by Katy White
With NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) underway, I've been asked a few times how to get started writing a book. If you're interested in writing, do it! There's no better time than now to start. Writing is the absolute best...with bouts of heartbreak and despair. But it's the best.
The first step is to write the thing (okay, or plot the thing). November is the perfect time to do this. Open up a word document (or, better yet, a Scrivener project) and just start writing. With the goal of 50k words in 30 days, you don't have time to think about things like plot and character development. You just have time to start practicing writing.
But for those who like to be a little more prepared while getting started, the following link provides a wealth of resources for beginners and pros alike:
If you've already written a book, the next step is to edit the thing. My first piece of advice is to read it out loud, as much of it as you can possibly do. Nothing helps you find odd bits of dialogue or strange wording better than hearing it read. Along with that, though, this site is overflowing with tips for all levels:
Next, you'll need to get critique partners to critique the thing. If you can find people who write what you write, ask them! I've found CPs at writer's conferences, on twitter, through online writing workshops, and through contests. Maggie Stiefvater hosts a CP Love Connection every year (at least I think it's every year). Also, if you haven't checked out Absolutewrite.com yet, do. Not only is it a great place to find critique partners, it's a great place to learn how to become an author.
Once your book has been torn apart by your CPs and rewritten, then torn apart by the next round and rewritten again (and again), it's time to write your query letter. A query letter is the means by which you approach an agent about being represented. An agent is your advocate and your way in with publishing houses. If you dream of being traditionally published, you need an agent. If you want an agent, you need a query letter. Agent Extraordinaire, Janet Reid, has a blog called Query Shark that is immensely helpful. Honestly, you probably want to become best friends with this site. :)
Nathan Bransford (famous author and agent) also has excellent resources on all things writing, including how to write a query letter. His website is a goldmine of information for writers.
For finding agents, I lived on Casey McCormick's fabulous Agent Spotlight through. For tracking the querying process as a whole, I used querytracker.net, along with a shockingly and needlessly convoluted Excel spreadsheet of my own devising (I love Excel. Don't judge.)
And there you have it! Easy as pie, right? (Side note: I can't make pie. But I can eat the heck out of it.)