- Resist the urge to think writing your own book is a crazy idea. It's not!
- Don't get discouraged during the process when you think you'll never be able to finish
- Accept that writing a book takes a lot of time, especially when it's a new experience for you. Think of it as a project with milestones and unexpected challenges down the road
- This personal project will even take longer if you are fully employed, having a very demanding day job
- Yet even if it takes five years or more, the experience is worth it. I'll guarantee! It'll broaden your horizon, regardless of whether your book becomes a bestseller or you manage to sell a few hundred copies
- If you are a commuter—like I am—buy a dictaphone, a small sound recording device. A long daily commute can be a real waste of time. Try to develop the story of your book inside your head. Grow and enhance your characters. Think of how to make the plot more suspenseful. Try playing with alternatives. Use the dictaphone, so nothing gets lost. You can always write it down later
- Take breaks. When you've rewritten a chapter several times, let it rest for a few weeks, or even better, for a few months. Wait and take a fresh look then. You'll be amazed about the ideas you get on how to make more changes and improve it still further
- Conduct all the proper research, especially when you're writing hard science fiction. Develop contacts to subject matter experts. Access material on the web from a variety of sources
- And don't forget: You should read at least 30 to 40 books a year (both fiction and non-fiction). Yes, writers who don't read a lot will have more trouble creating a great book
- Audio books are also a great invention. It's another valuable option for spending your daily commute
- Work with peer reviewers. Ask your friends if they're interested in getting involved. A lot of people greatly enjoy offering critical assessment and valuable feedback. Even small observations and contribution count. The reviewers all become part of your story. And working with them can also deepen your friendships
- For everything that has to do with language, vocabulary, grammar, style and so forth: there are great online resources on the web. Use them! Try out different ones and find out which ones work best for you. Try to master the art of self-editing. The professional editor will come into play later
- Delete, delete, delete! This is probably the single most important tip. Delete words, delete sentences, delete paragraphs, even delete entire chapters. Every word, sentence, paragraph, and chapter has to add value. If that's not the case, get rid of it. Readers are annoyed by redundant or unimportant parts. Readers don't like to be slowed down, especially when your book is about excitement and suspense.
- Buy and read the following book: Sol Stein on Writing - A Master Editor of Some of the Most Successful Writers of Our Century Shares His Craft Techniques and Strategies. The paperback version is available for less than $15. A very good investment, I think!
- Go through several cycles of rewriting and self-editing
- When you feel your manuscript is ready for publication, ask your peer reviewers for an opinion
- Suppose you're ready to take this to the next level: from now on it gets even harder. In terms of publishing you essentially have four good options. By all means, stay away from option number 5 !