Category Archives: Ten things I wish I knew

Jon Gibbs’s Ten things I wish I knew… Final Thoughts – Thanks Jon!

Here are a few quotes from Jon Gibbs that I thought were good little snippets everyone could use.

Thank you again, Jon, for your words of wisdom, and for going out of your way to help aspiring authors to Learn from your Mistakes

1.        Dealing with shyness – He is shy.  He is afraid of public appearances.  To get through it, he imagines his grandmother saying “Okay go home – you will disgrace all your ancestors but that’s fine.”  It helps him to trudge on.

2.       Figure out what works best for you and then do that a lot

3.       Write what you like, even if it seems out of date.  If you enjoy it, someone else will, too.

4.       Winning a contest (small) and putting it in your query letter makes you look like a newbie.  Major awards are okay, though.

5.       Writer’s digest may seem good, but you have to pay to submit.  Don’t pay to submit.

6.       Slush readers trash “Dark and stormy night” openers and don’t read to the next line.

7.       Jon learns more about writing listening to others critique his writing.

8.       Young Adult needs a romantic element to be marketable*

*This is what a publisher told Jon when he was selling Fur Face as YA.  However, a friend of mine was just asked by a publisher to remove the romantic element because it made them uncomfortable.  You never know.

Jon Gibbs is the author of one of my son’s favorite books:  FUR-FACE, which was nominated for a Crystal Kite Award.

Jon is an Englishman transplanted to New Jersey, USA, where he is an ‘author in residence’ at Lakehurst Elementary School.  Jon is the founding member of The New Jersey Author’s Network and FindAWritingGroup.com.

Jon blogs at jongibbs.livejournal.com

Website: www.acatofninetales.com

Jon Gibbs’s Ten things I wish I knew before I was published #10: Interaction is the name of the game

How you interact with others will have a HUGE impact on your careers

  • Join your first writing group ASAP and join as many as you can
  • Find other authors who might help you
  • Go to Writers conferences – You can meet people who can help you.  They might tell you where a conference is and you may meet someone there (agent publisher)
  • Remember, you will get a lot of useless information
  • But also remember, you will get some great information as well.

Note:  The above are Jon Gibb’s main speaking points, with my rambling opinions attached.

Jon Gibbs is the author of one of my son’s favorite books:  FUR-FACE, which was nominated for a Crystal Kite Award.

Jon is an Englishman transplanted to New Jersey, USA, where he is an ‘author in residence’ at Lakehurst Elementary School.  Jon is the founding member of The New Jersey Author’s Network and FindAWritingGroup.com.

Jon blogs at jongibbs.livejournal.com

Website: www.acatofninetales.com

Jon Gibbs’s Ten things I wish I knew before I was published #9: Savor the Moment

Be excited when your work gets accepted.

Allow yourself to be excited when someone says they like your novel.  Let that feeling of pride cover you for a while.  You deserve it.

Enjoy “nice” rejection letters.  Some will say they liked it but it was not a good fit for them.  Take that as a vote of confidence.  Hand written or personalized rejections mean you are doing well… they took the time to respond rather than sending out a form letter.  If they do this, they saw something of value in your work.

Rejection is inevitable.  It can make you sad.  When you get a little victory, remember to celebrate.  I recommend chocolate.  It always works for me!

Note:  The above are Jon Gibb’s main speaking points, with my rambling opinions attached.

Jon Gibbs is the author of one of my son’s favorite books:  FUR-FACE, which was nominated for a Crystal Kite Award.

Jon is an Englishman transplanted to New Jersey, USA, where he is an ‘author in residence’ at Lakehurst Elementary School.  Jon is the founding member of The New Jersey Author’s Network and FindAWritingGroup.com.

Jon blogs at jongibbs.livejournal.com

Website: www.acatofninetales.com

Jon Gibbs’s Ten things I wish I knew before I was published #8: Write what you know

Write what you know / write what they know.

Look around to see who has just published a book in your genre that is doing well NOW. This will show you what the market is currently handling. If a story is in a magazine, it is good. They had to go through the same submission process you have. Look at what they did. How does it differ from yours? How is it the same?

I’ve been trying to take this advice. I look at novels published by a publishing house I am interested in, and many times I shake my head. It’s hard.

Since I submitted to an anthology recently, I decided to read one (I’ve never read an anthology before). I was surprised. The stories were more like excerpts than stand-alone stories, and two of them ended in a way that actually made me mad. (No ending)

Was I going to write my short like that? No way!

Also, people have noted lack of emotion in my characters. So I look for emotion in recently published work, and Dang it I can’t find any! I mean, I get an idea of how they feel, and I think I am doing the same thing. Ugh. I just don’t know sometimes.

It’s really hard to read something and translate it into your own work… But when I do read something I like, I highlight it for reference later. I do try to learn from anything good that I read. But I learn even more from the bad stuff I read :-)

Note: The above are Jon Gibb’s main speaking points, with my rambling opinions attached.

