Thursday, October 16, 2014

Every Writer Should Know... by @J_Ryan #blogtour

Hi, loves!

The wonderful Ryan Hill, author of The Book of Bart and new release Dead New World, stopped by today to give us all a few pieces of advice. Dead New World, which released on October 13th through Curiosity Quills Press, is available at Amazon.

Pieces of advice every writer should know

·         Let’s go on and get the clichéd bits out of the way. The best piece of advice for any writer is to WRITE. Whenever you get a chance. It doesn’t matter what it is, always write. Like everything else, it takes time to develop writing skills. You can’t just jump into this field expecting it to become your day job.

·         Because writing won’t become your day job any time soon. For a long, long time. The road to being a full-time author is much longer than you’d ever expect, full of obstacles and pot-holes that come up out of nowhere. From what I understand, it takes having upwards of five novels published before an author can even think about quitting their day job. That said, it all ties into the fact that you should JUST KEEP WRITING.

·         Learn how to take criticism. Writers can be a fickle bunch. Many are introverted by nature, making a solitary occupation like writing perfect for them. However, every writer not only needs an editor, but they need BETA READERS. Writers can’t hope to expand their skill-set and expertise without guidance. You don’t know what you don’t know, right? That’s where editors and beta readers come into play. They can point out inconsistencies in your work, plot holes in your story, etc. Sometimes, this can get pretty brutal. Sometimes, it can wound your pride, or even reduce you to tears. My advice? You have to get over that. Push through.

The first time I had a professor editor look at a manuscript of mine (it happened to be DEAD NEW WORLD, out Oct. 13), there were well over 3,000 marks/changes/comments on the manuscript. I was heart-broken. Like most others, I was convinced my manuscript was perfect. Turned out, it wasn’t even close. But, I got over my wounded pride, sat down, worked the edits, and the novel was greatly improved. Moral of the story? SOMETIMES THE HARSHEST CRITIQUES ARE THE MOST USEFUL.

·         Overcome your shyness. As mentioned above, many writers are introverted. This isn’t a problem when it comes to the art of writing. To succeed in the business of writing, that shyness can be a hindrance. Even before you land that agent or publishing deal, you have to network with your fellow writers and others in the writing community. As the old saying goes, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” The only reason I’m a published author is because another writer I followed on Twitter held a contest for writers, where they could pitch their work to agents and publishers. Writers absolutely have to network to be successful, and the easiest way to do that is utilize social media. Yes, once you become published you’ll have to overcome your fear of speaking in a crowd, but you’re not there yet. The most important thing right now is to network in any way you can.

·         Don’t get discouraged. Face it. It’s really friggin’ hard to land an agent or get your book published. There are thousands (probably hundreds of thousands) of people out there trying to achieve the same dream you are. The rise of Twitter/social media has also made it easier for writers to connect with agents/publishers, making the field that much more competitive. That’s okay. You may have written a fantastic story, one that everyone whose read it can’t stop raving about. That doesn’t mean the manuscript will land you an agent or get you published. Sadly, agents and publishers are more concerned with the business of writing, instead of the art. Agents and publishers are always on the lookout for talent, but what’s more important to them is what will sell, and your book, while fantastic, may not have a great commercial angle. This is nothing to get discouraged about. There’s a 99.99% change you’re not landing with a Big 5 publisher your first time out of the gate. There are plenty of other publishers out there, all of whom are looking for something great. Getting published is getting published, right?

But, what if that manuscript never lands with anyone? What if all of the agents love your book, but pass because they feel like that particular genre is played out at the moment? Yes, it’s disappointing, but look at the larger picture. If an agent/publisher says something like that, it doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It just means maybe the book is a better fit somewhere else. It only takes one yes, you know. But if your manuscript never lands…

·         It’s okay to shelve a manuscript and move on. It really is. Fun fact: My debut novel, THE BOOK OF BART, was written AFTER my next release, DEAD NEW WORLD. How did that happen? So glad you asked!

Several agents read DEAD NEW WORLD and liked it. For whatever reason, they passed. So, after a while, I decided to move on, and worked on a new manuscript, called THE BOOK OF BART, which landed with Curiosity Quills. After they decided to publish BART, I decided to pull out Dead New World. I gave it a quick polish, then mentioned the book to them. They read it, loved it, and voila! Another book of mine got published!

There are two points to that story. The first is if I hadn’t moved on from DNW and written BART, then at this moment there’s a more than fair chance I’d have zero books published, instead of two. In the book world it’s about quantity as much as it’s about quality. The second point is it’s okay to move on from a manuscript. Why?

·         More important than anything is to keep LEARNING and GROWING. So what if your manuscript didn’t get picked up? You still wrote it! That’s a huge achievement unto itself. Yes, it’s disappointing that nothing came of it, but that doesn’t mean it might not happen down the road, with that manuscript, or a new one. What is important is that you keep writing, learn from your mistakes, and solicit criticism. The more you do those things, the more you’ll hone your craft. Just because a manuscript didn’t get picked up doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer. On the contrary, you’re a BETTER writer for having completed it. Malcolm Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours to master something. The same goes for writing. So, just because your latest manuscript didn’t earn you fame and fortune, it did earn you valuable experience and knowledge that will help you improve as a writer. 

      The publishing stuff will take care of itself. That will happen when it happens. It’s mostly out of your control. What you can control, though, is the work you put into writing. If you keep writing, learning, and growing, you’ll get there one day. Promise. On the other hand, you might get published!

·         In which case, you remember that mountain you had to climb just to get published? Get ready to climb one about five times that size. Becoming a published writer is the first step towards becoming a full-time writer, but there are a few thousand more that have to be taken before you can claim the mantle of full-time author. Now, you get to do the real work; learning the business of books, attending festivals, speaking on panels, pitching (and selling) your book to strangers at festivals, expanding your brand, spending gobs of money on advertising (yup, the publisher only does so much), and OMGNOBODYSAIDITWOULDBELIKETHISBRAINMELTINGMUSTHIDEINCORNERANDCRY.

Good luck! J

About the Author:

Growing up, Ryan Hill used to spend his time reading and writing instead of doing homework. This resulted in an obsession with becoming a writer, but also a gross incompetence in the fields of science and mathematics. A graduate of North Carolina State University, Ryan has been a film critic for over five years. He lives in Raleigh, NC, with his dog/shadow Maggie. Ryan also feels strange about referring to himself in the third person.

Find Ryan on:

FALLThe Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two is now available at Amazon Barnes and Noble | KOBO. FADE - The Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two is available at: Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Books-a-Million.

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