Thursday, August 28, 2014

Publishing Advice I'd Give My Younger Self

Never sign any deal for more than a ten year term.

Have zero expectations.

Experiment with different prices and platforms.


Put more money away for taxes.

Write more.

Don't throw good money or more time at something that isn't working. Change direction and move on.

Never Google yourself.

Don't read your reviews.

Celebrate milestones and victories, no matter how small.

Study failures.

Tweet less.

Try not to spread yourself so thin.

Turn off the Internet when you're working.

Accept that you can't help everybody.

Ignore haters.

Don't hate anyone, even those who attack you. Haters are pitiable.

Talk things over with people you trust.

Don't be so impetuous. But don't dwell too long on anything.

Less booze, drugs, and junk food, more sex, exercise, and sensible eating.

Be nicer.

Make time for things other than this business.

Understand that you are not your career.

Know when to quit.

Don't do interviews. Media attention doesn't lead to sales.

Go to conventions to network and have fun, not to sell books.

Before you do anything, consider all the alternatives you can think of.

Maintain confidence, even if you have to fake it.

Define yourself, and live up to that definition.

Admit mistakes.

Accept who you are, but don't let that inhibit beneficial growth or change.

Understand how important luck is, but still work hard.

Have fun. Have as much fucking fun as you can.


Julie Kramer said...

This is a wonderful code to live and write by. Thanks, Joe.

Paolo Amoroso said...

Don't at least some reviews provide useful feedback to beginning authors?

Madelyn Eld said...

Sage advice, as usual. I made the decision not to read my reviews. I'd rather get feedback from trusted sources to improve on my writing. I have one beta reader that can give feedback that's almost painful to hear, but my writing is better for it.

Jude Hardin said...

Good advice at any age.


Don't throw good money or more time at something that isn't working. Change direction and move on.

Not so sure about this one. Dogged persistence is one of the keys to almost every success story. If it's a character or story you believe in, something you're passionate about, then I think it's okay to stick with it indefinitely, even when the rest of the world is telling you to hang it up.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

Perfect. Except for the Googling yourself part. I live to Google myself. Lord knows I don't have much else. ;)

Rob Gregory Browne said...

Paolo, I have yet to read a review, professional or otherwise, that made me reconsider a thing about my work. Reviews are an opinion and offer little or nothing to the writer in the way of useful feedback.

James Scott Bell said...

The expectations thing. A killer to happiness.

Instead, write, keep striving to get better, and be grateful that you can do both.

Re; Reviews. I agree with Rob Browne. I get feedback from betas and editors who I trust. That's it.

Guy Medley said...

Good god, Joe! Do you realize what you just did here? You just penned the next Radiohead song. My respect for you just skyrocketed.

Curtis Manges said...

I couldn't help noticing that not all of these relate directly to publishing, but, what the hell, they all work in the bigger picture.

My own list would start with, "Forget marriage; get a dog." I could have retired early and rich just on that one.

Number two would likely have been, "Start writing. NOW."

w. adam mandelbaum esq. said...

Less booze, drugs, and junk food, more sex, exercise, and sensible eating.
I can dig the part about more sex, but the rest of this??? What are you supposed to wash down cheeseburgers and pain pills with if not booze? If I wanted to eat something sensible, I'd take a bite out of Thomas Paine.

Roger Lawrence said...

More fun sounds like a good idea. Same for sex but I'm married. Nuff said.

J.R. Pearse Nelson said...

A great list. Ambitious humans, take note. :)

Darlene Underdahl said...

"Don't do interviews. Media attention doesn't lead to sales."

Wow. Knock me over with a feather. I know you, Crouch, Eisler and Voss Peterson don't constantly insert yourselves into unrelated events like a former VP candidate, but I'm still a little surprised.

Kate Evangelista said...


Jill James said...

Some good things to remember in there. Thanks!!

Meb Bryant said...

Be careful. You might be perceived as becoming wiser and kinder in your middle age, Joe Konrath.

adan said...

"Less booze, drugs, and junk food, more sex, exercise, and sensible eating." - thank goodness you left the sex part in as ok :-)

Ann Christy said...

Ah...a code all humans could benefit from!

I start my list with the following:

Try--and I mean really try, don't just swear you tried--not to be an asshat.

:) Good List, Joe.

Steven M. Moore said...

About the tweets that Twitter folks are all-a-twitter over: I won't tweet, folks! I can't write anything in 140 characters or less.
To prove that, I'd add one other point to Joe's list: forget the negative reviews. Actually, that should be a corollary of: don't read your reviews because they generally follow Sturgeon's law, especially on Amazon. When I buy ebooks for casual reading (more than I ever did with pbooks), I look at the excerpt and the blurb, not the reviews.
And here's a suggestion: don't worry what anyone else is reading on Goodreads--no one should follow a crowd, or one person, for that matter, in their reading choices.

Robert Burton Robinson said...

