by Will Viharo
When aspiring writers ask me for advice – which isn’t often – I normally offer two words of hard earned wisdom: “Quit now.” If they ignore me and keep writing anyway, that means they share my natural affliction and it doesn’t matter what I say or anyone says, for that matter.
But there are a lot more useful (and less snarky) pieces of real experience shared and ignored on a regular basis, often to the fledgling author’s peril…
Besides ignoring admonitions to choose a more lucrative career path, indie authors often make the mistake of disregarding these other crucial, timeworn guidelines:
1. Do not edit your own work by yourself. No matter how many times you go over the material, your mental eyes will falsely auto-correct the text, because you know how it’s supposed to read. If you can’t afford to hire a professional editor, as most indie authors can’t, at least circulate a draft amongst several literate friends before uploading. Nothing says “amateur” more than bad grammar, too many typos (or any, really), and sloppy formatting.
2. Write what you know. Perhaps the oldest adage in the book, but that’s because it’s so true. A reader who is savvy about the subject matter, be it fiction or non-fiction, will instantly spot a cynical dilettante trying to cash in on a popular trend by posing as a seasoned enthusiast or expert. Whether it’s a story based on your own personal experience, thorough field research, or simply because you’re a fellow fan of the genre, stick with stuff within your own wheelhouse, for both your sake and the target audience’s.
3. Self-promotion via social media is essential. It doesn’t matter how shy you are, if you want to connect with readers that will appreciate your work, you need to learn how to market it effectively, on your platform. Even if a small press or larger house publishes your work, every author nowadays must do their own networking, whether it’s a Facebook page, Twitter account, book trailers on YouTube, or ideally, all three. And it’s never been easier. This proactive strategy is as just as important, if not more so, than book tours and personal appearances were in the pre-cyber era.
Of course, there’s still time to delete that manuscript and get a real job. But if that were a viable option for you, you probably wouldn’t be reading this right now. Good luck!
What pearls of wisdom do you have to share with your fellow authors?
PHOTO: BRETT JORDAN