Advice for Newbie Authors: Don’t listen too much to advice (Tuesdays with Ana, Part 3)

I’m over at Adaline Raine’s today, and Kat and Natalie are giving an interview! Please say hello. 🙂

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Well. My post for today has changed dramatically from what I had originally intended. I was planning to introduce the first scene of The Way Home and talk about when we have lost the person most special to us. That will have to be a topic for another day.

Instead, the shocking success of The Way Home has prompted questions and discussions from more than a few people in the past week. How did I get into the Top 100? What did I do? What did my publisher do? How can other people succeed?

I am embarrassed to be asked these questions because success is such a chancy thing. This week’s Top 100 may be next week’s garbage can liner. It’s not that I mean to be disingenuous, but I honestly don’t know. Wonderful people who have supported me, a wonderful publisher who believed in me, and luck?

What I can offer today, however, is this piece of advice to new and aspiring authors:

Don’t listen too much to advice.

Yes, really. Don’t try to publish too soon. Don’t focus so much on writing to a market/publisher’s demands/algorithm of what will sell well…that you lose sight of why you began writing in the first place.

Because, honestly, if you are writing solely for the money–fiction is not the best place for you.

I have been told a great deal of advice on this journey:

  • Don’t make it too difficult to understand. You need to spell everything out for the reader.
  • If you want to sell well, you must have sex.
  • If you insist on not writing sex, you must include gratuitous details of the spanking in order to satisfy readers’ needs for titillation.
  • You must include characters on your cover, or else the book won’t sell.
  • Write what readers want to read, not what you want them to read.
  • If you insist on writing your way, your books will never sell.
  • No one will read F/F.
  • No one will read F/F without sex.
  • You use too many fancy metaphors.
  • You can’t use first-person point of view.
  • You can’t write in the present tense.
  • Your book won’t sell unless it has a romance.
  • You book must be a romance and alternate between the two main characters’ point of view.

The problem with this kind of advice is that it fails to take into account individuality of writers. I don’t want to be the author of the next Fifty Shades. Nor do I want to be the next Stephen King.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not criticizing either, just saying that’s not the kind of writing I do. Instead, this is the kind of advice that I have found helpful on my journey:

  • Go to your readers for advice. What do they think?
  • What I keep hearing you say is that you like the story the way it is.
  • You have something important to say.
  • You won’t be happy writing for the mass market, so why try?
  • Writing should be difficult. Take the time to do it right, and don’t let it become facile.
  • Make me feel something.
  • Sometimes you need to step away and take a break.
  • You can’t control how well your book sells. All you can control is producing the best product possible.
  • I know that you can do better.
  • I want your story to give me permission not to like the characters all the time.

But the best piece of advice is something I learned on my own. Because I don’t write sex, don’t (usually) write M/F, don’t write conventional romance (don’t write conventional anything)…I never had the opportunity to be blase about my identity as an author. From the very beginning, it’s been clear and simple.

Anastasia Vitsky is an author of F/F DD fiction. She writes about the real-life ups and downs rather than the fantasies none of us can hope to achieve.

My first big success, The Way Home, came about because my publisher insisted on marketing it as a F/F story…rather than apologizing for it containing a F/F storyline. I will never appeal to everyone, so instead my publisher helped me to appeal most strongly to the people most likely to buy the book.

Your author identity will be different. Only you will know your strengths. Don’t let anyone else tell you that you must fill a certain mold in order to succeed.

Don’t apologize for who you are. Make it your strongest asset.

The-Way-Home-3D

The Way Home
Natalie always wanted a little sister.  Kat didn’t know she was allowed to want anything…or anyone.

Kat, a shy farmgirl, arrives at her freshman dorm with a backpack, a suitcase, and her mother’s wish for Kat to attend college “at least until you get married”. Her roommate Natalie, a confident and fun-loving social butterfly, decides sight unseen that Kat will become her best friend for life. Natalie teaches Kat about college life, academics, and friendship by taking Kat under her wing…and over her knee.

Then their lives fall apart one fateful night on campus, and for the rest of the decade Kat and Natalie struggle to find their way back to each other. Their way home.

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13 thoughts on “Advice for Newbie Authors: Don’t listen too much to advice (Tuesdays with Ana, Part 3)

  1. Cat says:

    Wonderful advice Ana. Tried to come visit Kat and Nat’s interview at Adaline Raine’s but am being told it’s a protected blog.

    BTW…If you ever start writing like E.L. James, I won’t be reading it…she could definitely take lessons from you!

    Blessings,
    Cat

    Like

  2. angie sargenti says:

    Thanks for sharing. I guess I’ll just stick to what I’m doing, then, but I have to disagree that it was entirely luck. You have a nice little story there, and that was due to your story-telling skill.

    Like

  3. Cara Bristol says:

    Good advice Ana. You were smart to stick to your guns. I think conventional wisdom applies when one is writing genre fiction, but you’re not writing genre fiction. Your work is unique, and to make it fit a formula, would make it no longer unique, no longer yours. A different story than you one you want to tell.

    Like

    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      You were one who gave me the good advice, Cara. Genre fiction is wonderful for people who want to write genre fiction. It takes a wise person to recognize when someone doesn’t want to write the genre fiction. 🙂

      Like

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