Happy New Year! PageCurl has big plans this year. We’re going to be revamping our website a bit to speed it up, take on more clients, and hopefully publish at least four or five new authors! Do you want to be one of them? That’s right, we’re taking submissions now!

That’s a great segue into today’s post. Craft.

Being an author is more than simply putting words down on paper (or screen) and then hitting the publish button. Being an author carries responsibilities. One of those responsibilities? Improving your craft.

But what does that mean? Well, we’re going to spend a few weeks talking about craft here on the blog, but we’ve got a top five list for you today.

  1. Read. Yes, really. Read everything. Read books in your genre. Read books that aren’t in your genre. Read books by authors you admire and authors who are new to you. But once you finish a book, think back. What about the book spoke to you? What didn’t? Did you love the characters? Hate them? Why? We’re not suggesting you analyze every single book. That can get tedious and take some of the pleasure out of reading. But try to ask these questions after at least one out of every three or four books you read.
  2. Find a qualified editor. This one can be a little challenging. Anyone can spend $10 on a website (or maybe a little more) and call themselves an editor. While this might be an unpopular¬†piece of advice, don’t go for the cheapest editor. Qualified editors rarely charge $200 for a manuscript. Ask for references. Check out the other books the potential editor has worked on. Read the reviews. And get a sample edit to make sure your styles mesh.
  3. Take care.¬†We see a lot of careless mistakes in manuscripts. Run spell check before you submit your manuscript to your editor and then again before you publish. Learn how to properly format dialog tags. Don’t change point of view within a paragraph.
  4. Outline. Yes, even you pantsers can benefit from some very light outlining. We’re not talking about the super detailed outines we all learned in school. But even mapping out a few key tension points before you start your story can help you produce a work that readers can’t put down.
  5. Never stop learning. We’re going to cover some of our favorite writing books in more detail over the next few weeks, but Stephen King’s On Writing and Donald Maass’s Writing the Breakout Novel are two of our favorites.

Anyone can be a writer. But authors are passionate about their characters, their stories, and their craft. Want to take your writing to the next level? Want to publish a book readers can’t imagine putting down? Then stop by here every week in January (and maybe February, too) for our Improving Your Craft series and watch your writing soar.