What are the most common mistakes first time novelist make?
Thanks for the A2A!
I agree with others that first-time novelists can be blind to criticism, but in my experience, the opposite is also true: they listen too much to others' opinions.
I wasted an ungodly amount of time seeking beta readers and feedback for my first novel. What I really wanted to hear was that it was a masterpiece, but failing to hear that, every suggestion sounded like a good one. Chapter three should actually be chapter one? Great, I'll restructure the novel. Parents don't talk like that? Okay, I'll rewrite the dialog. The middle is a little slow? I'll spice it up and add an explosion or two!
Keep an open mind and listen to your gut. You know when something doesn't work - you kind of linger over it as you're editing, or you stumble as you read it aloud - but if a new writer doesn't immediately know how to fix it, they usually leave it as is, and that's a mistake. If you're gut is telling you something is wrong, do your best to fix it.
Take every piece of advice and consider it, but you don't have to accept it. The rule of thumb is that if one person mentions a problem, it's opinion. If multiple people mention the same issue, you should seriously consider it.
First-time novelists also get stuck in the editing loop. Know that you can edit a book forever. Literally. Nothing is perfect. Make it the best you can and move on.
Know that you don't have to do everything yourself. This is not an English essay, where you're expected to self-edit. If you know you have a weakness (punctuation, or run-on sentences, or whatever), seek help. Ask a knowledgeable person what your writing weaknesses are, and then you can work on strengthening those areas.
The last thing I would offer is that first-time writers don't do enough homework. They don't bother to learn about the industry they want to work in. You should learn everything you can about both traditional publishing and the indie movement. About agents and contracts and genre tropes and reader expectations. Writing is a business, and if you want to sell, you need to treat it like a business.