Advice For Writers in 2020
I chose to add "2020" to the title of this blog post, when in actuality, I should have said Spring 2020 - that's because things have been changing so fast in the world of publishing and in the world in general! The advice I would have given a writer 10 years ago would be, on the one hand, exactly the same - write a great story. The quality of your story and your writing really does still take precedence. I also have a belief that when writers are having fun as they write, they write better stuff. I don't mean to say that writing is FUN all the time, nor easy, but if you can remember to notice the pure joy and adrenaline that the act of writing gives you, then you are, in my book, already ahead of the game. But beyond that most foundational of advice, to write a good story, well told, I would add some more current advice:
It's crucial to understand WHY you are writing the book and for whom.
If you are writing a book for yourself, as therapy, as a way of trying something new, that is a GREAT reason. But if you are writing a book that you want to be out there, in the world, read by hundreds or thousands of people, it's important to understand what standards are expected of you and your writing. The very first question I ask any client is why they are writing their book. Clarity on this question will be your guiding light.
Second, if you want to pursue traditional publishing, you may absolutely do that, but I have found, that with the rapidly changing market and the unpredictable world of publishing, that it really is better to publish independently.
Yes, it's more work for you, the writer, and a lot to navigate but publishing independently means your book WILL be read by at least somebody. The world of traditional publishing has a very, very high barrier to entry and that doesn't mean you shouldn't pursue it but to use a personal example, I queried my book The True Adventures of Gidon Lev for six months and I got nibbles and interest but no deal and meanwhile, half a year had passed. I wanted the book out there, in the world, because I believed it was important and I spared no expense working with editors and a great cover artist, because I was so invested in the book. Had I waited for traditional publishers to pay attention to me - IF I ever got a deal - it would have been at least two years out before the book would be in physical form. And I am a published writer with a platform, so imagine what that would be like if you are starting out.
If you decide to write a book, first of all, that's amazing. And it takes a lot of courage and time and vulnerability and plain ol' gumption to do. If you've made it to that point, then my advice is, take it all the way.
Splash out for a great editor, splash out for beautiful cover art, splash out for interior design. If you have already done all the work of writing, then make sure your book is one that you can be very proud of and that people might even buy and read.
Writers who try to skimp on these last steps pay dearly in another way - with the resounding silence of readers ignoring your book. Remember, most of these costs are incremental, not overnight, so you can pace yourself.
Marketing and being noticed is definitely another full time job after you've written the book.
I know. I've done it. If you can write a book, you can learn about where and how to plug your book, how to get reviews, and how to get readers interested in your story along the way. It takes time, it's not an overnight thing. But nothing really worth something is easy or happens quickly.
My part of the process is helping you to write a good story, well told, and to make you a better writer along the way. I take your writing as seriously I take my own writing and it pains me when writers finish a book and then let it languish because next steps - whether that's querying or marketing - seem too intimidating.
Again, if you're writing this book for your own pleasure, or for your family, then that is wonderful and no further actions are necessary. But there are so many great stories hanging around in this world and such a need for them, that I really love to see writers take those next steps, one at time, and believe in themselves and get the book out there. It's not easy, believe me. But if I can do it, so can you. For more details about the cost of independent publishing and guides and resources to help you out, click here.