Over the past twelve years, I’ve written many blog posts and I’ve participated in many ‘author interviews’ as well. One of the most common questions I’ve been posed, on such interviews, has been: What advice would you give an upcoming or new author?
Truth be told, I’m not fond of that question. Even though I’ve written over twenty-seven published works, I’m not sure I’m qualified to answer such a question. Everyone’s journey is different. That said, for the sake of possibly helping, here are my answers to some of those often-asked queries, and a few solid suggestions (underlined) I’ve come up with myself…
- Do you outline your story? Sounds like a great idea, and I’m sure it works for some writers. I don’t use an outline, never have. I start writing, and the story reveals itself as the characters take control. That’s just me.
- Get a good editor. A poorly edited book can and will ruin your credibility as a writer. Theirs nothing worst than mispelled or rong words. See what I mean?
- Use a proofreader—editors miss stuff.
- Get a writing buddy. I’ve got one and she’s terrific! Lauren Carr and I spend hours (much to our husbands’ dismay) on the phone, discussing storylines, problematic scenes, and yes, we’ve talked (or should I say whined) about some our less than gratifying reviews. Oh! And we’ve managed to solve the world’s problems a time or two as well. Your writing buddy doesn’t have to write in the same genre as you do. I suppose it helps, but it’s not necessary.
- How do you market your book? Ouch! That’s the truly tough part of being a writer. Marketing. Like it or lump it, you’ve got to get involved in social media. Join FB marketing pages and advertise your books. Yep, ya gotta tweet. I know, I know, it’s a pain, but it’s a must. I tweet every morning, you can find me and my #cozymysteries at @CSMcDonald7. Hey! I just marketed! There are many ways to market one’s book. Social media is a good place to start. It’s the cheapest because it’s free.
Here’s the one piece of advice I tell anyone who dares ask: what do I have to do to become an author? You’ve got to be fearless, my friend. I’m serious. Authors are brave souls. And if you want to join our club, you must be too.
After you’ve written that book, had it edited, proofread, cover designed, formatted, and it’s time to press the ‘publish’ button, that’s the very moment an intrepid spirit must step in. You are sending your words into the world, that’s right, into the world. No longer are just your friends, writing buddy, family members, coworkers, or next-door neighbor reading your words. The world will read your words. You’re basically saying, here’s my work. Read it. Judge it. And that’s where the fearless part comes in—because they will. Not everyone will like what you’ve written. Some will be darn right nasty about it. Be fearless—it’s worth it.
For twenty-six years C.S. McDonald’s life whirled around a song and a dance. She was a professional dancer and choreographer. During that time she choreographed many musicals and an opera for the Pittsburgh Savoyards. In 2011 she retired from her dance career to write. Under her real name, Cindy McDonald, writes murder-suspense and romantic suspense novels. In 2014 she added the pen name, C.S. McDonald, to write children’s books for her grandchildren. Now she adds the Fiona Quinn Mysteries to that expansion. She decided to write the cozy mystery series for her young granddaughters.
Ms. McDonald resides on her Thoroughbred farm known as Fly by Night Stables near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with her husband, Bill, and her Cocker Spaniel, Allister.
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