Monday, February 13, 2012

So You’re a “Newb” ~ Now what?

You’ve just written your first novel… now what?

As a prior “newb”, this was a daunting question, and one I found a fairly simple answer to once I did a bit of Googling.

You query.

As a not-so-new-pre-pubbed-writer, my advice to you is this: Don’t query.

Not yet.

There are far too many things out there for you to learn, and if you’re completely clueless (or damn near close), you aren’t ready.

I remember hearing things like “go to conferences” and “join a writer’s association” and thinking, why would I want to do that? Why? Because they have INFORMATION. Any YOU need it.

First, learn the writer speak. GMC, MC, MRU, CP, MS, BETA, WIP, Show vs Tell… for starters and the list goes on. Here’s a great Publishing Dictionary from the ladies at Bookends.

Second, learn how to apply the lessons behind some of those crazy acronyms! Did you know you can take workshops online? Personally, I love but there are so many others.

Along with the workshops, you really need to come out of your hermit shell and join the community. We are large and in charge, and we’re also here to help. Writers are the most supportive group! We understand your crazy like nobody else. You can’t tell Mom, “Man, seriously, Emma woke me up last night with the craziest conversation she’d like to have with Noah.” Mom is going to nod and smile and look like she’s listening, but inside it goes something like this: “I wonder if this is code for I’ve become a schizophrenic. Maybe I should hit up the WebMD later.”

If you aren’t on Twitter or some other platform, do that now. Follow all the agents representing your genre. Follow their blogs. Start building your own platform. Blog, Twitter, G+, Facebook, Triberr…whatever. And more than one. At my last conference, I learned how important this is, and not just for after you’re lucky enough to find representation… Did you know a good platform base can be a selling point for an editor? Don’t wait. (Just my opinion—don’t yell at me for it. You know who you are…I see you.)

READ. Read read read what you’re writing. When I started, I read things like James Patterson but wanted to write things like Stephanie Meyer. Two different genres! Not. Good. You have to know what your future fans are expecting.

DON’T FOLLOW TRENDS! Vampires (hot as they are) are the kiss of death, and as someone with a 3-book plot idea full of vampires, I wish nothing more than for that fad to kick back in, but unless it’s amazing, no agent or editor in their right mind is going to give it a shot. By the time you see a trend happening, and it’s popular, agents and editors are already way past it and looking for that new idea. You’re already too late. So if you notice a trend in Garden Gnome romance (LOL, omg, wouldn’t that be hilarious?!), and you LOVE it, the people that matter and will pay you money for it are already worn out on it. (And now my mind is spinning over this gnome romance, lol… my muse is akin to Satan sometimes. I’m seeing a blog post series in my future. Hmmmmm.)

Lastly, the biggest piece of advice I can give you is to grow the largest, biggest, baddest backbone you can. You. Will. NEED. It. You will receive harsh criticism from everywhere. If your crit partner isn’t rough, get a new one. I’m NOT kidding. How else are you going to learn? Honesty is the best policy or you won’t make it. None of us are perfect and in this business you need people to point the flaws out. It’s tough, but true.

I know I’m missing a A LOT, so if anyone has something to add, please comment!


  1. Oh my gosh, what a wonderful post. I agree with you 100% Misty. As a previously pre-pubbed author, I went through HELL to finally get published. Then the journey wasn't complete.

    My publisher (who shall remain nameless) didn't market my book, wouldn't produce any royalty statements, etc. It was a horrible experience, so I'll go one step furter and add this to your post..

    If you decide to go the Indie-publisher route, do your research. Contact authors who have had experience with this publisher and drag all them skeletons out the closet. You'll be glad you did.

    This is a simple CYA (cover your ass) procedure you won't regret.

    Great post Misty!

  2. YUSSS!!!! Research is KEY. I considered self-pubbing a few times (so glad I didn't at the time b/c at the time I knew NOTHING about plots or gmc's...) and after some research decided it wasn't for me. One thing I should have researched and didn't was my first AGENT. I was fresh out of the gates, got this guy's name out of the Literary Guide to Agents, which is that HUGE listing that I believe they only put credited agents in... Anyway, I have no idea if this guy did anything for me. We spoke through monthly SNAIL-MAIL updates. Never on the phone or via email. He never attempted editing my work, which he should have. CRAZY!!! This guy was just taking every client that emailed him, then taking our monthly checks for "postage and printing". RESEARCH. RESEARCH. YUSSSSS.
    Thanks for that reminder, Dawn!

  3. Garden Gnome romance?
    You mean, like "Gnomeo and Juliet?"

    Great post! Totally sound advice, and something that a lot of people need to hear. I'm at the point where I've decided this is something I want to do, I have a story ready to start polishing, so I'm doing all these things on your list :)

  4. LOL, Gina...I need to get out of my rabbit hole more often. I totally didn't know about Gnomeo and Juliet. SAD, lol.


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