By Deborah Sprinkle
Since I became an author, people often question me on how to get started. Some have manuscripts sitting in their desks, but have no idea how to get them published. Others have ideas for books, but haven’t put them on the page. I answer as best I can from my own experience, knowing that each author’s journey is unique.
But it got me thinking about what advice I can give to aspiring authors as someone new to the business. Here’s what I have to offer.
READ. Read voraciously. Read books in your genre, and also read authors you enjoy. If you feel inclined, make notes about what it is you like about the books you read. Or what you don’t like.
RESEARCH. Do lots of research. About everything. Topography, weather, people, housing. Study the language, food, dress, and history. Get specific. Details matter. For instance, a soft drink in the South is called a coke no matter what brand it is, but in Indiana or Michigan it’s called a pop. In St. Louis, the same drink is a soda. That’s a simple example, but a detail that makes a difference when you’re writing about a region.
RELATIONSHIPS. What in the world am I talking about here? I mean getting to know other writers, mainly. Look for writers’ groups in your area and join them. If you can’t find any local ones, look for some that have online groups. I’m a member of a Word Weavers online group. We meet once a month and critique each other’s work. I also belong to a local writers’ group.
Besides writers’ groups, look for writers’ conferences in your area. Here, you will get to know not only other authors, but agents, editors, and publishers as well. You will have a chance to showcase your work and learn your craft.
And last but not least, is what’s called platform in the writing world. Get on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. Start building relationships. That means interacting with the people who friend you and whom you friend. Not just emojis, but conversations. You can decide how personal you want to get, but you should give some of yourself to them so they feel they know you as a person. When it comes time for your book to be published, they will celebrate with you because you celebrated with them in their life events.
WRITE. Put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard on a regular basis. Everyone has a different biorhythm. Some are morning people and some are not. But if you let your writing sit for too long, you spend an inordinate amount of time trying to catch your brain up to where you left off before you can move on. You lose the writing rhythm.
REST and RECREATION. Finally, don’t forget to rest. If you’re like me, my brain is still working on plot points and character qualities when I’m supposed to be resting. Find something that takes your mind off everything. For me, it’s solitaire or a really good mystery/suspense movie. Or a nap. Whatever it is, find time to rest.
Remember to live a life off the page. Make time for family, friends, and recreation. Besides, that’s where you may get the idea for your next story.
Deborah Sprinkle is a retired chemistry teacher among other things. So it should come as no surprise that the protagonist in her debut novel, Deadly Guardian, is one as well. Mrs. Sprinkle is also co-author of a non-fiction book entitled Exploring the Faith of America’s Presidents. She has won awards for Deadly Guardian, her short stories, articles, and her latest work in progress. Mrs. Sprinkle lives in Memphis with her husband where she continues to be an ordinary woman serving an extraordinary God. You can connect with her at , Twitter@debbiejsprinkle, and on Instagram. She is also a Goodreads author and a BookBub author.