Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Advice to Myself as a Newbie Author

by Shauna Roberts
http://ShaunaRoberts.blogspot.com

Today’s Guest: Jacqueline Diamond

Jackie Diamond Hyman, who also writes as Jacqueline Diamond, has sold eighty-one novels, including romance, suspense, mystery, and humor. She's also a former Associated Press reporter and TV columnist. Her upcoming releases for Harlequin American Romance include Baby in Waiting (August 2008) and Million-Dollar Nanny (January 2009).


Jackie, if you could travel back in time to before you were first published, what advice would you give yourself?

Sometimes I wonder whether I would have progressed faster in my career if I'd known at the beginning what I know now. Probably, and yet I've traded a certain amount of raw energy and wild creativity for my expertise. They aren't entirely gone, though, as I discover from time to time, to my delight.

Plus there's no way I could have gained the life experience thirty years ago that I have now. And I still manage to make new mistakes—and keep on learning.

But here's what I'd tell my younger self, if I had the chance.

1. Get as much professional-level feedback as you can. Take classes, attend seminars, and don't yield to your fears. Every piece of useful feedback is a nugget of gold. Even if it doesn't seem helpful at first, put it aside and read it again later.

2. When you receive negativity, whether it's a snide remark in a rejection letter or an unhelpful critique, don't take it personally. It actually reflects more about the sender's inability to put things in a positive light than about you. Once you get over your hurt feelings, try to look beneath the surface for the underlying point: Is there a valuable lesson to be mined here? If something about your work irritated the editor/critiquer, how can you keep from doing this in the future?

3. Don't compare your career to that of another writer. Remember that we always notice the person who appears to succeed faster and more easily, while scarcely registering the large number of fellow writers who struggle as much as, or more than, we do.

4. Don't give in to discouragement. You are not a failure just because you've failed so far. Once you succeed, failure is just a story to tell your readers.

5. Network. Support other writers, and compliment your favorite published authors. No one but a jerk would resent being approached in a polite, appropriate manner to be told that you love his or her books. Positive output generates positive responses. Don't expect an immediate payback, but people have long memories for those who support them—and those who do them dirt.

6. Study the market. Don't necessarily chase it, but be aware of what's selling and what isn't. Of course, if you're a genius or if there's a book you simply have to write, go ahead.

7. Before you start a novel, jot down the central idea and make sure it's focused and workable.

8. Analyze the books you love, particularly those that were published recently. Diagram a couple of plots chapter by chapter. Retype a few passages that you find particularly effective—openings, in particular. This is tedious and time consuming, but you'll be amazed how much you learn.

9. Once you sell, read your contracts. Don't let them scare you. Even if you have an agent, watch for glitches or areas that confuse you. Hunt down model contracts and study them, but don't expect perfection.

That's all I can think of now. Good luck!

✥✥✥✥✥

To learn more about Jackie, please visit her Website at http://www.jacquelinediamond.com. She blogs on the 1st and 15th of each month at http://harauthors.blogspot.com/. Her newest book, Baby in Waiting, will be available at all major bookstores and can be pre-ordered online from Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.