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Tips for Writers

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 15, 2011

Welcome to our guest blogger, Geraldine Evans! Geraldine is a multi-published author who writes the popular Rafferty & Llewellyn crime series. She also writes the Casey & Catt mystery series and has published various historical and romance novels, plus nonfiction articles. See Geraldine’s earlier blog below on Metaphors.           Geraldine2

Geraldine is a Londoner but now lives in Norfolk, England where she moved, with her husband George, in 2000. Deadly Reunion is her eighteenth novel and number fourteen in her humorous Rafferty & Llewellyn series. She is currently working on her next mystery in this series.

Ten Tips for Writers

By Geraldine Evans, author of the Rafferty & Llewellyn and the Casey & Catt crime series.

1. Don’t write what you believe to be the most popular trend – unless it’s one you’re passionate about. Chasing trends – fading or otherwise – is usually a mistake. As a writer, you should be doing your own thing, writing about things you feel strongly about: whether that subject be the destructiveness of war or that love conquers all. Write about your own obsessions. And strive for originality whilst you’re at it.

2. Don’t think that it’s an editor’s job to correct your spelling, your grammar or your facts. Yes, they will do this, but they’ll regard you as lazy and not willing to go that extra mile if you leave these for the editor to correct. Bestsellers can get away with being sloppy, but for the rest of us, it’s a big no, no. Because, when the bad days come – and they’re never very far away in the publishing industry! – they’ll be less willing to push for your retention.

3. As a sub-clause to 2, don’t treat your editor or the other staff as your personal servants. Always be polite and appreciative of anything they do for you, especially when it’s above the call of duty. Mention them in your acknowledgements or dedication.

4. While you’re still struggling to get an acceptance, abide by the rules. Always check a publisher’s personal preferences when it comes to submissions (reference books – Writers’ Market (US) and Writers’ Handbook or Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook (UK): if they say they only want three chapters and a synopsis, do not send them the entire typescript, for instance. Make sure you get the editor’s name right by ringing up before you type your submission letter and asking if the name you have is correct. It’s irritating when someone hasn’t troubled to get your name right, so why start off on the wrong foot with Ms Ed?

5. It’s a good, if expensive, idea, to have your work professionally criticized/edited before you submit (Writers’ Market (US) Writers’ Handbook or Writer’s and Artists’ Yearbook (UK). That way you’d be greatly improving your chances. Astonishingly, even nowadays with the world awash with computers, people are still slapdash in their presentation. And they still submit after the first draft. Don’t follow their example.

6. If you have an agent and she really ‘does the business’ for you, it’s a gesture much appreciated if you acknowledge this, not only in your published work, but also by sending a timely gift. I remember my literary agent was astonished when I sent her a large and expensive bouquet of flowers. I’ve been one of her favorite clients ever since (or so she tells me).

7. Do your best to network in the publishing industry with other professionals. There’s so much to learn, so make your learning curve as sweeping as possible. Attend some of the industries’ festivals and conferences. Subscribe to writers’ magazines so you keep abreast of what’s happening and who’s looking for what, etc. Don’t be a shrinking violet or your just blossoming writing career might be over before it’s properly begun. Once you’re published, you’ll need to market like crazy. You’ll want your own website and blog. You’ll want a newsletter, you’ll want to set up blog tours. You’ll need to send postcards out to bookstores and libraries and create (or pay someone else to create them for you) other marketing materials like bookmarks and flyers to give away at the talks and signings you’ve also done your best to organize. You’ll want to sign up with various online writers’ networks like Yahoo Group MurderMustAdvertise, for instance, which are full of helpful hints and tips for the newbie and the not-so-newbie.

8. Don’t get stuck in a rut with your writing. Okay, you might be a mid-lister, but that’s no reason not to carry on trying to be something more in your ever-shrinking spare time. Having a shot at the occasional one-off in the same or even a different genre is one way of keeping on striving. Another is to venture into publishing new or backlist novels as ebooks. It’s free to put books up on Kindle and Amazon’s DTP platform (now called KDP (K for Kindle), makes it reasonably simple even if you’re not techie-minded (or so they tell me. But I’m a technological thickie!) and used the services of Kimberly Hitchens ( to get my books ready for epublishing. She even found me a reasonably-priced artist to design my jackets.

