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Writing Your First Book - 5 Tips to Keep Your Love Alive

By Jean Hoefling

The inspiration to write your first book is like falling in love for the first time. An idea that seems magical ignites your passion, and begs to be brought to published form. So write the book! And whether you plan on querying traditional publishers, or to enter the brave new world of self-publishing, don't forget that first heady, creative urge that sent you head over heels in the first place.

Looking back on the process of writing two traditionally-published narrative nonfiction books, I see a lot of my success in producing work I was ultimately happy with had to do with my perspective. These few tips kept the fires stoked for me right to the end.

You were born for this. I've read well-meaning articles cautioning would-be authors to make sure an idea will sell in the highly competitive book market first, before they start a book. But just as many successful book authors advise new writers to work out of their instincts and passions, out of what they firmly believe they were meant to write about. Highly original children's author Dr. Seuss's first manuscript was rejected 27 times before Vanguard Press published it. Despite the rejections, he didn't give in to the temptation to modify his originality to fit into the current children's book market. The world is full of books, and yours can be better than many of them. So as cliche as it sounds, hang on to your dream.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You are in love with your ideas and your process, but don't count on other people to bow down in your presence because you're writing a book. The journey is lonely; you huddled in the glow of a computer screen every morning at 4 a.m. before work. No matter what your book is about, you'll discover that the real subject is you; your growth as a person, and as a writer. And it's about your endurance against the odds.

Action expresses priorities. These words by Gandhi sum up one of the toughest aspects of serious writing-- the discipline to say no to a lot of other things. This one thing I do is the mantra of every focused writer. Non-essentials must go, but there's a bonus: your top life priorities and relationships will be strengthened by weeding out the fluff.

Write 'till you drop, but know when to stop. The law of diminishing returns applies to your book as it does to the rest of the universe. All input has a threshold, beyond which you are wasting your time. Write and rewrite, keeping your sword arm free to battle the dragon of self-doubt. When they finally carry you out feet first, get up and hire a savvy writer or editor to tear your manuscript apart. Then bravely start rewriting again. Eventually your writer's instinct will tell you it's enough. Obey it.

Remember, you're still in love. Now is the time to send out stellar queries that brim with excitement, or decide to self-publish. The subject of my first book was the humorous side of Lent, written for a niche audience. I wanted the confidence of being connected to a reputable publisher, not hassle with self-publishing. I'd read a novel by Frank Schaeffer, the highly-regarded editor of an Orthodox publishing company. My gut told me he'd like my manuscript, and I was right. With persistence and good instincts, you too will find a home for your manuscript. Writing your first book will be history, but seeing your name on that cover will make you fall in love with your idea all over again.


About the Author:

Jean Hoefling is a writer and editor for J and J Copywriters http://jjcopywriters.com/ based in Denver, Colorado. She is the author of Great Lent Unplugged and Journey to God (Regina Orthodox Press)



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