10 Things I Wish I’d Known When I Started My Writing Career
The following list and comments were taken from the October 10 Author Talk. These informal gatherings cover topics of interest to the Passionate Ink membership and are open to all members.
- Writing craft is important and there are books and communities of writers who can help you improve. Initially, learning craft is a far better way to spend your time than learning to market.
- Fiction writing uses different skills than journalism, non-fiction, or academic writing. Even if you have a degree in creative writing, there is a learning curve because colleges don’t teach genre fiction.
- Listen to your writing. Read it out loud, have another person read it to you, or use Siri or other built-in voices. You will find errors you wouldn’t otherwise.
- You will experience fear of finishing your work, fear of putting your voice forward, fear of offending someone, fear of exposure, fear of failure, and fear of success. This is normal and there are things you can do to work through the fear like connecting with other authors.
- Even independent writers need community. Join a group, get feedback, and think about it before you react emotionally. Find your tribe.
- Social media is important. Use it to connect with other writers. Develop relationships with writers and readers. Build your brand. Your brand is not your books, it’s you—your hobbies, passions, interests: pets, travel, daily life, food, funny mugs, comic books, whatever. Talk about that. Don’t post about the writing process—readers don’t care.
- Research what other writers are doing in their marketing, Facebook posts/IG posts that get interaction. Get inspiration from their ideas and make them unique to you.
- Develop your team: editor, cover artist, critique groups, newsletter subscribers, beta readers, etc. You’ll need them. And get recommendations before you pay professionals, (and you should pay professionals), so that you don’t overpay for services.
- Don’t spend money marketing your first book. Write the next book. And the next. Somewhere between three and eleven published books is where you need to be before you spend dollars instead of time marketing. Instead, use your money to create the best possible product: editing, covers, etc.
- If possible, write books that are connected either as a series or a collection of related novels. And pick a lane. If you write paranormal, keep writing paranormal. If you get a wild hair to write contemporary or time travel or YA, use a different pen name.
But the most important thing is to just keep writing.
Thanks to all the members who shared their hard-learned lessons. Connect with your fellow members at the next Author Talk November 14, 4P CST when we will discuss Time Management Tips for Authors.