Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Life as a Writer...did you know?

Over the past few months I have had the pleasure of meeting many authors. Some, like myself, have just entered the crazy literary world having published a first book, while others have more than a hundred books to their credit.

I’ve said this before, but humour me, I thought writing the book was my contribution to this endeavour. (This is where most authors can be found literally rolling on the floor laughing).

My book came out a little over 6 months ago, but it wasn’t until December that I really started to understand and get involved in the marketing of my novel. I take marketing webinars when I can, join book/literary/author groups, ask questions, share frustrations, and learn as I go…(I am always happy to share what I’ve learned. If I can help someone avoid wasted efforts, then good).

Last week I was reading about 50 authors, their routines and income around their passion. I would think I'm on the right path, but I know now that it's not an easy road to travel.

Here’s some of what I’ve learned:

-Don’t quit your day job, not until you’re income from writing is sufficient enough to support you.

-Learn how to use your computer, you will be spending hours on it every day…no, not writing, but marketing, answering emails, preparing blog posts, and answering interview questions about the strangest things…Most writers do this every day, easily up to 20 hours a week (and this is besides the writing we are thought to do. Wait! We have jobs, families, responsibilities…)

-Authors have to buy their own books. Just because we wrote the book doesn’t give us free access to the book…so if an author gives you a book, chances are they’ve had to purchase it. Relish it.

-Those who publish with a traditional publishing company can benefit from a cash advance, most wisely used to market the book. (If it’s a huge amount, you might want to look into a publicist.) Chances are, regardless of HOW or with WHOM you have published…YOU have to market the book.

-Learn all you can learn about marketing. As great as your book might be, no one will be banging on your door to buy one if they don’t even know it exists.

-If you’ve always wanted to write a book, but just never had the time, start. Things won’t get any better once you publish, so roll up your sleeves and get on with it.

-Writing a book takes time and money. The money might be to have the book critiqued, edited, published or marketed. It can be to support you while you write…but somewhere along the way, you’ll need to invest in your writing. (At least until you’ve become the next household name).

-Rejection is part of writing, don’t take it personally.

Louis L’Amour, author of over 100 western novels had received over 300 rejections before publishing his first book

John Creasy, author of 564 mystery novels had received 743 rejections before publishing his first book

Ray Bradbury, author of over 100 science fiction novels and stories had received around 800 rejections before selling his first story

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter had been rejected so universally the author decided to self-publish the book

If you get feedback (from rejections, reviews, critiques), learn from it. Don’t hesitate to talk to other authors about it. Never give up. If you need to find a sympathetic ear, try another author…they know what you’re going through.

-Be proud of yourself, you have accomplished something great.


  1. The best advice you gave: Be proud of yourself, you have accomplished something great. Why? Because as you listed above: If you've always wanted to write and have put it off, start. So many times, we (people in general) have the desire to start something and never see it through. I'm very guilty of that. I've tried my hand at running my own floral design business more than once and gave up. Writing is the only passion that has engulfed me fully and I will never let go of it. I'm sure of that because I've tried and ran back to it! It's work, lots and lots of work that never ends. But after taking three years to get to the point where I feel I have a novel ready to query (the stage I am in now) I could care less if the big dogs don't want it. Yes I'd be disappointed, but that's not the point. The point is that after nearly 3 years of working, learning, disappointment, and frustration, I did what I feared I'd never be able to do: I completed my first novel and am proud of it. Not only that, I've got my second one written and am outlining the third. The hardest part was learning how to finish the first. Continuing to move forward won't be easy, but it doesn't matter because I AM proud of myself for accomplishing something great! Great post!

  2. This a great post about a writer's life. You're right, marketing is a full time job and I've never spent so much time at my computer. One tip I'll add is that, despite the hard work, the ride is thrilling. There's nothing that feels better than reading a comment from someone who enjoyed reading your novel. Also,I've come to meet so many wonderful authors along the way and made great friends.
    I'm especially glad to have met you, Debbie.

  3. This might just be the best advice I've seen for aspiring writers. I'll have to remember all this.
    -Kimberly @ Turning The Pages
    P.S. Thanks for following my blog.

  4. Great post with great advices... Glad that am reader & not a write! ;)

  5. Thanks for the wonderful feedback :o)

  6. Holy noodles on a stick... I didn't know that there WERE 743 publishers to DO the rejections. Now I feel kind of silly.

  7. Hi Debbie. I love this post! It's so incredibly true. I have also just had my first book released: Jan. 2012. And like you, thought my job was done and ready to have a break before writing book 2 in this series. Well, then we start to learn about the never-ending marketing job. I spend at least 25 hours a week working on marketing. Seven months ago I didn't even know what a blog was, now, I have
    3 blogs. Book 2 in my series is being published now, and I'm trying to write book 3 in between marketing book 1, editing book 2, and a full time job and a part time job. Yes, the literary world is
    not for the faint of heart. I wish you the best of luck with your book!
    Diane Mae Robinson, Award Winning Author, Sir Princess Petra - The Pen Pieyu Adventures (book 1)