I’m thrilled to welcome author Brenda Rothert as today’s guest blogger.
A Little Advice For Authors
by Brenda Rothert
Are you a Rules Girl? No, not those rules! I can’t offer you any help finding Mr. Right. But writing? I might have some insight for you there.
Some authors will tell you there are rules you should follow when writing a book. And since I’m working on my eleventh one, I can tell you that’s absolutely true. But which rules? That’s something we’ll never have universal agreement on.
Here’s my take on some of the traditional rules, and also a few of my own.
The three-act structure is the foundation of many novels and screenplays. I think a solid understanding of it will help any new writer find their footing. Do you have to follow it precisely? I say no. But it’s one of those rules you should understand if you’re going to break it.
Most romance novels of days gone by employed tropes. These are things like boss/employee, best friend’s sister and billionaire bad boy. There are lots of great books on the market today that take a fresh approach to these tropes and rock them. But I think the requirement that you must have at least one trope is an antiquated one. Choose characters and a story you feel passionately about. Build it from there.
If you’re an indie author, the advice experienced authors give about using a professional editor and cover designer is the best you can listen to. I’ve been through quite a few covers on my books and multiple editors. Find seasoned ones who don’t drown you out but aren’t afraid to set you straight when you need it. It costs money, but it’s so worth it.
That brings me to some advice based on my own missteps. When I wrote my first book, I had no idea how to get a cover. I didn’t even know any other authors. I’d finished the book when I joined my local Romance Writers of America chapter, which was a great start. Though I hired a professional designer to make my covers, I had a heavy hand in choosing models, fonts and design.
And therein lies the lesson. I wasn’t qualified to make those choices. The initial covers for my first three books were not marketable. I tried again with a new photographer and eventually a new designer. I have one book that is now on its FOURTH—and final—cover.
I learned a lot from those mistakes. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Just be able to see them for what they are and try again. And if that doesn’t work, try again. One of the joys of indie authorhood is that you have control of your work.
That same advice applies to your writing. My first two books are off the market, likely forever. The more I learned about writing as I grew and gained experience, the more uncomfortable I was with having those two books for sale. They aren’t the best representation of my brand. When someone reads one of your books, you want them to love it so hard they go buy your other books. If you have something out there you aren’t one hundred percent proud of, take it down. You can rework it, save it for a later day or chalk it up to a learning experience.
The best advice I’ve ever been given by a fellow author is this: Write and write and write. Blog about something you love. Volunteer to help a non-profit organization with articles or web materials. All writing sharpens the saw that will help you create your best book. And when you’re writing that book, you’ll probably make mistakes. I do. Don’t get frustrated. Be grateful you can see where you need to improve. Not everyone can. Try again. Nothing feels better than publishing a book you know you’ve polished to the very best of your ability. Make it shine. Enjoy the ride. And then, do it all over again.
About the author:
Brenda Rothert lives in Central Illinois with her husband and three sons. She was a daily print journalist for nine years, during which time she enjoyed writing a wide range of stories.
These days Brenda writes New Adult Romance in the Contemporary and Dystopian genres. She loves to hear from readers by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.