I get a lot of questions and queries from people who want to know what they need to do to get published. While every person's route to publication is different (and some people never get there), there are some basic things that will help every writer out. Some of the below hints and tips may sound pessimistic (and some optimistic), but what I'm trying to do here is be honest. The advice covered below is specifically for those seeking to write a fiction book (and who have never been published before), but could be applied generally to any writing.
First of all, writing is not easy and being an author/writer is not a cushy job by any means. Recent news articles highlighting the "instant success" of some authors are misleading at best and sometimes grossly sensationalized (hey, it's the press…they need a story and writing about the drudgery side of writing doesn't sell stories).
Writing takes work and dedication. Success is never overnight (no matter what the press might like you to believe). Writing is also not the most lucrative of professions, certain big name authors notwithstanding. If your goal is to be able to quit your day job (whatever that may be) and write full time, please understand that you may never be able to do so or that it will take years of effort (or a very supportive spouse). Many (eh, probably most) successful authors who have sold multiple books still work a separate job to support themselves.
So, what's a wannabe author to do?
Oh, and if you're wondering "who the heck is she to be giving advice??" -- I've worked as an editorial intern (which meant some serious slush pile duty...I once had to read a translation of Dante's Inferno into jive...seriously, I kid you not), have been a book reviewer since 1998, have interviewed hundreds of authors, gone to conferences, have published a number of short stories and articles, and my first book came out in August 2008 (Sucks to Be Me) and my second is due out in May 2010 (Still Sucks to Be Me). And I'll tell you one thing -- I'm always learning something new. So be sure to keep an open mind as you research things; you never know what you'll learn or from whom.
A book review is your personal description and thoughts about a book (unlike a book report). You may write one for school or want to write one to share your opinion. The following "how to" assumes you have already read the book.
- Write a brief summary of the book's plot including the who, what, where, when and why (if applicable).
- Describe the author's purpose, scope, view, attitude, and/or theme of the book as you see it.
- Explain whether you thought the author was successful at carrying out item #2.
- Analyze the value of the book, based on items #2 and #3.
- Optional: describe any personal experiences you have with the book's topic.
- Optional: provide background information about the author or the author's other works.
- Optional: compare the book to other works.
- Explain whether or not you liked the book, and why or why not.
- If possible, select a book you think you would enjoy.
- Include enough detail to describe what happened, but not enough to spoil the plot for future readers.
- Librarians are a great resource.
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