Saturday, March 15, 2014

Here's What I Know

Be self-aware.

Be deliberate.

Don't be a pinhead.

Publishing is a business. Writing is an art. You may not enjoy the business, but you definitely should enjoy the art.

This is a marathon, not a sprint.

Read the contract before you sign it. Twice. Three times. Then have your lawyer read it.

The secret to happiness is what you give, not what you get.

No one owes you a living.

Success may involve talent and hard work, but it always involves luck. Talent and hard work may improve your luck.

Ebooks are forever. Forever is a long time to get noticed.

There's a word for a writer who never gives up... published.

Denial is a powerful opiate.

Be kind, be generous, be helpful, and be careful.

If you're selling eggs, don't piss off your chickens

When you're learning how to walk, you don't take classes. You don't read how-to books. You don't pay experts to help you, or do it for you. You just keep falling until you learn on your own.

Before you make the key, study the lock.

People would rather fight to the death to defend their beliefs than consider changing their minds.

It's about what you have to offer, not what you have to sell.

A sense of entitlement is never acceptable. No one deserves anything.

What are the last ten books you bought, and what made you buy them? Use those techniques to sell your books to other people. Do what works on you.

Hard work trumps talent. Persistence trumps inspiration. Humility trumps ego.

Praise is like candy. We love it, but it isn't good for us. You can only improve by being told what's wrong.

Your book is your child. You can't recognize its shortcomings, any more than a proud parent could consider their child dumb and ugly.

The experts don't know everything, and they might not know what's right for you.

Fate is a future you didn't try hard enough to change.

Anyone looking for you can find you. Get them to find you when they're looking for something else.

Less expectations, more work.

Life gives you wonderful opportunities to conquer fears, learn skills, and master techniques. ""I don't want to" isn't synonymous with "I can't".

People seek out two things: information and entertainment. Offer them freely, and they'll come to you.

The Internet isn't temporary. What you post today can lead people to you decades from now.

If writing is your profession, act professional.

Stop Googling yourself.

No one said it would be fair, fun, or easy. But it can be worthwhile.

We're all in the same boat. Start rowing.

If you can quit, quit. If you can't quit, stop complaining--this is what you chose.

There are a lot of things that happen beyond your control. Your goals should be within your control.

Write when you can. Finish what your start. Edit what you finish. Self-publish. Repeat.

The most successful people on the planet have one thing in common: nothing can stop them. Don't expect to reach your goals without sacrificing things that are important to you.

Being your own best advocate is about understanding how people react to you.

Fake confidence, and real confidence follows.

Maybe you can't win. But you sure as hell can try.

Don't write crap.

Always have two hands reaching out. One, for your next goal. The other, to help people get to where you're at.

If you can't be smart or funny, be brief.

Don't ever say anything online that you wouldn't say in person.

If you're not in love with the sound of your own voice, how can you expect anyone else to ever be?

Knowing you're not original is the first step in becoming unique.

People aren't carved out of marble. We're all works in progress. The trick is to define ourselves, rather than let outside influences define us.

Don't prioritize the mundane.

Writers are essential. Readers are essential. Publishers are not.

Stop thinking if. Start thinking how.

The more you fail, the closer you are to success. If you don't have success, you haven't failed enough.

Envy, jealousy, guilt, regret, shame, and worry are all useless emotions. Focus on love, patience, tolerance, and forgiveness.

There should only be a few people in your life whose opinion matters. The opinions of everyone else do not.

One of the greatest journeys in life is overcoming insecurity and learning to truly not give a shit.

We live in the here and now. We don't live in the wish and hope.

You can curse the rain all you want, but you'd be better off getting an umbrella.

Trying to change what people want to do will never work.

Luck doesn't mean you can stop trying. Luck means you have to keep trying until luck happens.

If you're reading this blog, you aren't writing. Get back to work.


Miguel Ángel Alonso Pulido said...

Dammit, Joe, why are you so right? Now I must return to writing...
(BTW, can I translate this for my blog?)

JA Konrath said...

Si, Miguel.

Veronica - Eloheim said...

This is amazing. Thank you.

Judith Mercado said...

Gosh, I needed to hear this today. Thanks!

Gita said...

Thank you. This was so right.

Brian said...

All of this post is wonderful, but

If you're selling eggs, don't piss off your chickens

Is both fundamental and funny. Thanks you made my day.

Anonymous said...


Until recently, I was one of those aspiring authors who thought the only respectable path to publication was through New York: Write. Submit. Get rejected. Take classes. Read how-to books. Hire freelance editors. Schmooze with agents at writers conferences. Write some more. Submit some more. Get rejected some more. Repeat.

Then one day over on Writer Unboxed, someone replied to a Don Maass post (on the different classes of writers) with a link to your post fisking it.

Discovering your blog has been a spiritual awakening for me.

Thank you.

Arlene said...

I'd like to post this on my blog as well. Thanks. And thanks for the fresh, to the point, perspective.

Alexander Mori said...

- Don't write crap

I try to follow this advice daily :)
Such an awesome post! Thanks!

David L. Shutter said...

Great stuff. 'Print and hang over computer' worthy.

Unknown said...

WOW! Joe - could you offer four more to add to these 56. I've put them in Excel titled: B> Konrath Pearls of Writers Wisdom B> and will focus on one/day to improve myself and my products.

gpstberg said...

