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?
Write! For the night is coming.
Yep! And it seems to me daylight is moving at warp speed. LOL
Great post! I found when I gave myself permission to write crap and turn off that internal editor- the words flowed better. And to paraphrase Nora, I can fix crap. :-)
I love Nora’s philosophy. It is impossible to fix a blank page. Thanks for stopping by, Rhonda.
Write what you know has always be subject to misinterpretation, or literal translation. However, one of the best definitions came from Allen Wold at a science fiction convention (paraphrased). It’s everything that you know, everything you have learned from other people, and everything you can learn from research. But I’d also add a caveat: It also needs to be something that you can reliably write. I’m not a doctor, but I could probably research medical science — but I’d have to do so much research just to be credible that it wouldn’t be worth my time.
Linda Adams – Soldier, Storyteller http://garridon.wordpress.com/
Elegantly said, Linda. Writing reliably is the key whether you’re research or writing from personal knowledge. Thanks for stopping by the porch and for your service as a writer and a storyteller.
I think that writing the best book we can write is the most important Must.
And good luck to you too! :)
Thanks, Patricia. I need all the good luck I can get.