Not that I am an established one … but far too many starry eyed and earnest young people have been pinging me on Gtalk and on Facebook … somehow they think I can advise them. I have tried very earnestly to reply to them but it gets kind of repititive
- Your job is to write. Do so sincerely and from the heart.
- Writing is not a paying profession in the initial stages – but the good thing is that you are young and you have all the time in the world to build yourself up as a writer.
- Do not “vanity publish”. If someone wants you to pay them to publish your book, look elsewhere. Once money has been exchanged, the publisher will give you copies and copies of your work. Distribution and selling will fall on you. That is hard work and you may not have experience in selling.
- Do have patience. This is a novel and not instant coffee! You will spend a long time writing it, along with your day job or school or college or whatever your current occupation is. Then you will submit to a publisher, who will again take time. No, don’t curse the hapless souls. They are snowed with manuscripts. They have evaluators who will read the work and then decide if they want to invest money and time in it. Then once your work is accepted, it takes them 6 months to a year – with editing, cover art etc etc. Then the book comes to book stores. So the gestation for a novel is about a year at least! So do have patience.
- Edit, not once, not twice. Edit as many times it is necessary. If you do not have the expertise, it pays to have a fresh set of eyes look at your work. Hire a reputed editor. Like I said earlier, publishers have way too many manuscripts and will reject yours if they think it is shoddy.
- Once your work is finished and your manuscript is ready, research. Check out the kind of books publishers are publishing. If your story is a romance apply to publishers who are publishing in the same genre – fantasy fiction, again check. Publishers have a particular genre they like. Sending them a book in the similar genre minimizes your chance of getting rejected.
- Agents – like every other human an agent can be good or bad. They are useful, but then good publishing houses consider unsolicited manuscripts too.
- Promotion …. now this is a sensitive topic with me, since I don’t have a clue how to do this. If someone charges an arm and a leg – stop and consider. Royalties are not large unless you are a big name. So all that expense … I leave that decision to you.
- From Amal in the comment section … read extensively. It will help you add depth and style to your work. My own feeling is that you should read not only to keep up with the trends and styles, but also so that you can steer away from formulae and cliches.
- Last but most important – You want to be an author – which is a lonely self absorbed kind of occupation. The main relationship in a writer’s life is with the lap top screen. Do not do it if you do not have a passion for it.
I will keep updating the bullets as and when I get asked another question ….