Thursday, September 26, 2013

In her visit with us today, author Mary Ellis plays teacher. Not one to waste time, she's already giving a quiz!

If you're a writer who hasn't yet been published, take your seats, please. This is for you... 

Are you hampering your chances of getting published in fiction?
 (because of your perceptions of the writing process or the publishing industry?)

Take my 10 question true-or-false quiz and let’s see. (Note: some might be trick questions, and many are nothing more than my opinion …but they’ll provide something for you to think about.) My answers are below.

____ 1. A writer should always wait until creative ideas are flowing before sitting down to write, otherwise your story will suffer.

____ 2. Know your subject matter backwards and forwards before you begin your book.

____ 3. There is an unlimited number of plot lines, themes, and character archetypes out there, so pick something fresh for your novel.

____ 4. Being a career author is little different than being a doctor, lawyer or bricklayer in many aspects.

____ 5. You’ll know after writing (and trying to sell) one manuscript whether or not you’re destined to be an author.

____6. Take your agent’s advice only if it agrees fully with your personal expectations regarding your career path.

___  7. The most important thing during your pre-published period is to establish a platform for yourself via social networking such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.

___  8. It’s necessary to be a Christian and have strong faith to write inspirational novels.

____9. Be willing to change your story to suggestions made by critique partners or concerned members of your writing group.

___10. Self-publishing your first novel is a good way to get your foot in the door with an advance-paying publishing house.

Bonus question:  Which of the following characteristics is most important in determining whether you’ll be a professional writer someday?  a) lucky   b) brilliant    c) persistent     d) young and attractive     e) thick-skinned


1)  False—sit down and write something every day. You can always edit and tweak later, but you can’t fix something that doesn’t exist.

2) False—this might be true of non-fiction, but not for fiction. You could actually overload a story with too much factual detail. Learn your subject subject/historical period well enough to be accurate and then concentrate on your story!

3) False--there truly are no new themes or plot lines out there. Make your voice as unique as possible, because that’s what will make your story shine.

4) True—you must take your work schedule as seriously as if you’re in a high-rise office surrounded by crabby bosses. To be successful, you must be professional and dedicated to the craft.

5)  False—few people ever sell their first manuscript, at least not without substantial rewrites down the road. Bite the bullet after your first batch of rejections and start a fresh story. Writing is not for quitters.

6) False—I could have sold to a mainstream publisher faster had I taken my agent’s advice sooner. Although you can’t change your writing style to fit the current hot genre, remember your agent sees aspects of the business unknown to you. Be willing to at least try his/her suggestion.

7) False—although many respected people in the business will disagree with me. I say the most important thing is to make your manuscript superior to the others flooding an editor’s or agent’s desk. If social networking must take a backseat for now, so be it.

8) True—if you don’t believe it, if you don’t feel it in your bones, your Christian characters won’t come alive to your readers.

9) False—you should be willing to consider their suggestions and remain open-minded but in the end, this is your story, your voice. You must write the book of your heart.

10) False—self-publishing your first non-fiction book is a good way to get your foot in the door with
(non-fiction) publishers. But in my opinion, it's neither here-nor-there
regarding fiction. It won’t help you…but it won’t hurt you either. Not every story is destined for the “mainstream” market, so self-publishing is a good choice for those books that don’t fit any particular pigeon-hole.

Bonus Question: although ALL may be helpful, persistence is what you need to achieve your dreams. May God bless you and continue to guide your writing journey!   ~Mary Ellis

Mary Ellis is the bestselling author of many books, including A Widow's Hope, An Amish Family Reunion, and Living in Harmony. She and her husband live in central Ohio, where they try to live a simpler style of life.

Be sure to stop by tomorrow, when you can enter to win a free copy of Mary's latest release, A Little Bit of Charm, the third in the New Beginnings series!  


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