Friday, December 21, 2007

New Year's Resolutions Part 3

Every December I do a post about resolutions for writers, and every year I add more of them.


Newbie Writer Resolutions
  • I will start/finish the damn book
  • I will always have at least three stories on submission, while working on a fourth
  • I will attend at least one writer's conference, and introduce myself to agents, editors, and other writers
  • I will subscribe to the magazines I submit to
  • I will join a critique group. If one doesn't exist, I will start one at the local bookstore or library
  • I will finish every story I start
  • I will listen to criticism
  • I will create/update my website
  • I will master the query process and find an agent
  • I'll quit procrastinating in the form of research, outlines, synopses, taking classes, reading how-to books, talking about writing, and actually write something
  • I will refuse to get discouraged, because I know JA Konrath wrote 9 novels, received almost 500 rejections, and penned over 1 million words before he sold a thing--and I'm a lot more talented than that guy

Professional Writer Resolutions

  • I will keep my website updated
  • I will keep up with my blog
  • I will schedule bookstore signings, and while at the bookstore I'll meet and greet the customers rather than sit dejected in the corner
  • I will send out a newsletter, emphasizing what I have to offer rather than what I have for sale, and I won't send out more than four a year
  • I will learn to speak in public, even if I think I already know how
  • I will make selling my books my responsibility, not my publisher's
  • I will stay in touch with my fans
  • I will contact local libraries, and tell them I'm available for speaking engagements
  • I will attend as many writing conferences as I can afford
  • I will spend a large portion of my advance on self-promotion
  • I will help out other writers
  • I will not get jealous, will never compare myself to my peers, and will cleanse my soul of envy
  • I will be accessible, amiable, and enthusiastic
  • I will do one thing every day to self-promote
  • I will always remember where I came from


  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • 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.

Now 2008 is just around the corner. The above resolutions are all still valid. But even if we're complying with them, we can and should push ourselves harder. So here are some goals, for newbies and pros alike, to help take us to the next level, whatever that level is.

I Will Use Anger As Fuel.
We all know that this is a hard business. Luck plays a huge part. Rejection is part of the job. Things happen beyond our control, and we can get screwed.

It's impossible not to dwell on it when we're wronged. But rather than vent or stew or rage against the world and everyone in it, we should use that anger and the energy it provides for productive things.

The next time you get bad news, resolve to use that pain to drive your work. Show fate that when it pushes you, you push right back. By writing. By querying. By marketing.

I Will Abandon My Comfort Zone. The only difference between routine and rut is spelling.

As a writer, you are part artist and part businessman.

Great artists take chances.

Successful businessmen take chances.

This means doing things you're afraid of, and things you hate, and things you've never tried before.

If, in 2008, you don't fail at something, you weren't trying hard enough.

I Will Feed My Addiction. Life is busy. There are always things you can and should be doing, and your writing career often comes second.

So make it come first.

Right now, you're reading A Newbie's Guide to Publishing. Not A Newbie's Guide to Leading a Content and Balanced Life.

You want to get published and stay published? That means making writing a priority. That means making sacrifices. A sacrifice involves choosing one thing over another.

If you can't devote the time, energy, and money it takes to pursue this career, go do something else.

I Will Never Be Satisfied. Think the last resolution was extreme? This one really separates the die-hards from the hobbyists.

While an overwhelming sense of peace and enlightenment sounds pretty nice, I wouldn't want to hire a bunch of Zen masters to build an addition on my house.

Satisfaction and contentment are great for your personal life. In your professional life, once you start accepting the way things are, you stop trying.

No one is going to hand you anything in this business. You have to be smart, be good, work hard, and get lucky.

Every time you get published, you got lucky. Don't take it for granted.

When something bad happens, it should make you work harder. But when something good happens, you can't believe you earned it. Because it isn't true. You aren't entitled to this career. No one is.

Yes, you should celebrate successes. Sure, you should enjoy good things when they happen. Smile and laugh and feel warm and fuzzy whenever you finish a story or make a sale or reach a goal.

But remember that happiness isn't productive. Mankind's greatest accomplishments are all tales of struggle, hardship, sacrifice, work, and effort. You won't do any of those things if you're satisfied with the status quo.

Who do you want on your team? The kid who plays for fun? Or the kid who plays to win?

If you want 2008 to be your year, you know which kid you have to be.


Mel Hiers said...

"Enjoy the Ride"

This one resonates with me, probably because I've heard it so much lately! But the last one is the resolution that got me fired up to work on my own. :-) Have a great holiday!

Anonymous said...

>>I Will Never Be Satisfied.

Why is it that when I said this years ago, I was called a snob who didn't know her place as a newbie writer and when you say it it makes sense. :/ Oh well, I guess that's where this one comes in: Find Your Own Way.

Ray-Anne said...

