The Mindset of a Published Author – Part 2

Know every nook and cranny of the business.  This is s a lesson I’ve had to revisit recently. 

There are reasons why authors like to blog about the beginning stages of book from idea to publication.  Sure it’s boring, but there’s a bigger picture.  It’s called CYA or cover your ass.

When I first start writing, I started like many authors.  I wrote without any regards to the rules and ended up with an epic novel that had 250,000 words and a sequel of 180,000 that remains unfinished.  It wasn’t until I had a heartbreak with my first agent that I took time off from writing to get to know the business better.  Why?  Because if this was a career path I wanted, it was important to have it work for me instead of against me.  And since knowledge is power, I wanted that power.  Today, I protect my dreams with the fierceness of a lion.

I learned how to write a real query letter, a book that was within normal publishing limits for a first-time author, and what happens after the contract is signed.  I learned about my responsiblity as an author in terms of marketing and promotions because that’s how you find readers.  I also learned about reviews, growing a thick skin, and what things like print runs and copyedits mean.  Even though I’ve been at this for 9 years now, I have them reinforced from time to time to make sure I’m protecting myself. 

From one writer to another, it’s important to know everything you can about this business if you want to succeed in it.  Just because you land an agent or the publisher of your dreams, it doesn’t make it any easier nor can you rest on your laurels.  You’re officially in the game and need to secure your position. 

Nobody cares more about my career than me.  I protect it with everything in my arsenal.  Nothing hurts worse than to have your dreams dug out of the ground, trampled, and tossed on a compost heap.  *raising hand*  Knowing how the publishing business works is one huge guard against that. 

I had a clear vision of what I wanted out of my career before I started gathering a list of agents.  I was focused.  Though it’s a little harder to research, I have an idea of which publishing houses I’d love to work for.  More important, I have a backup plan for when my work doesn’t get picked up.  Yours can be anything from shoving your book under your bed to being your own “agent” by submitting it to publishers who take unagented submissions.  I always have a plan for when something doesn’t get picked up by someone who loves my work.  Make sure whoever you target really loves your work and sees you as a client.  Not as a way to make a quick buck.  I’ve seen this happen more times than I’d like to mention. 

I have a plan for each of my stories that don’t sell because I know enough about certain publishers to know exactly where they will be picked up without question.   The only reason why I haven’t contacted them yet is because I haven’t exhausted any of my higher goals yet.  😉

Be bold.  Be fierce.  Don’t be afraid to question everything.  Your dream is on the line.  As a writer, it’s your right.

How much do you know about the writing business?  Are you confident that it’s enough to keep you focused on your career path?

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16 thoughts on “The Mindset of a Published Author – Part 2

  1. Networking is important, too. I just had lunch with two pubbed writers yesterday. You learn a lot at a lunch like that. People say things they would never say online.

    • Networking is a big part of the business. There are things you learn about people that you’ll never be able to read because people are so afraid of it getting back to them. I’m lucky that most of my “impossible to get” information had come from other writers.

  2. And yet again you cement my idea that I need to make a shrine in your name and praise it daily.

    It’s totally true. I am a bit lazy and I am still on that phase, where I practice and slowly raise activity. I need to hone those mad skills first, before plunging for the kill. Thanks to the Internet I learned that publishing is no place for a teen or a twenty year old college kid. So I stalk and scout and spy and gather information, sharpen those claws and when I strike I will hold on no matter what. It will take years to get all these tools you speak of developed in its entirety and I can see myself getting burned, but I am a masochist for being a writer is the only thing I can truly be.

    • 😆 Careful, Harry. I might be leading you to hell in a handbasket and not realize it. But don’t worry. I’ll try to give you fair warning before Satan knocks on your door. 😉

      I think the publishing world is for anyone who’s ready for it. Age doesn’t matter so much. Just think about the kid who had written Eragon. As long as you’re willing to learn as you go, then it’ll come. In all honesty, I think all writers regardless of their level continue to learn. It’s part of the process. If there was a class someone could teach on this that would cover the whole business aspect, I’d take it. But the problem with that is it’s always changing and there’s always something new to be taught.

      • I trust you and even if Satan comes on my door step [now that would be an honor to have a personal visit] I will most likely try to usurp Hell.

        As far as Paolini goes… I was not impressed that he got a deal and I am not sure whether after that series anything as successful will pop up in his career, but I think that that’s a professional envy meets resentment. He makes my blood boil.

