One thing is more important than any other. My foremost advice to burgeoning authors or burgeoning anything is this:
It takes precedence over virtually everything else.
You do things your way, or you don’t do them. If you can’t or won’t be original, can’t or won’t do something that hasn’t been done before or done that particular way… don’t bother.
That leaves out any traditional path, leaves out anything even smacking of the average, the safe and acceptable. Any artist or human being’s duty and right are to blaze a trail in blood and guts and wild abandon.
Forget about agents and of being accepted by established, traditional publishers. Don’t be a slave. Be your own publisher.
Don’t edit your story to death. Frown at editing, but do change what you’re not pleased with from the original manuscript, and consider without prejudice suggested changes by people you trust, accept them or not, but stay loyal to the original idea.
I tend to compare writing and subsequent «editing» with a bank robbery. If you plan too hard and long, nothing will ever be done. You may stand right across the street from the bank, and mutter to yourself: «Why didn’t I think of that before»? And you turn back and go home…
And years pass by, and you may no longer be in the necessary mental and physical shape to commit to the robbery and all plans remain in your drawer.
Incidentally, most of the advice young authors/artists receive today is still infested by the old, stale and tyrannical system. They tell you you have to submit, to bow to guidelines that has always seemed quite insane to me, now, more than ever.
I knew from the very start that my books would be published one night, somehow. I confess I didn’t know how, but I felt it in my bones. And with the onset of digital publishing and the Internet they were. And now I have the pleasure of being able to publish my backlog, publish twelve books during the next two years.
Many great manuscripts have remained in the drawer because of the tyranny of the established publishers and the system of tyranny they established, but that system is now, increasingly so in tatters. And what great news that is.
This is Your time, the age of the truly independent artist/author/publisher.
You should read the links below. They provide you with a step by step history of my evolution as an author/artist/publisher, and also technical advice.
The story so far:
True Artistic Freedom (II)
Reading it again
The chores of an independent author/artist
My fifty cents
True artistic freedom
Labeling and genre writing
Alarums of reality
The difficulties in describing a complex storyline
Firewind - my stories, art and poems on the Web
My writer «CV»
The Janus Clan