Monday, August 9, 2010

Writing in 140: Advice for Writers from Writers

Since 1999, I've interviewed nearly 300 authors, from Carly Phillips to Daniel Black, from Bernice McFadden to M.J. Rose, and I always ask, "What advice would you give to writers looking to be published?"

In all the interviews, six pieces of advice seem to resonate:

1- Write from the heart
2- Support and inspire new authors
3- Don't follow trends
4- Don't write for riches
5- Promote. Promote. Promote.
6- Never give up

In other words, writers should be connected to their writing (1, 3, 4), pay it forward (2), know their work and find avenues to sell that work (1, 5), and remember the road is hard but there is light at the end of the writing journey (6).

What quickie advice would you offer to writers looking to be published?

Writing in 140 is my attempt to say something somewhat relevant about writing in 140 words or less.

Shon Bacon is an author, editor, and educator. She has published both creatively and academically, and her debut solo novel, Death at the Double Inkwell is now available for purchase. Shon also interviews women writers on her popular blog ChickLitGurrl: high on LATTES & WRITING. You can learn more about Shon's writings at her official website, and you can get information about her editorial services at CLG Entertainment. Currently, Shon is busy editing, promoting her debut project, writing screenplays, and pursuing her Ph.D. in Technical Communication and Rhetoric at Texas Tech University.

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  1. I'm going to add those 6 pieces of advice to my motivation quote box! They're just what I needed to read today, and resonated deeply.

    Judy Croome
    Visit my blog for the Free Autographed Book Giveway to celebrate Southern African Women Writers

  2. Thanks for posting, Judy. I have them on a Post-it on my laptop and on my desk so that I never forget, :-)


  3. Great tips to keep posted somewhere close by. I would also tell new writers to read, read, read, and write, write, write.

  4. Those six pretty well cover it. I have two to contribute:

    * Don't let anybody else define what success looks like to you: I don't mean this in a touchy-feely, everybody-gets-a-trophy way. There's a beguiling myopia that a big New York deal is the be-all, end-all. There's a whole publishing constellation outside New York's doors.

    * On a related note ... publishing is an apparatus, a mechanism between your book and its audience. The most important parts, and the ones you have the most control over, are the book and your engagement with readers. Make sure those two get your greatest attention.

  5. In addition to Maryann's "read, read, read," I would add, read outside your genre. You may not write in that genre, but you can learn from it.

    Great list!


  6. I love your first one, Craig, and I have to admit that for a while, it was hard for me to see beyond the NY doors of Publishdom. However, once I did see beyond, I was impressed with all those people who were writing great books and publishing them through other means.

  7. Thanks for the great tips. They are definitely keepers. I would add: revise, revise, revise and read your work out loud
    Donna V.

  8. I think I would add, "Write now, revise later." Good post, Shon.

  9. Brilliant, Craig--the industry is apart from the writing. Donna, revising may be one of the toughest jobs there is--I cut 13,000 words yesterday and it may have been my best day of writing ever, even though I went backwards!

    Scott Nicholson

  10. I'd tell aspiring writers not to take rejection personally and to learn from it. All authors get rejection letters!

    If you get a rejection letter from an editor, read it and look at your work objectively. Some of my early rejection letters really helped me become a better writer, which enabled me to become a published author. :)

  11. Find out what works for you and do that, a lot.

    Great post, by the way :)

    Jon Gibbs
    (Couldn't post using the LJ id)

  12. I've never received a helpful rejection letter, only ones telling me I didn't fit. But the advice given in the post and comments is great. The thing that helps me after all those listed is simply being with my critique group and learning from and inspiring each other.
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author


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