Mavis Duke Hinton, Author

                          Dachshund Books for Dog LoversHeartfelt Christian Fiction & Nonfiction

WRITING TIPS

A WORD OF ADVICE TO ASPIRING AUTHORS:

 

To begin with, I can only tell you what I've learned about publishing in my personal experience.  I have published seven books (ten, if you count second editions), but that does not make me an expert in anyone's estimation.  Last year, I decided to go the indie publishing route (rather than with a traditional publisher).  And, I don't write about writing all the time.  I have author friends who do just that, and I enjoy reading their blogs and articles, and I thank them, for I have gleaned helpful information along the way.  I will advise you to seek out those books and websites that can offer you some ideas before you seek to publish.  I hope this information below is helpful to you.  Now decide how you want to publish, and go for it!

 

When I decided to leave my teaching career to write my first novel in 2005, I did not know anyone personally who could tell me how to get my first book published.  I had been an English teacher for many years, always having that dream of writing, but never having the time to do so.  I took the plunge and walked away from my career for a time and just began writing.  While in the process, I turned to the internet to do research, and I found that there are scam publishers, just like there are scams for just about every endeavor.  


So, my first piece of advice is to do your research.  I would recommend www.ChristianWriters.com as a resource if you want to write inspirational fiction.  I wish I had known about this marvelous site when I started.  It offers discussion forums, advice, links, critiques, a myriad of helps for aspiring, new, and seasoned writers.  Also, Jerry B. Jenkins' Christian Writers Guild (www.christianwritersguild.com)  offers writing courses, manuscript critiques, etc. This organization has an impressive list of mentors who are experts in the fields of writing and publishing. Whether you plan to write Christian books or secular books, Facebook has numerous helpful groups for its members to check out and join.

 

Difficult as it is, all of us must realize that our writing just might not be as good as it can be right now, but we CAN improve it with practice.  (But it probably isn't as weak as some of the published books I have seen out there.)  Just be willing to write and rewrite.  I have spent hours rewriting a single chapter.  HOWEVER, I picked up some great advice on a well-known author's website:  "Get it all down on paper, not worrying about sentence structure, punctuation, or wording to begin with.  You can go back later and rewrite" (and believe me, you will).  When you're on a roll, keep it flowing.  Invaluable advice!

 

Below are some tidbits I've picked up, and I hope they help:

 

1. Research your favorite authors on the internet. Their personal websites offer writing tips, and these writers are much more experienced than I.

 

2. Never ask an author (whether famous or unknown) to critique your manuscript (or Aunt Hortense's, either) or "put in a good word" for you--we are each responsible for getting through the publishing door ourselves. We simply  don't have time to critique such (you have no idea how many people have asked me to edit their efforts!).  In addition, I cannot determine if publishers will be interested in your work.  Personally, I only know that my books were accepted by a traditional publisher, but I recently decided to publish them myself, using Amazon's Createspace publishing platform for paperbacks (www.createspace.com), and Kindle Direct Publishing (www.kdp.com)  for my ebooks. I thank the Lord for opening doors for me! Peruse publishers' websites to determine what genres they do publish; for example, never send a science fiction manuscript to a publishing company that focuses on romance novels!  Neither of the two companies mentioned above require any upfront money; Createspacc takes a small percentage out of each book when published, and it is free to publish on Kindle.  NEVER CHOOSE A PUBLISHER WHO REQUIRES ANY MONEY FROM YOU TO PUBLISH YOUR BOOK!

 

Find a good copy editor to check the manuscript and critique it for you. This step is especially important if you plan to indie publish. As with just about anything, you can find copy editors online by searching for them, and then check their reviews before committing to them.  They don't come free, but shop around.   


Another wealth of resources are writing groups found on Facebook: search groups on there, and I'm sure you'll find those that fit in with your goals. I've found that Facebook writing groups (and there are tons of others as well) have much information and discussions about indie publishing, if you decide to go that route.


If you want to get your book published by the traditional method and before sending your manuscript off to publishers who still accept them (few do nowadays, preferring to go through an agent), be certain that you are following their submission guidelines.  Only send your hard work after you've researched and narrowed publishers down to those who share your values. 

 

3. There are all types of publishing, and I have relied heavily on Wikipedia to give the information below.  To get in-depth information, search the types of publishing listed and research them accordingly: 

 

  • self publishing (aka indie, or independent) - you absorb all the costs and plan to market the book entirely yourself, and to expand upon that idea, Wikipedia says:  "Self-publishing is the publication of any book or other media by the author of the work, without the involvement of an established third-party publisher. The author is responsible and in control of entire process including design (cover/interior), formats, price, distribution, marketing and PR.  Authors can do it all themselves or outsource all or part of the process to companies that offer these services such as Lulu or CreateSpace, and a multitude of others";


  • traditional publishing - keep in mind that the "big houses" of publishing no longer accept manuscripts (see above).  They do not charge authors anything to publish books.  Once you receive a contract, it is usually two or three years before your book is published. Wikipedia: "Many book publishing companies around the world maintain a strict 'no unsolicited submissions' policy and will only accept submissions via a literary agent. This shifts the burden of assessing and developing writers out of the publishing company and onto the literary agents. At these companies, unsolicited manuscripts are thrown out, or sometimes returned, if the author has provided pre-paid postage.  Esoften represented by a literary agent tablished authors are to market their work to publishers and negotiate contracts. Literary agents take a percentage of author earnings (varying between 10 - 15 per cent) to pay for their services";


  • subsidy publishing -  Wikipedia states:  "Vanity or subsidy presses usually require payment by authors, or a minimum purchase of copies."    (Most writing blogs and websites caution writers to avoid these for various reasons--and they're right!); 


  • e-book publishing -  "an electronic book (variously, e-book, ebook, digital book) is a book-length publication in digital form, consisting of text, images, or both, and produced on, published through, and readable on computers or other electronic devices. Sometimes the equivalent of a conventional printed book, e-books can also be born digital. The Oxford Dictionary of English defines the e-book as 'an electronic version of a printed book,' but e-books can and do exist without any printed equivalent. E-books are usually read on dedicated e-book readers. Personal computers and some mobile phones can also be used to read e-books" (Wikipedia).

  • audio book publishing - there are several reputable audio publishing companies, but I suggest that you wait until you have established a market for your ebook and paperback books prior to doing audio books. There's a lot more involved in this endeavor than you'd think.
 

Best wishes, and my prayers are with you in your writing endeavors!  <{{{<