advice i recently gave to a new author…

[lot’s of stuff I’ll cut for this blog post :-)]…. the only advice I can give is:

1. Communicate honestly about schedules and don’t overcommit to an unrealistic schedule – writing doesn’t pay much, but writing well will lead to other opportunities. The worst thing you can do is make your editor dislike working with you. Unless someone is paying you to write full-time, calculate how much time you think you can spend and cut it in half.

2. When writing, try to put yourself in the shoes of someone reading the book who doesn’t have the luxury of time or patience. The reader has changed over the past few years, in 1999 people had patience for jokes, asides, intros, in 2011, we’re very hungry to get to the details quickly.

3. If you don’t hear from your editor, don’t assume that means she doesn’t want to talk to you. Editors are often very busy, make sure to call them once a week or once every two weeks (and don’t be afraid to tell them that you are having a difficult time with a section, etc.) Editors are there to provide feedback, but they are also there to make sure that obstacles are removed, etc.

4. Don’t involve too many people in the review process. I was on a book that had 20 reviewers once, and it was a f$&*#@ disaster. Too much feedback, too many different opinions. Find three people you trust to provide honest feedback. One person who is convinced of the topic, one person who will be more critical, and one person who’s opinion you value, but who isn’t invested in the content.

5. Don’t have a child in the middle of your book writing effort.

6. Grow an extra layer of very thick skin. Just when you think that chapter is perfect, a reviewer or an editor is going to tell you that it was boring. Understand that writing a book isn’t about telling the world how smart you are, it is about writing the content that people want to read.