Amber Garr is one awesome author and I am honored to have her here today on Between the Bindings. She is such a nice lady, a lot of fun to talk to - and from this picture, she is perfect here on The Gal, isn't she??
I met her one day when she was helping a fellow author with a blog tour, then I ended up reading one of her books (Scorched), and had some great conversations with her. Have you ever met someone, then had conversations with them that you would never forget? That is how I feel about Amber.
When asked to give advice for other authors, I kind of panicked and started to run the other way. I mean, three years into this adventure and I know I still have so much to learn! I have days when I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of this industry and want to crawl into a hole and hide. And then I have days when I get an email from a fan and it completely makes it all worth it.
So when I took a deep breath and thought about what I wish I would have known back then, or what advice I’ve absorbed over the years, I came up with a top five list.
1. Don’t be scared to share.
There is power in a strong critique group. Find a few other writers and don’t be afraid to share, critique, and perfect your work. I’ll never forget the first time I read something to my critique group - I was scared to death. But I eventually realized that all writers feel that way and we all have those doubts gnawing at us. So support each other, listen to each other, and I promise you that your writing will improve. And when that book is finished and published - don’t be scared to reach out to bloggers. They are your friends and THE best way to get people talking about your books. Yes, you may get a bad review or two, but no one is perfect and the majority of the time, the bloggers are there to support you.
2. Just write.
And write all of the time. Even if it’s a character name scribbled down on a post-it-note, keep thinking about your stories. I have two notebooks with me at all times to plot out chapters, books, series, etc. If I can’t find the time at home to get a few words in, at least my brain is still moving forward. Oh, and don’t go back and edit every sentence until you’re done. Just let the words flow and worry about editing later.
3. Have a plan and set some goals.
Okay, so I’m a super type-A, make lists telling me to make lists, plan out my life kind of a person. But I find that it helps me stay focused. I strongly recommend setting goals for your books - like overarching plot lines and ultimate endings for your characters. Especially if you’re writing a series, you need to make sure everything ties together in the end without it seeming too contrived. So consider writing an outline. Then consider writing a plan for your marketing (which is a whole other beastly topic that sends me scurrying back into that hole). Then start writing your next book and do it all over again.
4. Keep reading.
I’ve heard writers say (too many times) that they don’t have time to read. And to that I say “What??” How can you perfect your craft and reach your target audience if you don’t even know what else is out there. I read every single night and usually try to write just as much. I’m not copying stories or finding out that our characters overlap… I’m exercising my brain and staying creative. I’m also reading other indie authors and reaching out to help support them by writing a review and promoting their books. I’m paying it forward by purchasing books, writing reviews, and knowing that someone might do the same for me someday. And I couldn’t do that if I didn’t make the time to read.
5. Write what you love.
Don’t jump on the current hot genre bandwagon if that’s not a genre you enjoy reading. I’m a firm believer in not forcing yourself to write and I know that if I don’t like to read it, I’m going to have a hard time creating it. It was a challenge for me not to try and take a piece of the NA contemporary explosion or be a part of the 50 Shades erotica buzz. But when I sat down and thought about what I could write - absolutely nothing came to mind. So I focused on the genres I love and kept working in those worlds. You’ll know what it is for you, so my advice is don’t force it just because it seems like everyone else is doing it.
Great advice, Amber. I love your top 5 list - your words are extremely helpful. Thanks for being here on The Gal today. And I can't wait until our next conversation :)
Until next time, y'all ....