Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Listen to Jen…Really!

There are many things I wish I’d known when I became a writer. Here are a few:

Writing is hard work, even when it comes easily. Just because I can sit down at a stretch today and write 2,000 words doesn’t mean I can do the same thing tomorrow. Or that those 2,000 words won’t be deleted, revised and rewritten several times until they no longer resemble anything close to what they did in the beginning. And that’s okay.

You need to get someone else to read your writing, even if you’re an editor! Preferably several “someone else’s.” It’s next to impossible to objectively look at your own writing and identify its flaws. Sure, you can do that to someone else’s work, but you didn’t put in the blood, sweat and tears to create it in the first place. And an objective eye is invaluable, no matter how much it hurts.

Join a group of writers, preferably a group of knowledgeable ones. In addition to the advice you’ll receive, the camaraderie is great. Writing is a lonely pursuit and you need the interaction with others.
Writers are, for the most part, nice. Meet them. If you like their books, tell them. You never know how you might benefit from being a nice person (aside from the fact that it’s just the right thing to do!). Don’t be afraid of writers.

Know the rules and when to follow them. That’s right, there are times when it’s okay to break them. It’s not something someone can tell you; you have to figure it out on your own. But sometimes, breaking the rules is okay. Editors, publishers and agents know that.

Writing is a profession, even if others might not think so. That means you have to act professional. Use manners. Don’t take things personally. Be nice to everyone. Don’t talk about anyone in a way that you wouldn’t want to get back to them. Do your research. Double check your spelling. When in doubt, don’t make that joke!

Have a marketing strategy. If you can’t create one yourself, get help from those more experienced than you. Your book won’t sell itself.

What do you wish you knew?


  1. I agree with all this. The only other thing I'd add is for every 100 hours of networking, blogging, getting your name known etc etc, you might, if you're lucky, sell 1 book. You might make a lot of new friends in the process, which is great, but how many of them actually buy your book? In my experience, sorry to say, very few!

  2. I agree that generating sales is difficult, but I think part of it is that you have to know who you're networking with. If you're mainly making friends with other writers, you're right, you won't sell much. But if you network with readers, guest blog on reviewer sites, etc. then I think you'll see a bigger jump in sales.

  3. Have done all that, Jen, but with very little effect. At the moment, I'm on the verge of giving up altogether anyway!

  4. Jennifer, This is great advice. The one that really hit home was having someone else...or several someones...read your work before sending it out. It's so easy to see things that don't work in others' writing, and so difficult in out own. Those extra eyes are really helpful!

    Paula, Hang in there. You write wonderful stories to share with the world.

  5. No point in hanging in there, Debra. I'm completely wasting my time when I see the abysmal (and I really do mean abysmal i.e. just above single figures, but not far above!) downloads of my latest novel in the last 3 months, despite all my efforts. I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong, but I'm obviously not doing anything right. I have more good reviews than many books which are much higher in the rankings than mine, but that doesn't seem to count for anything. I've simply lost my enthusiasm for writing - after all, what's the point when hardly anyone wants to read my stories? I have really hit the depths now and I don't see the point of trying to finish any more books.

  6. Great post, Jen.

    I think, Paula, you need to try a new publisher who will give you a competent editor.

  7. Actually, I had a very good editor for my 3rd novel with WCP (compared with the one for the first two)- so no citicism there, she was great! But I have absolutely no enthusiasm for promoting this one when it comes out in Novmeber. I've worked hard at promoting my other 3, with very little effect, so I think I'll leave the new one in the lap of the gods LOL