Jon Gibbs is the author of one of my son’s favorite books: FUR-FACE, which was nominated for a Crystal Kite Award.

Jon is an Englishman transplanted to New Jersey, USA, where he is an ‘author in residence’ at Lakehurst Elementary School. Jon is the founding member of The New Jersey Author’s Network and FindAWritingGroup.com.

Jon blogs at jongibbs.livejournal.com

Website: www.acatofninetales.com

Jon Gibbs’s Ten things I wish I knew before I was published #7: The Dreaded Excusitis

Beware Excusitis, or Failure Disease.

“I would have been published, but…”

“I would have finished my novel but…”

Avoid people who are negative, because you may get caught up in it.  You know that negative guy in your writer’s group who thinks the whole industry is out to get them?  The one who self-published a book of haikus about his cat’s hair balls?  Can we get rid of that guy?

Focus on what you want… your goals, and don’t let anyone drag you away from them.  Surround yourself with positive people who will be there to pick you up when you fall.

Remember: the gut wrenching stab of a rejection letter is nature’s way of telling you that you are still in the running.  By in the running, I mean that you still care.  You still want to succeed.  The people who don’t give up are the ones who are the most successful.

Also, if you get rejections, don’t always think “it’s not me, it must be them”.  Remember to change your query or manuscript to get the best results.  If you are using the same query you wrote a year ago, maybe it is your query?  Maybe your synopsis is really poor?  Think that over.  Maybe you can make a small change that will fix everything.

For instance, Jon Gibbs was sending Fur Face to YA publishers.  After a long time, one of them was nice enough to tell him “This is really good, but it’s not YA.  It’s middle grade.”  Jon had no idea.  He submitted to a MG publisher, and Abracadabra!  Publication.  Sometimes you just need to change your thinking a bit.

Note:  The above are Jon Gibb’s main speaking points, with my rambling opinions attached.

Jon Gibbs is the author of one of my son’s favorite books:  FUR-FACE, which was nominated for a Crystal Kite Award.

Jon is an Englishman transplanted to New Jersey, USA, where he is an ‘author in residence’ at Lakehurst Elementary School.  Jon is the founding member of The New Jersey Author’s Network and FindAWritingGroup.com.

Jon blogs at jongibbs.livejournal.com

Website: www.acatofninetales.com

Jon Gibbs’s Ten things I wish I knew before I was published #6: Belay that Opinion, Captain.

Your writing is not as god or as bad as you think. If you think you are the best author out there, you probably aren’t. If you are sure you stink, you probably don’t. (At least maybe not as bad as you think)

You are probably somewhere in-between.  Even published authors are not the greatest writers ever.  They just came up with something that resonated with someone.

If you love what you do, move forward with it.  If you are good, someone will stand up and take notice.

Note:  The above are Jon Gibb’s main speaking points, with my rambling opinions attached.

Jon Gibbs is the author of one of my son’s favorite books:  FUR-FACE, which was nominated for a Crystal Kite Award.

Jon is an Englishman transplanted to New Jersey, USA, where he is an ‘author in residence’ at Lakehurst Elementary School.  Jon is the founding member of The New Jersey Author’s Network and FindAWritingGroup.com.

Jon blogs at jongibbs.livejournal.com

Website: www.acatofninetales.com

Jon Gibbs’s Ten things I wish I knew before I was published #5: Please Sir, May I have another?

Writing and Critique groups are like potato chips – you can never eat just one.

Each writer’s group you find will offer something different.

For example, in my area there is a writer’s group that looks for odd places to write.  They set up folding chairs by the lake, for instance, looking for inspiration.  Is that for me?  Ummmm.  No.  I like my solitary computer, thank you.  But this works for some people.

Some writers groups charge a fee, but they give you great speakers in return.  If you think that the speakers are of value to you, then it is okay to pay extra.  If you are looking just to meet people, you might not want that extra perk.

Look around, and join a few if you can.  The worst thing that can happen is you make a few friends.

Note:  The above are Jon Gibb’s main speaking points, with my rambling opinions attached.

Jon Gibbs is the author of one of my son’s favorite books:  FUR-FACE, which was nominated for a Crystal Kite Award.

Jon is an Englishman transplanted to New Jersey, USA, where he is an ‘author in residence’ at Lakehurst Elementary School.  Jon is the founding member of The New Jersey Author’s Network and FindAWritingGroup.com.

Jon blogs at jongibbs.livejournal.com

Website: www.acatofninetales.com

Jon Gibbs’s Ten things I wish I knew before I was published #4: The End is Just the Beginning

Boy, did he nail this one the head for me.  I spend 80% more time editing my work than actually writing it.  In my last novel, HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT, it was my own fault for pantsing it, and then having to go back and make major edits.

