Monday, 30 September 2013

Advice for Writers by Sasha Hibbs

As an aspiring author, of course I read and milled over the internet for hours seeking good solid advice that would help me succeed in my journey of becoming published. Reflecting back, I can now say with absolute certainty, publishing is NOT for the fainthearted. Below is my journey, what I took from my experience and what I wish to impart to you now.

  • The most important advice is you must have a finished manuscript. Period.
  • That manuscript better be so polished and shiny that you can see your dead ancestor’s reflection in it. It seems so fundamental, but when you have 300 + pages of typed material, it can be hard to see the forest for the trees. Proof your manuscript over and over until your eye balls dry up and turn to dust, and even then you splash some Visine in your sockets and keep plugging away. Agents and publishers will not entertain a manuscript seriously if it’s bogged down with heavy spelling and grammatical errors.
  • When editing and proofing, what worked best for me was to start at the end and work my way up to the beginning.
  • Organize a group of beta-readers. Family is okay, but frankly, they don’t want to hurt your feelings. Select folks that will be honest with you. Publishers and agents don’t have time to play patty-cake with your manuscript. Beta-readers can pick up on things that after a while, the author misses such as consistency in storyline, grammar and misspellings, questions that you may have forgotten to answer, etc. If you secure a great group of beta-readers, remember to return the favor. Plus, it’s fun!
  • Know the genre you’re writing in. Don’t forget to read. Isn’t that what pulled you into the obsession of getting published in the first place?
  • Know who to submit to. Literary agents and publishers have specific tastes. Know who you are querying before you submit anything. Your time and their time is too valuable to waste.
  • Make sure you follow guidelines down to the last letter. Each agent/publisher website has specific submission guidelines. Read them and follow them before you send anything off.
  • It’s always a good idea to be original. With that said, it can be difficult to be original in a literary world where everything that could have possibly been done, has. Try another angle. Make people fall in love with your characters. Ask yourself why you have a favorite book or series. What is it about that particular book that you love so much? I write YA paranormal fiction. Of course I love other novels with those same elements, too. But what really attracts me to a book, is characters. Strong characters. I want to cheer for them, I want to cry for them, I want to stay up and devour their story as though it were real. Make people empathize with your characters so that when the story is over, the characters are not forgotten.
  • Patience. You must have patience! Publishing can take weeks, months and in some cases, years. I built the world in Black Amaranth. I’ve lived with my characters for so long, I cannot remember a time when they weren’t talking in my head. Because I believed in them and had patience, my YA novel, the first in a series, was finally published by Evernight Teen, a most excellent publisher!

Black Amaranth by Sasha Hibbs

 Eighteen-year-old Ally Watson arrives home from high school graduation, more than a little annoyed that her Uncle Argyle—Ally’s legal guardian and only surviving relative—didn’t even bother showing up.  But instead of berating him for his forgetfulness, Ally finds him in a life-or-death battle with a monster. Argyle manages to kill the creature, and gives Ally a parcel containing a destiny she never knew existed.  

Ally, along with her best friends Michael, Jessica, and David, hurry to Georgia to uncover the truth of Uncle Argyle’s secrets, and the meaning of the mysterious marks that Ally bears. Are the marks related to the blacksmith mythology of her ancestors? Who are these heavenly warriors who show up in the oddest of places? And will an ancient gypsy curse destroy the very things Ally fights to save?   
Black Amaranth: a simple flower, a symbol with an ancient legacy, a conduit for prophecy…while faith and hope are essential to the journey, Ally soon discovers that love is the most powerful force of all.

 Black Amaranth is available here!

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