Today we have a special visitor and what a treat! Mary Burton, author of the romantic suspense novel, Dead Ringer, is here with us today to give us writing advice through her experiences as an established and well-respected published author.
Writing Advice from Bestselling Author Mary Burton
For my last “real” job I was the marketing director for an engineering firm. When I gave notice, my boss asked if I’d like to freelance articles and promotional pieces for the company. This arrangement meant they company didn’t have to rush to refill the position and it provided me with steady income. It was a perfect fit for us both. Water and sewer rates and landfill construction was a far cry from historical romances, but it didn’t make sense to turndown paying work. For the next few years I did this kind of freelance work. There were times when it was a push to write the fiction and get the paying work done but somehow it all got done. In those four years I ghost wrote a number of articles, THE INSIDER’S GUIDE TO DIRECT MARKETING and several marketing pieces for different engineering firms.
The novels did start to sell and slowly I let the non-fiction work go. A few years after I sold my first historical novel, I decided to make the transition to romantic suspense. But again instead of giving up the historical cold turkey, I continued to write them as I worked on romantic suspense propels. Again, it was tough at times doing double duty but it all got done in the end.
So what did I learn from all this? Don’t walk away from the expertise you’ve acquired in your day job. Use that expertise. Freelance for your last company or consider writing nonfiction articles about the work. All writing, if done well, can open doors.
Becoming a full time writer takes time. The transition won’t happen over night so don’t fret if the path to being published isn’t perfectly straight. Be open to what comes your way.
That made good financial sense for them but they had several marketing projects in the pipeline that needed to be finished. Doesn’t matter if you’re focused on the paranormal market, historical romances, or mysteries, there are some basic bits of advice I always share with aspiring writers.
Love what you write! Don’t just write to the market, but write what you love. Getting published can be a long, tough process so write the stories you adore. Your passion and excitement for the story (or lack of it) will show.
Finish the book! I’ve seen too many talented writers who’ve never written beyond chapter three. They spent years polishing those beginning pages, never moving on to finish the book. It’ll never sell if its not finished. The first draft doesn’t have to be perfect or pretty. Remember you can’t fix what’s not in the computer.
Rewrite! This is when the magic happens. Rewrites are the time to smooth your beginning, fine-tune your pacing and honing word craft. It can take me seven drafts to get a book just right.
Network! If you can get to a writers conference, go. You’ll not only get to mix and mingle with other writers, but you’ll also have the chance attend educational sessions and meet editors and agents. And if travel isn’t available to you, search out online groups and classes. You’ll benefit by being in the company of writers.
Don’t give up! You are going to get rejection letters—its part of the business. Most every published writer has that first book that never sold. The trick is to learn from the rejections and keep writing.
Mary Burton is the author of the Zebra Romantic Suspense novels I’M WATCHING YOU and the upcoming DEAD RINGER (November 2008) and Christmas Past in the SILVER BELLS anthology (November 2008). She has also written twelve historical western romances for Harlequin Historical and four novels for Silhouette Romantic Suspense. For more information stop by her website at www.maryburton.com.