As you all probably know I’m the short articles officer for Literary plus. Normally I compose subjects, compile potential writers, and edit and publish submissions from other writers on writing related topics. This week I had a go at writing a short article myself. It was actually a lot harder than I thought, not because I didn’t know what to say, but because the word limit of 1,000 words means you have to make very syllable count.
Here’s the article on taking advice on writing.
Want my advice By V C Willow
How to approach advice on writing
For the modern author it’s all about choices, should you self publish or use a traditional publishing house, paper, e-book or print on demand, market yourself or hire a marketing company, traditional genre cover art or artwork not within normal genre expectations, national spelling or spelling for the individual market (UK or US spelling for example), what price to list your novel, anthology or collection at? So many expectations and choices are placed in front of the modern author that it can seem like a dizzying plethora of choices lay before you.
There are reams and reams of articles that promise to give you the ultimate guide for writing, publishing and promoting your novel successfully. How many articles have we seen espousing wisdom? Articles with headings like How to avoid common mistakes made by new writers, 10 top tips for getting published and articles telling you the story of an author’s perfect market strategy for getting heard over the din of thousands of other new writers all trying to sell their book as the next bestseller.
So how can you discern what advice to take and which to disregard? Arguably some sources may be considered more reliable than others, but it is difficult to ascertain which is which when there are so many sources. The benefit of the internet is the freedom, wealth and depth of opportunity it presents in all aspects of our life, the potential downfall is that any one with half an hour and an idea can set up a blog, get some followers and write any old tripe that is baseless and ill informed at best, or maliciously deceptive at worse. Now I’m not implying that malicious advice sites are commonplace, however it pays to consider the source of the information before you give it too much credence. Writers beware. There are some authors who think it is a jungle out there and have no care who they have to climb over to be successful. Thankfully most of us are happy and willing to co-operate and aid one another in what is after a joint goal of writing successfully.
In general I think it is suffice to say that there is no perfect information that will guarantee the perfect novel, campaign strategy or marketing campaign. Each person holds different strengths and weaknesses; perhaps the only advice I will give you on advice is ‘to yourself be true’. It is important to always be willing to move outside of your comfort zone, but don’t waste precious time and energy on things you are not –to be fair- very competent in or comfortable with. I was recently taking part in a discussion on cover art. In general the advice seemed to be to stick with the colour scheme in line with the tone of your novel and the cover art in line with the genre of the book. Good advice most people felt, but personally I found it an uncomfortable suggestion that as a fantasy writer I should stick with a cliché cover of a scantily clad women posing in an odd position, holding some article of weapon with a run of the mill fantasy background. I hated the idea of just sticking to the mundane, clichéd and expected artwork for the cover, rather than pushing the boundaries and making the cover truly in line with the uniqueness of my work. If you’re not adding something new to the genre what are you writing it for? In the end one of the ladies made a comment that really sums up my view ‘don’t do anything you’re not comfortable with’.
In the same vein I know that there are on-going discussions about the validity of giving away your first book for free to create a readership base. I know that there have been examples of people doing so and then selling their second book at the $0.99-$1.99 price bracket creating a comfortable income for themselves. I personally wouldn’t be comfortable with that. So if it makes you uncomfortable, then don’t do it. I can see both the pro’s and the con of creating a fanbase from this method, but after all the work we put into our novels, giving it away just seems to cheapen all that hard work and creative talent.
However I digress, these are all subjects that could be article topics on their own. In the end it doesn’t pay to be too jaded and cynical, but when reading advice on writing keep your wits about you. Be aware of who is giving the advice, even if it is a literary genius on Literary plus!
There are a huge amount of writing sites, blogs, groups, web sites, chat rooms and articles out there all telling you how to best approach writing and publishing your work, but in the end my three rules are:
- Don’t do anything you’re not comfortable with.
- Be critical in the analysis or value you give to any piece of advice you come across.
- Use an editor – seriously, you don’t need to be a grammar Nazi to notice or be distracted by poor editing. Although it’s expensive, hire a professional editor experienced in your genre and heed their advice, they can provide the professional finish to your work.
V.C Willow is a paranormal, fantasy and science fiction writer and a poet. She lives in Manchester, UK and as well as working on her current works in progress she also writes for her blog https://vcwillow.wordpress.com