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Five Things a Beginning Writer Needs to Know

November 14, 2014

The indie author world is a fun place filled with amazingly supportive people who are generous with their advice and social media shares. There are so many out there who push themselves to the limit to do so while still working on their own stuff. It’s a great community, but as with most things in life, there is good and bad. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you begin walking the writer path.

  • Keep your expectations in check. There is no overnight success in most endeavors and that includes writing. It took years for me to get views on my blog and build the network I now have.
  • Start now. Keeping the first point in mind, the time to build a web presence is not after (or shortly before) the book has been released. Start posting and connecting with others now so you will have a good starting point for promotion.
  • Be courteous. Don’t be that author who shows up in a group to share their book, only to disappear and not come back until it’s time to promote something else. Avoid DMs (Direct Messages) on Twitter at all costs. Respond to others as much as you post. Be generous with your shares.
The Twitter DM Box: Otherwise known as the spam wasteland.

The Twitter DM Box: Otherwise known as the spam wasteland.

  • Read, take it in, discard. There is so much writing advice out there, and quite a bit of it can contradict other things you’ve read. Listen to you instincts and follow the advice that “feels” right to you, forget about the rest.
  • Have fun. Enjoy yourself. Lose yourself in your story. Don’t let yourself get caught up in competitiveness or feeling jealous of others’ success. We are all in this together, so a victory for one of us is a victory for all of us.

So there you have it: some of my personal tips for a writer just starting out. What advice would you give? What were the biggest lessons you learned when you began your own journey as a writer?

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8 Comments
  1. November 14, 2014 10:00 am

    Excellent advice, Jamie.

    To your good “web presence” advice, I would add: start building a mailing list that you have full control over. Don’t put all your eggs in the social media basket where others make the rules.

    To your good “be courteous” advice, I would add: support other writers in the way you want to be supported. (Buy their books, attend their readings, post reviews, etc.) When approaching others for help, propose something mutually beneficial rather than asking for one-way favors.

  2. November 14, 2014 7:26 pm

    Thanks, Mary Ann! Very true on all counts with your extra advice! Thanks for adding it to the mix!

  3. November 15, 2014 8:14 am

    I am glad to see more people embracing this point of view. I really liked all your points and agree. The excuses to not start abound, someone will steal my work, I’m not ready, and I just don’t know how to use that stuff. Non of those excuses are valid. I was not ready when I started, now my blogs get a lot of traffic, with posts that are only drafts, revisions, and interviews with authors. I wrote about this topic in my FF story A CONVERSATION WITH CARLOS, which has appeared on a few websites( not stolen , permission granted). One thing I see, the people who are serious generally accept this advice, the rest just disappear.
    Also important, Mary Anne’s point. I taught myself social media, and I am now trading help with another writer, who is showing me how to setup, and format an E-Boook and I am giving Twitter lessons, blogging lessons, and other s/m advice.
    Thanks for posting Jamie!

    • November 16, 2014 11:17 pm

      Thanks, artemisjjones! You are so right on exchanging services! While people usually try to stress how important “professional” design, etc. is it’s just not realistic financially for some people. In that case, why not help each other?

  4. November 15, 2014 11:28 am

    Thanks for these tips, Jamie. This is a keeper blog post.

    At a writer’s workshop at the conference, a panel of publishers told us that we need to have some presence on most social medias but we can spend most of our time on one. They gave examples that if we like twitter the best, check in on fb and goodreads on occasion, but post a lot of tweets and interact by responding to others tweets. If an author likes goodreads best, or their blog best, spend a lot of time on those. We can’t forget the other forms of media, but just give them a less percentage of our time.

    One of my own personal rules is to always interact with those who comment on blogs or the other social media sites, and to show interest in theirs as well. While we need to promote, I like to show that I’m interested in what others have to say, and what they’re doing in their lives too.

    • November 16, 2014 11:11 pm

      Thanks! Totally agree on interacting with all messages/comments. It’s just a courteous thing to do. Plus, it’s fun! 🙂

      • November 17, 2014 10:45 am

        Thank you, Jamie. I needed this validation. I’ve had a fellow writer/friend telling me that I interact too much. I’m so glad you agree and also think it’s fun, cause I do too.

  5. November 18, 2014 12:34 pm

    Reblogged this on The BiaLog and commented:
    These are some awesome tips for beginners and pros.

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