Any advice for aspiring writers?

The best training is to read, read, read. If you’re a bookworm, you already have a head start on everyone else who wants to publish their projects. Also, read not just the classics, but read also what’s being published today. Plot, pacing and characterization is so much snappier in books being published today than, say, fifty years ago. So if you want to be published the traditional way (with an agent and traditional publisher like Random House, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Lee & Low, etc.), you have to keep abreast of the marketplace. That said, don’t focus too much on the market, trends, what others are up to, etc. You want to keep laser focused on your projects and not let the noise distract you too much. And one more thing: rejection is all part of the process, and it’ll make you stronger. During the years when agents and publishers rejected my work, it would sting for a while, but then I became even more determined to make my next project better. And even when you’re a published author, rejection is still part of the game.

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