We have a special Top 10 list for you today! Brought to you by author Nicole Chardenet
Top Ten Great Resources for Aspiring Writers
by Nicole Chardenet, Author of Young Republican, Yuppie Princess
1. 78 Reasons Why Your Book May Never Be Published & 14 Reasons Why It Just Might (book) – Pat Walsh – There are many reasons why your book might not get published, and most of them are within your control. And knowing what isn’t will give you the courage to persevere after the 75th rejection of your book which is too fresh and original for a dinosaur industry that just handed a book contract to someone who didn’t actually write a book, but managed a funny and largely error-free Facebook status update, or who tweets his more original relation’s goofy sayings. Writers need to learn as much as they can about the publishing industry. Forewarned is forearmed.
2. Google News Alerts – You can set up customized alerts where Google will send you a synopsis of news articles mentioning certain keywords. Mine is set up for ‘publisher publishing”. In this manner I keep up with all kinds of great, late-breaking news stories and opinion pieces about the sea change in the world of publishing. And once your book comes out, you can set one up on your name. So you’ll know the moment Michiko Kakutani uploads her review of your book to the New York Times. (Yes, and then you’ll wake up.
3. Self-Publishing For Dummies – (book) Read this even if you’d rather sell your mother to a biker gang than self-publish anything. It will give you a good insider’s look at all aspects in making a book which will make YOU far less of a giant pain in the ass when you DO get published because you will have a realistic understanding of how much work is involved from beginning to end, and especially if it gets hung up somewhere in the process. And anyway, never say never, when your project is getting roundly ignored while some reality TV show star with bad hair and only passing familiarity with her native English just got a contract because her fake boobs are bigger than your real ones and she’s mostly famous for getting into loud screaming arguments with beautiful men whose collective IQ equals an empty Coors bottle.
4. LinkedIn – The discussion groups are a great place to network with other authors and related professionals, plus you can get an answer to damn near any question you have. One always-popular topic is book marketing, which you need to learn whether you’re published or self-published, because the profit-squeezed publishing industry would rather pour their marketing budget into yet another drug-addled burnt-out rock ‘n’ roller’s rambling memoir about substance abuse and wild sex with groupies, which you have to admit that, even after 3,972 similar titles that came out the previous month, is way more compelling than your breath-of-fresh-air charmer with nary a zombie, sparkly adolescent bloodsucker or coke-crazed Marianne Faithfull-schtupping guitarist in sight. Maybe they’ll throw you a bone or two and you’ll be able to afford the gas to the local book store to do a book-signing no one knows about because there’s not enough promotional budget for advertising. Maybe. Oh, wait. Forget that. Set up your own book signing. They won’t get around to it anyway, or if they do, it will be at some deserted strip mall with bars on the windows to which you will have to lug your own books.
5. Agent Query – Looking for an agent? You’re more likely to find a reputable one here although, as always, caveat emptor. It also identifies what each agent is looking for in manuscripts. Pay close attention! Agents hate it when you send stuff out in obvious shotgun fashion. If they say they don’t like YA vampire dystopian epics all in haiku, then for the love of all the gods don’t send them your 450,000-word completed project, “Teenage Manga Sparklevamp Domi-Matrix”.
6. Preditors and Editors/Writer Beware – Looking for a good agent or publisher and want to avoid all the scam artists? Start with P&E’s directory to see what they think of the names on your list and follow Writer Beware for the skinny on the scammers.
7. Any book on editing fiction – Absolutely every writer needs to learn how to edit their own fiction, but no one more so than folks working on the first draft of their first novel. You don’t know what you don’t know and you can’t fix it until you do. A good book on editing fiction will help you clean up all the common writing mistakes from gratuitous abuse of its/it’s to the overuse of adjectives, needless repetition (it’s subtle, which is why you miss it at first), to how to liven up each sentence, and how to tighten up and polish your writing to such a high glare you’ll blind librarians. You’ll discover you can cut thousands and thousands of words from your magnum opus without ever missing them, not to mention eliminating unnecessary characters, scenes, and subplots (don’t look at me like that, trust me, you’ll agree with me some day! And it gets easier, I promise, although it hurts like a SOB the first time).
8. Publishers Weekly newsletter – It’s a free daily newsletter that also includes the Publisher’s Lunch so you can writhe with envy at who’s getting a book deal when you’re not. It keeps you up to snuff on the latest news and trends in both the traditional and self-publishing world. Or hybrid publishing. Or subsidy publishing. Or whatever the latest innovation-du-jour is.
9. Publicize Your Book! An Insider’s Guide to Getting Your Book the Attention It Deserves by Jacqueline Deval (book) – Remember #7 about the need to self-promote? (Don’t say you CAN’T do that unless you’re ready to consign your project to the oblivion of double-digit sales before the poor bastard’s even been uploaded to Amazon.) While this book is written from the perspective that you have a publisher, much of it can be altered for the self-published set as well. My copy came out before social media got big, but it may have been updated by then. Or there’s another book on that subject.
10. – Miss Snark – Miss Snark was an anonymous New York literary agent who hung up her poison pen a few years ago but her blog is still around to provide aspiring writers with everything they need to know about writing, publishing, getting an agent, crafting a query letter, etc. I would advise you, particularly if you’re new to writing and publishing, to start from the beginning and work your way through to the end. It will take awhile but this is the motherlode of real-world advice for writers who want to get published (Miss Snark quit before self-publishing became a more respectable option). There are parts you can skip as she ran several contests for things like writing a good hook, query letter, synopsis, etc. What’s especially useful is her real-world assessment of what being a published writer is really like, both before and after. Take notes. You’ll never remember it all and the search engine sucks.