A: My best advice for aspiring writers:
- Write what you're passionate about not what's on trend.
- Write what you know, even if it's not a memoir. If you base your stories and your characters on things that are familiar, it will make things easier. Or, at least that, been my experience.
- Develop a thick skin. There will be rejections. Those are only a few people's opinions.
- When someone tries to close a door on you, kick it in. Becoming a published writer isn't easy and taking no for an answer will get you nowhere fast.
- Take writing classes. Feedback from both teachers and your peers is essential.
- Read a lot and often. And read different genres, not jus the one you write.
- Put every good idea down on paper (or on your computer). You never know when it might come in handy.
- Outline. The more you can develop of your story before you write it, the easier it will be.
- Write often. Even if it's not your "work-in-progress" it will get the juices flowing.
- Set realistic goals. Chances are, your first book won't be a NYT bestseller or make you tons of money. But neither would your first job anywhere else!
A: This is probably the question I'm most often asked. I will say that my answer has shifted over time, as I've witnessed great success for some of my colleagues who've decided to self-publish.
Typically, my first query for someone struggling with this dilemma is--what is your purpose for publishing a book? If you're doing it because it's been your lifelong dream to write one book, hold it in your hands,and share it with your family and friends. And that's where it ends. Then, by all means, self-publish. Along those lines, maybe you're an interior designer who has no intention of pursuing a writing career but would like one beautiful coffee table book to display in your store and sell to your clients--then, yes,self-publish.
In turn, if you're looking to launch a career as an author and you don't already have an established platform, I believe traditional publishing is the best route. I like to have a team of people supporting me and doing all the things that they're good at. I'm not an agent. I'm not a copyeditor. I'm not a publicist. And I'm not a distributor. Nor do I have an interest in taking on any of those roles. I want to be able to concentrate my efforts on writing and promoting, while the other professionals do what they do best.
Also, it's important to note that garnering publicity on your own can be a major uphill battle. So, if you do plan to self-publish, I'd say that hiring a publicist is a must. Hiring a copy editor isn't a bad idea either.
There was a time, certainly, when self-publishing was frowned upon. And I believe still, to this day, you're not officially considered a published author if you only self-publish. But, the stigma that used to be attached to self-publishing has definitely lifted. There are successful traditionally published authors who are switching to self-publishing because it affords them more control over the process. There's something to be said for that!
Overall, I think this kind of decision needs to be made on a case-by-case basis. Examine what your goals are and take it from there.
A: I know it sounds funny, but my answer is write! Write anything. If you're struggling with one project, try to something different just to keep your creative juices flowing. When I'm having trouble finding the words, I usually "force" myself to write one decent paragraph and, once that happens, I'm typically in the groove. That said, if I'm absolutely not feeling it on any given day, I allow myself a break.