A well paid writing career CAN happen when you combine four elements.
- Good writing
- Knowledge of writing market
This is the part we really don’t like. We have to practice and perfect our craft. Some of my first attempts will never be read by anyone but me, as it was practice. Over the years, I’ve improved and learned to make my writing better. There is always room for improvement. Over the years, I’ve looked at my submissions that sold, and the ones that never sold. I can see a difference in the quality of writing. I’m not so naive that I think everything I write is gold. There comes a point in a successful author’s life though, that they can write less than great prose and it sells because of their name.
I have mixed feelings about that, as I think the quality should always improve. A certain author that I’ve read a lot of her work has made her books formulaic. Change the names of the characters, the town, and perhaps a few circumstances and they are all the same story. I hate that. I expect each book to be uniquely different, even if it’s in a series. In a series it’s the continuation of the first story. Perhaps new adventures, or the next phase in the adventure but it adds to the first in a unique way.
When I took piano lessons as a child, I didn’t take one or two lessons then give a recital. It was years of practice, years of lessons, multiple recitals. I have taught piano lessons to others, and play at virtuoso level. That still doesn’t mean that hundreds of people would pay to hear me play. I never wanted the lessons, it was something my mother insisted upon. That’s not my gifting, or my desires. I wanted to play guitar, and some day I will learn. but that’s another story.
Knowledge of writing market
For nonfiction articles, you choose the category that interests you or that you have some experience in. Study the markets for your category. Know the magazines you are submitting to. A story on gardening is not going to sell to Bassmaster’s. Look at their submission guidelines. Follow their guidelines, and the categories they are accepting.
Take rejections with a grain of salt. It’s not a personal attack against you. It may simply be it’s not an appropriate market, or wrong season, or perhaps someone else sold them something a little too similar. Keep submitting!
Make sure your Query and cover letters are top quality.
For fiction, the same rules apply. Check your publisher and make sure you are submitting to the right genre. It would do me little good to submit my work to a publisher that publishes crime stories, when my book is a paranormal romance.
Make certain your formatting is correct! Not every place requires MLA guidelines.
How you conduct yourself does matter. Just as in the “regular” job world, you want to make the best impression you can. If you don’t know how to write a query, learn. If you don’t know how to write a synopsis, learn. there is a wealth of information on the internet, and many writers that are aiming for the same goals. for the most part, writers are helpful to other writers.
Join a critique group. Join an online writer’s community. there are many available, and one is bound to be a good fit. I met some great people during NaNoWriMo that I stay in contact with. I’m in several groups, as each is focused on different things.
You set the tone of what people think of you on public forums. Develop a stable platform that you can market yourself and your work from. You want to get noticed, but not for bad reasons. YOur platform is your ability to market yourself, and get your message out to the world.
OK, I was wrong before. THIS, is the part I like the least. Keep trying, keep working at it, continually perfecting while battling the inner critic who is telling me: It’s no use. I’ll never achieve my dreams. I’m being unrealistic, yada yada yada.
Daily practice, and perseverance over time will produce results as long as we don’t give up.
“Never, never, never give up.” Winston Churchill
Now don’t you feel better? This is not out of reach. Stephen King had to go through the process before he hit it big. This is doable!
Good talk Russ!
Today Chapter 2 of Love Notes is appearing on Storytime Trysts . I’ve been getting some great feedback on this.
I was guest blogger on Doug Simpson’s blog. http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fdoug-simpson-author.blogspot.com%2F2012%2F05%2Ftodays-guest-blogger-ellie-mack.html&h=PAQHXz8_8AQFHIqQDudRhtTqHowl7AVYIlx5p3IU_CPaoPg
This week kicks off the TTC Virtual blog tour. Each week I will be hosting a different author or writer. I will be highlighting some women authors over the summer as well. In addition, I am tackling my 90 day challenge for fitness.
It’s going to be busy, but exciting. Never a dull moment at the Mack house!
Write on my friends, write on!
Fantastic post. Well said. And everything is so true. Writing and getting your work sold is work. And those that succeed and succeed big are still working hard which is why their names are still out there. You have a fantastic blog Ellie. It brings me back again and again. I can only say that about a handful of blogs. Keep up the good work.
Thanks Tasha! I have to wonder at those people that are constantly saying I need to get a “real” job. If they had any idea how much work writing is, . . .but they don’t.
Well said Ellie. All very true but too hard for some people. I persevered for four years before I got my first contract.
I wrote, read and listened to others who had been there, done that and knew so much more than I did.
Yes, sometimes it is hard to take the rejections and opinions. But just remember, less than five percent of people ever make it to publication.
If you want it, you have to work it, baby
Exactly Ann! I especially like your last line – work it baby!
wow this is amazing!!
Thanks Cathy! I’m so glad you guys get something out of my pep talks. We all need encouragement!
Actually you just need to be opportunist and know how to publicize your book. That’s more than enough to having a well-paid career.
NOt sure about the opportunist thing, as sometimes that doesn’t work but I absolutely agree taht you have to know how to publicize your book!
By opportunist I mean a writer that recognizes a trend and quickly releases a book on the theme (eg. vampires)
Ah! I see what you’re saying. That is true, but for me I guess I’m just not quick enough on the uptake – yet!