Top 5 Mistakes Authors Make – Mistake #1

“Failure to put the main Let's Talk Novels Podcastconflict
in place quickly enough.”

Solution: Grip the reader immediately!


I want to thank you personally for taking the time to request this list of top five mistakes authors make and also for finding your way to this short podcast. I hope you find it helpful.

Just in case you need it again, here’s a link to the list of

Top 5 Mistakes Authors Make

One of the great joys of my life as a novelist are writers conferences where I’m able to sit down and chat one-on-one with other authors. If you haven’t been to a writers conference yet, you don’t know what you’re missing. And if you have, well. . . you know what I’m talking about.

It’s that kind of experience I hope to re-create with this podcast and website (minus the expensive airfare, hotel accommodations, and time away from work and family).

But here’s the thing. At a writers conference, I’m able to look you in the eyes and read your expression to know if we’re connecting. I can’t do that in a podcast. Bottom line: I need your help so that I don’t waste your time and mine by giving you information you don’t need.

I would be ever so grateful if you would take a couple of moments and  leave a short comment below. Simply say, “Hi!” and tell me a little about yourself. You don’t have to write a novel (a little tongue-in-cheek writer humor), just a sentence or two telling me where you’re from and what you’re interested in writing. It will help me as I schedule future podcasts to fit your needs.

So, if you would, please scroll down, leave a comment, and hit submit.

I’m looking forward to hearing about you.

LTN Banner - The Allies

(If you’d like to read The Allies, click on the sample above.)


  • All five of the potential mistakes authors make have to do with the all-important first chapter. And – fair or not – you have 30 seconds to win over readers and publishers.
  • Publishers and acquisitions editors are human. You never know what their real priority is on the day they pick up your manuscript. Their goal may be simply to clear their desk. Your goal? Don’t let them!
  • Think like Scheherazade. Craft your first page and half as though your life depended upon it.
  • The good news? Publishers, literary agents, and readers want to fall in love with your novel. They’re looking for new novelists who can tell a great story.
  • Like the vintage E.F. Hutton commercial, when editors speak, writers listen. (To see the vintage E.F. Hutton CLICK HERE.)
  • Solution: Grip the reader immediately. Open with an earthquake and build from there.
  • Check and double check your opening chapter. Is this where the action begins? A common mistake is to provide the setting in Chapter 1 and begin the action in Chapter 2. Switch chapters! Starting the action and then going back to fill in the necessary details is a time-tested storytelling technique.
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  1. Hi Jack,
    I met you at some SDCWG events and learned about your podcasts on FB. I started serious writing about a decade ago after retiring from a “real” job as a clinical social worker. I’ve finished 5 novels, most of which have placed in contests and receive good feedback from my critique groups… but so far no agent, no pub. contract. So I’m devouring your podcast about the Mistake #1 and reviewing my chapter 1.

    I write stories about the startling and amazing turns in a person’s path when God disrupts their journey for His divine purposes. They’re mainly contemporary Christian women’s fiction, but all include a thread of suspense and a bit of humor. One is set in Albania. Another is historical, set during America’s Civil War and the 20th century civil rights protest era.

    I look forward to your additional podcasts, and thank you for sharing your expertise and some encouragement along with the tough news (like 30 seconds!).

  2. Hi Jack,
    I meet you years ago at a Write to Publish conference in Wheaton, and have loved you ever since. I have a Cavanaugh shelf in my guestroom library, and gave my husband several of your novels for Christmas. I was tickled when I discovered your website today, and love the podcasts. Thank you for sharing your wisdom!
    I’m polishing a pre-Colombian historical, for the millionth time, have an Amish suspense novel finished, a completed middle grade book set in Honduras, the beginning of a series set around the world, and have a 3/4 finished contemporary fiction novel waiting for my attention. These projects have spanned over decade and many family life interruptions. This, I pray, is my year to finish everything and get them published.

    • Jane, How nice to hear from you! My own shelf! I’m honored. Here’s hoping the coming year will be a milestone in your publishing journey.

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