So, you wanna be an author?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I've had a lot of emails lately from people who want to be authors (also from attendees at the writer's conference I attended this weekend, see below for pics). Here's my advice:

  1. Write three manuscripts--if this sounds daunting, it is. But only at the begining. You'll learn so much from those three manuscripts. Plus, now you have three manuscripts to query, and when one of them is accepted, you have two more sitting in the drawer, ready to go. You'll be far enough ahead that you can concentrate on marketing and there won't be so much pressure sitting on your shoulders. Plus, you'll know if this is really something you want to do.
  2. While your writing your manuscripts, learn from professionals: follow at least 1 agent's blog. I recommend Rachelle Gardner. One blog on the business of writing. I recommend Katherine Rusch. Sign up for David Farland's daily kick in the pants to learn about the craft of writing.
  3. Join a critique group.
  4. Read at least 5 books on the art of writing. I'll recommend three: The Elements of Style by Strunk and White, How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card, On Writing by Steven King (skip the first part by of both Card and King's books).
  5. Attend a writer's convention or writer's workshop to learn about the craft.
  6. Develop a group of trusted alpha and beta readers.
  7. After all of this work, start querying.
This will probably take you a few years. Getting your work to a point where it's publishable is equivalent to a master's degree. Unless you're a genius. It took me four manuscripts and five years of hard work to get published, and that's a pretty normal situation.

I don't mean this to be discouraging. Being published is totally doable if you're willing to put in the work and you have a little natural talent for it.

Q4U: For those of you who have been at this a while, what's your advice for beginning writers?

*I'll be signing this Saturday the 24th at the Layton Utah Barnes and Noble from 3-5 (thanks to Carrie for setting it up!). Address: Layton Market Center, 1780 North Woodland Park Drive, Layton, UT 84041, 801-773-9973

I hope to see you there!

 Amber and David King

Amber and Lisa Mangum


  1. Oh my gosh - you are going to be in Layton and I've got to be at scouts. Ugh! Oh-well. I will come to Logan next month!

    I love these tips. They are great. It's hard to be patient, and put in the time, but if it's what you want to do, then do it right!

    Thanks for the advice!

  1. I didn't make it to the conference but I think I'll be up for the Layton book signing.

  1. Getting feedback is so crucial--and it's important to get a quality team helping you. If you only have other beginners reading your work, you'll never improve.

  1. Excellent advice I agree with 100%!

  1. Abby: Isn't that the way it goes? But hey, I'll see you in a month!

    Mike: I'm excited to meet you.

    Laurel: One mistake I made is not having enough beta readers.

    Michelle: Thanks!

  1. My biggest piece of advice is to complete a manuscript. I get really tired of reading about people dropping one project in favor of some new idea or because they were bored with the one they were working on. That's fine if you're just writing for fun, but, if you want to be published, you have to sit down and the do the work and finish!

  1. *I read your list*

    Check. Check-check. Double check. And, yeah. I've been at this a while.

    I think it wouldn't hurt to start a web presence either. Blogging/Twitter and the like.

    It was so AWESOME to see you again Amber. Keep up the amazing work! :)

  1. Andrew: That's what I'm trying to do now. Finish one ms before jumping to another.

    David: Very true.

  1. LC Piper said...:

    Andrew Leon - But Andrew my new idea is so cool, how can I not switch over to it? ;-)
    It's the biggest temptation, to jump to new idea's, but it's also a warning sign. Like you said if you're bored with your story, that's a red flag. It happens to me all the time. I need to step back and write a different scene while my subconscious figures out why that last one bored me to Zombiehood. I do break to write notes on my new cool idea, but then I step back, find the cool in my current manuscript and dive back in thrilled to be working on such an awesome project.

  1. I have tons of notes on other projects, but, if I have one I'm working on, I stick to it. I just think you have to treat it as a job, and that means completing projects. Hopefully, in a timely manner.

  1. Luke: Good for you! Keep at it.

    Andrew: That's what I'm doing now. Finishing up all the MS that are written, but need edits.

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