9. Sign up for other writers’ blogs. It’s truly amazing what you can learn from more experienced, like-minded people. Link with them on your website and offer to host their guest blogs. We’re all in this together and we need to help one another.

10. Finally, enjoy what you do. Don’t always be yearning for bestsellerdom. I’ve read many bestsellers that I didn’t enjoy at all and I’ve read novels by writers I’d never heard of, which I enjoyed hugely. Remind yourself periodically that that’s what it’s about. Satisfying the reader, giving them enjoyment, is what it’s all for. And let’s face it, bestselling writers have, as far as any of us know, satisfied only one reader – the editor who took them on – the rest, as any of you who have read disappointing, hyped books will know, is often smoke and mirrors. But if you make it to the top, help those below you. The publishing world is so fickle that next year it might be you at the bottom of the pile. Make sure, in your rise to the top, that you don’t step on people, particularly those with long memories and a mafia-like desire for revenge.

Geraldine’s Blog Tour: **Prize Drawing from all blog commenters!

Geraldine’s website:

Geraldine’s blog:

Deadly Reunion

Detective Inspector Joe Rafferty is barely back from his honeymoon before he has two unpleasant surprises. Not only has he another murder investigation – a poisoning at a school reunion, he also has four new lodgers, courtesy of his Ma, Kitty Rafferty. Ma is organising her own reunion and since getting on the internet, the list of Rafferty and Kelly family attendees has grown, like Topsy. In his murder investigation, Rafferty has to go back in time to learn of all the likely motives of the victim’s fellow reunees. But it is only when he is reconciled to his unwanted lodgers, that Rafferty finds the answers to his most important questions.


To Purchase Deadly Reunion:


19 Responses to “Tips for Writers”

  1. Nancy, thanks for this. Two posts from me in a matter of days: you’re spoiling me!

  2. Thanks to Geraldine for her ten tips and to Nancy for posting. Good information.

  3. Thanks for stopping by, Betty! And Geraldine, it’s been my pleasure.

  4. All excellent advice! Thanks, Geraldine! And thanks, Nancy, too!

  5. Jeanne Meeks said

    Thanks Nancy and Geraldine, It is good advice to stick to your passion. I thought I might be doing it wrong when I attended the Love Is Murder convention in Chicago and thought that my Grand Canyon murder mystery didn’t fit in with any of them. I guess that’s a good thing! You also mentioned not to step on people on your way up….at the LIM convention, even the NY Times listed authors were real people — friendly and helpful. It was a wonderful weekend for a newbie.

  6. Glad you had a good time at the conference, Jeanne. Networking is so important to our career.

  7. I think this is some of the best suggestions I have ever read! Thanks so much.
    I think networking is the best way to get published!

    • Wow, Mary! Thank you so much. Seems even I didn’t know how wise I am. 🙂

      Seriously, though, I’m glad you’ve found my tips of value. It’s only by learning the wrinkles that us old-timers have garnered along the way, that newbies stand a chance.

  8. Michael Meeske said

    Ms. Evans: Thanks for the timely and informative tips. Its always good to hear about the realities of this business from an expert. Thanks, Nancy, for hosting.

    • Michael, thank you. I hope my tips help you on your journey to publication. It’s a rocky road, I know and not always well-rewarded when one reaches journey’s end, but I still wouldn’t want to do anything else.

  9. Great advice from an amazing author! Thanks this one is a keeper!

  10. Jacqueline Seewald said

    Very good advice. I’ve given similar suggestions when I taught creative writing.

  11. M. E. Kemp said

    I’m a little late with my comment – sometimes I star posts to look at later, so that I can concentrate on it and this was one — now I have to pick up some Rafferty books! Sounds right up my alley. Marilyn aka: M.E.Kemp, DEATH OF A DANCING MASTER

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