Stephen King’s 12 tips to make you a successful writer

1. Be talented

Well duh. Being talented helps a lot, you didn’t need me to tell you that! However, talent can be defined in many different ways. Maybe it’s the amount of fans you have, the copies you sold, the profit you’ve made. Whatever it is, set the standard for yourself, set it high and work towards it. Talent doesn’t come cheap, writing is rewriting.

2. Be neat

Of course you’re a special snowflake of a person but you still need to follow the rules like everybody else. You’re not dr. House, you can’t make things adjust to you until you already achieved the rep of a wanted genius. Follow the format instructions in detail. Use nice paper. If you made any notes or marks on the manuscript, revise and make a fresh print.

3. Be self-critical

Not even the professionals get it right on the first try. Nobody writes a master piece on the first go. Put your work away for a while and look at it again with fresh eyes, mark it up for revision and improvement.

4. Cut the redundant words

An important skill to master as a writer is word economy. Be precise and to the point in your message.

5 Don’t look at reference books while doing your first draft

If you’re writing, stick to the flow you’re in. Just keep going and be creative. You can look up spelling of words later. You can refine that sentence to perfection, later.

6 Know the market

Once you have written your story, find the right place for it. Don’t send it off to agents or publishers of the wrong genre.

7 Write to entertain

Alright, so you wrote your epic story but here’s the hitch. It won’t sell if it’s not entertaining to anyone but you.

8 Also write to entertain yourself

If you’re not enjoying working on the project, it’s probably a waste of time to continue on it. Find a different idea to work on.

9 How to evaluate criticism

Send out your “finished” manuscript to a hand (or two) full of people you trust and whose opinion you value. Listen carefully to the feedback and put them all next to each other. If a lot (7 or 8 at) of your audience say the same thing about the same aspect of the story, they probably have a point and it will be worth changing. Either change it to their feedback or clarify the issue if you feel it was misunderstood.

10 Follow the rules for submission

Not just the rules for formatting, also the rules of submission apply to everybody including you. Return postage, self-addressed envelope, the works.

11 Don’t rush into the arms of an agent

They get 10% of the income but 10% of nothing is nothing. Agents aren’t interested in authors that aren’t likely to sell and mr-unknown isn’t likely to easily sell. Send query letters to publishers yourself first.

12 If it sucks, throw it out

Be real with yourself. If your finished product is still bad then put it aside. Don’t spend months trying to convince others it’s better than you know in your heart it is. See it as a stepping stone, you’ve learned, you’ve improved. Your next one will be better.

Source: Stephen King