Seven Steps To Success, Top Tips, Writing your Book

Writing Your Book, Part One: Three Top Tips To Get You Going…

Here in England, we’re moving from summer (wet and cold) into autumn (wetter and colder). It’s time to put away the barbecue and suntan lotion. Instead of retreating into a world of comfort food and early nights, why not use the long, dark evenings to make your dream of writing a book come true? Writing can be fitted into any spare moment. It’s light, indoor work with no heavy lifting—and I’m writing a book is a better excuse for staying home than I’m washing my hair. 

You can make a start while you’re curled up with a mug of hot chocolate in front of a roaring log fire*. What could be better than that?


PERFECT PLANNING
Like making New Year’s Resolutions, deciding to write a book is easy to do, but tempting to abandon. Fail to plan, and you plan to fail. Make it easy to succeed and hard to give up by formulating a mission statement.  State exactly what you want to do, and give yourself a time limit. Something like;

I will write a romantic novel 70,000 words long by 31st December 2017.

Write it out and pin it up where you’ll see it every day. Put a pop-up on your phone. Talk about your ambition, and tell people what you’re aiming for. It’ll be easier to succeed if you’re too embarrassed to back out. When your friends badger you for details, you’ll have to be ready with news of your progress…or some creative reasons for stalling.

GET ORGANISED

Make time for writing. Commit  to getting up an hour earlier, or go to bed an hour later. Make a big thing of choosing the tools of your craft. All you need are the basics, but browsing round stationery shelves is encouraging and costs nothing. 

When you get to the stage of submitting your manuscripts to a publisher or agent you’ll need a word processor, but don’t let the lack of one put you off starting to write.You can make notes on phones and ipads, but nothing beats the anticipation of opening up a brand new notebook and writing those first lines by hand. Make sure you’ve got something by the side of your bed, ready to jot down the brilliant ideas that pop into your head overnight. Try and keep a dedicated space ready for writing, no matter how tiny. You’ll need somewhere to keep your research notes, paperwork and books on the craft of writing. 

DIRTY DRAFTING
It’s all too easy to get distracted, trying to decide whether you’re a planner working out every detail of your book beforehand, or a pantster who makes it up as they go along. If you’re all fired up and ready to go, just write. If your writing time is limited, don’t use your creative energy on anything other than getting words down. Set a kitchen timer for thirty minutes, and write as fast as you can until the alarm goes off. I find writing out dialogue is a great way to make real progress, fast. There’s nothing like quick results to give you a boost. Your characters come alive and once they are real to you, plot developments suggest themselves. This first, “dirty” draft gets you used to creating text. You then go back later and refine it, adding things like period detail, and descriptions of place. 

I’ll be posting more hints and tips over the next few weeks. To make sure you don’t miss any of them, sign up at the top of this page!


*If you’re all-electric (or gas), just exercise your imagination. The comforting hot drink is pretty much compulsory, though.
author guidelines, manuscript presentation, Top Tips, William Shakespeare

Four Top Tips To Get Your Writing Noticed…

There’s huge pool of writing talent roaming the internet, and every one of them wants to be the next J.K Rowling or E.L James.  Here are three tips to help your work get noticed.

1. Read lots of best-selling books, especially of the type you want to write. Authors become popular because they know what readers like, and expect.  Background research helps you understand your audience.  Write first and foremost to please yourself, but if you want to entertain others as well, make sure you tailor your work to their likes and dislikes. Check out author guidelines, such as the ones produced by romance publishers Mills and Boon. http://www.millsandboon.co.uk/

2. When showcasing your work, first impressions count. They shape a reader’s experience. William Shakespeare would still be a genius if he’d scratched words with a stick on wax tablets, but his texts would have been thrown away without a second glance. He knew how to present his work, and to whom. Times have changed, but some basic facts remain the same. An editor with piles of manuscripts to check will start with the ones that are easiest to read.  It’s human nature to assume that a writer who can’t be bothered to make an effort with presentation hasn’t put their whole heart and soul into a project.  

3. If you’re sending off a paper version of your manuscript, make sure the lines are double spaced. Use white paper, print only on one side in black ink, in Times New Roman 12 point or other easily read font. Include a front sheet with the title, your writing name if you’re using one, the word count and your contact details. Type “The End” at the end of your sample (of course!), so nobody’s left in any doubt, and add your details again. That’s it. You don’t need fancy bindings, Gothic script or coloured ink. Just make it clean and clear. If you’re sending a submission by email, find out how your contact wants your work sent—as attachments, or samples in the body of the email message. If you use a Mac, supply your text as a Word document too, just in case. And always keep copies of everything.

4. Dreams of becoming a full-time, professional writer face stiff competition.  If your first move is to look for an agent or a publisher, choose carefully. Research firms, and individuals, via the Internet, or an up-to-date copy of the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook. Don’t send your steamy sex-saga to a publisher who only deals in children’s books, for a start. Make sure you send off exactly what is asked for, too—no more, and no less. Ideally, don’t start approaching agents or publishers until your book is finished. If it isn’t complete, tell them so, and when they can expect to see the whole thing.


Good luck!
Creative Writing, The Hot-headed Virgin, The Italian Billionaire's Virgin, Top Tips

Your Escape Route To Romance (and a whole lot more)…

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Hot-Headed-Virgin-Virgins-Billionaires-ebook/dp/B003JE1GY8
The Collection’s Australian Cover

Ten years ago today I was sitting in a college lecture theatre, staring out at a rain-soaked car park and daydreaming about soaking up the sun somewhere hot and exotic. Today, dreams are my job, not just my hobby, and it all began with a creative writing assignment.

