tips for writers

I’m a writer too. What advice can you give me?

My first advice is to finish a book. Most people who start a book never finish it. Sometimes you might feel like you have writer’s block, but I’ve learned (because when you’re under contract you CAN’T have writer’s block) to keep writing even if it goes slow. Keep going, let yourself write stupid stuff because you can always go back and revise it. I write how I talk – my style is very conversational. To be successful, you need to write realistic dialogue. (The more you read, the better your own writing will be as well!)

Do you write an outline?

I don’t write an outline. I like to be surprised by where my characters and the story takes me.

How long does it take you to finish one of your books?

It depends. If I’m under deadline, it’s three to four months. I worked on Perfect Chemistry for almost five years on and off while I was in between other projects.

How long did it take you to get your first book published after finishing the manuscript?

My first published book was actually the third book I wrote. I started writing in 2000 and sold my first book in 2005. It took five years for me to get an agent, but she sold my book within two months. I think the hardest part was waiting for “the call” from my agent telling me there was an offer to buy the book. I’m very impatient and I hate waiting.

Do you put a lot of your personal experiences into your books?

I use a lot of “who I am” and the experiences I’ve had in my books, but my books are in no way autobiographical. You’d be surprised how many funny things have happened to me in my life. And yes, I have been spit on by an Alpaca in Israel. I make up all my characters, although sometimes they’re caricatures of people I know.

How many pages is a young adult novel?

Teen novels are usually (not a rule, though) between 45,000 and 90,000 words so check your word count. I use one inch margins, double spaced, and write in either Times New Roman 12 point or Courier New 12 point. In the header of the page I insert the title, my last name, and the page number.

How can I get published?

Once you finish a book, join a writer’s critique group (I did, and wouldn’t be published if it weren’t for the group I joined). After you revise it and give it to a trusted person to critique and you feel like your story is publishable, you might want to search online for a reputable agent (or look at the acknowledgements page inside one of your favorite books because authors usually thank their agents or go to www.publishersmarketplace.com and research agents – it has a monthly cost associated to it, but you can sign up for some information for free). Go online for submission guidelines for each agent you want to submit to (you shouldn’t have to pay an agent unless they sell your book, and then they take a percentage of what you made), and good luck! And please, try not to get discouraged. Most authors have gotten rejected tons of times before they find an agent and sell their first book. If you want to self publish your book, Amazon can do that for no cost to you! Just follow their instructions on how to self publish your book. Note: self-published books don't usually make it onto bookstore shelves and are usually only available online. 

Can I email you a story I’m working on so you can give me pointers?

I used to be able to have writers email me their stories for me to critique, but now I’m unfortunately too busy to read other people’s work because I’m under very tight deadlines. I strongly suggest joining a writer’s critique group (research for ones in your area) or get a bunch of writer friends together and start your own writer’s group!

Anything else?

If writing is your dream, then go for it and don’t give up! That’s what I did. Good luck!

© 2018 by Simone Elkeles