Lately, because computer technology has made self-publishing an easier and less expensive venture, I am getting a lot of review copies of amateur books by writers who would be better advised to hone their craft before committing it to print. The best thing you can do as a beginning writer is to write, write, write - and read, read, read. Concentrating on publication prematurely is a mistake. You don't pick up a violin and expect to play Carnegie Hall within the year - yet somehow people forget that writing also requires technical skills that need to be learned, practiced, honed. If I had a dollar for every person I've met who thought, with no prior experience, they could sit down and write a novel and instantly win awards and make their living as a writer, I'd be a rich woman today. It's unrealistic and it's also mildly insulting to professional writers who have worked hard to perfect their craft. Of course, then you hear stories about people like J.K. Rowling, who did sit down with no prior experience and write a worldwide best-seller...but such people are as rare as hen's teeth. Every day I work with talented, accomplished writers who have many novels in print and awards to their name and who are ‘still’ struggling to make a living. The thing I often find myself wanting to say to new writers is: Write because you love writing, learn your craft, be patient and be realistic. Anais Nin said about writing, It should be a necessity, as the sea needs to heave and I call it breathing.
Terri Windling