There may be times that you will be in the middle of writing and experience a sense of panic over finishing your novel and how you will get there and what will happen along the way. If this feeling creeps over you it may be time to take a break from your novel, whether that means going for a walk, taking a couple of days to spend time with your family or friends, read a book, take a bath. Whatever helps you feel calm and restores your confidence in your ability to write. Sarah Waters, best selling Wales author of six novels including Tipping the Velvet offers great advice based on her own experience.
“Don’t panic. Midway through writing a novel, I have regularly experienced moments of bowel-curdling terror, as I contemplate the drivel on the screen before me and see beyond it, in quick succession, the derisive reviews, the friends’ embarrassment, the failing career, the dwindling income, the repossessed house, the divorce . . . Working doggedly on through crises like these, however, has always got me there in the end. Leaving the desk for a while can help. Talking the problem through can help me recall what I was trying to achieve before I got stuck. Going for a long walk almost always gets me thinking about my manuscript in a slightly new way. And if all else fails, there’s prayer. St Francis de Sales, the patron saint of writers, has often helped me out in a crisis. If you want to spread your net more widely, you could try appealing to Calliope, the muse of epic poetry, too.” — Sarah Waters
“Winning a competition is a major endorsement for your book; awards help with book publicity by verifying that your book is head and shoulders above many others,” (iUniverse article 10 Tips for Marketing Your Book). If you’re looking for another marketing avenue for you and your books, writing competitions are an excellent option. Plus with most competitions the awards include cash and/or free marketing, editing, publishing, printing, reviews, etc. Enter into as many competitions as you can to increase your chances. Here is a short list of competitions to check out first.
The Writer’s Digest has a ton of contests-visit this link for a complete list
Indie Book Awards
Betty Trask Prize
Book Pipeline Competition
Exeter Novel Prize
Legend Press Bursary
Library Journal Indie eBook Awards
Literary Classics International Book Awards
Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award
Top 5 free contests for all genres. List provided by the Write Life. To read through more free contests visit this link.
L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest
Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize
Drue Heinz Literature Prize
St. Francis College Literary Prize
Young Lions Fiction Award
Competitions can be motivating. They could push you to get farther on your novel, work more, write different genres/works that you aren’t used to and expand your writing style knowledge by creating writing pieces outside your comfort zone (poetry, short stories, etc.).
Winning a competition will not only validate your skills as a writer to others, but it can make you feel good as well. Winning doesn’t always mean first place either. If you are recognized at all, even an honorable mention, you should consider it a win. If you wrote something outside of your comfort zone, consider it a win. If you are proud of what you wrote even though you may not have been recognized, consider it a win. Publishers, readers, and agents are more likely to take you seriously and make an effort to read your books if they know you made the effort to enter a competition and then on top of it won an award.
Your writing space should be a sanctuary, a place where you feel comfortable and a place where your ideas are nurtured and protected from corruption of the outside world. Protect your writing space and only surround yourself with things that will contribute to your writing and help you concentrate. This also means if you are using a computer to type your books, use a computer that is disconnected from the internet. Not being able to access the internet will prevent you from becoming distracted and being tempted to procrastinate. Christy O’Shoney, blogger and creator of Avoiding Atrophy and christyoshoney.com, shares tips for selecting and creating the perfect writing space.
Choose a place in your house that you like-You don’t want to feel like you are working when you are writing, so don’t choose a space that you actually use for work i.e. balancing your checkbook, returning e-mails, building your website, etc. Select a place that has good air flow, is well lit, and doesn’t cause you to take your attention away from writing.
Write by a window-“While you don’t want distractions you do want inspiration,”-Christy
Pick a sturdy, functional surface on which to write.-You don’t need a lot of extras to create a great writing space. You need writing tools, a solid surface, and your mind.
Keep your space organized and clean. Christy mentions that you should also keep your house clean because “the greatest urge you will fight as a writer is to do the dishes instead.”
Keep your work space stocked with your favorite necessary tools required for writing.
Make it cozy but not too cozy-If you are too comfortable you face the number one risk of falling asleep. If you are too uncomfortable then you face the risk of not wanting to write and instead focusing on how uncomfortable you are.
Make it inspirational-Display your favorite quotes, pictures, or books in front of you to remind you why it is you write and help keep your ideas flowing.
