Advice for Beginning Writers

Jean Ann Duckworth will be at NCWA’s 2011 conference. See end of post for links.

Beginning a new endeavor like writing can be frightening. You have an idea and you can’t wait to share it with publishers. Still, you’re afraid they might not like it. While no one can guarantee your success, there are steps you can take to insure you’re as prepared as possible:

  1. Be Professional: Writing is a profession. The better you are, the greater your chances of getting published. Sending out a query letter or proposal is like sending out your resume. You’re applying for the job of writing your book. Editors are willing to work with first time authors if they demonstrate a professional attitude.
  2. Do Your Homework: Publishers make it well known what categories of books they publish. Many even list the specific material they do not want to see. It is a waste of everyone’s time when authors fail to do their homework, flooding editors with material that is of no interest to them. Send your information to the publishers who are most likely to be interested in it.
  3. Keep Query Letters Short: And to the point. You’re excited about your book. That’s fine. However, when you prepare your query letter, you want to get your point across in as few words as possible. If your book cannot be summarized in a few short paragraphs, how will the publisher create a back cover synopsis for your book?
  4. Knock Out Proposals: A good proposal takes time and effort. You need to do your research to get it right the first time. There are many good books on the market that help you put your proposal together and include all the elements necessary. While you want to submit your proposal in a timely manner, you also want to be certain it reflects your professionalism. Take the time to do it right.
  5. Marketing: Never underestimate the power of marketing. A solid marketing plan can make all the difference to the success of your book. If you develop a strong plan in the beginning, it’s easier to follow up when you have a finished product in your hand. Once you have signed a contract to be published, put the marketing machine into action.
  6. Speak Up: Publishers are looking for authors who have a ready made platform, an audience that will buy their books. If you are a professional speaker, you have that audience. If you are not speaking, you should seriously consider pursuing a speaking career to go along with your writing.
  7. Hone Your Skills: Writing is a growing process. Work to improve your writing skills as long as you pursue a career in writing. If you have a weakness in one area, work to strengthen it.

Writing is a serious business that can offer a certain amount of fun and a lot of satisfaction. Work to remain on top of the game and you will continue to sell books year after year.


Jean Ann Duckworth is CEO of The Extreme Diva, a direct sales publishing and lifestyle company. She is the creator of the Devotions to Go books, a series of 30 day brief devotionals on a variety of topics for women. Jean Ann is a veteran of the United States Navy. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and Communications and a Master of Divinity. Jean Ann and her husband, Terry live in Southern California.

She will be presenting a workshop at Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference in May. Registration soon as rates go up on April 1st.

One thought on “Advice for Beginning Writers

  1. Jean Ann, I am still so new to this writing adventure, I do appreciate reading the blog posts here and your words of advice are great. I just need to make up my mind about the whole thing and get professional about it. Thank you for reminding us about even the simplest of steps, to follow the directions or instructions a publisher lays out. How easily we can let our desires over take us vs following the directions.


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