These are my own personal list. Remember writers, when folks express disbelief at your story: tell them ‘fiction’ means I made it up. Then tell them to go see PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 4. They’ll think you’re a bloody genius then.
1) eBOOKS ARE A TECHNOLOGICAL FAD: Fact is, eBooks are beginning to outsell hard copies. The older generation doesn’t like reading from a screen and loyally stick to hard copies. The next generation are tech savvy and read books on devices. They can get eBooks at train and bus stations or download them at home–anytime and nearly everywhere, cheaper and faster than ever. As long as the tiny Asian village you’re stuck in has some sort of wireless signal you will be able to get a book and be happy.
2) YOU MUST HAVE AN EDUCATION: Do you need a degree in English or a background in Journalism to be a decent writer? It probably doesn’t hurt. In fact, many fiction writers don’t have any qualifications. If you are an avid reader you should know about sentence structure, grammar, dialogue, etc. and why that book you read was so enjoyable. How about that unforgettable character? Academic writers must learn to write differently for fiction because their audience isn’t in the trade/science/ specialist field and they have to reach a broader audience. Journalists must learn to embellish, as their writing is usually sparse, confined due to of space restrictions. Academics often write boring prose that thrives on specific, long drawn out passages, unreal characters, and far too detailed imagery–and win prestigious awards for it. Writing courses and subscribing to writer Mags will help, so use them.
3) EDITORS–MY FRIEND/RELATIVE DOES MY EDITING: That’s almost funny, but so many people say this. Your friends and relatives are rarely qualified to edit your work. They love you too much to criticize and face your wrath. You’ll mistake the advice for a secret dislike. “I always knew she didn’t like me….” The worst is self-editing. It’s like representing yourself in court–you are too involved to look at your own work objectively. Can you really trust yourself to kill off an unnecessary character? Will your spouse know what happens when a vein is sliced, as opposed to an artery? Good editors go through your work and find A,B, and maybe C . Great editors find those and far more, from theme to plot to dialogue, to imagery to character development, and on and on. Few people can do that. Great editors are usually well-paid and work at publishing houses. Great editors are like music producers: add a little horn, tone down the background vocals, etc. That’s why Justin Beiber is a star, he’s got a great producer. Bad editors will kill your style. Some try to write your story how they see it.
4) WRITERS GROUPS ARE A WASTE OF TIME: All writers need feedback. Writing is a lonely task where you create a world in your head. Your job is let readers see your world, smell it, feel it, cry over it. The only way to know if you’re succeeding is to let others into your world and critique it honestly. A writers group will edit for free. You will have several people offering their opinions and knowledge. By the time your work gets through the gauntlet it should be a much better read. Join a writers group, or start one. There’s a few online if it’s not possible. Members are strangers, and don’t care if they hurt your feelings. It should be constructive criticism. If not, find another group. My writers group is wonderful and I mention them in the dedication part of my eBooks.
5) BIOGRAPHIES: Unless you are an illiterate celebrity, or have done something truly remarkable in your life, only your friend and family will care. Many people have survived cancer, moved to the coast, caught a big fish, murdered a spouse, retired early with a special plan, or tended to disabled kids. In spite of what your mom told you, you are not special. I think my life is far more exciting than yours, so why read yours?
6) KNOW WHAT YOU WRITE: It helps to write an eBook mystery if you’re a cop or lawyer or investigator or work in a morgue. It isn’t necessary to know the special skill. Finding a sympathetic soul to offer advice in their field is easy. Meet cops at neighborhood fairs. Drop into a fire station with your kid for a (nudge nudge, wink wink)tour. If you tell people they’ll get a credit in your book many will jump at the chance. If my story deals with living on the moon I’ll research material on the internet where there’s a world of everything at your disposal. Setting a scene on a Polish street is easy when you use cruise the alleys with Google World.
7) EVERYONE WANTS TO WRITE A BOOK…: but no one wants to park their ass for countless hours and go bleary-eyed from editing and still have a decent story to tell. If you want to write badly enough you will make time for it and you will find a comfortable place conducive to creativity. When I buy a watch I just want it to work, no problems, accurate time, nice looking, I don’t want to know how it works or how it was built. Same with a book; I don’t want to correct mistakes, guess if it’s the same bar the guy got murdered in, etc. Writing is hard work–period, and precisely why celebrities hire ghost-writers.
8) TECHNOLOGY CAN EDIT MY BOOK: Don’t count on it. Spell Check and Grammar Check are wonderful tools, but I know a guy CJ who has tools, but the clown still put the fence post in crooked. Did your character make a mess on the coach, or the couch? John Denver was a plain down to earth guy? Or was he a plane down to earth guy? See what I’m saying? Printing out your work and reading it, is the best way. Reading it aloud works, too.
9) SELLING eBOOKS IS EASY: It’s not. You have to stand out and be noticed like all books everywhere. Pricing, cover art, genre, size, content, etc, all are variables. However ‘story’ is the most vital. There are a lot of readers groups online and they all share info. You want to get their attention and garner reviews. It doesn’t seem to matter what you write or how you write it, if someone likes your work, you will hear about it. There’s still a lot of crap out there, and always will be, in eBooks and hard copies.
10) I CAN’T FIND THE TIME or PLACE TO WRITE: Then shut the hell up and quit telling everyone you want to write a book. Got a page written? Whoopee-ding, break out the bubbly. A first draft? Now we’re talkin’.