My top tips to aspiring writers – Allison Winn Scotch

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By Jade Craddock

As Allison Winn Scotch celebrates the publication of her sixth novel, In Twenty Years, she shares her top tips for aspiring writers with We Heart Writing.♥

1. Rewrite at least two more times than you think you need to

I think the biggest mistake aspiring writers make is sending out their work before it’s truly done. Sending out “good enough” work is never good enough. And it conveys the message that you expect readers to give their time (and money) for your “good enough.” How would that make you feel? You really, really, really want an agent? That means doing more work than you’d like. Full stop.

2. Have no ego

You are going to be told a million times and ways how to make your writing better. This doesn’t stop. I just finished my sixth novel and STILL got extensive notes over the course of seven or so drafts. My first draft was, in hindsight, a train wreck. A good editor sees things that you cannot. Not all the constructive criticism is useful. But going into it with the attitude that it IS makes you more open to change. Which makes you a better writer.

3. Partner with people who know more than you

My agent is smart and savvy and has my back. I trust her. My critique partner is smart and savvy and has my back. I trust her. Ditto everyone I work with. Editors, publicists. Seek out and surround yourself with a team of people who fill in your industry-specific (and non specific!) education. It’s not always best to be the smartest person in the room.

4. Do all your homework

The internet is bursting – bursting! – with helpful information these days to get you going: you can learn all you need to know about query letters, about agents, about market trends. I ran a blog for six years answering reader questions about the industry and finally shuttered it a few years ago because a) okay, I was kinda sick of it but b) there were so many other resources out there to fill the void. There’s no excuse anymore not to be totally, totally prepared. If you don’t know the answer to something, ask!

5. Be gracious, say thank you

I get a lot of emails asking for publishing advice. I’m happy to help when I can. However, it’s surprising how many people don’t write a quick thanks back. Not that I do it to be thanked! But still. When you ask for my help again, I’m not biting. If, however, you are gracious, I’m happy to have an ongoing dialogue for … infinity. I’ve become friends with people who reached out in the past. No one wants to help out someone who is rude, period.

6. Read a lot

Inspiration can and should be found in those who did it before (and often times better) than you.

7. Get used to rejection.

It will happen. A lot. A loooooooooooot. Don’t take it personally. If you do, you will wither on the vine. Instead, keep writing.

Allison Winn Scotch is the bestselling author of six novels, including The Theory of Opposites, Time of My Life, The Department of Lost and Found, and her latest release, In Twenty Years. In addition to fiction, she pens celebrity profiles for a variety of magazines, which justifies her pop culture obsession and occasionally lends to awesome Facebook status updates. She lives in Los Angeles with her family.

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