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5 Tips to Starting a Writing Career

I caught the writing bug in elementary school and wrote a picture book in 5th grade. It was a cliché princess story complete with a wicked witch named Allison, after my cousin. This promoted a long lecture from my mom, but don't worry, Allison has no hard feelings and is one of my biggest supporters.

The creation of The Adventures of Prince Curt sparked within me a love of writing that never left. As an adult I decided to channel that love into a career. I wrote my first picture book and started my path to publication. I didn't get far before I hit a road block. Well, more like I came to an abrupt halt.

I didn't know what to do next. I took all kinds of crazy turns and detours until I finally found my footing and success in the writing world.

As an SCBWI regional advisor and member of several writing groups and forums I can't tell you how many times I get asked this question:

"I have an idea for a book, where do I start?"

You are in luck compadre because I have the answer in 5 simple steps...

1. Join a writing group

Did I say join? I mean engage. Anyone can join a writing group, but a successful writer engages. There is a group for every genre, find yours and activley participate.

I am a member of SCBWI, 12X12, and DFW Writer's Workshop. These groups have paid memberships.

I am also in several free groups including KIDLIT411, Sub It Club, Children's Book Writers and Illustrations, LoneStar, Inc., REFOREMO, Storystorm, and more. I activley engage with members from each group and receive excellent advice and guidance.

2. Join a critique group

You know that writing group you just joined? Use it to connect with critique partners.

I am in two critique groups; one through SCBWI and one through 12X12. Both groups are invaluable to my career as my writing would be manure without them.

3. Attend a conference

Or two or three, you get the idea. I attend 2-3 conferences a year.

"But I can't afford it," you say.

"Volunteer," I reply.

Often volunteering at a conference will earn you a discounted ticket or other valuable perks such as one on one time with agents and editors. With a perk like that you can't afford not to go.

Most importantly, attend conferences to learn. I know everyone's end goal is publication, but conferences are full of information presented by people who know the business better than anyone. Listen, learn, and improve your craft.

4. Read

All book lovers read books, now it's time to read articles, blogs, newsletters, and podcasts (well that is listening, but you know what I'm gettin' at). Absorb information that will help you learn more about writing, formatting manuscripts, submitting, publishing, marketing, the list goes on. My point is study the biz.

For a list of fantastic blogs and other resources visit my FOR WRITERS page.

5. Keep asking questions

Writing groups, critique partners, conferences, blogs, everything I have mentioned has been put in place to answer your questions. So keep asking them!

Bonus tip: Submit

Now that you have connected with a writing group, had your work critiqued, studied your craft, and read countless how-to articles, it is time to submit... to contests.

You thought I was going to say to agents and publishers didn't you? You can do that too, but don't rule out contests. Not only do they offer darn good prizes, they also add that awesome "winner of" phrase to your query letter. And they are just tootin' good fun.

Now get out there and make your dreams come true!

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