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.