This is your best post in a few weeks.

Unknown said...

Beautifully put, thank you.

Unknown said...

"If you're reading this blog, you aren't writing. Get back to work."

Damn - you do know everything!

As a new self-published author, I do want to say "Thanks" for all the advice and direction that you offer up for us new guys. It's much appreciated!


Unknown said...

Good stuff. :)

Alan Spade said...

Tried and true.

I feel the "If you're selling eggs, don't piss off your chickens" maxim to be more directed toward legacy publishers than toward authors. But perhaps that's just me.

Anonymous said...

"Don't ever say anything online that you wouldn't say in person."

Doesn't this go against your petition? Sounds a little H-wordish to me, Joe. not trying to poke you, just sayin.

P. S. Power said...

Your books are your children, you won't see their flaws

Don't write crap...


Both true, but also hard to manage. What you (anyone) writes, will be someone else's piece of useless trash.

Learning to tell that what you have written isn't trash is hard, and part of why so many people seek outside validation.

Only people with supremely developed ego's will think that what they've done is perfect, all the time.

If we could easily tell the difference, then not only would no one "write crap" they wouldn't care about poor reviews.

Narcissists don't worry about the "fools" that don't like what they do. They know, without doubt, that they are great.

Everyone else gets to struggle along, always wondering if they're really as good as they think they are.

This is both why people Google themselves and never should! :)

Anonymous said...

Amen to that one. I keep receiving ads for expensive writing classes "taught" by someone who has published a book. The classes seem to involve a lot of time studying OTHER people's work and turning in long reports about that work to the "instructor."
I am not at all sure that publishing a book qualifies a person to teach others "How to write."
I AM sure it is a lot of money and time gone that is not spent on one's own work.
No mention EVER of the instructors giving their students access to the instructor's own agent.
Anyone taken courses like this out there? Was it worth the money?
Another terrific column, Joe.

Anonymous said...

Konrath's Proverbs of Hell for writers.

Mark Chapman

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Joe :)

Mark Edward Hall said...

I like when your blog comments start to degenerate into useless diatribes and petty arguments, you post a new one and freshen things up a bit. Good stuff, Joe.

Patrice said...

You are always distracting me from writing, Joe Konrath! I'm starting a petition... no more good blog posts from you. I'm calling it the KKPW Petition -- Konrath Keeps Patrice (from) Writing.

Walter Knight said...

Don't Google myself? What's the fun of that?

Lucy Lit said...

As a newbie, your comments keep me sane. Thanks for all the info and common sense nuggets.

Unknown said...

Joe: As usual you seem to know what I need when I need it. Thanks for a great post. I quoted some of your "Identity" post on my own blog and received many thanks for it.

Rob Cornell said...

One of the greatest journeys in life is overcoming insecurity and learning to truly not give a shit.

I'm still on this journey. It's a long and lonesome highway and I just wish the trip were through.

Great post.

hollis shiloh said...

Oh no, I want to comment but then you'll know I'm not writing! :o

karenmbryson said...

I'm printing this and taping it to my desk. Thank you for sharing so selflessly with other writers. You rock!

w. adam mandelbaum esq. said...

Fate is a future you didn't try hard enough to change.
As they say in the county of Kings, That one was cherce!

Mchael E. Walston said...

That was refreshing! :)

Colin M said...

Thanks Joe,

I know I've seen a number of these over the years. One in particular I've gone looking for and couldn't find in the many years of posts and comments you have available.

"Always have two hands reaching out. One, for your next goal. The other, to help people get to where you're at."

Words to live by. There are many great points here, but this is my favorite. Thanks for posting all these in one spot.

Joe Flynn said...

No one deserves anything?
Osama deserved Seal Team Six.

Lesley said...

I love you Joe!

Lesley said...

Not in a Stephen King - Misery - No. 1 Fan kinda way...just thought I should add that!

Marc R. Soto said...

Man, be Sure I'm translating it too to my blog.

Miguel, si necesitas ayuda, escríbeme a y nos repartimos el trabajo...

Joe, as inspiring as always. You're kind of my Hero XD.

You know you can easily sign ebooks with a Tablet just sending a pdf file, don't you? (I've been doing so for a while and it's amazing. People just freak out when you take your iPad out of your bag and sign an ebook and send it in a mail in few seco de).

I'f KILL for one of your eboons signed :) specially the one about writing containing several posts from this blog. I bought it from Amazon and I can prove it. I have the receipt ;)

Anonymous said...

Awesome rules!!

Dr. Debra Holland said...


You've written a lot of great blogs, but in my opinion, this the best, and my respect for you grew even more. I often Tweet positive/inspirational/motivational sayings, and I'm going to break these up and pass them on.

I'm going to disagree with one, and that's about taking classes and reading books. I think they are a valid and important way of learning the craft. I'm so thankful for some of the workshops I've attended and the books I've studied. That's not to say you don't learn from practice, because you do.

I'll add something to your list: Follow your intuition (which is different from your emotions such as fear or from your logic) for it will guide you to the right choice, regardless of what others tell you.

Unknown said...

Many wonderful gems! I can't pick a favorite. Great stuff. Thanks for sharing!

Ambiance Paintings said...

Thanks for all the great tips. I needed to hear these!