Thursday, July 05, 2012

Advice for Newbie Authors by a Semi-Newbie Author Guest post by Donna Burgess

Advice for Newbie Authors by a Semi-Newbie Author
Guest post by Donna Burgess

The saying goes “the world is my oyster,” and it cannot be truer than for newbie authors. With Kindle, Nook and other digital readers, a novelist no longer needs to be “vetted” by the gatekeepers (agents and editors at traditional publishing houses). The readers are the new gatekeepers and there is no better way to become “vetted” than good sales and good reviews. 

As a relatively new novelist (Solstice is only my second novel), I am still constantly on the hunt for sound writing and marketing advice. So, as my first year as a published novelist I would like to share my favorite tidbits of writing advice.

1.      You’ve finally completed your first masterpiece. It’s going to change the world of fiction, as we know it. You’re anxious to get it in front of your rabid readers. But first—hire an editor. Don’t trust your own eyes to catch ever little typo, grammar slipup or plot hole.

2.      Likewise don’t be your own cover artist. The best way to compete with the “big guys” is to have a work that is indistinguishable from theirs. Your book cover is your first impression. Make it a good one.

3.      Try to keep a regular writing schedule. If you don’t time will slip away and you have days on end without a new word written. Remember, if you can manage only one page a day, you can still have a novel in a year’s time.

4.      Keep a notebook. As a writer, you get a free pass to eavesdrop, at least to some degree. So, jot down pieces of conversations, random thoughts or scenes, idea and images from your world. You wouldn’t believe how valuable these notes can be.

5.      Grab your favorite book. Now tear it apart. Now literally, but at least dismember it. Highlight awesome passages (Kindle is so great for this kind of thing), find plot points, character traits and twists.

6.      Read. Read. Read.

7.      Check out the blogs of successful authors. Most are gracious enough to share what is working for them and what isn’t.

8.      Don’t fret over sales and reviews. Sometimes sales aren’t going to measure up to what you want. Try different marketing techniques. Change up your blurb or your cover. Most importantly, write another book.

9.      Don’t allow a bad review wreck your day. I know it’s difficult not to step forward and defend your “baby,” but don’t do it. Not everyone is going to like you or your book. That’s the way life is. Don’t let it rule you. Do you love everyone you meet or everything you read? Probably not. It’s okay. We’re all human.

10.   Don’t be jealous if others’ success. Jealousy can stifle creativity so don’t fall into that trap. Instead, use that success as a spark to drive you toward your own goal.

That about it. These little tips barely scrape the surface, but maybe it’s a start. In the meantime, heed tip number six—read, read, read. May I suggest Solstice, my new apocalyptic novel. You might like it.

By Donna Burgess


On the eve of winter Solstice, a massive flash envelopes the Earth and then there is nothing. The sun no longer shines and civilization is plunged into unending darkness. Those exposed to the mysterious flash have changed—they have become bloodthirsty, cunning, and determined to devour anyone who is not infected. They are Ragers.

In Sweden, a group of uneasy travelers hears a broken broadcast. There is hope. Something called Sanctuary waits, but it is thousands of miles away, somewhere on the shores of the British Isles.

Meanwhile, in a London supermarket, a high school English teacher from the States finds himself stranded along with a handful of students on a senior trip. Outside, hoards of hungry Ragers await, ready to tear them limb from limb. Their only hope is to find Sanctuary.

Solstice is a tale of hope, terror, survival, and finding love at the end of the World.

Author Bio:

Donna Burgess lives with her husband, daughter, son, many cats and one goofy Golden Retriever in Pawleys Island, South Carolina. When she is not writing, she can be found on her longboard, behind a good book or on the soccer field. She is the president of E-Volve Books. She holds a B.A. in English and a B.A. in Journalism and is currently pursuing her M.F.A. in Creative Writing.