I’m delighted to welcome Chuck Sambuchino (@chucksambuchino) of Writer’s Digest Books to the blog today. September 2015 saw the release of three of Chuck’s new books, the 2016 Guide to Literary Agents, the 2016 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market, and his anti-clown humor book When Clowns Attack: A Survival Guide.
Chuck has generously offered to do a giveaway. In two weeks, he’ll pick a commenter from this thread at random, and the winner will receive their choice of any of his books. Must live within the US/Canada to receive a print book; those residing elsewhere will receive a PDF e-book. Beware clowns.
GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED! The winner, as chosen through Random.org, is Jayne, who posted October 7th. Jayne, please watch your email for a note from Chuck Sambuchino with information on receiving your book. Congratulations! Thanks so much to everyone who commented, and to Chuck for his great guest post and generous giveaway.
Without further ado, I’ll hand you over to Chuck.
I love interviewing debut authors. I interview them for my Guide to Literary Agents Blog, and make sure to include at least a dozen such interviews in each edition of the Guide to Literary Agents, such as the new 2016 edition. These interviews are very helpful to aspiring writers, because the authors come clean about what they believe they did right, what the wish they would have done different, and other advice for writers.
So I went back to 25 debut author interviews of the past few years and focused on one single important question I asked them:
“Now that you’re done explaining your own journey to publication, what is one piece of advice you’d like to share with writers?”
The results are inspiring and fascinating. See below, and learn from 25 writers who have come before you and succeeded.
“Never give up. Keep writing through the rejections, the revisions, the never-ending explanations to your friends about why you aren’t published yet. Keep writing when you hear that other people have gotten agents and book deals. Keep writing, even if it takes you years to finally accomplish your goal.”
~Sabaa Tahir, author of An Ember in the Ashes
“To paraphrase Jay Asher [author of 13 Reasons Why]: ‘Don’t give up because that NY Times bestseller could be right around the corner!’”
~Constance Lombardo, author of Mr. Puffball: Stunt Cat to the Stars
“Don’t send out your novel before it’s ready. Take your time. If it’s as good as you think it is, everything will work out.”
~Lisa Freeman, author of Honey Girl
“I would say to do more thinking than writing. It’s really easy to get mired in language and sentence structure and sort of lose the forest for the trees. It’s important to really think about your idea inside and out and up and down and all around before penning a word so that you really know what you’re getting at and how you want to get at it.”
~Dev Petty, author of I Don’t Want to Be a Frog
“ ’Ass in Chair.’ Fingers above keyboard. Don’t talk about what you’re going to write—write it.”
~Jeff Anderson, author of Zack Delacruz: Me and My Big Mouth
“Find a trusted critique partner to give you honest feedback, and be sure to return the favor in critiquing their work. There is a lot to be learned about the art of writing from editing other people’s work.”
~Aisha Saeed, author of Written in the Stars
“Tenacity is everything. Don’t listen to the people who tell you can’t make money as a writer. They’re well meaning, but they lack imagination.”
~Max Wirestone, author of The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss
“Write the book you want to read.”
~Amanda Linsmeier, author of Ditch Flowers
“Be stubborn. I tried 90 different agents before I landed one.”
~Adam Plantinga, author of 400 Things Cops Know: Street-Smart Lessons from a Veteran Patrolman
“You can turn rejection and disappointment into a serious motivator if you’re determined enough to be published. But you must also understand why the work is not accepted. Have the discipline and subjectivity to look at your work and say, ‘Yeah, that’s not good enough,’ and then sit down and make it better. ”
~Jamie Kornegay, author of Soil
“Work hard, be patient, and become part of a writing community. Get involved in the industry in some capacity—even as a volunteer—to gain a better understanding as to how it all works.”
~Brooke Davis, author of Lost and Found
“‘Never give up; never surrender.’ Or, the longer version: Write. Edit. Polish. Find a competent critique group or writing partner and learn to take honest criticism. If your novel still doesn’t sell, write another one. And another. Write as many as it takes. And don’t be discouraged by other authors’ success—instead, let it encourage you to work harder, write better, and hang in there. Your turn will come.”
~Susan Spann, author of Claws of the Cat: A Shinobi Mystery
“Don’t be afraid to ask for advice: if you know someone who has successfully written a proposal, ask him or her if you could take a look at it; if you know someone who knows an agent, ditto.”
~Asher Price, author of Year of the Dunk: A Modest Defiance of Gravity
“Always use active verbs. Avoid passive voice if you can.”
~Thomas Lee, author of Rebuilding Empires: How Best Buy and Other Retailers are Transforming and Competing in the Digital Age of Retailing
“Choose enthusiasm. If you are lucky enough to have more than one agent or editor interested in your work, don’t automatically choose the bigger name or even the most money. Go with the person who loves your book and is dying to work with you.”
~Eliza Kennedy, author of I Take You: A Novel
“Write a great book. The publishing world may be hard to break in to, but if you have a great book, they’ll have no choice but to notice you. And on that note, edit. Edit like your life depends on it.”
~Lindsey Cummings, author of The Murder Complex
“Don’t send your work out until it’s as good as your favorite book. Also, there is no one way to write. Many authors are long-winded and later have to chop a lot of words. I write sparingly from beginning to end and then go back and plump up all the chapters. Do what works for you.”
~Marcia Strykowski, author of Call Me Amy
“Read widely in the genre you’re writing in. And go easy on yourself. Everyone has their own pace. Persistence is as important as productivity.”
~Nancy Grossman, author of A World Away
“Do not give up. If you believe in your work, find ways to work around those impenetrable doors. There isn’t only one way to break in, so explore all avenues. And be kind to everyone.”
~Karolina Waclawiak, author of How to Get Into the Twin Palms
“Wait until there’s something you really want to say.”
~Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton, authors of Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending
“It’s cliché, but read. A lot. Anything, but especially current stuff in the genre you write. Find out what’s selling—and why kids like it. Figure out what you like and why you like it. Then write something new.”
~W.H. Beck, author of Malcolm at Midnight
“Do your research. Knowing what kinds of books specific agents and editors like is incredibly helpful. Stay informed. Know what books everyone is talking about. Know what books you yourself love. And, just like any industry, being kind and pleasant to work with, and respectful takes you far. And in publishing, it’s not hard to be kind.”
~Cirey Ann Haydu, author of OCD Love Story
“Read, write, and stay informed. The only thing you can control is how hard you’re willing to work at becoming a better writer.”
~Claire Kells, author of Girl Underwater
“Don’t be afraid to put yourself and your writing out there. Take colossal risks. The publishing world rewards bravery.”
~Brandy Vallence, author of The Covered Deep
“Finish. Don’t keep tinkering with the same book for years. Put it aside and start another one. You won’t improve as a writer by writing the same book over and over.”
~Melissa Lenhardt, author of Stillwater: A Jack McBride Mystery
Thanks again to Chuck for sharing so much great advice.
Don’t forget to leave a comment in order to enter the giveaway. A winner will be chosen in two weeks, and will get their choice of any of Chuck’s books. Must live in the US/Canada for a print edition; those residing elsewhere are eligible for a PDF e-book edition. Good luck to all!