Throughout my writing career, I’ve devoured countless blog posts, podcasts, and interviews by authors talking about the advice they received when starting out. Learning from mentors helps us to improve and evolve in our chosen field, and I still recall the advice given to me at the start of my writing journey.
In 2019, to honour my mentors and help the next generation of writers’ young and old, I started a feature whereby established authors shared their words of wisdom and top ten writing tips.
It was a huge success and I’m delighted to bring the feature back for a second season!
Meet Matt Cost
Matt Cost is the highly acclaimed, award-winning author of the Mainely Mystery series. The first book, Mainely Power, was selected as the Maine Humanities Council Read ME fiction book of 2020. This was followed by Mainely Fear, Mainely Money, and Mainely Angst.
I Am Cuba: Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution was his first traditionally published novel. He had another historical release in August of 2021, Love in a Time of Hate.
Wolfe Trap and Mind Trap were the first two in the Clay Wolfe Port Essex Trap series. Mouse Trap is the third in this series, due out in April of 2022, and Cosmic Trap in September.
Cost was a history major at Trinity College. He owned a mystery bookstore, a video store, and a gym, before serving a ten-year sentence as a junior high school teacher. In 2014 he was released and began writing. And that’s what he does. He writes histories and mysteries.
Cost now lives in Brunswick, Maine, with his wife, Harper. There are four grown children: Brittany, Pearson, Miranda, and Ryan. A chocolate Lab and a basset hound round out the mix. He now spends his days at the computer, writing.
Matt’s Top 10 Writing Tips:
- Write. This seems simple, but I often hear people saying they’ve always wanted to write a book or authors who struggle to find time or focus, and to both, my best advice is once begun, half done. You must sit down (or stand up) and write.
- Write because you love to do it. It is difficult to get an agent, equally as hard to get a publisher, and even then, most likely, your sales will be minimal. There are wild success stories, but they are few and far between.
- Enjoy every step in the process. There is always room to rise up and reap more sales and accolades and too many writers don’t stop to smell the roses along the way. You started writing a book. Relish in that. You finished a book. Fantastic. You got an agent. Celebrate. You got a publisher. Wow. Your ARCs are delivered…. You get the point. Too many writers have their eyes so far down the road to being a New York Times bestselling author and winning a Nobel Prize that they don’t take time to cherish the journey. Savor it.
- Expect to wear many hats. You’ll be a writer, editor, publicist, publisher, promoter, marketer, and sales staff for your book. If you want people to read what you’ve written, which is one of the reasons for writing, then you’re going to have to wear many hats.
- Thicken your skin. When you get published, your book is likely to be read by people other than your family and friends. Some reviewers seem to revel in hating. While almost all of my professional reviews have been positive, there have been some that have been unfair. A Kirkus reviewer criticized my historical novel on Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution because I didn’t allude to things that occurred years after the conclusion of my book in 1959. On GoodReads, I have a reviewer that read all three books in my Mainely Mystery series and gave them one, two, and three stars. I finally had to comment, asking her to please stop reading my books if she doesn’t like them. Not every book is for every person.
- Take pride in your writing. Some authors try to figure out the game and write to what they think is popular or trending. The fact is, you’ll be too late, as the process of writing and publishing a book takes years, and by then, the fad is gone. And you’ll possibly have spent that time doing something you’re not proud of. Write what you want. And then let the chips fall.
- Organize your writing. This is different for everybody, but figure out who you are as a writer. Do you write best in the morning or the evening? Some people write by the seat of their pants, creating as they go, and others plot everything out carefully before writing a single word. Most of us are somewhere in between. I make an outline, which is mostly blank, before I start. I’ll often plot out three things to cover in the upcoming chapter, but sometimes don’t, and will fill it in after I finish the chapter. This is a good reference for keeping me on track, as well as a guide when I need to look back in the manuscript for something. I’ll also have inspiration on occasion, of something that is going to happen down the road in the writing, and I’ll put that into the outline roughly when I think it will happen.
- Write every day. I know that this is not possible for many and not feasible for others. But it is something that works for me. I sit down every single morning and write. Sometimes, if I have other things happening, it might just be for an hour. Usually, it is for the bulk of the day. Either way, it keeps the story running and fresh in my brain. I find if I miss a day, or worse, more than that, that I must spend time catching up with what is going on in my own book.
- Befriend other writers. It is an excruciating business, this thing called writing, and it is necessary to have a support group like AA. People who know what you are going through, push you when needed, pick you up when you fall, and always lend an ear and often a piece of brutal honesty when needed.
Massive thanks to Matt for sharing his top tips with us. Check out all of matt’s novels and connect with him here:
Mind Trap Blurb:
What is the End Game?
It was as close to ecstasy as the woman had ever been in her life. It was enlightenment. She was no longer Martha Abbott. She was a warrior of Marduk engaged in a war of purity.
“You say your daughter is missing?”Clay Wolfe asked. The man in front of him was slightly disheveled. Red eyes. Fear creased his features.
What is going to happen on Leap Day?
“We have allowed sin to fill our homes, and it is our divine labor to cleanse that filth from our streets.” Marduk’s voice boomed through the cavernous temple.
Something evil is lurking in the streets of Port Essex. A missing girl. Violent attacks. It is up to Private Investigator Clay Wolfe, his partner Baylee Baker, and a colorful assortment of friends to get to the bottom of these odious occurrences before it is too late. Mind Trap is a thrilling ride set in a small Maine town with rich characters and shocking plot twists that will keep the reader rapt within the pages.
Buy Mind Trap here: