Deborah Court Romance Writer
Deborah Court           Romance Writer

Tips for Aspiring Writers

Giving any advice about writing and publishing isn't easy. There are many great books out there about writing, publishing and self-publishing, and check out author sites, they often have great advice about writing! I am not sure if this will help you, but I'll tell you a few things that, from my own personal experience, are most important:

From all your ideas, pick one genre you feel most passionate about writing. Most probably it's the same genre you love reading the most. Try to focus on one project at a time, and don't write anything else until you finished it. I know this is SO SO hard but you have to force yourself to sit down every day (and if it's only 10 minutes to start with), and simply write what comes to mind. I know that it takes a lot of discipline and courage. I have countless unfinished stories myself, buried somewhere in my desk and waiting to be written one day. 
Read, read, read. Reading not only improves your language and writing style, but also shows you how popular novels are structured. Try to write your book in a way that it will fit into one of the popular genres later - it can and should be original, of course, told in your very own voice. Sadly, most agents and publishers aren't interested in short stories (except erotica), so you should aim for a novel. Which, by the way, absolutely doesn't mean that I don't love a good short story! (Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allan Poe and Stephen King are my personal favorites *bows to the masters*)

Write. Write. Write.
You don't need to be perfect or even good right from the start. Writing needs a lot of practice, like learning to play the piano. You can always go back, revise and change things later. A great way to learn and practise your writing is publishing fan fiction or writing for public forums. You'll get a lot of valuable critique from the readers, but also encouragement. 
Writers need to develop a thick skin with time. You'll get rejected more than once - by editors, agents, and publishers, and you'll have to deal with some harsh and painful reviews if you plan to publish in any way. Now all writers I know are a oversensitive lot, especially when it comes down to our own stories, but we can learn to deal with (and learn from) critique if it's constructive, and ignore the haters. Personally, what keeps me going are mails like yours, and hearing from people who love my books. When I published my first book, I would have never, ever dreamed about such a reaction. My readers' feedback is incredibly heartwarming, and motivating. I know some dedicated, faithful readers who have become very dear friends to me, who have been supporting me since I started publishing my first chapters of Bound to the Prince on forums and fanfic sites. They kept pushing me to write more and more, and made me learn what readers want from a story.

Try to find some beta readers and someone who will proofread and edit your work if you have finished one project and want to get it published. A professional cover wouldn't hurt, either, if you want to go the self-pubbing way.

Sorry to say this, but most writers I know can't live just from the income their books provide them with. Many publishers pay a not-too-high sum in advance (and you may have to give some of it back if your book doesn't sell), and you might get your first money months later. The publishing process itself can take up to two years even if you found a publisher who will work with you. So until the day you'll hit the NY Times bestseller list, it's always good to have a day job.
Just do it! Write, and don't be afraid that you might not be as good as other authors. You will be, and even better, you'll soon find your own voice if you are patient and just keep writing. ;-)
Check in regularly for some advice on writing and more information that might be helpful for aspiring authors!