Home » How to avoid these Top Five newbie author Mistakes

How to avoid these Top Five newbie author Mistakes

by Sue Brown-Moore

Intimidating, exhilarating, overwhelming, cathartic, confusing…

These are just a few of the emotions that frighten aspiring authors. Writing your own fiction is empoweringso empoweringbut the experience can be scary and make you feel vulnerable.

Once you start planning to share your work, even if it’s just with a partner or best friend, a rush of uncomfortable new feelings creeps in, and it’s easy to make poor snap decisions

Your enthusiasm inspires me every day. Hold on to that spark!

As a freelance editor who specializes in romantic fiction, I work with a lot of newbie and first-time authors. And you inspire me with your bravery and enthusiasm and spirit every day. I just want to bottle it up and hold it close for when I’m feeling down. 

I will show you how to power through your challenges.

I want to help you hold on to that creative high as long as you can and show you how to power through the challenges ahead.

👉 Here are my TOP FIVE TIPS to

avoid the most common newbie author mistakes. 💥

Start Strong: 5 Pro Tips to Avoid Newbie Author Mistakes (Tip #1)

Mistake #1: Rushing or forcing the writing process

New authors often feel pressured to finish. You’ve gotten started—that’s the easy part—but maybe you’ve hit a snag. The words aren’t coming as easily as they did before. Maybe the characters have stopped speaking to you. And the temptation to push through and force words onto the page—to find that sense of completion—is powerful. So what do you do?

Tip #1: Take a time out. Get to know your characters.

When your creativity runs dry and the muse goes into hiding, sometimes all you need is a breather. And maybe a new perspective. 

Delve deep into your characters and find out what makes them tick. What do they want? What are they scared of? What one thing are they avoiding that would ultimately make them happy? Understanding your characters’ Goals, Motivations, Conflicts, and Core Values is essential. These are the foundational building blocks for every effective story.

Start Strong: 5 Pro Tips to Avoid Newbie Author Mistakes (Tip #2)

Mistake #2: Writing in a vaccum

One of the biggest regrets authors have after getting their first developmental edit back—and seeing all the story possibilities it can open up—is not investing in a story edit sooner.

Just like grammar, storytelling is a learned skill. Readers often understand it a gut level; a story is “good” or it “sucks”. They can’t really tell you why, but they won’t hesitate to slam your book with a low rating. 

Do you want to find out your story needs work before you release it or after? Just how many drafts are you willing to rewrite?

Tip #2: Partner with an editor. From the very start.

There are several different kinds of fiction editing, but you should partner with a developmental editor and a copy editor at the very least.

Developmental editors study story craft. We ask questions and we point out weak spots. We identify when a character decision makes no sense or a conflict scene hinges on dubious motivation. As the author, you’re too close to the story to see it critically, and editors are trained to think analytically. Even editors who write their own stories should invest in professional editing, both dev and copy.

Collaboration is one of the most effective ways to boost creativity and grow as an author, as well as make the most of your time. Revisions will suck the life out of your muse.

Start Strong: 5 Pro Tips to Avoid Newbie Author Mistakes (Tip #3)

Mistake #3: Trying to write a "perfect" story

How many perfect people do you personally know? If the answer is more than zero… 🧐

Characters in books shouldn’t be perfect any more than people in real life are. And your writing will never be perfect either—no one’s is. Perfect is boring, but flaws can be compelling.

Tip #3: Perfect is a journey, not a blitzkrieg destination.

Instead, work toward “a little bit better” with each revision, each new story, each new rung on the ladder of your success. Don’t try to improve ALL THE THINGS all at once.

One of the most devastating crimes you can commit against your self-worth, especially as a creative professional, is to put yourself down or compare yourself to someone else. No one else’s journey matters. Failure is not forever. Your experiences, and how you react to them, define the person you will become.

When you’re mastering your craft, give yourself reasonable challenges and take pride in each achievement, even if those little celebrations feel silly. Especially when.

Start Strong: 5 Pro Tips to Avoid Newbie Author Mistakes (Tip #4)

Mistake #4: Publishing your first book without any planning

You’ve put in so much hard work. You’re tired of looking at the same story, over and over. You want some closure, some payoff. You need to recoup some of the money and time and energy you’ve invested. 

Hurtling toward a book launch might seem like the inevitable conclusion to months’ (sometimes years’) worth of work. You might be so sick of your own story world that you can’t fathom spending even one more day in it. Or maybe you’ve got a dozen stories knocking at your door, and you just want to get this first one out there and done so you can move on.

Tip #4: Don’t rush to publication. Especially for your debut.

There are so many reasons not to rush your first book release, but the three most important are:

  1. You only get one chance to make a powerful first impression.
  2. Some resources are only available to unpublished authors.
  3. Orchestrating a successful launch event is a complex undertaking.

Take time to watch and learn from your peers, their mistakes and their triumphs, without taking any high-profile risks for yourself. Publishing your first book, whether it’s through a publisher or as an indie author, is a scary and exciting time, and you only get to debut once. So make it count.

Savor being an unknown. There are some exposure and educational opportunities you can only qualify for as long as you are unpublished. You never know who you’ll meet through a contest or what new technique you’ll learn that will give you the boost you need to keep going.

Take the time to really think about what you want for your career, how you want to be known, what you want to be known for. Depending on what release strategy you decide on, you might invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in your first launch, so take the time to research your market.

Start Strong: 5 Pro Tips to Avoid Newbie Author Mistakes (Tip #5)

Mistake #5: Putting too much faith in other people's feedback

You’ve put in so much hard work. You’re tired of looking at the same story, over and over. You want some closure, some payoff. You need to recoup some of the money and time and energy you’ve invested. 

Hurtling toward a book launch might seem like the inevitable conclusion to months’ (sometimes years’) worth of work. You might be so sick of your own story world that you can’t fathom spending even one more day in it. Or maybe you’ve got a dozen stories knocking at your door, and you just want to get this first one out there and done so you can move on.

Tip #5: Do not define your worth by the results of contests and critiques

I know what you’re thinking. Sue, you just said in Tip #4 that contest feedback can be a perk of being unpublished. And that is true. But keep in mind that contests are often judged by your peers—other authors, many of them with little or no training in grammar and storycraft.

Feedback is a valuable tool as long as you take everything in perspective. Don’t automatically assume that someone else is right and you are wrong. Effective storytelling is not about right and wrong. Sometimes breaking the rules is a good thing.

Being a fiction author is one of the most psychologically and emotionally vulnerable careers you could choose. And external validation is a tempting lifeline to keep you going when your tank is empty. But you should never, ever let someone else’s opinion of your work affect your pursuit of success or how you perceive yourself as a person.

Start Strong: 5 Pro Tips to Avoid Newbie Author Mistakes

Take control of your career

Sign up for my FREE email primer for new and aspiring authors below, and I’ll share with you how to:

  • Get to the heart of your characters’ Goals, Motivations, and Conflicts
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  • Decide when and how to publish your work
  • How to get the most out of contest feedback

This 5-day journey will elevate the way you approach your career and help you avoid the most common mistakes in those critical early days of publishing. 

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