Real-World Advice for New Writers

The Penmen Review asked writers what the best advice has been that they have received, particularly when they first started writing. Here is what four writers had to say:

Vanessa Frank is the author of supernatural Christian fiction, “Destiny’s Chase.”

Promote Your Book Yourself 
For me, the very best piece of advice I’ve received as an author that’s just starting out is that you can’t expect your publisher to promote your book. Nobody is going to be as passionate as you are about your book, and furthermore, most publishers don’t have the budget to heavily promote their writers, especially the new ones. So it’s crucial that you be actively involved in promoting and marketing your book, even if you have a publisher, because nobody will be as good of an advocate as you will be. Writing the book is 10 percent of the work, promoting it is the other 90 percent!


Barry Maher has keynoted 
both the Santa Barbara Writers Conference and the Pike’s Peak Writers 

His books include “Filling the Glass,” which has been cited as
 “[One of] The Seven Essential Popular Business Books,” by Today’s Librarian.
Barry has appeared on the “Today Show,” “NBC Nightly News,” “CNBC” and he’s
 frequently featured in publications like the New York Times, the Wall Street
 Journal, the London Times, Business Week and USA Today.

Forget Inspiration
Sit your butt down in front of the computer and write.
 Treat it as a profession, as a job, and you can master the necessary skills.
 Wait for inspiration and you’ll still be waiting while those willing to put 
in the time are getting published.

The inconvenient truth of publishing is that if you want to succeed, you’ve
 got to want it badly enough that you’ll want do all the little things 
necessary to make it happen. If you don’t want to do those things – the first 
and foremost of which is putting in your time, and putting it in
 regularly – maybe you don’t really want to be published.


Kathy Otten is the author of “Another Waltz” and other historical romance novels.

Best Advice Regarding Work Ethic
Chuck Sambuchino, editor for Writers Digest, author of “Formatting and Submitting Your Manuscript” and “2011 Authors Guide to Literary Agents,” said in a workshop that the key to being a successful writer is to put down the remote.

I’ve found that to be 100-percent true. You can’t wait for the muse to strike, or large blocks of writing time to come your way. You have to take those few minutes here and there and make them count. If you want to write, you have to choose to do it. Sacrifice that hour or two of TV in the evening. Sit down at the computer and write.

Submitting Manuscripts
Read and follow all manuscript guidelines. Do your homework. Every agent and publisher has specific guidelines for submission. If an agent says they don’t take mysteries, don’t send them a mystery. If a publisher wants your manuscript submitted in Courier New with 12 point font, don’t send it in Times New Roman. It doesn’t matter what book you’ve read or what your critique group says. ALWAYS follow guidelines.

Book Signings
Book signings aren’t for selling books. They are for meeting people and getting your name out there. People have never lined up out the door of a bookstore waiting to buy my book. But I have talked to a lot of people about all different things from the weather, to places I’ve been, to someone’s desire to write their own book. These people don’t usually even buy my book; but they take my promotional handouts and they will remember meeting me. And sometime when they are scrolling around online and come across my book, they will remember; and when they have time they might scroll through my books and pick out something for themselves or someone else. Because people are more likely to buy something from someone they know, or something recommended by a friend, than from an unknown name in a sea of authors. 


Meg Schneider
 works as a consultant, author and speaker in her home state of Iowa and has authored or co-authored 12 books.

Dealing with Rejection
You can’t control whether an editor will like your work.  So 
stop thinking about that and focus your energy on what you can control:  doing your own best work.

Being able to recognize that business
 considerations play as much a role in getting published as talent
 (sometimes, perhaps most times, those factors count more than talent) took
 the sting out of rejections. Every writer who submits her work, no
 matter how talented, is going to face rejection a lot more often than any 
of us care to admit.