Well, it’s Monday. That means my one day I give myself a week (when I’m lucky) to sit back and relax is over and it it time to once again put butt in chair and get to work. It also means resuming blogging for the week. Of course, I didn’t have clue one what to write about. So, I went traipsing merrily through the internet, looking for inspiration. For those of you who follow me over at MGC, you won’t be surprised to find I discovered that inspiration on The Passive Voice blog.
Specifically, TPV led me to this post. Usually, when I find posts like this that claim to be lists of things writers “must” do, I sharpen my digital pencil and get ready to tear the post apart. I can’t do that with this one because, for the most part, I agree with everything the blogger has to say. In fact, it echoes a lot of what I tell beginning writers–or just about any other writer–when they ask for advice about what they should do.
Here are the 10 things the blogger says are “musts”.
- Come out of the Writing Closet
- Develop Rhino Hide
- Read Bestsellers, Especially In Your Genre
- Put Publishing on the Back Burner While You’re Building Inventory
- Ditch the Beginning Writers’ Fantasies for Realistic Expectations
- Think Outside the Book
- Learn to Weed Out Bad Advice
- Get to Know Your Audience
- Don’t Always Write with Publication in Mind
- Learn How the Publishing Business Works
I will let you read the specifics of what the OP has to say about each of those “musts”. That said, here’s my general take on it. The advice is aimed more for writers looking to g the traditional route than those going indie. Nothing wrong with that and there’s still a lot of “right” to what the OP says for those looking to go the indie route as well.
Now for some specific comments.
I do have a qualification when the reading bestsellers. That’s all well and good, especially if you are trying for a traditional publishing contract. However, I would suggest you need to read further and you need to make sure you are reading more than just the “bestsellers” in your genre but in your sub-genre. You need to read more than the NYT or USA Today bestsellers. You need to log onto Amazon and see what the bestsellers are there, both on the paid and unpaid lists. Not only will you see what readers are buying, but you will also see what part of the market is flooded and what part needs to be expanded.
Under the “think outside the book” advice, I both agree ad disagree. I get what the OP is trying to say. But the idea of doing shorter works to build a publication history and win awards is something you really worry about if you are trying for a traditional contract. Publishers like it when an author can wave those credits under their noses. Short stories are, for the most part, loss leaders for most indie authors. There’s nothing wrong with them, but they aren’t going to put a lot of money in your account (as a general rule). Most readers don’t care how many contests you’ve won or what awards you’ve garnered. They want a story they can lose themselves in.
Most of all, the OP is directly on point with her advice to learn how the industry works. It doesn’t matter if you are talking traditional publishing or indie publishing. You need to know what is going on, why it is going on, and how it can or will impact you. It means more than looking at what traditional publishers are doing. It means looking at the various publishing platforms and third-party sites like Draft2Digital. In other words, it means you have to look at it as your business and treat it that way.
The one must I will add and it goes right on top of the list is that you MUST write. There is no one way to do it, just as there is no one set amount of words you should write every day. But you can’t and won’t be a writer if you don’t write and don’t write regularly. Most of us can’t afford to quit our day jobs, even if we have managed to snag a traditional publishing contract. That means you have to find a way to fit writing in around your “real job”, your family and the rest of life’s little complications. It means setting goals and accomplishing them. But it also means recognizing there are times when you won’t be able to meet that goal. Forgive yourself, determine what prevented you from reaching that goal and continue on.
Now I need to follow my own advice, put my butt in my chair at the desk and get to work.
Oh, notice the new header image. It still needs a bit of work (after all, I put it together at 0445 this morning).
Featured Image: Fictional illustration of a giant robot stands in a destroyed stadium by David Edwards. Licensed via Adobe Stock.