However, even with LAST WINTER RED, which I outlined, I spent several weeks of intense-high pressure edits after writing the bulk of it over a weekend writer’s retreat.  And for all that work, I didn’t really change much.  I added three small scenes (by small I mean 100 words or so) but the rest of it was fixing grammar, spelling, flow, etc.

Jon’s suggestion is to get your story down first, and do the editing when you are done (Yay, I did it right!)  If you edit constantly, while you are writing, you will probably go back and make changes before you are even done.

Note:  The above are Jon Gibb’s main speaking points, with my rambling opinions attached.

Jon Gibbs is the author of one of my son’s favorite books:  FUR-FACE, which was nominated for a Crystal Kite Award.

Jon is an Englishman transplanted to New Jersey, USA, where he is an ‘author in residence’ at Lakehurst Elementary School.  Jon is the founding member of The New Jersey Author’s Network and FindAWritingGroup.com.

Jon blogs at jongibbs.livejournal.com

Website: www.acatofninetales.com

Jon Gibbs’s Ten things I wish I knew before I was published #3: Congratulations! You stink!

Do you know how bad you stink?

If not, read “How to Write a Damn Good Novel by James N. Frey.  Jon Gibbs is at least the tenth person who has mentioned this book.  I need to get off my butt and get a copy.

Here’s what Jon had to say, taking into account what he learned from this book:

Realize that you stink.  It’s okay to stink, but once you realize just how awful you are, you need to find out what you need to learn to get better, or just up and quit.

Some people just like to write for personal reasons and don’t want to get published – like those “too much description” people.  Yes, you are writing beautiful prose, but it is probably not marketable prose within the boundaries of today’s buying trends – you need to pull the reader in right away with action.

So, if you are one of those “epic setting” people, that’s fine.  If that is what you want to do, go for it.  Just don’t expect a huge financial reward at the end of your rainbow.

Realistically, there is no pot of gold at the end of most writing rainbows, so if you are not committed to this because you love to write, chances are you will be sorely disappointed.

However, there are a handful of authors every year who shock everyone and take a roller-coaster ride to the top.

Who knows?  It might be you.

Note:  The above are Jon Gibb’s main speaking points, with my rambling opinions attached.

Jon Gibbs is the author of one of my son’s favorite books:  FUR-FACE, which was nominated for a Crystal Kite Award.

Jon is an Englishman transplanted to New Jersey, USA, where he is an ‘author in residence’ at Lakehurst Elementary School.  Jon is the founding member of The New Jersey Author’s Network and FindAWritingGroup.com.

Jon blogs at jongibbs.livejournal.com

Website: www.acatofninetales.com

Ten things I wish I knew before I was published #1 (Lessons Learned from Jon Gibbs)

Jon Gibbs is the author of one of my son’s favorite books:  FUR-FACE, which was nominated for a Crystal Kite Award.

Recently, my son and I took a ½ hour trek to a local library to hear Jon speak about the ten things he wished he knew before he got published.  I love that I have the opportunity to expose my son to talks like this.  Originally, he was going to look around the library—but instead, he listened to the talk, asked questions, and stayed at the end to meet Jon.  What a great experience for a kid (not to mention for an aspiring author)

As always, rather than rambling on forever, I am going to chop this up into a series.  How many posts… ummm, let’s think… Yay to everyone who said ten!

Lesson one:  You are not alone

Most of you have already jumped this hurdle.  I know because you are here.  But it goes further than that.  You need to connect personally with other authors as well.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions.  There are tons of authors out there who are more than willing to share what they have learned… you just have to ask.

Look for local writers groups. (Meetup.com, FindAWritingGroup.com)  Meet others who are going through what you are.

For heaven’s sake, get yourself a beta partner, or two, or five.  There is actually a girl in my writing group who has asked me several times what a beta reader is.  Believe me… it’s scary at first, but they are worth their weight in gold.  Make relationships now, so when you are freaking out as a deadline approaches, they will not hesitate to jump in and help you at the last minute.  You will totally thank me for this advice someday.

You know what I’ve started doing, which is a hoot?  I contact an author before I start reading their novel.  I just say hi, and tell them I’m going to read it.  Most of the time, I get a reply, and we cyber-chat a little.  Then I get back to them and ask them questions when I’m done.  Pretty cool stuff.  You can find out a lot about someone, and their publishers/agents just by some friendly chat.

You are not in this alone, as scary as it might seem, take that first step forward and make an effort to introduce yourself.  You never know who you might meet.

Note:  The above are Jon Gibbs’s main speaking points, with my rambling opinions attached.

Jon is an Englishman transplanted to New Jersey, USA, where he is an ‘author in residence’ at Lakehurst Elementary School.  Jon is the founding member of The New Jersey Author’s Network and FindAWritingGroup.com.

Jon blogs at jongibbs.livejournal.com

Website: www.acatofninetales.com