The first 250 words, Part Two

A while ago I did a post about judging a book by its first 250 words (it’s common for writing contests to pick this number for your writing sample). I showed that some famous books have beginnings that don’t really hit on the substance of the book. On the other hand, I showed that some books do manage to jump right into the meat of the book with the first 250 words. In either case, it’s interesting.

Since then, I’ve looked at some other well-known and best-selling books. After the break, another set of examples.

Continue reading

Author Nick Spalding’s top 10 self-publishing tips

BBC article here.

All of those ten things are excellent observations. I have some comments on a few of them:

2. Be yourself. It’s hard sometimes to watch other writers riding the current Big Wave while you’re paddling around on your board somewhere behind it. It’s easy to think that if you were only writing the kind of thing they’re writing, you’d be hanging ten right up there with them. The problem with that is, as Spalding says, if you’re not writing what you’re comfortable writing, it’s not going to be very good. In addition, the nature of publishing is that by the time you hack your version of the Current Big Wave out, that particular wave will most likely have already flattened out on the beach and soaked into the sand.

Write what works for you. You’ll know it, and so will readers. Who knows? Maybe the next Big Wave will be the one you start.

3. Find a muse. My wife reads all my stuff, sometimes dozens of times. She catches mistakes I miss, gives me advice, and most importantly, keeps me going when I would probably give up. She’s a much better Muse than the cheesy mythological one the other gods assigned me, and if I’m ever a successful writer, she’ll be a major reason for it.

4. Read On Writing by Stephen King. I heartily agree. It’s on my Kindle, and I have a hard copy somewhere too.

6. Remember that books aren’t burgers. Spalding is right, of course. Nobody should be burying their readers in crap. But that being said, almost all of the most successful self-published writers I’ve seen have a prodigious output. The key, of course, is the ability to produce good writing very fast. There are writers who can. I’m afraid I’m not one of them. A book a year would be prodigious output for me.

10. Read comic books. Well, yeah.

(Thanks to Neil Ansell for the link)