January 3, 2020

Writing Tips

By Sheila Lowe

Now that I’ve been published for the last twenty years in nonfiction and more than ten years in fiction, I’m often asked what advice I have for new writers. Here are a few bullet points I give them.

On Writing
  • Write what you love and do the work to write a good book.
  • Leave out most of the adverbs (“ly” words), they weaken your writing. Find strong verbs.
  • Keep exclamation points to a minimum!!!
  • Whether fiction or nonfiction, know your subject before you write about it.
  • Join a critique group and get feedback before submitting. If three people give the same critique, even if you don’t agree, listen to them with an open mind.
  • Hire a good independent editor and listen to him/her. Writing is a business and this is an important investment.
  • Don’t show your work to your friends and relatives until it’s published. They want you to feel good and they don’t know how to tell you if it’s not good or how to fix it.
  • Only submit your manuscript when you are positive you have done the very best you can.
  • Attend writer’s conferences. Prepare a 15-second pitch to agents.
  • Keep a record of who you’ve submitted to (a spreadsheet works well).
  • Invest in a book on manuscript preparation (Authors 101 series).

Then, when you are ready to send your baby into the world:

Successful Query Letters
State who you are and why you are writing to the agent.
Quote anyone in the business who has seen your book and likes it.
Don’t be modest. Include professional experience and previous publications.
Send only a query letter, a synopsis and, only if invited, the first two or three chapters (or for nonfiction, an outline).
Keep your letter to one succinct page. If the agent wants more, they will ask for it.
In this case, snail mail is usually better than an email. Unsolicited emails usually end up in the trash.

Once it’s Sold
-Be prepared to market the book. The publisher won’t do it for you. Seriously.
-This is another investment. Hire a good publicist if you can.
-If you can’t hire a publicist, build up your social media presence, have a professional website, write a blog, order some bookmarks.
-BookBub is the best advertising you can get once you have a back list. It’s expensive, but it’s worth it.
-Give interviews, write articles, give talks if you are comfortable on the stage. If you are not comfortable with public speaking, join Toastmasters and learn how.
-You can get a good, low cost book trailer (30 seconds is good) on

No comments:

Post a Comment