Many writers I know like to think that their work takes no preparation..."It just comes to me," they say, when their work is going well. "I am waiting for my muse" they muse, when it isn't. But good writing, like any other artform done well, is brought about by preparation, from the practical to the poetic.
Everyone has practical tips, of course, that range from "always write at the same time each day" to "get the best tools" to "have a special place for your writing that is sacred."
The more poetic suggestions include: "inspire yourself with art" and "prime the pump with daily writing" and even "surround yourself with beautiful sights and sounds." All of these may be true to one or the other of us--the trick is to find what inspires you, what motivates you, what prepares you to write at your best. Or, at least, to write!
There are also ways for writers to prepare to be published--beyond writing well and often. Many good writers will never be published authors, and for many of them that will be just fine. But for those who do seek publication, there are some steps that need to be taken.
I'll be teaching a class called "Why Some Authors Get Published--and Some Don't" at the Southern California Writer's Conference next week, and going into great detail on this subject, but here are a couple of quick "how to succeed in this business" tips.
Do your homework: If you are targeting a certain market (YA, New Age, Literary Fiction) make sure you read what is being published in that genre. If you desire representation, see what agents are successfully repping your type of work. If you want to be published by a certain press, study their line, and read some of their latest releases.
Be prepared for success: Build a platform, in whatever ways you can--create a buzz about your work with friends and family and then "grow that brand" as the business bigwigs say. Start a blog, write a newsletter, market yourself as an expert in a filed that complements your work.
Be easy to work with: Be professional, and thorough, and kind. Present yourself confidently, but don't be rude or pushy. Do your work (rewrites, for example) in a timely manner.
Hope you can make the conference--it's always inspiring and fun.