What is the single best piece of advice you’ve ever received about the publishing process and/or would advice would you offer to a first-time author?
I'm not really sure how to answer this one. I suppose the best piece of advice would be from all of the authors out there who have repeated the phrase, "Don't give up." I've heard many published authors say that their writing was rejected many times before finding a publisher who loved it. And other authors have mentioned not being able to find a traditional publisher who would take their story on but later becoming quite successful at self-publishing, despite the lack of interest from traditional publishers.
If I was going to give advice to a first time author, here are the three things I would say:
1. Believe in yourself and in your writing. Even when you are struggling to find the words, even when no one else seems to appreciate what you are writing, believe in yourself. You can write the story you have in your head if you are willing to work at it and willing to believe in yourself.
2. Learn everything you can about the craft of writing and be patient with yourself while you learn. No one creates a masterpiece without some missteps. No one finds perfection without first practicing their art. Read everything you can get your hands on within your genre. Write daily, even if you need a break from your story and end up writing something completely different for an evening. Go to writers' conferences. Talk to other authors. Read about the craft of writing and practice what you are learning.
3. Be willing to work for your dream. Writing, editing, marketing our books, it can all be a lot of hard work. But dreaming about writing a book isn't going to get your book written. Thinking about your story isn't going to get it typed for you. Talking to others about your novel isn't going to get the novel finished. Sure, you can come up with fresh ideas by dreaming, thinking and talking about your story. But if you want to have something publishable, you are going to have to sit your butt in a chair and start writing your story.