Some of the most important things I’ve learned over the past year of writing and publishing are
- The first (or fifteenth) draft is not ready. It needs an editor.
- There are many editorial passes (characters, plot, sensory, place, continuity, tone, tightening up, grammar, spelling, formatting, design)
- A beta reader is worth their weight in gold. They answer questions:
Follow the directions of the publishing house – if you don’t, it will not ever get past the mail clerk. Margins, font, spacing, cover letter, synopsis (1000 words max – some prefer 350-500), elevator pitch (Firefly = A western, in space)
The content of a book needs to (mostly) be in the same voice (1st person, 3rd person – it’s rarer than you’d think that it switches at all)
Research is important – tell the reader where/when they are, get the facts right, especially historical facts need to be accurate)
The story needs to be marketable – it needs to fit an exact niche
Sensory information is important (taste, sound, smell, touch, sight)
Characters have motivation, feelings, internal voices. Use them.
Place can also be a character in a story.
- What was unbelievable, in context of the story
- What was confusing?
- What did you want to see more of?
- What was cool?