Friday, September 21, 2012

YA Indie Carnival - Indie Words of Wisdom

YA writers and bloggers unite each week to share their thoughts on what it's like going indie in today's publishing world.

This week we are sharing some pearls of wisdom we have gleaned along the road of indie publishing. I can't wait to see what the other carnival goers have posted this week, because no matter how long you've been published, I always think there is room to learn more.

Now I am actually still pretty new to this game. November 4th is the birthday of my first published novel - Golden Blood. Since then, I have published 3 (nearly 4) more books and I have learned so much. And I continue to learn more and more as I meet new people, read blog posts and articles and discover amazing links through Twitter and Facebook.

What I want to touch on today is a piece of advice I was given when I first joined the indie publishing world. "The first thing you need is a good book." I read this in an interview with Mark Coker, he's the founder of Smashwords - an online publishing company. 

I couldn't agree more. Anyone can write a book, but it takes practice and study to write a good book - one worthy of publishing. Now I know that reading is subjective. What I might love, you might loathe, but there is still a difference between a badly written book and one that has been crafted and edited to become something worthy of selling. 

So - how do you write a good book?

My advice is to:

Study the craft of writing. There are so many amazing books out there that can help you with structure, word choice, character development and much more. My favourites are Story by Robert McKee, The Writer's Journey by Christopher Vogler and Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King. I didn't just read these books, I studied them, I took notes, I implemented what they told me to do and I truly believe my writing has improved hugely since doing that.

Analyze other books. If you find an author you love or a book you devoured, figure out why. What did you love about the story, the characters, the words? What did the author do to keep you turning pages? You can do the same with books you couldn't finish. Why couldn't you keep reading? What mistakes did the author make? I also do this with movies as they are great to analyze for story structure. Where are the climaxes in the story? Does it follow a progression with each climax getting more intense? How did each event change the character and shape them? What mysteries were held back? When were they revealed? How were they revealed? There are so many things we can learn just from watching and reading. If you ask me, it's a very enjoyable way to study.

Get your work critiqued. I send my first draft out to a few fellow writers that know me well enough to give me honest feedback. If there's a plot hole or a character is not fully developed or a certain scene just doesn't work - they'll tell me about it. I then send my second draft to an editor who can point out anything my critique writers may have missed. I then recommend giving your third draft to beta readers - these are your target audience. It's best to choose people you don't know so that they can give you honest feedback. Because I write YA, I approach local high schools and test out my work on the book and writers clubs. My fourth draft goes to a line editor/proof reader so that I can make my work as mistake free as possible.

If you take the time to make sure you have a nugget of gold, your chances of publishing success are much higher. Remember - a book can stay online forever, and a well-written book has a much higher chance of discovery and success than a bad one.

I see writing as a career and I want my readers to trust me, which is why I always do my best to produce the best work I possibly can.

To find out what other indie's are advising, check out the links below.

And don't forget to check out the YA Indie Carnival site for all the latest updates.



  1. Wonderful words of wisdom, Melissa! Especially the bit about writing being a career and you wanting your readers to trust you! I love that! Genius! :)

    1. Thanks for stopping by Suzy. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Now to go check out yours :)

  2. Excellent advice. I just watched a video of Anne Rice on another blog in which she was telling writers 'there are no rules and don't give up, all you need to do is write your story and keep submitting it until someone likes it.' I agree with the need to be persistent, but what she failed to mention was that her advice assumes a basic craft proficiency. I mean, I look at some of my early attempts at fiction and cringe. Even *I* wouldn't publish me. LOL

    1. LOL!! I know what you mean. Some of my early work is terrible. I have learned so much in the past 10 years. It took me nine before I felt my work was worthy of publishing.

  3. Melissa,
    This pearls of wisdome are perfect... true... accurate! Anyone thinking writing a book begin by reading them and end by following them. ;)

    1. Thanks for stopping by. Yes - reading and following are so important.