I started writing my first novel when I was twelve years old. I was thirty-three when I completed my first rough draft. That’s twenty years of wanting to do something and not knowing how. Twenty years of failure and frustrations and giving up.
A big part of the problem is that I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I didn’t know which questions to ask, much less who might have the answers.
These days, people write to me as if I know what I’m doing. Or like I have a shortcut to success. I’m not sure either is true. One thing I’ve learned is that luck plays a massive role. But what I do have are some insights today that I wish I’d had twenty years ago, tips and pointers that might’ve saved me a lot of headache and heartache if I’d known them sooner. Maybe it’ll help some aspiring writer out there if I jot them all down now.
I’m going to share what insights I have in four parts. The first part is a list of all the things I wish I’d known about becoming a writer before I set out. The second part is tips and tricks for completing that first rough draft. In the third part, I discuss the important art of turning a rough draft into something worth reading. And finally, I share some tips on how to get your story out into the world.
These are my insights now that I’ve written over a dozen novels, sold a few million books, been published in over forty languages, and have seen all angles of this complex industry as a reader, bookseller, writer, editor, and publisher. My first novel was published traditionally through a small press; I’ve self-published many on my own; others are with some of the biggest publishers in the world. I give this advice knowing how much it would’ve been worth to me while understanding that it all might be worthless to you. I only have my own experiences and observations. I wish you all the best of luck.
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