Day 6 The Lost Sentinel’s blog tour – #writers 12 Questions to ask yourself before writing a series #amwriting

On day 6 of the blog tour I’m featured over on Sacha Black’s blog, sharing my insight on writing a standalone novel vs a series. I’ve devised 12 questions all writers can ask themselves before embarking on the task.

Please head over and let me know what you think.

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The Lost Sentinel blog tour will continue later with a book review from Another World Book Blog. See you then.

#WWWBlogs My top ten tips for New Writers #indieauthors #writers #amwriting

I’ve been writing novels for over 20 years and as this is the anniversary of my first year of self-publishing, I thought it would be great to go back and revise the advice I had for new writers at the start of my own journey back in November 2015.

1. Online courses

I’ve completed both novel writing and short stories courses. You learn as you write and having your assignments critiqued by experienced tutors helps you improve as you go along. Online course can fit around your work and family.

2. Go to writing workshops and creative writing classes.

I’ve attended several adult education classes over the years, and a couple of one day workshops. Meeting like-minded people was a real turning point for me. Critiquing and editing others work helps you look at your own work more objectively. Also having others critique your work helps you develop that famous thick skin all writers need.

I’ve made writing friends from classes too. It’s so important to have people in your life who understand the struggles of a writer. Now with online forums, and blogs etc. it’s easier to connect with other writers, but I still think the workshops can play an important part in the learning process.

3. Enter competitions, especially those offering critiques

There’s nothing worse than sending your story into a competition and never hearing anything again. Not knowing where you’re going wrong. The critiques can help you grow as a writer. And if you follow the suggestions made, next time your story may just get placed.

4. Don’t rush. Don’t pitch too soon.

I’ve made this mistake many times. Thinking the book is ready and contacting the agents I would love to work with, or the publishers that accept unsolicited submissions. Once they’ve turned your book down, there’s no going back. It’s the same with some novel competitions; once they’ve seen your entry you can’t resubmit when you’ve made a better version. If you do it looks unprofessional.

5. Start building your online profile now.

I’ve been blogging since July/Aug 2015. A lot has happened in a year and a bit. I’ve gained followers and made many online connections with writers and bloggers. I’m close to reaching 4K followers through the various platforms – Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads. I’d say that’s not too bad for a year, though the time involved has taken me away from my writing. Challenges like the April A-Z blog challenge and running my own my blog tour in Jun/July were very time-consuming, but lots of fun and well worth the effort. 

6. Beta readers can make a huge difference.

Especially beta readers who are writers themselves, who understand the structure and techniques of writing. I’ve been lucky enough to have made some really good friends from writing classes. We’ve kept in touch and still occasionally meet up to critique each others’ work. They’ve offered honest criticism about where I’m going wrong, but also shown me my strengths as a writer and their encouragement has been a big boost to my confidence.  

7. Join a book group

I’ve been a member of several book groups. It’s really interesting listening to readers critiquing books you’ve read, and to imagine how your own book might be seen from the readers’ perspective. They also force you to read outside your comfort zone, which can help you grow as a reader and a writer.

8. Get all the professional help you can afford

This is in the form of critique companies, professional editors, paid for beta reads if you don’t have writing friends you trust to be honest with you, cover artists, proof readers. The list of help available is endless and you need to work out what is most important to you and where you need to invest the money most. My first choice would be a good editor every time.

9. Know when it’s time to let go and move on

This is probably the hardest part; to tell yourself it’s finished, and let go of your book as you hit publish.

This is also true once you’ve been published for a while. You need to stop obsessing over your sales, book ranking and the amount of reviews you have or haven’t got. There is only so much marketing you can do, and as I have been told by many professionals, the best thing to do is get another book published.

10. Enjoy the journey, and celebrate being a writer

It’s an amazing feeling creating worlds and characters, and not everyone can do it. It takes hard work, dedication and an absolute determination to succeed.

Now that Visions of Zarua has been published a year, I look back and think wow. All that hard work has paid off. I’ve gained over a dozen wonderful reviews in that year and that is proof enough that it was worth taking a chance on self-publishing. 

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What is your advice for new writers?

#atozchallenge – B Beta readers

Beta readers are a writers best friend. They helped me turn this:

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into this

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I’d never have found the courage to publish without their help and support. They were instrumental in helping the novel develop, pointing out character flaws, plot issues and words and phrases that I have a tendency to overuse.

How to find Beta Readers

I was lucky enough to make friends with writers from the adult education classes I attended a few years ago. Some of us have kept in touch and meet up to critique each others work.

These creative writing classes are a great way to learn the craft and make new friends, and I really recommend new writers try to join one.

There are other options; online courses, peer websites, or you can find beta readers advertising online and on sites like Goodreads. But there is nothing quite like sitting down over a cup of tea, or glass of wine and talking through your book with someone who understands the trials involved in writing.

Be a Beta Reader

You can learn a lot about the process of writing and editing by being a Beta reader yourself. I found it an enriching experience, both to the reader and the writer in me. It’s an honour to read someone’s work, to know that they trust you with their baby and that you’re probably one of the first to read their work as a whole.

Now for a few words from a couple of my lovely beta readers;

Beta-reading by Louise Spiers

‘I had not known I was a beta-reader until I saw the acknowledgements in Visions of Zarua by my friend Suzanne Rogerson. My ignorance of the term did not hinder my becoming one. Beta-reading comes naturally to those of us who as teachers have spent many hours reading and marking essays. I met Suzanne at a creative writing evening class and was impressed by her work and professionalism. After the class finished, a small group of us continued to meet. It was then that I read more of her book. The opportunity to read through the entire fantasy novel was one that I approached with enthusiasm. I enjoyed the process and it was a pleasure to help her. I can thoroughly recommend beta-reading to any writer. It is a privilege to be asked to read and comment on a writer’s work especially when you understand how many hours of hard work it represents. If I am ever in the position of needing a beta-reader, Suzanne will be my first choice. Finally, do go and check out Visions of Zarua. You won’t be disappointed.’

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‘Beta readers are vitally important to improving your writing – they catch plot holes and inconstancies that you totally missed, along with providing encouragement when they tell you what worked well!   I’ve also enjoyed being a Beta reader for friends and other writers; it’s a great feeling to know you’ve helped someone else on their path to publication!’   Barbed Words
Barbed Words is also taking part in the A-ZChallenge so check out her blog here.

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Has anyone else any Beta reading experiences to share?

The next few blogs will have a more crafty theme. And then I’ll be onto E – its all in the editing. See you next time.