Advice to Newbies

blog-hop-buttonAs an author, copy and content editor, former publisher, and a former board member of the Baltimore Writers’ Alliance, I have given this advice to a number of aspiring AND established writers.

Suggestion One:

Keep writing, save everything, even if you think it’s crap. Get the word count under your belt because it is the foundation upon which your published work will rest and it will help develop your writer’s voice. It’s the doing that makes you good and the good stuff gets rewritten and edited until it is publishable. Keep these four words of wisdom in mind: FIRST DRAFTS SUCK. ALWAYS.

Suggestion Two:

Know your market—your target audience. Read what they read and make sure you enjoy it. If you don’t, you’re in the wrong market. There are so many genres and subgenres out there, you shouldn’t have a problem finding your niche.

Suggestion Three:

Research the tools of writing such as structure, point of view, and tension. Follow the blogs of writers whose work you enjoy. Sign up for newsletters on writing. There are many books out there on writing and no matter your level of professional acclaim, it is always, ALWAYS good to go back to the basics and review them with a matured sensibility.

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Suggestion Four:

Start writing a blog. Write about the things that vex you, the things that make you deliriously happy, and the hobbies you have. Show people the many facets of you. Even though your followers may not be thick on the ground now, the followers that fall onto your path later are going to look at previous posts to get a better sense of you. Use this tool to build a sense of connection with your readership. I personally enjoy WordPress.com but I also have my posts published on Blogger because of the connectivity with all my other Google apps.

Suggestion Five:

Think about how appropriate it would be for you to adopt a pen name now before you become a public personality. I work in law enforcement and use my legal name to perform my duties. I was creeped out by how often the people I came into contact in my official capacity would Google my name and find my public profiles such as LinkedIn and Facebook. I had to change my public name to protect my livelihood and my privacy. If you do adopt a pen name, choose something unique and yet eponymous to your intended genre. Google it and if the name doesn’t have hits, run with it.

Suggestion Six:

It is never too late to start building a social media presence. Start with goodreads to participate with other authors and readers. Once you’ve established your brand and gotten an idea of which direction you’re going, set up a separate Facebook and Twitter account under that brand. Pinterest and LinkedIn are other good mediums. Learn how to use them now and you’ll be ready to promote your work and commune with your readership.

 

Copyright © 2014 iokirkwood.com. “Advice to Newbies” by I.O. Kirkwood. All rights reserved.

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