Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Advice from a Bestselling Author

Today's very special guest is Haywood Smith, a New York Times bestselling author of The Red Hat Club, historical romance and funny stories about serious issues in the Deep South. Haywood will be one of the headliners at the Book 'Em North Carolina Writers Conference and Book Fair scheduled for Saturday, February 22, 2014. The event will be held at Robeson Community College, conveniently located near both Interstate 95 and Interstate 74 in Lumberton, North Carolina. It's free and open to the public, and it's the perfect chance to speak with Haywood about her path to the bestseller lists and her advice for aspiring writers. Find out all the details at www.bookemnc.org.

You can find more information about Haywood at www.haywoodsmith.net.

In Haywood's own words, here's some advice from a bestselling author:

  1. Learn the craft of writing.  Grammar is the backbone of our language.  Only after you learn what's correct can you break the rules and get away with it.
  2. Learn the business and technical end of publishing, either traditionally or self-publishing.  Join groups that give you access to multi-published authors.
  3. If somebody claims to be an agent, then asks for money to "fix" your book, they're lying. Lots of people use paid editors , but book doctors posing as agents take advantage of lots of naive writers.
  4. Don't ever send a manuscript to an agent, a published author, or an editor until it's been polished till it shines.  Bad spelling, grammar, or structure turn on my critical editor, so I can't see the story for the mistakes.  You only have one chance to be the great new thing.  Don't blow it by submitting before your work is ready.
  5. Never give up.  Every rejection is another step closer to publication.  That doesn't men you shouldn't rewrite.  Use any criticism to address that element of your book, then decide whether or not to apply it.
  6. Also, in the state of Georgia, when a friend says you can use some of her true stories in a book, print out an adequate legal release and have him or her sign and date it.  I didn't, and my publisher and I ended up getting sued for $1,300,000--over a million dollars!  The paper printed all the accusations, and none of the rebuttals.  But God and I knew she'd given me verbal permission, so my conscience was clear.  In the end, the jury awarded her $50,000 LESS than she'd been offered by our insurers at the beginning, and NO legal fees. So even though we lost on a technicality, we won.