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Saturday, April 16, 2011

So, you want to be a writer...

A lot of people come into this profession wide-eyed and unknowing, and learn as they go along what being a writer as a career entails. Heck, I entered the same way and found out quite a bit that I never would've anticipated. Some things were more obvious than others while a few details took me by surprise.

I'm writing this post so those of you who are new or considering breaking into the field are less surprised and more prepared for the reality of being a writer.

So, without further ado, here goes:

1) Writing involves self-promotion, and your publishers are not responsible for doing that for you. 
 This is the big shocker for many, self-included. Most enter thinking all you have to do is write, and people will magically find your works and purchase them. Not so. Being a writer means you have to be willing to put your neck out there so people can find you. That means putting up a website, registering a domain name in your name (or pen name), blogging, and engaging in social networks both online and offline.

What do you do if you're an introvert and are horrible at talking to total strangers about your writing, let alone trying to promote yourself? Join up with other authors and promote as a unit. It'll take some of the pressure off of you and will make you more visible for less effort.

2) You have to be willing to deal with constructive criticism, and constantly improve in your craft. This is the area where some people will balk at. After all, if their book was accepted, what's wrong with it? But if you look around at how people's unedited works do not make the grade and how embarrassing it would be to be in the public eye and have obvious grammatical mistakes, typos, sentence structure issues, you'll understand what a huge service your editor is providing you. Not to mention the chance to become an even better (and hence more successful) writer. 

So be nice to your editors, folks. They're your gold and your chance to shine.

3) You have to adhere to the standards of your publishing company(ies). Different places will have different themes, house rules, editing standards, you name it. You may not like all of it or agree, but it's there for a reason, often to establish enough commonality among their works to make an ease out of the editing and publishing process. Other times it's very exacting standards so they can be sure of high quality works going out their door. Remember, it's their reputation on the line.

4) You have to respond well (or not at all) when you take a hit on the chin, especially in regards to negative reviews. There is NEVER a single writer who does not get a negative review. Usually it boils down to different reading tastes and interests: you just won't be everyone's cup of tea, and you'll have to accept that. Heck, I have a negative review on Goodreads from someone who clearly doesn't like reading about vampires or lesbians, so why he chose to read a particular work of mine is beyond me--I can only conclude masochistic tendencies. :) The only way to respond to these things is not at all. If they're a reviewer who agreed to review your work for them, you thank them for their time and move on. Take the high road; you'll benefit more from it in the long run. If there's something in their review you can learn from for the future, take it. And keep on plugging away.

Whether writers like it or not, this is a profession which requires dealing with people and being in the public eye. After all, it's people who make up your readers, your fanbase, and potential investors in your future works. That's the reality of the business. It's a lot of hard work and effort, but it's also very rewarding. I'm happy to say that I've met many wonderful people as a result of being a writer, and have been in all sorts of amazing events and situations which I never would've been in had I not become published.

And above all else, I still love to write. It's my passion and will forever be such. And as long as you can maintain that passion, you can do what it takes to stay in it.

Love & Magic,


Abigail-Madison Chase said...

What a wonderful blog! I will keep all these things in mind as I prepare to submit a book this year for publication..


Marie McGaha said...

Great post, Adrianne. I remember those early days too, and I was shocked to discover my publisher didn't have an entire promo team chomping at the bit to promote me! LOL



Rie McGaha

Anonymous said...

Adrianne, this is a great post, & the phrase "without further adieu" is very amusing, but I think you meant "without further ado" (as in title of Shakespeare comedy "Much Ado About Nothing"). Adieu (literally, Go with God) is what you wish your audience at the end of a piece. :)
- Jean Roberta (who finds it easier to post as Anonymous)

Unknown said...

Good call, Jean! It's what I get for writing before coffee. :D

Unknown said...

One of the things I've learned Rie is that people do best promoing in groups, especially if you're new and either don't have any books out just yet or only have one.

Unknown said...

Thanks Abigail! Glad I could help :)

Anonymous said...

Adrianne,I Love the post and you gave us some useful information. I also love your website, It is beautiful.
G W Pickle

Unknown said...

Thank you, JW! :) I'm glad it was useful.

Larry Payne said...

Great advice, Adrianne. I'm a new author,having recently signed a contract with Wild Child Publishing.I'm still waiting for the publishing editor to contact me, so a release date for my debut book is still pending. It has been a learning experience everyday, but I've had the benefit of an author friend, who has advised me on what to expect. The hardest part for me has been the waiting for things to progress.
WCP sent me a great list of promo ideas and since receiving them, I have put up a website, blog and recently created an author page on Facebook.It's a little work getting your name out there, but it's also a little fun at the same time.

Janice Seagraves said...

Yup, your right on the money. You've got to promote your own work.

Good thing I'm not shy, lol.


Karenna Colcroft said...

Great blog, Adrianne! I know when I started getting published, there were definitely some eye-opening moments. This is great information for new authors to learn, and for more experienced authors to remember.

Danny said...

Thanks for the tips :) hugs and snugs :)

Savannah Chase said...

It takes a lot of work and dedication to do this with the passion that we have...

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