Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Interviewer Wendy Burt Shares Top Tips from Her Friends

Wendy Burt-Thomas is generous enough to interview people like crazy--for her blog-- and also to share some of the best tips they've given her with my subscribers and visitors while I am on vacation. Thank you, Wendy!

Best Advice from a Year’s Worth of Author Interviews

By Wendy Burt-Thomas

For the past year, one of the main staples on my blog has been the “10 Questions for…” format. I estimate that I hosted some 150 authors in 2009, most of who answered the same 10 questions. One of the questions that my blog visitors most want answered is, “What is your advice for other writers?”

The most common answer from the authors was “Don’t ever give up.” There were, however, some other more specific responses. Here are 10 of my favorites:

1. “Read stories about other writers and how many dark times they had to overcome before achieving whatever they consider success.” – Lynda Hilburn, “The Vampire Shrink” and “Dark Harvest”

2. “Learn about the industry from ALL aspects, not just that of the writer and a reader. You also need to understand more about the agent’s role, publisher’s role and the bookseller’s role so that you can view the industry from all five perspectives. This will help you have more reasonable expectations and make your efficient and effective when you seek publication.” – Laura Hayden, author of “Red, White and Blue” and 10 other books

3. “Find people who will give you honest, constructive feedback. It’s not enough to say, ‘This is just great!’ or ‘This isn’t working.’ You need someone who can say, ‘This is great and here’s how I think it can be better.’ Or, ‘This isn’t working but I think this is how you can make it work.’” – Frances Cole Jones, “The WOW Factor”

4. “You can’t do anything about the luck except not quit five minutes before the miracle. Beyond that, it’s persistence, persistence, persistence. And get critique. Be willing to kill your darlings.” – Elizabeth Zelvin, “Death Will Help You Leave Him” and “Death Will Get You Sober”

5. “One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten was to put your protagonist someplace he or she doesn’t want to be. Also, your characters have to want something, and there needs to be something or someone to keep them from getting it.” – Elisa Lorello, “Faking It”

6. “Fight writer’s block by writing the middle of your story first. Then go back and craft/polish your work by adding the beginning and end.” – Praveen Puri, “Stock Trading Riches”

7. “One of the wisest things that I learned early on is that agents and publishers want to represent careers not simply books. Do you have an idea for your next book? How about the one after that? Could your book / idea be turned into a movie (theatrical or made-for-TV), a miniseries or a television series? What about a CD or DVD series? You will be asked about subsequent books and multimedia possibilities – have answers ready when the question is asked.” – Carole Brody Fleet, “Widows Wear Stilettos”

8. “If you attach your worth as a writer to what some critic has said about your work (again good or bad) then you have a very fragile foundation upon which you stand. Ultimately, a review is just an opinion.” – Chad Corrie, World of Tralodren® fantasy series

9. “Write a little every day. Blog, Twitter, Facebook … continue to market yourself because no one else will. Hire people to do what you aren’t good at doing – don’t try to be everything.” – Lisa Jander, “Dater’s Ed; The Instruction Manual for Parents”

10. “Capture your research, thoughts and interpretations in your computer. You can use it later. Do not start writing at the beginning. Computers allow us to start with that story or suddenly inspired segment. Assemble all your written pieces later.” – Dan Poynter, author of 126 books, world’s top self-publishing guru

Wendy Burt-Thomas is the author of four books, including, “The Writer’s Digest Guide to Query Letters.” Her blog, “Ask Wendy, the Query Queen,” focuses on author interviews and writing contests.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and two how to books for writers, The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What Your Publisher Won't and The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success. Her FRUGAL book for retailers is A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. She is also the author of the Amazon Short, "The Great First Impression Book Proposal". Some of her other blogs are, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor blog.

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