Thursday, November 3, 2011

10 Things I Learned Along the Way to Publication

I developed this list of tips and lessons for a session I led at the Avondale Writers Conference in Avondale, AZ, last weekend. The concepts aren't original; you'll hear them from other writers. But though I understood some of them intellectually, it took some doing to accept them in practice. I hope they help you learn some lessons and avoid some heartache and/or mistakes.

1. Take every opportunity to talk to people who know stuff. Whether it's stuff about writing, stuff about your special interests, or stuff about life. Talk to people.

2. Write what you want to write. Not only what you know already or what you think will sell.

3. Have an elevator pitch. You'll use it trying to find an agent, trying to get the book sold to a publisher, trying to spread the word about it, and trying to sell it one-on-one. It's indispensable. Practice it endlessly.

4. Find a support group. Online, in-person, whatever. Have a group of writers you can talk to who will eat chocolate or drink wine with you in sympathy and celebration. (A shout-out to Christine, Wendy, Tracy, and Cary, as well as the SinC Guppies!)

5. Get involved in any way you can. You never know what connections you make will help you write or sell a book later.

6. Cultivate patience. Make sure you have to be doing this.

7. The perfect haircut won't make your life unicorns and rainbows, and neither will publication ... but it's pretty great. Writing doesn't get easier, and now you have to learn to promote and spend lots of energy on that. But it's still a gift.

8. Plan your public persona as carefully as you plan your prose. You will be a living, breathing, speaking representative of your book.

9. Accept that you can't do it all. Do what you enjoy and don't bother with what you don't like.

10. Enjoy every step. It really is magic. Don't get so wrapped up in promotion that you don't stop and smell the new-book-smell.

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