From Writer to Author

Are you writing a novel? Hoping someday to be published?

For most of us, writing, revising and polishing a manuscript is the work of many months or even years. But there are a number of things you can start doing right now, while you’re finishing your book, to improve your chances for making the leap from writer to published author.

Books on writingStudy the craft of writing fiction. It’s never-ending. Read books, take classes, attend workshops and conferences, explore the internet.

Here’s a list of some of my favorite books on writing:

  • The Art of War for Writers, by James Scott Bell
  • Characters & Viewpoint, by Orson Scott Card
  • Immediate Fiction, by Jerry Cleaver
  • How to Write a Damn Good Novel, by James N. Frey
  • The Art of Fiction, by John Gardner
  • Writing Mysteries (MWA), Sue Grafton, ed.
  • On Writing, by Stephen King
  • Bird by Bird, by Annie Lamott
  • The First Five Pages, by Noah Lukeman
  • Manuscript Makeover, by Elizabeth Lyon
  • Writing the Breakout Novel (or The Fire in Fiction), by Donald Maass
  • Story, by Robert McKee
  • Don’t Murder Your Mystery, by Chris Riorden
  • Techniques of the Selling Writer, by Dwight Swain
  • Description, by Monica Wood
  • Beginnings, Middles, and Ends, by Nancy Kress

Classes and workshops are available in the Austin area from UT Informal Classes, Writer’s League of Texas, and Sisters in Crime. Margie Lawson offers intense online courses and excellent lectures for download.

A good list of resources for writers can be found on Kimberly Giarratano’s website (Kim is the author if a great YA book called Grunge Gods and Graveyards).

Join the writing community, locally, nationally, and online. It’s worth the investment to join associations like Sisters in Crime, Writer’s League, Romance Writers of America, and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Make friends at those classes, conferences, workshops!

Find a crit group or critique partner: You need beta-readers who are writers, not just friends and family. But be careful to work only with people who help and support you. Walk away from negativity. Learn to give and receive feedback. Sisters in Crime recently gave a great workshop on etiquette for critique groups–you can read about it in next month’s SinC newsletter, Hotshots.

Enter contests: Writer’s League, Houston Writer’s Guild, Southwest Writers, RWA, and even Amazon all have annual contests. If the judging is good, you’ll win! 😉

Read in and out of your genre, but especially in your genre. Some say you need to read 300 books published in the last five years in your genre! That’s a tall order. I can’t say I’ve done it.

Begin thinking about your brand (Google that!), your website, and (maybe) your blog. I believe that a good photo is an important investment—especially for those of us who are habitually camera-shy. So much of the book business is conducted online. You need a face.

Use social media like Facebook and Twitter to support your writing. Don’t wait until your book comes out to start. Remember that agents and publishers—and eventually your fans—will Google you.

Start preparing now to step out as the next hot best-selling debut AUTHOR!

Elizabeth Buhmann is the author of Lay Death at Her Door.


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