A Well-Paid Writing Career

A well paid writing career CAN happen when you combine four elements.

  1. Good writing
  2. Knowledge of writing market
  3. Professionalism
  4. persistence

Good Writing

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!

Top Ten Reasons Writers Rock!

Welcome to my Monday pep talk. It seems the naysayers and critics are out in force. Why is it the common masses have devolved into grumbling malcontents?  It seems the greater percentage of the population spends more time complaining than anything else.  ARRRGGGHHHH!  Which is why I give myself these pep talks.  What if malcontentment was the first sign of zombification?  I’d have to learn to survive!  So in the preventative  effort of avoiding being turned into a zombie, here’s my top ten reasons why being a writer rocks.

  1. Imaginations:  Who else can come up with the stuff that makes excellent movies, excellent books?  Regardless of the genre, the worlds that writers create takes us to magical places. Whether it’s Neverland, Narnia, or Middle Earth,  the deep magic of the writer’s imagination fuels the reader to experience dangerous thrilling situations without ever being in physical danger.
  2. Deep Pools:  Writer’s tap those deep inner recesses that common folk lock away behind padlocked doors. Some suppress it with Xanax, some with Seagram’s.  You know all those times in movies when you are yelling at the actor on the screen “Don’t go in there!”?  Writers are the twisted individuals that put the “scare” behind the door.  A writer’s mind has more twists and turns  and underground tunnels than the world’s best rollercoaster.  Don’t go into the deep – it’s where the monsters reside.  Unless you’re the writer, then they are your pets.
  3. Power:  Depending on what we write, writers can rule the world.  Disagree? Consider the following: the Harry Potter phenomenon,  created by writer J.K. Rowling; True Blood – Charlaine Harris; Game of Thrones – George R. R. Martin;  The Twilight phenomenon – Stephanie Meyers.  This is the type of success the rest of us strive for.  The power to influence the minds of an entire generation; and crossover to some of the other generations as well.  We really can rule the world.  At least the world we create in our minds.
  4. Therapy:    Both sides of this coin:  those that employ therapists, therefore helping the economy by keeping at least one therapist employed. and those that avoid therapy by the cathartic by-product of their writing.  I’ve heard arguments for demonic exorcism, but I’m not convinced.
  5. Pride:  You know all those people who tell you “Get a real job” ? Think about the pride that we provide for them.  Without a creative, specifically a writer, those working stiffs might not feel so high and mighty about themselves that are so inclined to criticize our daily pursuit.  When the big day comes, and they are scratching their heads or their butts, wondering how it suddenly happened for us, we can take pride in every single hour that we have labored in our pursuits, knowing that we didn’t give up our dreams.  Yeah, like sweating blood is for wimps.
  6. Tensile:    (tnsl, -sl)

    1. Of or relating to tension.
    2. Capable of being stretched or extended; ductile.
    • 3. capable of being shaped or bent or drawn out; “ductile copper”; “malleable metals such as gold”; “they soaked the leather to made it pliable”; “pliant molten glass”; “made of highly tensile steel alloy”  There is no way on this green earth that a writer can endure the hardships, the financial strains, and emotional frustrations of the writer’s life without developing some brass. Yeah, notice those descriptives?  Bent, gold,  malleable – oh yeah, I could so go on a tangent there .  * OK secret huddle – yeah, I’m telling you that writers learn to grow a pair, whether they be cahoneys or casabas*  Don’t piss off your writer friends, they are made of tougher stuff than you think.
  7. Sense of Humor  If you don’t learn to laugh, you’ll end up back at number four paying for Dr. Flabio’s Ferrari.  We develop our sense of humor, laughing at ourselves and our failures.  You know that old thing of “this will be funny – someday.”  At the moment the situation may seem bleak, but it’s subject to change.  Circumstances always change.  Great writers learn to not take life so seriously.
  8. Observative Powers  We live in the same world as everyone else, well mostly. We observe the same daily routines as those around us, yet we can see inspiration all the time.  Example:  That little old man who lives down the street using a walker.  Most people see him as a harmless old man, maybe a cranky old man who doesn’t like the neighborhood boys in his yard.  A writer however can create an entire life for the man.  What if he was a former criminal?  Maybe he robbed banks. Maybe he was a murderer that served time, or never got caught.  What if he was the romantic sort in his youth? He romanced his wife, spent several happy years until cancer took her and now he fights putting a bullet in his brain every day. Raw material is all around us.  The non-writer walks by and never sees it, but a writer takes notice of details.
  9. Devious Minds  Refer back to Number 6 when I said don’t piss off your writer friend.  Yeah, we have devious minds.  We will kill you in our books.  It fuels our antagonists, and provides plot points to our work.  Devising torturous methods for the character you become to suffer.  It’s usually not a quick death either.  That would be too simple, too compassionate.  It’s best really that you don’t find out what lurks behind door number 3.
  10. We Are Writers!  Come on, did you really have to read all ten to realize that we as writers are more than the average bear.Most of us work other jobs. Sometimes multiple other jobs.  It’s not what gives us satisfaction.  For a writer, satisfaction will never come without engaging in the act of writing. It’s our life blood poured onto the pages, oozing out from our finger tips, casting a magical spell over the reader as well as a euphoria within ourselves.  It may sound weird for some – but the writers will get it.  Even if we do take a day job, we still write;  sometimes in secret, sometimes in public.  It’s our obsession.

