If you are a new writer working on your first manuscript, there are some things that you should be doing now.
And I mean, like RIGHT now…
Before you finish your novel.
Before you contact an editor.
Before you get published.
01) Build your brand
Your book is not the only asset. Your name is too. Many readers find books by the author so your name is important.
If you become published it is a trackable resource. It is a brand. So start building that brand.
If you haven’t already, think about whether you want to use your own name or a pen name.
(I have an article about Using a Pen Name that might give you something to think about when deciding).
Use your writer name as a hashtag. Use it in your social media. Get it out there! (For more info read my Build Your Brand post).
02) Increase your reading
A writer gets better the more they read. I’ve seen new writers who almost brag about not being into reading. That… seems weird to me.
I appreciate you don’t want to be “influenced” by other writers but every experience you have will be an influence and reading has a positive one.
Reading increasing your vocabulary, allows you to learn pacing, structure, what works and what doesn’t. A great writer is an avid reader.
Think about the stories you’ve fallen in love with, what makes you love those books? What did those authors do that caught you in their world?
(As a writer we should think about readers, so being one helps! Here’s an article I wrote that you may find useful called Think about your readers)
If you haven’t already signed up to GoodReads and take their Reading Challenge. Share your love of books with others and get ideas for new books to read.
03) And read different things
Maybe you love fantasy… love reading it, love writing it. Great… but don’t just read fantasy.
Try other genres, you can learn a lot from different genres. Maybe some crime novels can help you learn suspense tactics.
Maybe those thrillers can help you develop that hook that keeps the pages turning. Maybe romance novels can give you ideas for building up the chemistry between your characters. Not to mention, you just might fall in love with a whole new genre. 🙂
04) Start marketing
It might seem weird to market yourself before you have finished your book or been published but the sooner you get started the better.
Firstly, it means you will be ahead when you finally finish writing/get published.
Secondly, it works as a great motivator to keep going through all those writing blocks and moments of frustration and stress when the writing doesn’t feel like it’s working.
Thirdly, you can be learning as you go. Figuring out the social media systems, getting to grips with what catches people’s attention. So start looking into marketing opportunities. (For more info read my Creating an Author Website)
05) Start building a knowledge base
Writers need resources. We are sponges! We need knowledge and information and data to build our worlds.
Write what you know, but let’s be honest there is probably a lot of stuff you don’t know. So learn it. Build up your library, get books on topics you want to incorporate into your manuscript.
Writing about Medieval times? Then get some history books on it. Writing crime thrillers? Then find some information on crime scene investigation and police procedure.
Create a binder or an online folder of data that you can refer to. Build up your own personal encyclopedia.
06) Call yourself a writer
For some reason, we writers have a hard time “owning” the title ‘Writer’. Maybe we feel we can’t use it until we are published.
But the truth is, if we write, we are writers. Not aspiring writers, not trying to be a writer, not one-day-soon-to-be-a-writer or any other term that undermines us.
We are writers. Own it. Embrace it. BE a writer and be proud of that.
07) Get yourself some discipline
Stop checking Facebook, stop reading your emails, stop binge-watching Netflix. Stop doing all this stuff when you are supposed to be writing.
In the end, we creative types are people too (weird people, but still people) and as such the distractions and procrastination moments catch us too.
But suck it up, give your writing priority. Feel free to book time for Facebook and Netflix… but if you are meant to be writing? Well then WRITE.
This is my own personal hell but in truth, we need to get out there. We need to meet people and the internet has made this easier. So we need to start interacting with people and that is where social media can be useful.
Start connecting with readers, with writers, with editors. Don’t wait to finish your book before you meet people. After all, you can be making new friends, building up a beta reader and critique partner list now.
As an extra bonus, the writing life can be stressful and lonely. It’s nice to meet new people who can share the journey with you.
On an additional note, do always be safe. Use your judgment when making new connections and inviting people as “friends” on Facebook. Don’t go meeting random people you’ve never met in public and if you have to, don’t go alone.
09) Focus on the writing
Don’t wait for things to be perfect. If writing is what you truly want to do, do it. Enjoy it. Give it the focus and attention it deserves. If you want to be a writer full time, then think of it as a business.
Work the hours, work hard, don’t let people who consider it a “non-job” usurp your writing time.
Be a little selfish if you have to be. Remember, if you want to be a writer, then your writing is important. Show that!