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Friday, June 21, 2013

Success is earned. Not given. #writing #advice

Yesterday, a colleague asked me for advice on publishing. She has a couple of manuscripts sitting around, collecting dust, and doesn't know where to begin trying to send them off into the world.

After talking to her for a little while about writing, she asked how to go about finding a publisher. When I explained the query process to her, her eyes lit up with excitement.

"Oh! That sounds so easy," she said.

"Then I must not have explained it right," I replied.

She thought I was trying to be funny, but I wasn't, and I told her as much.

Most new writers seem to believe finishing an entire manuscript is the hard part. Once that's done, life as a writer is a breeze.

Yeah, not so much!

Finishing that manuscript is only half the battle. And, in many ways, it's the easiest part of the entire process. Once you decide you're serious about publishing, you have to tear the story apart, rewrite it, revise it, and then do it again.

You agonize over your query and your synopsis for weeks at a time before you ever work up the nerve to hit that "send" button. And then you wait for weeks and months at a time for a response. When you get one, it's a "no".
No. No. No. No. No.

Sometimes, the "no" comes with pretty harsh criticism. Your story is unoriginal. It's unpublishable. You need to seriously think about rewriting this, or rewriting that. You aren't half as clever as you think you are. No one will ever buy this story.

You get these responses for months, sometimes years at a time, before you finally get that yes. You jump up and down, screaming at the top of your lungs. You read the contract six times. You have everyone you know read the contract. You worry over every little word. And then you sign.


Until your publisher sends you their style guide.

You rip your manuscript apart again, and then put it back together. You send it to your editor, who then helps you tear it apart once more. You wonder why you ever got yourself into this. What were you thinking? You'll never get this right. Everyone will hate your story. They'll hate you.

You finally finish editing, and realize your story is so much stronger now. You see the light at the end of the tunnel. Everything is coming together, and your dream is right there, a few feet in front of you.

And then you hear the words "marketing" and "promotion". You jump in with both feet and tell the world about your book. You talk about it so much, you sometimes want to gouge your own eyes out, not because you don't love the book, but because you can only think of so many ways to discuss your characters, your ideas, your playlist, or that moment when you realized all the frustration is worth it.

When release day comes, you panic again. What if everyone hates your story? What if they love it? What if they expect you to do this exact same thing another thousand times before you die? What if, what if, what if?

You get your first review and it's positive. Yay! Writing is the best thing ever!

You wake up two days later and your first positive review is rubbing elbows with your first negative review. It's brutal. Reading it kills you. You cry because the reviewer hates your baby. The reviewer was mean to you. Everyone's going to see this review and no one will want to read your book ever again!

You're going to fail! Fail, fail, fail, fail, fail!

But your buddies convince you to dust yourself off and get back in the saddle anyway.

You do everything above all over again.

And then you do it again.
You do it over and over while working a full time job, taking care of a family, and saving every penny. You do it without sleep, a shower, or sunlight for days at a time.

Somewhere along the way, you realize those bad days, the ones where you want nothing more than to grab a bottle of vodka and hide under the bed . . . . Those are they days you NEED because they're the days that make you work harder, write better, and strive to be stronger. They give you the thick skin needed to deal with those bad reviews. The humility required to focus on your goals and not let the positive feedback go to your head. The drive demanding you get your ass off the couch and WRITE.
You have a love/hate relationship with those days. With writing. Editing. Marketing. Publishing. This relationship never ends. It doesn't always get easier the second or third or fourth time around. Sometimes, it gets harder with each book you write.
"Surely it's not like that for everyone," my coworker said when I told her all this.
"Wanna bet?" I asked her.
She sat quietly for a moment, and then sighed. "Is it worth it?"
"Writing is one hell of a rough journey," I said, "but yeah, it's worth it if you're willing to fight and bleed for it . . . and then wake up and do it all over again tomorrow."
A thoughtful, determined expression crossed her face. "So... where do I start?" she asked.

I smiled at her. "Right there. You start right there."


Fade - The Ragnarok Prophesies: Book One - On Sale at: Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Books-a-Million


  1. Great post, and so very very true. Writing is so much more than putting words on a page. Writing is bleeding your soul. Writing is sleepless nights. Writing is burned dinner. Writing is needing a shower. Writing is crying. Ahh. I love it, but sometimes I just want to sleep!


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