4/10/07

How to Spot an Amateur

What are some common mistakes that a first time or amateur author makes, that an experienced author does not? This can be both in writing and/or in submission.

Sometimes even experienced writers make these mistakes, but these are the ones that immediately pop into my mind.

Writing Mistakes:
  • Thinking your story is polished and done, when it is not.
  • Writing in a style that's wrong for the genre.
  • Technical errors--grammar, punctuation, spelling.
  • Thinking the editor will (has time to) fix all the mistakes.
  • Failing to send mss out to qualified readers for critique.
  • Characters, plot, storyline problems.


Submission Mistakes:
  • Sending the mss to a publisher before it's ready.
  • Sending mss to publishers who don't publish in that genre.
  • Using the shotgun method of submission (sending out queries/submissions to every single publisher on your list without doing any research to see if your mss would be a good fit for them.)
  • Lack of research into the business side of publishing and the common how-tos for submitting.
  • Doing the research on how to submit, but ignoring the suggestions and doing it your own way because that shows you're unique and creative. (Not.)
  • Poorly crafted query.
  • Making excuses for less than quality writing in the query; emphasizing that you're a beginner and lack experience (I do not mean that you can't state that this is your first novel. That's fine. I mean going on and on about how you don't really know what you're doing and you hope I'll overlook your ignorance and inexperience...)

Experienced authors, help me out. What am I forgetting?

3 comments:

Tristi Pinkston said...

I just wrote a beautiful comment and it got sucked into cyberspace, so I'll try this again.

One mistake a new novelist will make is to say, "But that's how it really happened!" when criticized about a scene in a book. You must remember that an event that is impacting in real life will not carry the same weight in fiction; they aren't the same thing. Don't assume that because your life was changed by this event, that your reader's will be too. If you really want to include something from real life in your story, you need to pump it up and make sure that it includes the elements of fiction it needs to fly with the reader.

Andi Sherwood said...

Thank you, both Tristi and LDSP. Very interesting thought, Tristi. I hadn't ever really thought of that.

By the way, LDSP, how do we rate by getting two questions answered three days in a row!?! Does that mean you are running out of reading material and need us to send in more manuscripts? :)

Thanks again!

LDS Publisher said...

No, it means that I write a week's worth of answers in one sitting and save them as drafts. Then I log on each day and post one. If two show up for the same day, it's because I forgot to change to the current date before posting.

Except for Friday and Monday. I did two on purpose those days because they were announcing a contest.