Five Things to Remember as a New Writer

Please help me welcome John W. Howell as today’s Wednesday’s Guest. I had the pleasure of meeting John a couple of months ago at the McKinney Book Festival and added him to my list of Indie Authors I wanted to help with some promotion on my blog. He’s written a number of novels, some action adventure and one a bit different, Circumstances of Childhood, which I  reviewed  here last Sunday.

It’s finally cooled down a bit here in Texas, so I’m going to have coffee this morning. And a nice fresh donut to go with it. Help yourself to one to go with your drink of choice.

Now here’s John with his advice for new writers.

When I began writing full time, there was a lot I didn’t know. Since I have been writing for the last seven years, there is still a lot I don’t know, but there is a lot I’ve  learned. This learning process has not been easy, and I’m ashamed to say it came with much trial and error.

Today I would like to humbly impart some information based on what I learned in five areas of an author’s life. I hope you find this information useful and will benefit from my lessons learned.

Number One –  Remember, there is no need to rush to publication. It seems new writers are anxious to get a book published, and there is nothing wrong with that desire. The problem comes when an author does not spend the requisite amount of time crafting a book that is worthy of publication. So, what is the necessary amount of time? In my mind, the book writing process has three phases:

  • The first is getting all the words down. For a full-length novel that is at least 70,000 words.
  • The second is getting all the words to make sense and ensure they are of interest to the reader.
  • The third is to make sure the construction of sentences, word usage, spelling, book cover, and the book format are all up to industry standards.

The three phases take time to accomplish since there are many iterations of a book through the editing process. Skipping any edit or professional standard formatting will guarantee a book that will become an embarrassment and the wish that it go away. So, if the hope is that the writing vanishes why bother to write at all?

Number Two – Remember, do not share the work until the first draft is complete. Sharing chapters with others while writing a manuscript may be the quickest way to ensure the document will never get written. Unless a new author finds someone, who is impartial, feedback on a work in process will at best reflect the taste and comfort of the person the author selects as the guinea pig.

People do not agree on what makes good literature, so the new author may not get the outstanding positive reaction for which every insecure writer is looking. If the report is not glowing, then the feedback may only discourage the writer. When is that a good idea? Once the work is complete, it is appropriate to find folks who will read it and give feedback.

Number Three – Remember to decide which avenue to publication to pursue. There is the traditional publication route where the writer gets an agent, and the agent sells the book to a publisher. (Easier said than done.)

There is also the self-publishing route.

Each direction has its advantages and disadvantages. The point is not to try to cover all bases by doing both. Once the Indie path is the choice, it is tough to transition back to traditional unless the self-published book is a best seller.

Number Four –  Remember, an author should not have to pay anyone to publish a book. Yes, the author must pay for things like cover art, formatting, and editing. But to sign a contract for publishing books at a scheduled price can be a costly thing. Amazon does not charge for publishing books. Others like Ingram Spark have a nominal fee.

Number Five –  Remember to keep writing every day. Personally, I find it best to set a word count goal and make sure of its achievement every day. To accomplish the goal, it may mean setting a realistic number. It doesn’t matter how much the author writes. A critical part is a consistent approach to word count. An achievable goal reached every day will eventually become a manuscript.

Thank you, Maryann, for having me on your blog today.

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BUY LINK forCircumstances of Childhood

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  John Howell began writing as a full-time occupation after an extensive business career. His specialty is thriller novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories. His first book, My GRL introduces the exciting adventures of the book’s central character, John J. Cannon. The second Cannon novel, His Revenge, continues the adventure, while the final book in the trilogy, Our Justice, launched in September 2016.

A stand alone novel, Circumstances of Childhood was published October 1st, 2017.  The Contract is written with Gwen Plano and released June of 2018. All books are available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

John lives in Lakeway Texas with his wife and their spoiled rescue pets.

You can find out more about John by visiting his WEBSITE and AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE * meet him on FACEBOOK  * GOODREADS * LINKED IN * and follow him on TWITTER

39 thoughts on “Five Things to Remember as a New Writer”

    1. You’re welcome, John. On both counts. It’s been great having you here. You have some nice followers who have made the social in social media really work. 🙂

    1. Thanks for stopping by today, Jane. Interesting that you referred to the tip about sharing our work before the first draft is completed as ‘poignant’. Is there a particular reason you chose that word? Just curious. 🙂

      1. Maryann, it’s kind of you to have guests on your blog and reading John’s post today led me to you. 🙂 Yes, there is a reason I am wary of sharing what I write at the ‘craft’ stage. I wrote a book and shared a few chapters with a chap I was dating. It’s a non-fiction book, so each chapter stood alone. His response and feedback knocked me back. I learned from this and it reminded me why I don’t share my new ideas, on anything, before they are robust enough for scrutiny. The upshot is I stopped dating him and published my book. I don’t know you, but I have a feeling you are chuckling…. 😉

        1. Ah, now I understand “poignant.” I guess my experience was different in sharing work, especially as a new writer. I was lucky in that I joined a writers’ group that was comprised of some experienced and published writers who shared that experience and guided me as I learned the craft of writing. The critique sessions were always most helpful. I didn’t share my work with other folks who were not writers, or at least very intelligent readers who understood, as John put it, what literature is all about.

          Thanks for sharing.

          1. I agree with you, Maryann. A good writer’s group can be helpful. I guess where I come out is a new writer needs to write a lot to learn the craft. By having a finished draft the input from other writers can be of big benefit without the risk of abandoned work. In any case, beta readers and writer’s groups are very necessary.

          2. Good point about a new writer needing to write a lot. They also need to read a lot. I tell new writers who come to me for advice on how to learn the craft to write, write, write, read, read, read, then repeat steps one and two as often as necessary. By the time I reached adulthood and joined my first critique group, I’d already been doing a lot of writing and reading.

          1. That’s true about friends and family. Other than my husband, who was an avid, and intelligent, reader, I didn’t share my work in progress with family members when it was still in draft form. Although, now that one of my daughters has a Master’s Degree in Humanities with a focus on literature, I do send bits of new work to her for feedback now and then. 🙂

  1. Thanks for hosting John, Maryann. John, I enjoyed your tips and believe them to be wise. I think that the first tip about not rushing to publication is absolutely critical! Happy writing, good sir!

    1. Thanks for coming by and leaving a comment. I wholeheartedly agree with the first tip, too. So often a new writer will get excited about finishing a first draft and want to see it out there in the world, skipping those vital steps of rewrites and editing. This is a profession, as much as a creative art, and we need to be professional in our approach.

  2. Very helpful tips, John. Even experienced authors need to remember not to rush to their book into the world.

    It’s nice meeting Maryann, too. What a lovely blog!

  3. Hi, John. Your number one tip was the number one piece of advice, or should I say dictum, that I received from my first creative writing professor in college: Don’t even think about publication until you’ve learned your craft! At the time, I found that advice to be incredibly liberating. It took a lot of pressure off.

    1. Thank you, Liz. Yes, I am amazed at how folks are chomping at the bit to get published and when it happens too soon standing wide-eyed and dismayed that the reviews could talk about typos and poor sentence construction. Thank you for the visit and comment..

    1. Thanks for stopping by the blog, Vashti. I think John gave some great advice and I’m so glad that it spurred a good discussion. Always so helpful. 🙂

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