        • I’m impressed that he got a deal. But I’m also rolling my eyes and shaking my head at the deal he got. I don’t know what it was, but it was good. Since then, I’m wondering if any of his books even earned back that advance yet. His movie deal certainly hasn’t if it’s as awful as I thought it was.

          Hmmm. Perhaps my next blog should be my thoughts on the whole publishing model and why I think something new and different might be the infusion it needs. 😉

  3. I have confidence in your experience. Why else do you think I hang around? 😉
    Seriously, I agree ten thousand percent with you. Jumping into anything blindly is, well, like jumping out of a plane without a parachute (not that I’d do either, I’m just saying…). Know the ins and outs of every aspect and don’t be afraid to hypothesize situations that seem a little tentative. Sometimes it’s good to imagine the steps that aren’t there.

    • And all this time I thought it was my sparkling personality and riches. 😆

      Good angle, Kath. Imagine every possible scenario and aspect possible when it comes to following your dreams. The more you know, the more you’re equipped to handle a situation, even if it turns out for the worse. Without the knowledge, you’re lost and will probably cause more damage than could’ve been prevented.

  4. Excellent advice, Marcia. This is a business where you can never stop learning. There is always a new name out there, a new publishing house, a new editor, a new agent. Knowledge is power.

    • Word, girlfriend. And that’s the scary part. You never know what snare you’re going to get choked with next unless you stay abreast of the published world. I’m sure there are people out there who think Carina Press is a sham because they don’t know that it’s affiliated with Harlequin who happens to be the cream of the crop when it comes to romance publishing industry. Then, there are places like Triskelion who prayed on the dreams of authors seeing their books in print despite reports of people saying they haven’t seen a dime since signing on the dotted line. The only way to know who’s who is to know what’s going on.

  5. I’m so glad you published this post! It’s a great wealth of knowledge you have provided for aspiring authors. I’ve said many of the same things you’ve said and professionalism is key…mostly, being realistic about what’s possible and what isn’t. My agent’s advice has always been to keep writing, keep learning, and keep staying positive. 🙂

    • Jax, you have a fabulous agent whose words are truer everyday. And thanks for the compliment, too. 🙂

      Professionalism is key in this business, and sadly, there are many who forget that. Just this morning, I read on one of my loops about a lack of professionalism from a small publisher toward an author. All I can say about that is there’s a reason why that publisher will always be small. Who wants to work with someone like that? The same goes for unprofessional authors, too. The more you know, the less likely something like this will happen.

  6. Have I ever told you about my forgotten writing vault? About my stories that might never seen the light of day? The ones I wrote when I wrote just for fun? The ones I hope my *grin* readers will giggle over when I become a famous author? *grin harder*

    Well, I am doing a lot of reading and trying my best to learn the business. I guess I should feel lucky to have blogs like yours, and that of other writers, to learn some things before getting my writing heart broken too badly.

    I remember how many people–writers–told me “you don’t have to go to school to learn how to write, you already know how” You told me to take life by the horns and learn everything I could. Thanks my dear mommy-to-be!

    I just register for my classes, by the way. 3 writing workshops and one publishing class. I have three years to complete a masters in Creative Writing and a certificate in Publishing. I am excited. I know that the whole learning thing will slow down my fiction writing, but I also know that what I write will be better because of it.

    So yes, I’m taking the writing thing as serious as I know how!

    • I guess I should feel lucky to have blogs like yours, and that of other writers, to learn some things before getting my writing heart broken too badly.

      This was a lesson I’ve had to learn the hard way. Anything I can do via my blog or advice on the side that could prevent someone from having to go through what I’ve been through, I’m all for it. Don’t get me wrong. Your heart will break or it’ll feel like it. Just always remember that it could be a lot worse than what it seems at the moment.

      And way to go with our masters degree! If that’s not dedication to the craft, then I don’t know what is. 🙂 I have a feeling you’ll be well-equipped to handle anything that rolls your way. You’re a smart chick.

  7. I’ve been studying this industry for over ten years. I know which agents I want to query, which publishers I want to work with, etc. It’s great to know if you plan on longevity. 😀

    • Excellent point! I am so with you. The best way to have longevity in this business is so keep abreast of it. Slack off and you could find yourself writing something that won’t have a snowball’s chance at selling. Not only that, but it saves you tremendous amounts of time later on down the road.

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