Below is a compilation of my favorite quotes from The London Book Fair’s Author HQ events.
This is true for so many reasons. You just never know when you’ll meet someone who wants to know more about your book (and that someone could be a literary agent). If you can’t sum up your book quickly, and start stammering/make no sense they might assume you have no sense of your own project and if they’re busy (& chances are they are) you might not get another chance to talk to them. Describing your work succinctly is essential when attending a publishing centric event, you have no idea how many times people will ask “So, what’s your book about?” It’s also just a useful skill to have under your belt. You should be able to describe your book quickly and clearly, just in case.
Please. If you don’t want to take any other writing advice in your life cool, but this right here? Yeah, you need to listen to it. Listen, I get it that writing is a creative thing. That you pour your heart, and your blood, and tears into your pages. But you wanna know something interesting? Every writer does that. Every writer (should) write with emotion, and from the heart and all of us regard our projects as our babies. You are not a special snowflake. You can’t sit down for a few months, bang out a manuscript and say “phew, all done,” and expect your manuscript to be above reproach. In fact, finishing that first draft is just the first step. You have to revise, and before you revise you should give yourself time to rest. If you keep reading the same thing over and over, you won’t catch your mistakes as easily and you might get sick of your writing. I gave myself close to two months between finishing my first draft and beginning my revisions. It’s been a few months since then and I’m nearly done with the first draft revisions but after that I will get the MS to beta readers and then edit another two times. Is it a long process? Yep. Could I just write the damn thing and send it to agents and cross my fingers? Yeah, but I would most likely get nothing but rejections since my first drafts normally suck (and no offense but yours probably do too).
Writing is a creative endeavor, I get it, but being a published author is also a business. Don’t expect someone else to take a chance on your dream if you don’t do the work to make it worth taking a chance for. It’s not enough to feel excited and happy about what you wrote, it has to be good, you have to make it good. You have to put the work in, be hard on yourself, write, edit, rewrite and then do it all over again. If you’re not willing to do that, you’re in the wrong business.
Make it count! Start with a bang & not, “John’s alarm clock went off, it was another typical day.” I had a good friend (and excellent writer) help me with my opening paragraph and I swear to you, it set the tone for the rest of the novel. That’s how much of an impact it can make for your book and if those first lines don’t get an editors/agents attention right away then the rest of your book might not even get the chance.
There have been so many fellow authors I’ve had to unfollow on Twitter/FB etc because every post is just a link to Amazon or a review of their books. It’s boring as hell. You shouldn’t just treat your social media pages like a store, they should be for networking with your audience, other writers, and hopefully industry professionals. You won’t get anywhere tweeting them a link to your book, but you might be able to gain some valuable connections by being your friendly (and professional) self and chiming into conversations, participating in Twitter events (such as #pitmad) and helping other authors during their book debuts. Be an active participant of whichever social media platform you feel most comfortable with and become a part of their community. Your time will be better spent that way.