Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Advice to Newbie Authors


I was asked “if you could go back in time to before you were first published, what five to ten pieces of advice would you give yourself?”

Yes, I would hope I’d listen to my own advice, but that doesn’t always happen. So easy to go your own way and make your own mistakes, even if there’s a chance you won’t have to.

So what would I do?

Of course, when I sold my first two books there was very little information out there for authors. There was no RWA and you relied heavily on your agent and editor or if you could meet another author. I didn't meet another author for over a year and I attended the very first RWA National conference and discovered "wow, more like me!"

I would make sure to have an agent who would look out for my interests and if that person weren’t, then I’d be on the hunt for someone who did. Yes, listen to your agent, they know the market in ways you don't, but there also has to be give and take and hopefully, they'll listen to you too.

Learning about the creativity side of writing can be easy and talking to other authors can even help there. But the business side is just as important if not more at times. Back then I could read and understand a contract, but I still didn’t know the ins and outs of publishing contracts. If you don’t understand a clause, ask questions.

The best piece of advice I’ve carried with me since high school is “If you don’t understand something, don’t pretend you do. Ask questions.” And after all these years, I still do.

I would tell myself back then that change is good even if it means venturing into new territory. That I can’t be afraid of the prospect. That I should embrace that new territory as a challenge and just go for it.

I would sit myself down with the talk, “Foremost, this is a business, even if you’re doing what you love. But if you keep on learning and doing what it takes, you’ll have the experience of a lifetime.”

Linda




20 comments:

  1. I think the idea that writing is a job is one that's been hard for me. I began writing as a way of relieving the stress of nursing, but found just as much stress, if not more, now that I am published. The pressure to keep producing and improving with each subsequent book is very high, whether I'm imposing it on myself or feeling it from another source.
    I think that's what I would tell new authors: There are many things about writing that I enjoy, but if you think it's all going to be a lark, think again.

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  2. Greetings, Linda, from your Green Grasshopper :-)

    I'm with Cheryl. As long as I have a day job (and one that kicks my booty no less) writing isn't a job, it's supposed to be the joy. It doesn't always succeed, but I'll keep at it as long as it's mostly fun.

    Great advice, thanks!

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  3. Definitely a business, Linda, with the perk being it's something I love to do. So, when you're doing something you love, it's not work, right? (shhh, don't tell that to Uncle Sam LOL).

    This is definitely good advice. I've been seeing some people chatting recently who have forgotten that while it's an art to us, to those who sell our books, it's a product. Business runs on products and we have to recognize that fact.

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  4. This is great advice Linda! Even I was surprised at how much work is expected of authors once their books are published--and I'm the one who makes you do all the work ;-)

    I hope there are new authors out there paying attention to your advice here!!

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  5. You ought to have labeled this post 'Pearls of Wisdom"!

    It comes at a good moment for me, especially the idea that I need to follow my own instincts sometimes and also that change is good, sometimes, even in scary territory!

    Great post, great advice!

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  6. It's definitely a job, Cheryl. Yes, parts of it is fun, and I've even heard "what a wonderful hobby you have!" Uh huh.

    It's how you approach it.

    Linda

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  7. Grasshopper!

    I had my day job while I wrote my first two books. I wrote after work and on weekends. I don't know if it was release from stress, more a need to get the stories down. And I typed them on an IBM Executive typewriter!

    Linda

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  8. Judi,

    The way we need to view it. It's a long process for some, short for others. And you have to be stubborn too and be willing to roll with the punches when the markets shift.

    Linda

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  9. And you're so good at what you do, Danielle! You keep us going in the promo dept. that's for sure!

    Linda

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  10. Change can be good and yes, it's scary, Donna.

    I've made changes over my years as a writer and my biggest one was my series now. Best change ever.

    Linda

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  11. I would have started writing for publication long ago. I've written forever, but I didn't really get serious about it until about 10 years ago. So that's what I would have done differently! :)

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  12. Can't believe it's almost 10.00 and I just got here.

    These are words to live by Linda. I confess, I'm only now learning how important some of it is.

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  13. What wonderful thoughts on writing Linda!

    This is one of those businesses that are both creative endeavors and plain hard work. I really appreciated your thoughts that it is first and formost, a business. It produces products you need to sell and that takes business savvy. There so much out there to learn. I can see where an agent is a good source to handle those areas you may not know as much about. And you're right, it's give and take with an agent. Your success is their success, so it'a parntership--or it should be.

    Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

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  14. Terry,

    Sometimes it's still timing and you were meant to wait those ten years.

    Linda

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  15. MM,

    I learned as I went along. You will too.

    Linda

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  16. Thanks Sia,

    My agent and I have a wonderful partnership.

    I love what I do, but I also realize it's a business and I have to consider that too.

    Still, I wouldn't do anything else and after all these years I like working in my jammies. :}

    Linda

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  17. Still dreaming I might have an agent one day. But thanks for the advice.

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