Tag Archives: Mike McPhail

Biggest Mistakes New Writers Make #5 Giving up too soon

This is the last post on “Biggest Mistakes, and I think it is the most important.  Take a deep breath, and read slowly and carefully.

At a recent NJ Author’s talk on “Getting Published” (scroll down below for the list of authors), the authors discussed the biggest mistakes they think new writers make.

This is really important, because the temptation to take the “easy road” is there, blinking and coaxing every day.

Don’t throw your novel out to self-publishing if you are not ready.

I’m going to say it again.

Don’t throw your novel out to self-publishing if you are not ready. 

Say that line over a few times.  Make it stick in your head, then continue…

I have a friend who actually did “go through the motions”  They put their novel out there, and were getting rejections.  They then decided it might be a good idea to get some beta readers. (Okay, they did that part in the wrong order, but at least they realized what they did)  After about ten or so beta reads, they came across me.

“The barracuda” attacked with reckless abandon.  (As nice as I could possibly be, of course) I knew EXACTLY why this wonderful, elaborate very imaginative story was not being published… I explained over and over in great detail.  They revised, but only slightly.  They did not want to ruin their “artistic integrity”.

That book is now self-published… with exactly the same beginning that I ripped to heck and back.  I feel horrible about it.  It is not selling.  Now… that is not to say that I’m always right.  I can be wrong.  This time, I wish I was.

Remember:  Most e-book channels let you read the first few pages just like if you are in a bookstore.  The first few pages of this novel are BORING.

Is it a great story?  YES.  Is it original?  YES.  Did the author make all the mistakes noted in the “biggest mistakes”?  Unfortunately, YES.  (Sorry BK)  I dearly, dearly hope I am wrong, because this is a great story, and they put a lot of work into their baby.  Right now, my heart is sinking over it.

If one person tells you something you do not want to hear.  Consider it.  If two people say something, think hard about it.  If three or more people say the same thing, suck it up and admit you are wrong.

Try to get a publisher first, and try long and hard.  Don’t put out something sub-standard just because you are in a rush or afraid of the process, or don’t agree with the feedback.  That first novel can haunt you for the rest of your life… and you never know, you just might end up with a “Gold Mine Manuscript” rejection that will change your outlook completely, if you are open enough to their suggestions.

Is self-publishing okay?  Sure.  For some authors.

Just Please Please Please make sure you are ready.  I have read quite a few self-published novels that were not ready.  It’s a shame, because I would be hesitant to take a chance on another novel by any of these authors.

If you do self-publish, AND YOU HAVE TAKEN THE STEPS TO BE SURE YOU ARE READY, check out Daniel Ottalini’s blog for a great checklist to make sure you follow through to give your novel a chance.

Jonathan Maberry: www.Jonathanmaberry.com

Mike McPhail: www.mcp-concepts.com

Danielle Ackley-McPhail: www.sidhenadaire.com

Jon Gibbs: www.acatofninetales.com

Jennifer R. Hubbard: www.jenniferhubbard.com

Kristin Battestella: www.jsnouff.com/kristin

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Biggest Mistakes New Writers Make #3: Nope, you can’t explain yourself. Sorry, not allowed!

At a recent Author’s panel discussion, Jonathan Maberry, Mike McPhail, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Jon Gibbs, Jennifer R. Hubbard, and Kristin Battestella discussed the biggest mistakes they believe writers make.

Mike McPhail commented that you CANNOT explain your novel to people.

Think about that. 

What Mike said is that you are not going to be there to explain anything about your novel.  It needs to stand on its own with no questions.  If it can’t stand on its own, you are not going to find a publisher (and remember, he’s a publisher as well as a writer)

I recently read a review from a “self-published” author that said:  “Just get through the first few chapters… you’ll be glad you did.”

I can’t help but wonder if they asked a friend to say that… This is probably why they self-published.  Why would you start your novel out weak?  Personally, if I’m not engaged in the first few pages, the book goes back on the shelf.

I wonder if this person ever had beta readers.

Note:  I would never let a beta-read pass with a bad first page, let alone a bad first few chapters.  That’s like literary suicide in my book.

Make sure your novel can stand on its own, and for goodness sake, if you feel like you have to apologize for your first few chapters CHANGE THEM!

Jonathan Maberry:  www.Jonathanmaberry.com

Mike McPhail:  www.mcp-concepts.com

Danielle Ackley-McPhail:  www.sidhenadaire.com

Jon Gibbs:  www.acatofninetales.com

Jennifer R. Hubbard:  www.jenniferhubbard.com

Kristin Battestella:  www.jsnouff.com/kristin

Biggest Mistakes New Authors Make #2—Jumping the gun- Writing Non-linearly

At a recent Author’s panel discussion, Jonathan Maberry, Mike McPhail, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Jon Gibbs, Jennifer R. Hubbard, and Kristin Battestella discussed the biggest mistakes they believe writers make.

Mistake number two was not writing linearly, which means not writing your story from start to finish, beginning to end, without jumping around.

Everyone gets great ideas while they are writing.  When you get one that happens later in the story, do you stop and write it?  I admit, I do this all the time.

To keep yourself moving, have a folder called “revision notes”.  Rather than jumping back to something you wish you wrote, or hopping forward to a great idea you have… place the idea in a “notes folder” so you don’t forget it, and then keep writing.  This will keep you focused on where you are.

I admit I am guilty of this in a big way.  I have whole chapters that are written that will not appear until book five or six, and I don’t have book one published yet… This is why book one probably needed so much editing.

Who else is guilty of this little gem?

Jonathan Maberry:  www.Jonathanmaberry.com

Mike McPhail:  www.mcp-concepts.com

Danielle Ackley-McPhail:  www.sidhenadaire.com

Jon Gibbs:  www.acatofninetales.com

Jennifer R. Hubbard:  www.jenniferhubbard.com

Kristin Battestella:  www.jsnouff.com/kristin