Hi everyone, I hope you’re doing well and here is some tips and advice for all aspiring authors from bestselling author, Kayla Krantz!
Tips for the Aspiring Author
By Kayla Krantz
There are a lot of guides out there telling you, the aspiring author, what you should and shouldn’t do when it comes to writing. The truth is though, no one can decide how to make that first step but you. Each step after that will only guide you in the direction of your ultimate goal. In today’s society, getting a book published has never been easier, but the path to getting a book ready for publication remains as tough as it’s always been.
All writers have one thing in common: our need to put words on a page. The best thing that you can do for yourself is to write. Every single day. Even if it’s just some dialogue or a random thought, write it down. Like any other skill, writing is one that will get better with time and practice. A lot of times, it can be tough to find the motivation to write. Most days, writing for me is a struggle. The truth is, a lot of writing is uninspired. There are days, even weeks, where I find myself dragging through the story. For me, this is a problem especially in the editing phase.
Trudge through those days at all costs and remember that the spigot of inspiration won’t flow until its turned on.
I’ve written some of my best scenes by putting my brain on the spot and writing whatever comes to mind. A big issue that I see among newer authors is the pressure they feel to create an outline. I have been a pantser now for a long time, and I find that writing flows more smoothly when it’s not forced to go in any direction. Writing with an open mind and letting your characters guide you will lead you to creating stories that you could never imagine. Those little people that we create have minds of their own, it seems!
Keep in mind that while we may be entranced with our stories, no first draft is perfect. When we’re writing that first, we are essentially just shoveling sand into a sandbox that we’ll later shape into castles. That’s why feedback is a vital thing. A second set of eyes can spot issues that we don’t even think of. Admitting that our book babies aren’t perfect can be tough, but it’s true. When I started writing, my books were filled with flat characters and dozens of plot holes. Over time, I’ve gradually improved on those things only by listening to the advice of other authors. Constructive criticism is your best friend!
Now let me be clear, there is a difference between downright nasty reviews and negative reviews with helpful insight. Even though reading negative reviews stings, I read every single one that I get. Quite a few times, I’ve found that readers pick up an aspect of the story that I hadn’t previously considered. Working with the feedback of actual readers gives me good ideas of how to shape future stories and points me to things that I need to work on.
Never hide your work away. From the very first moment you put ink to page, you are a writer. Even if your writing hasn’t been published yet. Some newer authors feel the need to hide their stories because they don’t think they’ll be good enough, but I’m here to tell you not to do that. Truth is, just about every trope has been used at some point in history, but no one can tell the story like you can. Each author has their own perspective, their own insight to add and that’s what makes your work distinctive.
Writing is just the first obstacle when it comes to being a writer. There are a lot more things to consider such as how you’ll get yourself, and your work, out there.
This can be started long before you finish your first novel. Perhaps the most important thing an author can do for themselves is to create their own “brand” early on. Just like your favorite kind of pop, it’s important that as an author you create a lasting image with readers. The easiest way to pull this off is to make social media sites. Things such as a website, a Facebook, or a Twitter give you a way to interact with readers and other authors long before you finish your book. Networking is everything in this business.
A lot of authors that I know use their social media to tease their story and get readers excited to buy it at the first chance they can. When it comes to selling books, you’re not just selling a product, but yourself as well. People are more likely to buy your work if they like you. Sounds strange, but it’s the truth. That’s why it’s important to start forging those connections early. After all, people are less likely to buy from an author who only spams their work and nothing more.
Once you have your book written, edited, formatted, and ready to go, you have to consider the next important step: how to publish it. There are three main routes that a person can go to get their book published: traditional, indie, or vanity press.
I’m going to be the first to warn you AWAY from vanity press publishers. To new authors, vanity press publishers use contracts full of confusing lingo and deals that sound good to someone with no prior experience in the business, but the truth is, once they get your book on the market, they do nothing else for it or the author. They leave it to be lost among the ranks of millions of books in the world.
To me, there are really only two viable options an author can go: traditional or indie.
Traditional publishing was at one time the only way a person could go to get their book out into the world. In this method, you send out query letters to accepting agents who market your book and find it a home. Under this method, the author has very little control over what happens though they have plenty of support when it comes to things such as cover design, editing, and marketing. However, getting an agent is a very, very difficult task. For any authors hoping to tackle traditional publishing with a big five publisher, I would recommend starting small.
By this, I mean write short stories and submit them to places such as small publishers, magazines, and open calls. Getting your name out there and building your bio as an author will go a long way toward helping you to snag an agent later on.
In this digital age, getting an agent and publisher is not as important as it used to be. Over the past five years, self-publishing has really exploded into a market of its own. Many authors have found that self-publishing their books using marketplaces like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Apple to be a much smoother process than trad publishing. They retain the rights over their own work and get a much higher royalty rate as well. The downside is that all the perks of traditional publishing falls to the author. This means finding your own cover designer, editor, formatter, and knowing how to market yourself. All of this can be very costly.
Me, personally, I’m a hybrid author. I’ve walked the road of both traditional and indie publishing. I can’t say for sure that one is better than the other because they both have their positives and their negatives. Which one you choose ultimately depends on what your overall goals are for the project and yourself.
All in all, writing, and getting your book out into the world, is a personal journey filled with decisions that only you can make. When I first started my voyage almost a decade ago, I had no idea the places that my writing would take me. My best advice is to just take a deep breath and enjoy it. Being a writer is one hell of a ride.
Kayla Krantz is an International Bestselling Author responsible for a number of novels in the genres dark fantasy, psychological horror, and supernatural thriller. She is fascinated by the dark and macabre. Stephen King is her all-time inspiration, mixed in with some faint remnants of the works of Edgar Allen Poe.
Thank you for the tips, Kayla! And thank you for reading!