When I started writing for publication, I repeatedly heard three must-dos if I wished to be successful. Years later with many published works, I have my own opinion about those MUSTs.
MUST #1 Write what you know.
IMO, writing what you know is
easy lazy writing. I’ve done it, you’ve done. Who hasn’t?
BUT, we live in the technology age. These days you can research anything without leaving home. Or looking at it another way, we write fiction. We can make it up!
It’s been my experience, as long as my reader can suspend their disbelief and buy into my story I don’t have to be an expert about what I’m writing.
I will qualify my opinion by saying that IF you write about what you know and what interests you, your story is more likely to come alive for your reader. But sound research can produce an engaging story too.
So, don’t limit yourself to what you know. Explore. Be adventurous. Be creative. Research.
MUST #2 Never write to market.
Indie publishing has blown this MUST out of the water.
On the other hand, if you write to the traditional publishing market, you might want to AVOID market trends. By the time a manuscript is ready for what is currently trending, that trend may have died. Big Six publishers take too long from contract to reality in a bookstore. Do you really want to spend weeks, months, or even years writing a book that won’t sell?
If you’re considering indie publishing, I suggest you keep your eye on the marketplace. Publishers’ Marketplace offers deal news which is an indicator of what’s coming out. You can subscribe to the free lunch edition of Publishers’ Marketplace or spring for a paid subscription. Check regularly to see what’s trending.
Then if you need a story idea, you’ll have plenty. You might find one that appeals to you and will likely be most saleable.
MUST #3 Write the best book you can.
This one is absolutely, positively TRUE.
What sells a book or an article or a paper is CONTENT.
Agents and editors reject mediocre or unsellable submissions. Reviewers and readers will post bad reviews. So write the best, most creative, most marketable manuscript or article you can. ALWAYS!
I wish I could promise that if you follow these MUSTs you’ll find success. I can’t. There are two other elements for success in publication.
One of my early advisors – New York Times bestseller JoAnn Ross — was honest enough to share this illusive element of writing success: (paraphrased)
“Selling to traditional publishers always requires a little fairy dust.”
That’s good old fashion luck.
The other key element and critical must-have is PERSEVERANCE.
So I end by wishing you luck because every author – aspiring or established – needs a boatload of LUCK and this perseverance quote from my website writers’ resource page:
You do not know what the next effort will bring because the future is not based on the past. That feeling of wanting to give up is based solely on the past, which really doesn’t matter anymore. What matters now is where you’re headed, not where you’ve been. And when you view it from that perspective, giving up is simply not an option.” ~~~R. Marston
What’s on your list of MUSTs for aspiring writers?