1. Identify a ninch market to target. The most common mistake writers make is aiming at an audience that's too wide. I know that targeting, say, women in the 20-45 age range seems like a good idea, but the fact is that the wider your target, the less likely you are to hit it. This isn't the firing or archery range - it's reality, and reality means that, unless you're a celebrity, it's really best to find a small segment to serve, and build from there. Anybody can be a one-hit-wonder. It takes more to build up an audience - and a reputation - from the ground up, and this is more stable. That doesn't mean that your hands are bound - simply that you focus on a certain demographic. for example, I write across a number of genres, but I focus on ebooks. So my writing is more suited for young to middle age adults that are tech savy and very "plugged in." And from here, I hope to conquer the world.
2. Set aside time to write. You have to, or everything else in life will take over. And let me be very frank with you: People in general think that writing is easy and that there's nothing to it. Nothing can be further from the truth, and you and I know that - but we all know that there are lots of people that have opinions about things they really know nothing about, and this is one of them. Only you know how much time and effort it takes to brainstorm, plan, research and write that dream novel. Others can support you, but unless they're writers, they have no idea what it's like, so you're going to have to put your foot down and make this work if you're serious about it. And when it comes to scheduling that writing time, you can have some flexibility in there. For example, I simply can't say I'll write for 2 hours every day. With my lifestyle, that's not gonna happen (we discussed that about a week ago, and how all hell broke loose when I tried that one time). But I can say I'll write after work two nights this week, or I'll take my laptop to work and write on 1 lunch hour, or I'll do 2 chapters next weekend. That's doable. So make a schedule that fits best with your life and stick to it. And don't worry - the schedule can change, as long as you have some time penciled in for "writing" every few days.
3. Use technology to your advantage. You have to. Anybody that knows me will tell you that my 2 best friends are my smartphone and my laptop. As I said in So You Want to Be a Writer, the days of slipping a beautifully handwritten manuscript over the publisher's transom are over. Everybody expects typed submissions, and they're increasingly requesting that they be submitted digitally with explicit formatting instructions. Everybody expects you to have an email address, blog and website. Everybody expects you to be on social media - Facebook or Twitter at a minimum. You can say "I don't do computer!" and "I don't need all that high tech mess!" all day, but foresake these, and you foresake an audience. This is the twenty first century and it's not going away - in fact, all of life is shifting in that direction. So do yourself a favor and accept that if you want to be a writer, you have to snuggle up with technology.
4. Educate yourself. I said in my entry last week that I don't really have to means to attend conferences, but I have studied up on the craft of writing. I've read books on how to write, brushed up on grammer rules, familiarized myself with the publication process, and even took a couple of courses by computer. There are many ways to learn, and it's wise to take advantage of every opportunity you can.
5. Remember that your editor is your friend. So is everybody in the publication process, from the submissions editor to the graphic artist to the sales and publicity staff. Be kind, accept their guidance, and establish good working relationships with everybody. Remember, they have faith in your writing and they're trying to help you as an author. Help and support them as publishers by being kind and easy to work with - and saying "thank you" a lot.
6. It's all about the readers. We write because we love it, but we pursue publication because we hope o ur stories will entertain, inspire, and bring joy to readers. If you're doing this for any other reason, examine your motives.
7. Don't give up. Dry spells happen. I'm getting published now, but did you know that I went through a 3 year dry spell before I got my book contracts for Blurry and Anywhere But Here last year? That's right - I had absolutely nothing published in 2007 - 2010. I even had a contract for Quarantine fall through in 2009 when the publisher offered me a contract, then filed for bankrupcy before it ever went to print. But I'm glad I didn't give up, because I wrote both of those books and Splinter during that time frame, and now 2 of those books are published and I just signed a contract to publish Splinter through Whiskey Creek Press. And I self published Quarantine because I couldn't find any other publisher willing to take on a novella, so I finally decided to quit looking, do it myself, and move on to promoting my work and producing new work. Writing, like anything else in life, has it's ups and downs. And like everything else, you have to ride out those waves and learn from your experiences to break through to success.
So there you have it - seven tips that I use in my own endeavors to writing and publishing. I hope these are helpful and inspirational to you, and they give you a framework for defining your own path to success.
That's all today. Take care and I hope you have a good week.