What advice do you have for new authors?

I have a few pieces of advice that I often give new writers.

The first is that you learn to write by writing. Just sit down and do it.

Craft books and workshops are certainly helpful, but writing a whole story from beginning through the middle to The End is the best way to learn how to write a book. Also, books aren’t written, they’re rewritten. So go ahead and write terribly. Just write the whole thing, then go back and massage every single word to make it better. The craft book I recommend most for the revisions stage is Getting the Words Right by Theodore Cheney. Note: There are two editions. The first edition is the one I used, but the second has good reviews, too.

My next advice is to always, always, always remember that the act of writing is yours. If you choose to publish, great! But publishing is not yours. Publishing is a business and it will require compromise and sacrifice. Publishing is not something you can control. Rejections and bad reviews will happen and they will give you a stomach ache, but the hard knocks that come from publishing do not mean you should quit writing. Writing is yours. If you want to write, write.

As for how to pursue a career in publishing, I recently posted this reflection on turning a call into a career. The short answer is: Keep writing.

← All FAQ