I noticed that there was nothing in your list about being more honest. That's something you don't have to tell your younger self, because you've ALWAYS been honest with us. It's one of the things we love about you.

Thanks, Joe. Great advice!

T. M. Bilderback said...

Great advice, Joe, especially about Twitter.

My daughter, in her mid-20s, said that I should get a Twitter account, and start Tweeting to make myself more visible, and that it would lead to more sales.

I can't tell that any sales have come from being on Twitter.

So, I've been gradually easing away from Twitter. I still Tweet, when there's something new to Tweet about, but the Tweets are becoming less and less.


John Ellsworth said...

May I add one more:

You don't have problems,

You just have solutions you don't like.

Sharla Rae said...

Great list. When I started out writing I practically thought of editors and agents as Gods. I think I'd tell my younger self to get a grip, they fallible people just like you and most are right out of college without a clue. :)

kathie said...

Fabulous list, Joe! Thanks.

Dena Rogers said...

I so needed to read this. As a new author, I'm struggle with a lot of what you touched on. Especially "turn off the internet when you're working." Thank you, great list!

Cassandra Leuthold said...

Thank you, Joe! Well timed and well said.

Lillith Black said...

Love it, printed it and hung it on the wall! Thank you, you have inspired me over two years ago to become an indie writer and you continue to inspire still.

Hairhead said...

Joe, just one suggestion/addition:

Reverse the order of two of the words in your last suggestion, and add the result to the list;

Have as much fun fucking as you can.

scarlettparrish said...

Joe - Lurker here, posting for the first time. Great list. I'd love to tell my younger self, "Don't wait for permission. Work harder at writing, younger. Don't think you've got all the time in the world because one day you'll wake up 38 years old, wondering where the hell your 20s and 30s went."

TM Bilderback - I've struggled with the Twitter question myself, wondering how I'd let people know I'm out there without it. How do you let people know your work is available without social networks? (I'm not on Facebook - from what I hear it's more of a timesuck than Twitter is.)

Bill Peschel said...

As a book reviewer, I can agree with don't read your reviews. I'm not writing to give writers advice on their manuscripts (although if you email me I'll be happy to go into chapter and verse). I'm writing for the reader.

"Celebrate the milestones" is something I need to work on. That and the having fun and losing the hate.

When I get into moments like that, I have to remind myself that each day is like a billboard on the highway. It'll pass and recede into the distance, and you'll never go back.

I sometimes wonder if remembering the past and thinking about the future is actually a sign of insanity. This comes from living with cats, who don't seem to know about the passage of time.

T. M. Bilderback said...

scarlettparrish: I DO Twitter occasionally, to promote my new book. I also have an author page at Facebook, and I post on it quite frequently, too.

I can't justify BookBub right now, which is about the only advertising I would consider.

I mostly rely on word-of-mouth, and I have some die-hard fans that keep others posted on my new stuff.


T. M. Bilderback said...

Oh, and I have a blog, too:

I use it a lot to promote, too.


Veronica - Eloheim said...

I love following Hugh Howey and Pat Rothfuss on FB. They are clever and funny and post great stuff. (Pat's tweets about flying first class for the first time had me howling with laughter.)

I've long thought that fiction authors could tweet/fb quotes from their characters (straight from their books), or let their characters comment on news.

I'm non-fiction so I have endless amounts of stuff to post on FB and 500 YouTube videos to pull from if I run out of quotes.

I get most of my business from FB and YT.

cinisajoy said...

I want to address Paolo's question. I do reviews and have been known to give authors my opinion. A review is strictly for other readers. It is not designed to help the author in any way except maybe to get more people to buy the book.

Now on opinions to authors, I will tell them what I think works or does not work. Sometimes the authors listen and sometimes they tell me what I am full of. But one thing is I will never lie to you about your book.

I try to always give my honest opinion.

I hope this helps.

sashagirl said...

I'd add one last thing to that list for me...Don't sign those 5 year contracts for 15 of your old/new books in 2010-2012 with a small publisher!!!! Duh. I discovered self-publishing in 2012 because I discovered J.Konrath's blog. Now I'm waiting impatiently for next June to start getting them all back. One every 2-3 months.

J.P. Grider said...

What an excellent post!! Thank you.

Amber Dane said...

All kinds of good stuff. Glad I stopped by. Thanks for sharing, Joe.

Don Kasparoza said...

Less drugs, more sex.
Lol This is awesome!
Well said.

christy Nathan said...

The way you write is really interesting, and especially that point where you write "Don't read your reviews" it's must hahaha.


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Coolkayaker1 said...

It always amazes me that, while legacy authors are spending time on interviews with major media outlets--Charlie Rose, NPR, etc.--the self-pubbed authors are spending time niggling about a Guardian article that will be read by next to no one.

Scout Dakota said...

I love this. Thank you.

Robert Scott-Norton said...

I think I should print out your last point on a t-shirt.