Many people would have you think that becoming a successful published author is difficult. In truth, it’s easy and if you follow these simple steps, you may soon find yourself at the top of the bestseller list.
1. Read a lot. Reading is critical. You should read both books in your chosen genre as well as books that can help you improve your craft. Try to read at least three books a day.
2. Write, revise, repeat. Writing is a skill and just like any other skill, you must practice. Set goals for yourself. Start with 10,000 words a day on your manuscript and work up from there. Depending on how fast you can type, this should take less than three hours. Then, do writing exercises for an additional couple of hours to hone your craft.
3. Promote yourself. Start a blog. Create a website. You should also be reading books on internet marketing and effective use of social media. Devise a comprehensive self-marketing strategy and plan on spending at least six hours a day promoting yourself.
4. Take time to learn and hone your abilities. Take classes and join a critique group or two. Four classes or sessions a day should be sufficient. Try to bring homemade treats to each meeting to share with your fellow participants.
5. Make writing a priority. If you have work, kids, social life or hobbies, you must remember what’s important and put your writing first. Of course, sometimes it’s impossible to avoid distractions, but use them to advance your goals. For example, if your house is on fire, your first priority should be to get out. However, while you’re waiting for the firefighters, use the opportunity to write down your observations. Fictionalizing real events is a wonderful way to add dimension to your work.
6. Research. Well-written fiction demands research – so whether your characters are skydiving or street luging, take the time to become intimately acquainted with these things. Better yet, experience them yourself. Spend three or four days a week doing this.
7. Get recognized for your work. Find, research and enter writing contests. You should try to enter only those contests you will win. Plan to enter and win five to seven a week.
8. Meticulously research literary agents, their preferences and submission guidelines. Set aside several hours a day to target appropriate agents for your work and draft query letters.
9. Be well balanced. You can’t let your life revolve around writing. The best writers fill their lives with other interests. Learn Russian, perfect origami, master calligraphy. Get some physical activity while you’re at it, you can’t be a lump sitting at a desk all the time. Consider doing marathons or endurance swimming.
10. Get plenty of rest. You can’t write if you’re all tired and stressed out, now can you?
As you do these things, keep in mind that if you aren’t willing to invest this degree of effort, you must not want it enough. Best of luck in your publishing endeavors!
What’s the best opening line you ever heard? For me it was in New Orleans. I was standing at a stoplight in the French Quarter with two girlfriends when a young man weaved his way in our direction. He was probably ten years too young for me, daddy-long-leg proportions, sporting baggy pants with a good five inches of underwear sticking out the top. A dozen or more strands of oversized beads hung around his neck.
The guy stopped, turned and favored me with a once-over so comic it was like a scene from Roger Rabbit. I waited for what he might say only because the whole venture seemed so improbable. I was not disappointed.
“If I be yo bread, will you be my buttah?”
I was speechless, not just at the words but at his vast, swaggering optimism. As if nerdish professional tourist moms often jumped at the opportunity to bed underweight hip-hop wannabes who lived in their cars.
I never found out what else he had to say. My friend grabbed my elbow and steered me across the street, perhaps concerned that I was considering the proposition, which of course, I wasn’t.
But my point is, he had my attention. I couldn’t wait to see what he was going to say next. There I was, head cocked to the side like a dog hearing a high-pitched sound, jaw gaping. I wasn’t going anywhere; this was going to be good.
And so it is, or should be, with your opening line for your book. That is my challenge for the day – for myself – and you too, if you’re up for it: write one hundred opening lines. Heck, you can write one or a hundred, but if you’re game, post your favorite in the comments.
Something brilliant is bound to turn up, right? Maybe not as good as “If I be yo bread will you be my buttah” but you never know.