatives and make a decision.
5. Understand the job of a writer is not over when the book is done. After a book is complete, the real work begins. Authors today are expected to promote and market their books even if they have a traditional publisher. The expectation means an author must build a platform of awareness to the reading public. Social media has helped authors build awareness of their books but are not the whole answer. An author must be willing to go out and meet people and deliver the book’s message in person. The author must also be prepared to engage in on-line conversations in forums, and other sites where readers regularly visit. The most helpful website to find resources to help spread the message of a book’s availability is https://savvybookwriters.wordpress.com. This site has lists of places where you can post the availability of a book and most are free. I would think the first thing an author should do is start a blog and post to the blog regularly. There are a number of hosting sites that do not charge anything for the basic package.
6. Every writer needs support. Writing is a lonely craft that only other writers understand. All new writers should associate with other writers. All published authors should associate with organizations that exist to help the author grow in craft and sales. The best organization I have found is Rave Reviews Book Club. This is an organization that is chartered to propel and promote author’s works. Visit the site, and you’ll see what I mean. Go here https://ravereviewsbynonniejules.wordpress.com/ and check it out.
John W. Howell spent over forty years as a business person and in 2012 finally began his lifelong dream to be an author. His first novel named ‘My GRL’ is published by Martin Sisters Publishing. It is a fiction thriller telling the story of one man’s efforts to save a symbol of America’s greatness from destruction by a group of terrorists and the first of a trilogy. It is available in e-book and paper. The second named His Revenge is in line for May of 2015, and the third titled Our Justice is in the final editing stage with publication in 2016. In addition to his novels, John also writes short stories, and some of them are featured on his blog Fiction Favorites. John lives on a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico off the southern coast of Texas with his wife and assortment of rescue pets.