Carl Llewellyn Weschcke's
Tips for Aspiring Writers
I’m not a writing coach, but I can offer a few ideas about how to get published:
This might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many folks don’t understand it: Write a good book. Take writing classes and learn how to write, hire an editor or a writing coach to look over your manuscript. Don’t presume that because just you think you have a good idea and can type that you can write. a book.
Read our guidelines, be familiar with the type of books we publish, use spelling and grammar checkers. Please!
Don’t tell us that you are ready for Oprah.
- Don’t do a “me-too” book. Just because Lady Double X wrote a book on Celtic Myth doesn’t mean that you should write one, too.
This one is a pet peeve of mine: Don’t plagiarize. All too many writers today are lifting material directly from the Web or from other books (sometimes even ones we published!) without attribution. We have a full time person now whose job it is to chase down pirates and plagiarizers. It’s a very sad state of affairs.
Don’t write what you don’t know.
Don’t presume that because you’ve taken a photograph that you own the publication rights. Get releases from your subjects.
If you are quoting live people, get written releases and permissions for exact quotes.
Be sure to give credit where credit is due and include permissions with your submission.
- Don’t assume you will get rich by writing a best-seller. We do have a few authors with multiple books who earn a comfortable living, but it takes awhile.
Those were mostly the Thou-Shalt-Nots. Now, let’s have some enthusiasm:
Writing is a great adventure. Enjoy! (If you don’t like what you are writing, no one else will, either.)
Write on what you want to learn more about. Discovery and research is a vital part of good writing.
Be prepared to read what you’ve written with a critical eye and to re-write it more than once. It will get better, especially if you allow time in between for your thoughts to mature. Ideally, when you read what you’ve written you should feel amazed at how good it is — and then realize it probably isn’t that good.
Practice writing fiction. Learn to let the characters in your short of novel tell their own story. If can write fiction that is enjoyable to read, you will be able to write non-fiction that is enjoyable to read, too.
- Plan on doing a lot of self-promotion, mostly at your own expense.
If you’re good at it, you will be successful. That sounds redundant, but it isn’t. Writing is a unique pursuit. There are many career fields in which one can be good at something and still be neither successful nor happy. A good writer can be all three.
I can think of only a few forms of self-employment that can be as rewarding as writing, and I am speaking beyond the monetary rewards.
This article first appeared in PanGaia #50
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