Fantastic post. Many thanks for providing the inspiration and lateral thinking to work on my goals today.

Upwards and onwards, Ray-Anne

Terry Odell said...

Great advice, especially the 'attainable' goals. A writing colleague (Roxanne St. Claire) has some great goal-keeping tips, and her #1 is making sure your goals are measurable. Another is to do one thing, every day, first thing in the morning, that's on your goal list.

My favorite: Don't think of writing as a chore--think of it as a treat (it beats exercise).

I'd add one thing. READ.

Jude Hardin said...

As always, very inspiring.

Happy (but not complacent) holidays, Joe!

Cyn Bagley said...

My Thanks for this post. I want to make 2008 my year.

Happy Holidays!

WayneThomasBatson said...

Merry Christmas, Joe!

Anonymous said...

Well some things on your list have already been on my list-get practice with public speaking so I'll be volunteering at high schools to get comfortable with this.

And the one goal I've been dragging around for years now is create a website. I so hate technology. I just got a My Space page and having to figure out that bugger is already putting me off. But now that I have a publishing contract I have a valid reason and hopefully will get motivated, somehow.

Jude Hardin said...

You want to get published and stay published? That means making writing a priority. That means making sacrifices. A sacrifice involves choosing one thing over another.

I finished my screenplay today (Christmas Day).

Beat that, muhfugga. ;)

Anonymous said...
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Conda Douglas said...

Loved the goals for 2008, especially "I will feed my addiction" as I believe, for me, that's the same as Joseph Campbell's "Follow your bliss."

Christine Fletcher said...

I Will Abandon My Comfort Zone -- I'm keeping this one front and center, because I'm convinced I've bitten off more than I can chew with book #3.

But this is the thing: if I know for sure I can do it, then by definition my vision is too small.

Big breath. Forge ahead. Great post, Joe, thanks.

T. M. Hunter said...

Both "I Will Never Be Satisfied" and "I Will Feed My Addiction" were excellent and much-needed affirmations for my own writing...

(Sorry, resolutions are designed to be broken... :D )

Reginald Harris said...

Just want to wish you a happy new year, and thank you for such marvelous posts! I'm wary of resolutions, but these......hmmm...

JA Konrath said...

Congrats, Jude.

And Anonymous, I prefer critical posts to be aimed at me, not my readers.

Precie said...

Most excellent! Thanks for saving me some time...I especially like the "anger" and the "feed your addiction" resolutions!

Jude Hardin said...

Thanks, Joe!

Laurel Johnson said...

I do so enjoy your Jack Daniels books so I'm pleased to hear you signed a book deal with Hyperion. Your New Year's resolutions for newbies and professionals are practical and sensible. I admire your efforts to help other writers. Best of luck in 2008.

Anonymous said...

good advice also here:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for being a great inspiration! Best wishes to you and yours for a fabulous 2008!

Allison Brennan said...

I hate making resolutions, but inevitably as the year ends I think about what I want to accomplish the coming year. For 2007, that was to read more--I love reading, but with my 2006 schedule I read only a handful of books for pleasure. Most everything I read was because I "had to" (Thriller awards, RITA awards, galleys, etc.) My goal was one book a week for me. I didn't quite make it, but I did get closer.

As far as "I will never be satisfied"==Michele, I can't believe someone called you a snob. I take this to mean something different, though. First, like Joe said, this is a business and we need to be looking forward while still appreciating what we have. But "never be satisfied" to me means constantly working to be a better writer, a kinder person, and a more generous helper. Don't "settle" for what's easy, work for what's harder to attain. I hope that each of my books is better than the last. That is what I'm striving for.

Which leads right into leaving the comfort zone. That can be very hard, especially when you are writing in one genre. How far to push without ticking off your reader base? How can you push and grow your reader base? But I'm writing something a little different on spec . . . when I have the time. It's pushing me as a writer, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Trish Ryan said...

As always, great advice. Here's to a fabulous 2008.

Anonymous said...

I would like the kid who is having fun AND playing to win on my team!

Hope everyone has a wonderful New Year!

Writing on Board said...

Happy New Year, Konrath! I know it's Joe. I just like saying Konrath. Konrath! -Alex

Mary said...

Great advice. I needed to be reminded about ‘attainable’ goals.

Wishing you a happy and successful 2008!

Anonymous said...

I've seen you mention writers conferences several times. Can you recommend some good ones or criteria for figuring out if one is worth attending?

Rebecca Laffar-Smith said...

This is a brilliant list of resolutions. I'll be holding, "Abandon My Comfort Zone", in the forefront this year. That is my primary affirmation because fear is my greatest hurdle to success. This year is all about pushing my own boundaries and taking chances.

Thanks so much for the inspirational advice and thoughts. Best of luck with all you strive toward in 2008.

Danette Haworth said...

Thank you so much for your blog!