This list is just a guideline for the process of building and selecting your writing space. Make your writing space your own and as long as you love it and you successfully write in that space, then don’t change a thing!!
“Don’t judge a book by its cover” is a popular English idiom and while the advice is positive and should be followed, the fact is people do judge books by their covers. There are certain colors, images, and fonts that attract more attention. You will also want to choose a font that is legible and easy to read from a short distance. I am guilty of looking at a book and if the cover is boring or the title is difficult to read, then I don’t even make the effort to pick it up and open it.
A Business to Community article by Brian Morris lists the top 10 most popular colors for marketing materials and the emotions they evoke. Surprise! Red is at the top of the list because it demands attention.
The type of font you use is also vital to the sale success of your novel. Your font should be easy to read, yet also reflect the theme of your book and be appropriate for the audience you are trying to capture. Blog writer Joel Friedlander offers a for instance, “if you’re writing about a topic considered masculine and aimed at a male audience, does it help you to have an overly-embellished or feminine typeface that’s barely readable on your book cover? No, I don’t think so either. Or for a historical romance, you wouldn’t want a modern clean sans serif typeface like Helvetica for your cover. It would simply look dangerously out of place.” Read the rest of his article for more thoughts and ideas on font typefaces for book covers.
Another thing to keep in mind is that it is in your best interest to use a professional designer to put together your cover. Do what you do best and write. Unless you are a professional designer you should designate the design of your cover to someone who is. A seasoned graphic designer will know which layout, colors, images and fonts will be the most effective for your book. Have the designer create several different options and then you should reveal those samples to your reading audience and conduct a poll to see which ones are favored. Joanna Penn released a list of graphic designers that she would recommend on her blog, The Creative Penn. You can read through that list here.
Your cover is the first thing people will see, design it carefully and people will be more likely to look at your book and say, “I want to read that, it looks interesting.”
You most likely have the bare bones of your story laid out in your mind: beginning, middle, end. And it may be tempting to write your ending and get it out of the way so you can focus on the rest of the story, but DON’T DO IT! Doing this could possibly ruin your entire story. Your ending has to be earned just like most things in life. As a writer you are taking yourself, your reader, and your characters on a journey and it will not be as fulfilling if you skip all of the good stuff in-between; the stories, the experiences, the joy, sadness, surprises, hardships. Like fiction author Jonathan Franzen said, “Fiction that isn’t an author’s personal adventure into the frightening or the unknown isn’t worth writing for anything but money.” Also, just as with real life you may think you know what you want your ending to be but as you write you may discover your story morphing into something else, which could completely change your ending. Don’t settle for just one ending and don’t focus on your ending first. Focus on the now, focus and pay attention to your story in the present and you will write better and you and your reader will appreciate the story so much more.
If you’re like me, you are much more comfortable writing speeches than giving them and have impeccable skill making yourself look awesome on paper yet struggle to make a good first impression. Because of these wonderful traits I have to prep, prep, prep before I give speeches, go to job interviews, hold business meetings, etc. Over the years I have become more confident due to asking for and taking advice from others, reading articles, and writing down a script of what I would like to say out loud and then practicing. In this blog post I will share some tips I encountered for making a good impression at a writer’s conference. The following stood out to me when I was reading a featured article on “The Write Life” by Chuck Sambuchino:
Be able to explain your book in one sentence. Really be concise with everything you say. According to an article in Time magazine, the average attention span of a person today (before they begin to lose concentration) is 8 seconds!
The only tangible item you should give an agent is your business card. They probably don’t want to carry around pages from your book.
Find blogs that describe other writer’s experiences at the conference you’re attending so you have a better idea of what to expect
Practice, practice, practice your pitch until its “Pitch Perfect” 😉
Make sure the agents/publishers you approach represent books in your genre
Have a few questions prepared that you may want to ask
Try some non-conventional “pitches” to catch an agent’s attention: show them your query letter and ask for a critique. Have them read a few pages of your book until they want to stop and then ask them why they stopped.
If you can sign up to do a pitch then do it and even if a sign-up list is full get on a waiting list
You can do a pitch even if your book isn’t finished
And the number 1 thing: REMEMBER TO RELAX AND BE YOURSELF!