What I know for sure

(11/06)

 

In the ten years Iíve been learning the craft of writing and this crazy business, what I know for sure is that the odds of getting published are daunting and depressing.Best selling author, David Morrell, estimates that there are as few as twenty-five hundred fiction writers making a living at it in the United States and the average income for a fiction writer is $6,500.Not pretty statistics.The publishing business is incredibly frustrating.There are no hard and fast rules and there are no guarantees that your investment of time, talent, and money will ever pay off, and even once you sell one book, thereís no guarantee that you will be able to sell another, or make enough money to make a living at it.There are so many uncertainties, yet there are some things I know for sure.

 

1)      That this is the entertainment industry; trendy as any Hollywood starlight.There are fads and rages, peaks and valleys, ebbs and flows, and every dog (or genre) has his day--if he lives long enough.

2)      This business is governed by subjectivity.What is one editorís reject is anotherís bestseller.

3)      You have to be open and receptive.Open to criticism and to learning and confident enough to filter the advice.

4)      A strong healthy ego is essential; thin-skinned people need not apply.Rejection at all levels is part and parcel of the process and if you canít learn to not take critiques and rejections personally, itíll crush your ego.

5)      This business is unpredictable, even by those professionals who have been in it for dozens of years.Even seasoned agents and editors canít consistently pick the next best seller or genre trendóthough they probably can guess it quicker than we authors.

6)      Write what fascinates you because itís that allure and enjoyment of your story that will help sustain you through the difficult times and bring a genuine passion and spark to your story.

7)      While itís true that there is a certain amount of luck in getting published, authors can make their own luck by dogmatically mastering the craft of storytelling and by learning the business.Being smart and aware increases your luck.

8)      Good writing alone will not make an author successful.There are a myriad of events beyond your control that affect the entire processóboth cosmic and earthly.You couldhave the misfortune to have your first book come out the month Nora Robert, Stephan King and John Grisham have new releases.Pretty stiff competition for anybody, let alone an unknown.There are plenty of well-told stories that donít reach the right editors or agents, or it is simply not their time.For quite awhile after 9/11, nobody wanted to read about or see in movies, stories about terrorism.It simply hurt a grieving nation too much.

9)      An author, now-a-days must master the art of publicityóor at least try to master it.

10)  Writing contests are wonderful ways to earn credentials and catch the eye of an agent or editor, as well as bolster a flagging ego.We all need those pats on the backs and small victories along the way.

11)  A good writing organization can go far to help educate and support you on your quest.

12)  Conferences are wonderful learning and networking opportunities; donít pass them up.

13)  Networking is essentialóyou never know when a break may come because of someone you meet.

14)  Finish the novel. You canít fix what you havenít written, and an agent or editor canít sell a half of a book.

15)  Writing is a solitary occupation, yet a well-crafted story often requires the input of a lot of peopleónot just writing pals or agents who help you refine and improve your story, but the multitude of people you meet Ėor consult with, while researching a book.The story may be mine, but so much of the knowledge that gave it authenticity came from experts.

16)  Be a good eavesdropper to learn dialogue.

17)  Good, solid characterization comes easier to those who are observant and aware of their surroundings.Watch people, be attentive and sensitive to observing and learning from the world around you.

18)  Volunteering for things in your writing organizations helps you meet professionals in a position to help/advise you and it creates good karmaóand I can never get enough of that!

19)  It ainít easy, but itíd better be fun, or else why do it?

20)  Persistence is absolutely key.Hard work and patience are essential.