Thursday, May 28, 2009

Advice For Professional Writers

This blog is called A Newbie's Guide to Publishing, because a lot of what I write about is geared toward unpublished or recently published authors.

Now I'd like to dispense some advice for authors who have a book or two or ten on the shelves, because I keep seeing authors making the same damn mistakes. even after years in this biz.

You hear the phone ringing? It's reality calling. Pick it up and listen.

1. Keep writing. I'm shocked by how many authors I know who haven't had a book published in over a year. I can name more than fifty authors who have seemed to drop off the face of the earth. Yes, I know this business is hard, and rejection is discouraging. But giving up isn't an option. If you can't sell your latest book, write another one. And another. And another. Sheesh.

2. Stop whining. This business is woefully unfair, and involves a great deal of luck. Keep your complaints to yourself, get over it, and see #1.

3. Stop fretting about reviews. I know it's difficult when some brain donor on Amazon gives you one star without reading past page 3. Everyone has an opinion, and all opinions are valid, so get over it. Criticism (and for that matter, praise) is pointless after the book has been published. You don't need other people's opinions to be happy.

4. Don't compare yourself to other authors. Ever. Never ever. Someone will always have a bigger advance, better sales, more awards, bigger movie deals, and a much better publisher than you do. This isn't a competition, and envy is just as useless as worry, regret, and guilt.

5. Keep your ego in check. You are not all that. Your writing isn't that great. And anything good that has happened to you in your career is more about luck than about anything you've personally done. Get over yourself, be thankful and gracious, and always remember where you came from.

6. Celebrate. It's so easy to get so bogged down by details that you can forget you're a published author, which is pretty damn cool. Any time something good happens, take some time and luxuriate in it.

7. Promote. As much as you can. If you're not good at it, get good at it. The more you do, the more you'll sell. The more you sell, the longer you'll survive.

Now you might say, "But Joe, Author X doesn't do any of these, and he/she is wildly successful."

True. But Author X is also a dick. And I'm not the only one who thinks that.

Don't be a dick.

Lecture over. Ignore at your own peril.