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Author Spotlight

Top 5 Writing Tips…from Debut Authors!

Any aspiring writers out there? We see you! And we something super exciting to share today. You’ve probably noticed a lot of amazing debuts hitting shelves this year. In fact, had a whole #NewBooksNewVoices celebration! Now, those authors are here to share with you their absolute BEST writing tips!


Laura Sibson, author of The Art of Breaking Things


Laura Sibson’s best writing tip:

My favorite piece of writing advice comes from Neil Gaiman:

“Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.”

This advice captures two of the most important aspects of the writing life: surround yourself with honest beta-readers and trust your own instincts. We need to listen when we hear that something is not working and then we need to dig deep to figure out how to serve the story best by revising that thing that isn’t working.

But before you ever get to the stage where you are sharing your work with trusted critique partners, there’s this simple and direct advice from Anne Lamott: “Writing: shitty first drafts. Butt in chair. Just do it. You own everything that happened to you.”



Astrid Scholte, author of Four Dead Queens


Astrid Scholte’s best writing tip:

Finish the book! I know it sounds obvious, but it’s pretty impossible to get an agent or book deal without a finished manuscript (there are always exceptions, of course!) While I wanted to be an author ever since I was a little, it wasn’t until I was 25 that I actually finished a manuscript and seriously started pursuing publication.


Helena Fox, author of How It Feels to Float


Helena Fox’s best writing tip:

READ. Read like the wind! Read everything and anything. Any form of book can feed you as a writer. Whenever we read, we’re drinking in language and form and voice and setting and plot and character, like plants taking in water. And in turn, we create wonderful, unique words and worlds of our own. Reading goes hand in hand with writing; I think of it as the ‘breathing in’ companion to our ‘breathing out’.


Shannon Schuren, author of The Virtue of Sin


Shannon Schuren’s best writing tip:

My best writing tip is going to sound cliched, but it’s don’t give up! Seriously. The only thing that guarantees your failure as a writer is giving up. I was very close to throwing in the towel with The Virtue of Sin. In November 2016, I attended an SCBWI conference with my critique partner, and I told her that I’d hit a wall. I’d revised, queried, been rejected, and I was all tapped out. I was going to shelve the manuscript. And she gave me a pep talk and convinced me to do one more revision. I finished in January, sent out a handful of queries, and signed with my agent after she read the book in one night. A few months later, we had a two-book deal. You never know how close you are. Every word, every rejection, every query is getting you one step closer to your dream. And while you’re doing all that—drafting another novel, writing another short story, sending out another query—you’re learning as you go. So keep going!


Alexandra Villasante, author of The Grief Keeper

The Grief Keeper COVER

Alexandra Villasante’s best tip:

Sometimes we equate productivity with a number of words written, and that’s not always true. You can be productive while walking or washing dishes or (and this one is a big one) reading someone else’s words – as long as you stay connected to your characters by checking in with them every day, the way you would check in on a beloved aunt or a chia pet (okay, more thoughtfully than that!) That way, whenever you have the time to sit and write, you don’t need to dig around to pick up the thread of the story, you’ve been inhabiting the world you’ve built and keeping it alive.





Looking for more amazing debuts? Check out these 6 debuts coming in fall that you definitely do not want to miss!

Penguin Teen