Hello, all! I’m author Sara R. Turnquist. I’ve been doing this whole writing thing for most of my life. I was a “closet writer” for many years before I let anyone read my work. Once they did, I was on the fast track to publication. My first book published in 2015 and I have since published seven other titles.
I often get the question from friends thinking they would like to write or aspiring writers I may meet: How do I get started?
Not the easiest question to answer, but I will share what I have gleaned–things I did well and things I wish I had done better.
WRITE THE BOOK. Delve into writing the best book you can. You are likely wanting to write because you have a story in you that is fighting to get out. You have that seed, that nugget, a bit of inspiration. Get it on paper. Let it be ugly. But start writing. Then learn how to write better. How do you do that?
READ BOOKS ON THE CRAFT OF WRITING. Anything by James Scott Bell, Brandilyn Collins, or Jeff Gerke is solid stuff. Some of my favorites include The Emotion Thesaurus and Rivet Your Readers With Deep Point of View. There are tons of books on craft. You just have to jump in somewhere.
CONFERENCES. I cannot say enough about the difference investing in conferences has made for me. It’s like college for writers! You have the opportunity to learn from those further along in the craft, network with other writers, gain experience at pitching to an agent/editor (or even land a contract). These are a few of the biggies. I recommend starting with a smaller conference so you don’t get overwhelmed. And I recommend Bob Mayer’s Writer’s Conference Guide: Making the Most of Your Time and Money.
FIND A CRITIQUE GROUP. Join a critique group, even if it’s online. Find one that has at least one published author. Otherwise, you might be the blind leading the blind. There is some danger in certain groups that the most talented writers are “picked at”. Be on the look-out. A good critique group will give you feedback, but do so constructively. They will encourage and support you.
WRITE THE BOOK. Are you still writing the book? Cause that’s what it’s all about. You must have the book. It’s really about the book.
MENTOR. Find a writing mentor. Someone in a critique group who is further along than you, or someone you meet at a conference. Mentors are great for teaching and encouraging.
LEARN ABOUT QUERYING. Query Shark is a great resource about writing queries. Be mindful to research the agents/publishers you want to submit to. Follow their guidelines to the letter.
BUILD A WEBSITE/BLOG. If you even think you want to write, you need to start building a PLATFORM. I know…big, scary word. But you will need to market (I know, another scary word) yourself and your book, so you need your own website, a place to build your fanbase where your readers can connect with you. And you cannot rely on Facebook or Twitter solely (although you can and should market here), as they could disappear any day. Building your e-mail list through your website is the best way to maintain contact with your audience.
READ OTHER AUTHOR’S BLOGS. Like this one! Or mine (saraturnquist.com)! Author blogs can be valuable sources of information. Jerry Jenkins has a great blog as well. I follow five blogs consistently where I make regular comments so the bloggers get to know me.
WRITE THE BOOK. In the end, it’s still about the book. These other things enhance your experience and knowledge, but you cannot forget it’s about your idea, your story, your novel. Never lose sight of that. And there will be days you don’t feel like spending time with your book writing, editing, or revising. But it is necessary. If it is important to you, you must make yourself sit down and work. Once you do, even if you need a writing prompt to get started, the pump will be primed, and the juices will start flowing. And just let it go from there.
AS FOR ME. All of these things still hold true. I keep “writing the book”. And now, you can check out my latest title, The Lady and the Hussites, book two in my Lady Bornekova Series.
WRITING PROMPT: I met my favorite author yesterday, and he/she told me the best advice was…