Thursday, December 28, 2006

New Year's Resolutions Part 2

Last year I posted some resolutions for newbie and professional writers, which can be found here:

http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2005/12/new-years-resolutions-for-writers.html

I was going to repost it, because those resolutions remain valid and important, but I've been thinking a lot about this career and have a few new resolutions for all writers, no matter their level of experience.

  1. Keep an Open Mind. It's easier to defend your position than seriously consider new ways of thinking. But there is no innovation, no evolution, no "next big thing" unless someone thinks differently. Be that someone.
  2. Look inward. We tend to write for ourselves. But for some reason we don't market for ourselves. Figure out what sort of marketing works on you; that's the type of marketing you should be trying. You should always know why you're doing what you're doing, and what results are acceptable to you.
  3. Find Your Own Way. Advice is cheap, and the Internet abounds with people telling you how to do things. Question everything. The only advice you should take is the advice that makes sense to you. And if it doesn't work, don't be afraid to ditch it.
  4. Set Attainable Goals. Saying you'll find an agent, or sell 30,000 books, isn't attainable, because it involves things out of your control. Saying you'll query 50 agents next month, or do signings at 20 bookstores, is within your power and fully attainable.
  5. Enjoy the Ride. John Lennon said that life is what happens while you're busy planning other things. Writing isn't about the destination; it's about the journey. If you aren't enjoying the process, why are you doing it?
  6. Help Each Other. One hand should always be reaching up for your next goal. The other should be reaching down to help others get where you're at. We're all in the same boat. Start passing out oars.

Happy new year! Now get back to work.

17 comments:

Jude Hardin said...

Very nice, Joe.

A very talented and gracious author has handed me an oar. My New Year's resolution is to paddle my ass off.

Mark said...

"Find Your Own Way. Advice is cheap, and the Internet abounds with people telling you how to do things. Question everything. The only advice you should take is the advice that makes sense to you. And if it doesn't work, don't be afraid to ditch it."

I think this is really very important. Joe, I really do appreciate all the advice and counsel you offer here. I don't agree with all of it--or more truthful, not all of it is right for me, for one reason or another. But much of it is, and I've adopted much of it. And I think an important thing is for people to keep an open mind and NOT say, "I don't believe it" or "I won't do that," but to spend some time thinking about what they WILL do and WHY they're willing to do some things and maybe not others.

So thanks for your blog efforts. And in 2007 may you have good health, happiness and great prosperity.

Cheers,
Mark Terry
www.markterrybooks.com

Stacey Cochran said...

I put another 100 literary agency queries in the mail just a few days ago.

I'll be getting the next 100 ready by the first week of January.

Talk about feeling like you're just slamming your head against the wall...

My goal is to send out 2000 literary agency queries in 2007. I would like to have 10,000 rejection letters within the next 5 years.

Stacey Cochran said...

I just took my morning walk, and I mulled over whether I can obtain 2000 rejections in 2007. I think I can do it, if I stay focused all throughout the year.

I'll be putting the following essay up on my website later today with a photograph of the 700 rejection letters I received in 2006.

"What Rejection Means to Me"
by Stacey Cochran

My goal for 2007 is to receive 2,000 rejection notices for my writing.

It occurred to me during my morning walk this morning that I could come to love rejection notes, and the reason is simple. A rejection letter means that there was a day that I didn’t end up in jail, that I didn’t drink, that I didn’t smoke, that I didn’t ruin my marriage by doing any of the seemingly infinite number of things a person can do to self-destruct in this world. A rejection letter implies that I was sane enough and sober enough and focused enough to send out a query letter in the first place the elicited the form-letter response.

For the first twelve years of my career, rejection meant something bad. I took it as proof that my writing was not good enough to warrant representation or publication, but that’s not it at all. At least, that’s only half it.

A rejection letter means I had ambition. It means I actually sat down at my computer, wrote a letter to a literary agent, and that someone in that agent’s office received the communication and responded to it by placing a form-letter response in my SASE. It’s a communicative act, and by receiving the rejection, it means that I succeeded in communicating something to someone.

What a marvelous thing that is!

Furthermore, the goal of 2,000 rejection letters is not arbitrarily chosen. To reach 2,000 rejections in 2007, I will have to query on average 166 literary agents per month. That’s about 88 queries every two weeks, which is reasonable but will require discipline and focus. It will require that I’m able to balance my finances well enough to acquire the necessary stamps, envelopes, paper, toner cartridges, etc.

All of this has come to mean something quite different than what I might have thought it meant several years ago. It has come to mean something tremendously positive to me. Because if I can do this, if I can send out 2,000 literary agency queries in 2007, it will mean that I stayed focused and driven all through the year. It will mean that 2007 was lived in an honest, balanced, disciplined, even faithful way.

And, in that, I believe there is good. Perhaps there is even dignity and love.

Tom Schreck said...

Joe,

There's nothing about drinking bourbon here...what gives?

Jeremy James said...

I've just printed out and adopted your list from last year, Joe. Thanks!

And this year's resolutions are excellent in a different way.

You've helped me and others so much with this blog. Thank You.

I hope to meet you in person some day and buy you a drink.

Bernita said...

Happy New Year, Joe.

Anonymous said...

Excellent list - good advice and great goals!

Stacey, your rejection slip resolution is terrific - LOL

Best wishes to JA and all of the readers here, for a fabulous 2007!

Anonymous said...

You are the one consistent "hand" I've found in the three years I've been doing this. Thanks, and happy New Year.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

All good resolutions, but this one especially makes sense:

"Look inward. We tend to write for ourselves. But for some reason we don't market for ourselves. Figure out what sort of marketing works on you; that's the type of marketing you should be trying. You should always know why you're doing what you're doing, and what results are acceptable to you."

Happiest New Year ever to you, Mr. Konrath!

XX

Anonymous said...

Awesome list. Makes the usual "lose 10 pounds" entry look so petty.

Thanks for the inspiration! Best to you and yours in the new year!!

Anonymous said...

Trying to 'create a link' back to my blog on the subject, but you're still on the older blogger software and I already converted to the beta, so it won't let me do so.

Anyhow, I blogged and linked back to you from here

Anonymous said...

Great resolutions, Joe. See you soon at LIM and Happy New Year.

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year, Joe!

Great resolutions--I think too many writers spent too much time trying to change the things they cannot control.

Thanks for your advice, and here's to another productive, successful year!

S. W. Vaughn said...

Happy New Year, J.A.!

Ashlyn Chase said...

I love these. May I reprint and quote you for an RWA newsletter submission?

Anneliese said...

Thank you for the Resolutions. I didn't have any for this year, other than to try to no longer spend my money so that I can gain financial freedom.

I like the part about writing for ourselves - I've been working on a project which involves considerable research. In compiling a list of books that are somewhat similar to mine, I came across a 1999 Smithsonian magazine article that is practically a summary of what I'm pursuing to write!

Now I'm a little taken aback and find that your reminder that we write for ourselves and need to do things different is just the kind of resolution I need to hear. I need to go back to the drawing board and reconsider what it was I was trying to say, wanting to say - or, take up your other resolution to have three stories for submission.