Doors of Opportunity

Don’t you just love it when a door opens up?  In the writing world, it seems like we knock on doors daily, and most never open. It’s part of our occupation to be professional door knockers.  There are a variety of doors that we are faced with in a writing career. Every once in a while they open for us.

Locked doors: We knock and knock.  We know there are people inside, we can hear them see the evidence, yet the door never opens and the handle will not turn. Yet, we are a persistent lot and like the velociraptor, we keep checking the doors.  Some day, some one will have to open the door. Eventually.

Closed Doors:  Again, we knock.  And knock.  As a matter of etiquette we wait outside the door waiting for someone to open it.  After a while, through impatience we test the knob and it turns.  In the business world, it’s common to keep the doors closed, yet not locked so customers can come in to the front counter.  Are you going to the front counter? Or are you waiting for someone to open the door?  At someone’s home it’s poor manners to open the door and just walk on in, unless you’re family or good friends.  But, in a business – ie – publishing, are you crossing the threshold and stepping to the counter where someone can actually assist you?  Or are you pounding a business door, and they are inside wondering why you don’t just come on in?  Are you even checking to see if the knob turns?  sometimes we give up too easily.

Cracked Doors:  They are standing slightly ajar, just a crack.  It’s enough to slip your foot in.  Sometimes it’s all the access you need to get in there and make your sales pitch.  Take a clue from the Kirby salesmen here – pimp yourself baby!  If you don’t believe in the goods you’re selling, ain’t nobody else will!  Yes, around these parts ain’t is a word.

*secret huddle hereI’m not the most confident person.  Why do you think I listen to motivational things, read encouraging things?  I don’t get the Monday morning pep talk from the district manager.  We’ve got to be our own pep squad, encouraging ourselves.  Even if you’re wondering if your “goods” are good enough, sell them like they are the greatest thing since The Odyssey! *

Open Doors: Open doors come in different varieties.

  • Opening:  These are the ones that open to you, maybe as you walk up to them, when you knock.  Sometimes you’re not even looking to knock on THAT door, but someone opens it and invites you inside.
  • Standing Open:  It says come on In Y’all!  In the southern states and increasingly in St. Louis area, it is common practice in fair weather for cafe’s to leave their door open inviting customers to walk in.  It gives such a sense of welcome, and acceptance.  Many regional and local markets are like this, seeking a writer that knows the area.  This is how I got my OPinion Column.  It was an open invitation that I submitted sample writing to.  I was shocked and stunned when they accepted me and asked me to continue past the first year.  Sad to say though, that door has been closed.  The newspaper business is tough, and the readership just wasn’t there to sustain the business.  I enjoyed the ride while I was there though!
  • Flapping In the Breeze: YOu know the ones, they are dusty, dingy.  Makes you think of old abandoned buildings.  The kind that if it were a movie you’d be yelling at the screen telling the  star “Don’t go In there!”  Yet, as writer’s what do we do?  “Hello?  Anyone in here?”  We poke around, edging closer to that fluttering tarp in the center of the room, curiosity getting the better of us.

I have a door of opportunity that is a new venture.  I will be sharing a story over the summer, in a weekly installment on  Storytime Trysts.   I’m looking at this as a challenge, something new to try.  this will be far steamier than anything I’ve ever written before.  I know for a certainty that flash fiction isn’t my thing.  As much as I like poetry, I don’t have the knack for that.  Always willing to try new things though.  I’m also participating in a summer project on  RCGale  on a summer series entitled Bereshit bara.  It’s a collection of creatives thoughts on and what motivates, challenges us in our craft.  Here’s his intro for his series:

I’ve asked 13 incredibly talented Creatives to share with us what gives them the courage to create. They are writers, authors, teachers, professors, doctors, waitresses, pastors, painters, musicians, editors, mothers, fathers, wives, husbands. I just like to call them Creatives.

Creating is a daunting task. But it’s also full of joy and meaning and mystery.

How do Creatives make the first move, write the first word, fling the first brush stroke, peel back the first layer of clay?

What inspires them, what moves them, what drives them?

As if this wasn’t enough of a challenge, I’ve been given the green light from the doctor to add some low impact cardio back into my routine.  Good news, even while I’ve been limited to aqua aerobics class I’ve lost a bit of weight! Yeah!  I intend to challenge myself physically over the summer. The goal is to get back to the level of fitness I was at, and possibly beyond.  the goal – is to do 45 minutes of cardio nonstop.  We are making it a family affair by training daily.  Cycling daily on various trails and parks over the summer.   Maybe I’ll even get brave and share some photos.  Well, ok, I”m not quite that brave yet.  The one in my bio is bad enough! *facepalm*.

It’s shaping up to be a fantastic summer!  I Love a challenge!  So, here’s the deal: I’m expecting  my readers to keep me accountable, give me feedback, You’ve been wonderful already.  I’ve gotten way more feedback than I ever expected.  I’ll take quality over quantity every time!  You guys (and gals) rock!!

Write On!