Monday, December 6, 2010

Five (unconventional) Minxy Writing Tips

Most aspiring writers who yearn to get their work published at some point in time come across the words "writing tips" in one form or the other. These tips may be specific to a publishing house, editor or agent or generic. More and more though, I'm noticing a certain trend that has prompted this post. You aren't required to follow it, but I'm putting it out there anyway :)

1. Never take another author's word as gold (even if they're multi-super-pubbed!) Everyone writes differently and has a different path to publication. What happened to Author X, Y or Z is not necessarily what will happen to you. But when you encounter an editor who gives you advice, LISTEN. Because what the editors say always goes, EVERY SINGLE TIME!

2. "How To" books over five years old are already behind the trend. Editors and agents go with the trend, genres morph and modernise. Readers' needs and expectations change. Stay on trend (even if you write historicals). After all the Regency/Viking eras weren't all about virgins, pirates and rogues! Throw a courtesan or three in there ;)

3. Promote yourself BEFORE you're pubbed! I know not everyone agrees with this, but the opportunity to have a following even before your first book hits the shelves is an opportunity not to be missed. Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Myspace et all are useful tools. In this day and age of super fast search engines, why would you deny your potential readers the opportunity to get to know you? Asked on Twitter whether internet presence was "recommended or a necessity", an editor replied, "a necessity". The Internet is here to stay. Use it! 'Nuff said.

4. Don't give your hero or heroine weird names! If the reader can't pronounce their names, they probably WILL stop reading the book. Also think carefully before you give unisex names. If your hero is called Alex and your heroine is named Morgan, guess what? You're diverting the reader's attention from what a great story you're telling by forcing them to ponder who's pov you're in. I for one don't want to have to stop every single time to work out who's talking! Example, I once read a book where the hero was called Alex and the heroine, Taylor. Major headache, unless you're writing M/M, in which case ignore me ;)

5. Although it may be out of your hands, make sure your title grabs attention, and keeps it! Titles that don't make sense IMMEDIATELY will lose you readers. While browsing through an online bookstore recently, I came across a book. The cover was awesome, the title...not so much. TBH, I didn't understand it. I read it once, twice, three times, then guess what? I gave up and moved on! It may mean something special to the author, but if readers don't get it, they may move on! I'll give you another example. A couple of years ago, I read a book by a writer whose books I know and love. It was an awesome, fabulous read, but I confess, I didn't get the title immediately. In fact, after scratching my head over it for a while, I had to swallow my pride and ask what it meant. Yes, I did feel silly when I realised the title was a play on the phrase, "Hook, Line and Sinker" and that everyone else "got it" but me :) Once I knew this, I thought how clever it was. But imagine if I hadn't had the courage to ask? This is a question you need to ask yourself before you pick a title.

Happy Writing!


Sally Clements said...

Great tips, Maya. I especially like number 2, the writing world is fast moving, and with the internet it's easy to keep up to date with developments!

Maya Blake said...

Thanks Sally :)

mell61 said...

I completely agree with No 2 also, I was at a writing course for M&B and many of the potential authors were pushing heroine aged 17-18, when asked they hadn't read any recent M&B (some hadn't read any for 15-20 years).
Read all the new writers in your preferred category, as they got their foot in the door - it will help you figure out how you can do it!

Annette Elton said...

Great post. Love that you're advising aspiring writers to promote themselves!

However, I think some "How to" books are evergreen. Stephen King's "On Writing" for one is evergreen. Also, Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird.

Subscribing to this one - glad I found you!


Nas said...

Great tips. And very insightful information. Thanks

Maya Blake said...

Thanks Sue, so glad some of the tips resonate with you!

Maya Blake said...

Hi Annette, so glad you stopped by. And you're right, I should qualify that to "Some 'How To' Books"... because I know there are some that have lasted the ages. Do keep an eye out for the ones that talk about trends and what's out/in etc. And always check with individual publishing houses for confirmation on how THEY do things because they're easy to miss.

We appreciate your subscription :)

Maya Blake said...

You're welcome Nas, and thanks for stopping by. Glad you enjoyed the post.

Anonymous said...

Maya, all very wise words. I especially like: "Everyone writes differently and has a different path to publication."

How true!! May each and every Minxy path to publication be short!!


Maya Blake said...

Thanks Aimee, and congrats again on your upcoming Riva release. Can't wait to read it :)

Suzanne Ross Jones said...

Terrific advice, Maya, thanks for sharing.


Joanne Coles said...

Great advice, Maya, some really insightful tips there :-)

Thanks to Aimee for the Minxy best wishes. We're all super excited looking forward to your debut release date!

Lacey Devlin said...

Fab advice Maya. I've never given any thought to using two unisex names in a story but boy can I imagine the headache!