Last week, I kicked off a Coffee & Conversation Flashback Friday series where we revisit awesome nuggets of wisdom shared by editors, agents, art directors, authors, and illustrators throughout the years here at As The Eraser Burns.
Missed it? No worries, here’s the link for the first round of writing advice for beginners.
Ready for round two? Okay, let’s go.
What advice for beginners do you wish you would’ve followed?
From author Monica S. Baker:
Do not send out a manuscript until the last fat lady has sung, swinging by her toes from the balcony! I wasted much time, energy, cash…and probably goodwill by sending manuscripts out too early. The first picture book I ever wrote is so God-awful that I have a special file for it, where it won’t contaminate other manuscripts. I can not believe that I imposed it on the publishing community. As my teens would now say, “My bad!”
From author Sandy Asher
“Writing is rewriting.” Don’t know who first said this. I wasn’t listening.
From author Alexis O’Neill
Rejections are not personal (even though they feel like it.) A good book will find a good home eventually. It’s just that no one has a crystal ball to pin down the date of “eventually.”
From author Amie Rose Rotruck
Just finish the book. The reason why my first, still unpublished book took so long to finish was I kept refining the first few chapters. Finish the book entirely, THEN start revising. If you’re taking a writing class where you have to focus on first chapters, that’s fine for one class, but don’t do the same first chapters again in another class until you’ve finished the book.
From author Jim Murphy
See above. Focus on the project and see it to completion. Then send it off and start working on another project. Don’t get bogged down worrying over one project (I have a friend who has been working on one project for over ten years). Also, learn to revise. You would be surprised at how many writers can’t or won’t revise.
From author Jacqueline Adams
I wish I had understood how the learning curve works, and that you may think you’re doing everything right, but a year or two later you’ll look back and see how far you’ve come. Because I was working hard and applying what I’d learned up until that point, I couldn’t understand why I was getting so many rejections. Later, when I’d learned more, I could see the flaws in some of those early stories. With other stories, the problem was that I was sending them to the wrong places—and that was true even though I was doing my homework. It takes a while to develop a feel for those kinds of things. If I’d realized that, I might not have gotten so discouraged.
From author/illustrator Susan Detwiler
I wish I’d had that first book contract looked over by a lawyer specializing in publishing copyright law; I was just so excited to have a picture book to work on that I would have signed anything.
From author/illustrator Lulu Delacre
Hmm…the advice I give is the one I’ve always followed: believe in yourself, be persistent, do your best, be flexible, and you’ll get there!
From author/illustrator Vonnie Winslow Crist
Set aside time every day, if possible, to work on your skills and artwork. Always be ready in case an opportunity pops up unexpectedly (most of the time I was, but I did let some great jobs slip through my fingers). And I wish I’d focused on children’s illustration earlier in my career.
From illustrator Rebecca Evans
Join SCBWI and go to the events!
From illustrator Joan Waites
Always keep working on new portfolio pieces-something that you truly love to do. This will show in your work. It’s really hard to balance the paying work with doing new art for your portfolio, but make the time if you can.