Many of us have stories in our heads that never make it onto the printed page. Those who do complete this mysterious process – including Jeff Siebold, Jean Heller, John Graves, and Teri Brown, the “Authors We Adore by the Sea” – shared their methods at FOLSOI’s recent annual meeting. Here are some of the keys to writing success they shared at the meeting:

Live an Interesting Life: Our authors had decades of career experience other than fiction writing and most had traveled extensively; John Graves spent time in 80 countries. They saw plenty of things that would fuel their fiction writing.

Do Extensive Research: Our featured authors knew that the credibility of their story depended on getting the details right. “What poison could kill without leaving a trace?” Jean Heller asked local pharmacologists, assuring them that she was not a serial killer, just writing a book. Jeff Siebold remarked, “If the FBI ever looked at my hard drive…” 

Have a Writing Process… or Not: Some writers are “plotters” creating meticulous outlines and sticking to a rigorous writing schedule, others are “pantsers” who embark unplanned and write based on the seat of their pants. Teri Brown is a self-described “binge pantser” writing for hours or days on end. Jeff Siebold commits to writing 500 words a day, nearly every day. 

Get Published: Some authors self-publish; others work with traditional or “hybrid” publishers. The proliferation of e-books has helped them control costs and reach a wider audience. 

Publicize Your Book: Spoiler alert: publishers don’t handle all the publicity. It’s up to authors to attend events, leverage social media, and spend long days on the road. 

If you’d like to work on YOUR writing, please consider joining our upcoming Writers Group at Harper Library, meeting monthly starting September 22. Call (910) 457-6237 or stop by the library to register. Who knows… maybe we’ll feature YOU at a “Meet the Author” event!