Category Archives: writing

Five Ways to Ruin Your Writing Career—After Your First Book is Published

ProcrastinatingYou’ve published your first book. But be careful! Here are five ways you can ruin your writing career.

1 Stop Writing.
You’ve published your first book. You expected to sell thousands—but you didn’t. There’s that voice in your head, (You know the one.), “You’re not good enough! Give up.” Will you listen to it and stop writing, or will you pick yourself up and try even harder?

Louisa May Alcott was told to stick to teaching. Rudyard Kipling was told he didn’t know how to use the English language. Scores of famous authors had their works rejected.

Don’t give up. Keep writing.

2 Oversell Your Book.
You’ve published your first book, and you’re so proud. On all the social media sites, you post about your book several times a day, day after day, week after week—and then you wonder why your book sales haven’t picked up.

Overselling can overwhelm potential readers (Think about those annoying ads that pop up on your favorite web sites. You just wish they would go away.)

Think beyond endless posts showing your book cover. Post a great review. Feature an interesting character. Be creative about garnering the interest of your audience. And don’t post too often.

3 Pester an Agent.
You’ve published your first book. Yea! Your agent pitched your book and got you the best deal—but it was a long road to publication. You wonder: if you had called your agent, texted, emailed and kept after him/her more often, would your book have been published sooner.

Think realistically. It takes time to pitch a book and find a publisher. Be appreciative that your agent placed your work. Along with being appreciative, be a team player. Be nice. Listen to your agent’s constructive criticism, and take it well. A good client/agent relationship leads to publishing more books.

4 Annoy an Editor.
You’ve published your first book—but the editor at the publishing house suggested tons of changes. You questioned most of them and even wondered about the editor’s competence. You preferred that every word stay exactly where you put it!

A first-time author’s first experience with an editor is humbling. It’s an editor’s job to make your book the best it can be, and there will be changes.

Changes fall into three categories.

  1. Why didn’t I think of that?

  2. It really doesn’t matter to me.

  3. No I don’t want to do that!

Learn to accept all changes in categories 1 and 2. If accepting a change ruins your vision for the book, (#3), then have a conversation with your editor.

5 Become Overly Confident.
You’ve published your first book, and now you’re an author—like Nora Roberts, Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, Michael Connelly. The title “author” means you’ve entered the publishing world, and you’ve nowhere to go but up.

Overconfidence can ruin your writing career. Your second book should be better than the first. Work at managing your ego. Keep learning. Even the most famous authors know there’s always room to improve.

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Filed under Encouragement, The Business of Writing, Uncategorized, writing, Writing goals, Writing Tips

How a Potato Launched My Writing Career

[One of my favorite posts from 2015]

Everyone knows that potatoes have eyes—those little dimples on the skin that sprout potato plantlings—but did you know that potatoes have legs?

I remember a sunny Saturday morning when I was a kid watching my mom peel potatoes at the kitchen sink. As the sharp peeler scraped the potatoes bare, I saw Mom dig out tiny, green bumps.

“Are those warts?” I asked.

“No, they’re eyes,” said Mom.

“How come potatoes have eyes?”

“Because little potato plants grow from the eyes,” she said.

“You’re cutting off the babies? You’re killing them!”

Just then, I’d realized that a potato was a living thing, a mother with babies sprouting from her eyes! (How weird was that?) And my mom was ripping the skin off that mother potato, digging the babies out of her eyes, and throwing them away like garbage. Then she cut that mother potato into pieces and boiled her in water.

Oh, the agony of it all!
The inhumanity!

Was I being a bit dramatic?

Yes.

Did Mom suggest that I go outside and play?

She did.

But, instead I went to my room, and I wrote a story about that potato sprouting legs and running away from my evil mother. With my limited knowledge of how to put words onto paper I wrote:

POTATO LEGS

Mom try to kill her
She run away
Run Potato Legs run.
The end.        

And that’s how my writing career began. Many more stories followed “Potato Legs” and today I can’t think of any better activity than to write.

Every writer has that one eureka moment that sparks his or her need to write.

Sometimes it’s a what-if question that begs to be answered. (What if potatoes had legs?)

Other times, a tragedy needs to bleed out shedding its anger and grief. (Dave Pelzer’s “A Child Called It” comes to mind.)

The need to write might come from reading a poorly written book. (“I could write better than that!”)

Or from the desire to be heard. (Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple”)

But most often, inspiration comes from encouragement. (“Hey! You should write a book!”)

How about you?
When was your eureka moment?
Why do you write?

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Are you on Facebook? Check out my page where I post daily articles
and inspiration for writers.

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*NOTE: Any ads appearing in this post were not put there by me nor do I endorse them. WordPress sometimes posts ads in exchange for hosting this free blog.

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Filed under Aspiring Writers, Uncategorized, Why write?, writing, Writing goals

Transitioning Your Writing from Hobby to Career—the Cold, Hard Truth

highres_244142317Is fear stopping you from turning your writing hobby into a career? Then it’s time to put on your big girl or big boy pants and stop being afraid. Accept the cold, hard truth that the transition won’t be easy—then muster your confidence and say, “But I can do it!”

A writing career is a journey. There will be mountains, valleys, and exhilarating straightaways. It’s frustrating, wildly fulfilling, exciting, and frightening.

The transition will take time. Many would-be authors fail because they rush to submit their work before it’s ready. Don’t send your first manuscript to an agent or editor until you’ve done the research. Discover what it takes to get published. Be patient.

Jane Friedman, former publisher of Writer’s Digest, has an excellent web page for writers. Read her blog post: Start Here: How to Get Your Book Published.

Writing is a craft to be learned. Read about writing. Here are five books to get you started:

  • Stephen King’s On Writing
  • William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White, The Elements of Style
  • Annie Dillard. The Writing Life
  • The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
  • On Writing Well by William Zinsser

While you learn the craft also read books in the genre in which you want to write. Study how the authors’ work reflects what you’ve learned.

Visit New York Times best-selling author, Nicholas Sparks’ (The Notebook, Message in a Bottle, Nights in Rodanthe) web page where he offers advice about the craft and business of writing.

imagesWriting is a craft developed through practice. There are always ways to improve your writing… always better ways to say something. Whenever you edit and rewrite, you practice the craft. To transition from a hobby writer to a professional you need to realize that editing and rewriting (a lot!) is essential.

Accept that you will fail. The first time you get negative feedback. The first rejection letter. The first bad review. Expect it. Deal with it. Don’t dwell on it. Professional writers learn to live with rejection.

“Rejection has value. It teaches us when our work or our skill set is not good enough and must be made better . . . Rejection refines us. Those who fall prey to its enervating soul-sucking tentacles are doomed. Those who persist past it are survivors. Best ask yourself the question: what kind of writer are you? The kind who survives? Or the kind who gets asphyxiated by the tentacles of woe?” – Chuck Wendig, author of Star Wars: Aftermath

1173079_165591560470377_584163750_nDon’t quit your day job. Whether you want to be a multi-book novelist or a freelance writer, understand that building a career takes time. Plan to spend a specific amount of time every day working toward your goal. Remember—slow and steady wins the race.

It won’t be easy. That’s the cold, hard truth.
But—can you do it?
YES! YES, YOU CAN!!

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*NOTE: Any ads appearing in this post were not put there by me nor do I endorse them. WordPress sometimes posts ads in exchange for hosting this free blog.

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Filed under Aspiring Writers, Encouragement, Movtivation, The Business of Writing, Uncategorized, writing, Writing craft, Writing goals, Writing Tips