These days I don’t have much time to gaze out of the window (and English rain is as wet and cold as it’s ever been) but my life has changed out of all recognition.

I’ve met amazing people—Kate Walker, and the late, great Penny Jordan to name only two—written a lot of books, and sold nearly three million copies worldwide, in all sorts of languages.

When I began writing I started small, with magazine articles illustrated with photos I took myself. Then I wrote half a dozen historical novels, before signing up for a creative writing course which gave my career the breakthrough it needed.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Hot-Headed-Virgin-Virgins-Billionaires-ebook/dp/B003JE1GY8
My Original 2007 Cover

I’d always wanted to write contemporary, feel-good fiction, so this was my chance. I wrote the first two thousand words of what became The Italian Billionaire’s Virgin, which is still available as part of The Hot-Headed Virgin collection. The other students loved my homework project and told me to send it to Harlequin.

The rest, as they say, is history. I submitted The Italian Billionaire’s Virgin, and it was published as a paperback in 2007. The original artwork featured a hero who looked exactly like my OH—how lucky is that?

It’s been a great ten years for me. I think everyone deserves an affordable escape from everyday life. Writing does it for me, every time. It gives me even more pleasure when I hear from readers who enjoy my books. Why don’t you make 2016 the year you start that book you’ve been meaning to write?

To keep you on track, my blogs this year will include the top tips I’ve picked up along the way during my career as a best-selling author. Here are the first ones. To make sure you don’t miss any, follow my blog using the form on the side bar on the right. To keep up with news of offers, competitions and my work in progress, sign up to my mailing list.

Creative Writing, Top Tips, Writing process

Why Not Try Writing Your Book Backwards?

Pic by A. Litterio

…not literally, of course! Instead of beginning with  blank sheet and typing Chapter One, give your imagination a workout.  Imagine a scene months, or possibly years, in the future. A reader reaches the last page of your book, and closes it with a sigh of satisfaction. Your story was exactly what they wanted.

That’s the reaction you’re aiming for, whether you write for pleasure or profit.

Buying a book, when there are thousands on offer both in the High Street and online, is a big decision. Reading is an affordable pleasure, but there are piles of treats everywhere. You need some way to ensure it’s your book the reader chooses. Cover art and teasing cover copy work their magic, but by homing in on your target audience you can increase your chances of that reader searching out your book in the first place.  Identify your reader, and how and where you can find them is the first step to selling them your story.

What Do You Like To Read?
There are plenty of writers who scour the bestseller lists then churn out formula work that ticks all the boxes but may not result in selling books. Stand out from the crowd by writing from your heart, and you’ll appeal to the hearts of your readers. I love the work of writers such a H.E.Bates, T.H. White and Henry Williamson, who all wrote about the natural world. My work is usually set in the countryside, because it’s where I live and work. I can (and have) written stories based in cities as I was an office worker for several years, but the work always flows faster when I’m on ‘home ground’.

Who Else Reads Your Kind Of Book?
Identifying your market, and developing unique selling point (USP) is vital. Write what you love, but have a picture of your readers in your mind while you work. I’ve written short stories for The People’s Friend magazine, which knows its readership very well. They have specific guidelines, which you can find here. Basically, their readers like satisfying yet unthreatening stories, with happy endings. Contrast that with my current project (working title Love Lies Bleeding) a thriller which opens with the discovery of a murdered Member of Parliament, in which nobody is who they seem, and while the hero and heroine get together in the end, wedding bells aren’t going to be ringing for them any time soon.

Who Will Review It?
Reviews, along with word of mouth recommendations, are the perfect way to get your name and book noticed. When there are hundreds of books published every day, that’s the name of the game.  Obviously, five star reviews are best, but any grade is good. It means somebody has not only read your book, but they’ve taken the time to comment on it. From the minute you start writing your book, cast around for reviewers who write about books like yours. Making a list at this early stage means you’ll be well ahead of the game when you get a publication date.

Creative Writing, Success, Top Tips

This Creative Writing Life—Four Top Tips For The Newbie…

By Antonio Litterio
Whether you’re writing for your own pleasure or with the aim of getting published, follow these four tips for success…
Read as widely as you can, and write all the time. Take classes, whether ‘real’ or online. Visit your local library to find out about local groups for readers and writers, and check out online sites such as http://romanceuniversity.org. It’s also vital to join groups such as The Romantic Novelists’ Association (http://www.rna-uk.org/) in the UK, or if you’re in the United States, the Romance Writers of America (http://www.rwa.org/). They’ll give you lots of help, useful information, and contacts. Follow up every lead, and never miss an opportunity.
Set aside some time for yourself every single day. ideally, this should be writing time, but thinking time is vital too. Remember, write down all your brilliant thoughts the second you get the chance! They get lost so easily in the chaos of everyday life, and once forgotten, you’ll never get them back. Keep a pad and pencil close at hand at all times to make notes when you think of them. It’s so easy to forget to do it later. Like ‘tomorrow’, ‘later’ never comes.
Read your work aloud. It’s amazing what a different perspective this gives you. It’s best to do this when you’re on your own somewhere, whether in the house, or outside in an isolated spot. That way, you can really inject some feeling into your precious words. It’ll help you to polish your manuscript until it shines.
Finally, never give up. If you’ve got a good story to tell, and take the time and trouble to hone your craft, your work will be a credit to you.

What advice would you give to a new author? A copy of my latest release for The Wild Rose Press, Her Royal Risk, will be awarded at random to someone leaving their favourite tip below.