3 Tips for Pre-pubbed Writers from Author Amanda Wen
Pepper here, and I'm so excited to have author, Amanda Wen, with us today! I'm serving up some coffee, tea, and chocolate croissants, so come enjoy some important tips from Amanda.
One of the things I love most about Seekerville—and the writing community in general—about how committed authors are to supporting other authors. Whether you’re a bestseller or just getting started, chances are there’s someone you can learn from, and someone who can learn from you. To that end, here are three bits of wisdom I gleaned from those who helped me when I was first getting started, including some advice I got right here on Seekerville!
1. Contests can get you noticed.
I’ve written for fun my whole life, but started writing seriously in 2014. “Seriously,” for me, meant “show my stories to my middle school BFF, who is herself a multi-published author, and fix whatever she tells me to fix.” There were indeed many things to fix, but once I fixed those things, my friend encouraged me to enter contests. Those seemed pretty terrifying, as I’d heard horror stories about judges shredding people’s entries and destroying their confidence, but then I found the ACFW First Impressions Contest, which only requires the first five pages of a manuscript. I chucked my little entry in, figuring that even if the judges did shred it, it was only five pages, and my ego could (probably) survive that.
To my astonishment, the judges didn’t shred my entry. In fact, they kinda liked it. One of the final round judges really liked it, in fact, and—long story short—that judge is now my literary agent. Would I have found her outside of First Impressions? Perhaps. Would my query have eventually worked its way to the top of her slush pile? Maybe. But that contest was the route God chose to connect me with my agent, and I’m forever grateful I decided to enter.
2. Work on a new project while you’re on submission.
After I signed with my agent, she schlepped my manuscript to a handful of publishers, and thus began one of my life’s more agonizing periods of waiting. About that time I came across perhaps the best piece of writer advice I ever received: Work on something else while your book is on submission.
Perhaps more importantly, though, working on something else has the added benefit of occupying your mind. Instead of obsessively stalking editors on social media, wondering if that amazing new manuscript they just tweeted about might be yours, and checking your email hundreds of times a day, your mind is occupied with new characters, new scenes, and new worlds.
This doesn’t mean you won’t online-stalk editors. Of course you will. But the goal is for you to do it less.
3. Contests aren’t everything.
Yup, we’re back on the contest thing again. With my Project The First on submission and Shiny New Something in the works, I had two manuscripts I could enter in contests. (If it worked before, why not try it again?)
One of the projects won almost every contest it entered. Judges loved it. The other one, however, received the lowest scores I’d ever seen on anything I’d ever submitted. It won nothing. It finaled in nothing. And I figured it was probably going nowhere.
I’ve never been happier to be wrong.
I’ll always have a soft spot for Project The First. It led me to my agent. It helped me believe in myself as a writer. But it wasn’t published, and likely never will be. It never made it to editorial committee or pub board or anything.
Shiny New Something, though? The project I started to keep myself from stalking editors? The one that got shredded by contest judges?
That one ended up being my debut, Roots of Wood and Stone.
What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received? I’d love to know. Leave a comment below, and one lucky commenter will receive a signed paperback of either Roots of Wood and Stone or its sequel, The Songs That Could Have Been (your choice)!
Amanda Wen’s debut novel, Roots of Wood and Stone, released to both reader and critical acclaim. The book was named a 2021 Foreword INDIES Award winner and was a finalist in both the Christy and Carol Awards. In addition to her writing, Amanda is an accomplished professional cellist and pianist who frequently performs with orchestras, chamber groups, and her church’s worship team, as well as serving as a choral accompanist. A lifelong denizen of the flatlands, Amanda currently lives in Kansas with her patient, loving, and hilarious husband, their three adorable Wenlets, and a snuggly Siamese cat. She loves to connect with readers through her newsletter and share book recommendations on BookBub.