So why do you write? Hopefully, at this point, you have an answer for that question. You’ve tattooed it to your body and you’re prepared to give a long winded explanation for the next person who asks you. Depending on your end goal and your motivation, sometimes sacrifices have to be made. It’s the nature of wanting anything bad enough.
If like me and many others, your end goal is publication, then there are bigger sacrifices that have to be made daily. I work full time as a teacher, I freelance write and edit, and that’s just to make ends meet. I’m the president of NSW, I’m working on my third novel, editing my first, and I still read and edit other writer’s stuff for fun. Which leaves limited time for my actual writing. I don’t watch a lot of TV and I don’t remember the last movie I went to. Sacrifice, most definitely. Is it worth it? Without a question. I listen to a lot of audiobooks because I don’t always have time to sit with my paper or digital ones. But I find time to listen when drive back and forth to work, when I’m doing the dishes, cooking dinner, cleaning, taking a shower. All these unused opportunities to multitask and read. And I know not reading is not an option. Reading makes you a better writer, so despite all my other commitments and I have a few, I manage to read 60 books a year. Because I know above all other things, I want to be a writer. Reading and writing go hand in hand. It’s unacceptable to think you can be a successful writer and never pick up a book.
Knowledge is power and knowledge about your craft will always increase your chances at meeting your goals. Technology is your friend. We’ve left the days of paper submissions and have fully moved into the digital world. It has sped up what is otherwise still a considerably slow industry. Less paper also means fewer manuscripts lost, less paper to shuffle through, fewer trees used. The publishing industry is a different place than it was 20 years ago. Agents want to know what social media sites your on, how many followers you have, and in some instances, they want to know if you have marketing ideas. One of my favorite author friends said this about social media: “I spend 1/2 my time promoting other people, 25% of my time promoting my own stuff, and the other 25% of the time posting cat memes.” The bigest point he is making, is that half your job online is to network and support other authors. If you can’t network, make friendly, and support others, who will do that for you? Technology is your friend and will help you in the writing world.
I swear Twitter was made just for writers. I know that’s not true but there is a whole networking world of writers on it. Take five minutes and create an account. Search #amwriting #writing #amediting #author #1linewed or any number of other hashtags and you’ll find a plethora of writers and your fingertips. Start following them. You can search me and follow me if you’d like, I’m @MirandaScribble. Shoot me a message online, tag me in something, or comment on one of my posts and I’ll follow you back. I’d be more then happy to walk you through Twitter’s awesome.
But being successful is more than that. The competition has become great. If you want an agent you have to succumb to the fact that it’s not a yes-game. It’s a no-game. 99% of the time, an agent will tell you no. They are bombarded with thousands of queries a month. You are simply one in a sea. They don’t look for reasons to say yes to you, instead, they find reasons to say no. So your job is to not give them one. How do you do that? By using your resources. Find a writers group, editors, use beta readers, and read everything you can get your hands on. There’s a list a mile long of wonderful books on writing, I’ll tag some at the end of the article. Don’t be afraid of editing your book over and over. Don’t be afraid to tackle it months later and cut 10 thousand words because it’s what’s best for the story. I’m doing this exact thing right now. Not because it’s fun, but because it’s necessary. Being able to recognize your own shortcomings and admitting that your work isn’t perfect and can be improved, will take you far. Sometimes it’s hard, but no one ever said being a writer was easy.
If you think self-publishing is any easier think again. It’s an uphill climb in a sea of lackluster books. Not to say there are not diamonds in the rough, but it’s not easy to find them. Too many writers are afraid of the hard work, rejection, and the re-writes, it has become easy to skip all of that and publish your book yourself. It’s easy to fall into the belief that your writing is gold and the only reason you don’t have an agent is because they’re all idiots. Well, think again. Those idiots are the ones who turn nobodies into successful authors. They get your books into bookstores and they fight for you every step fo the way. But they have to be picky. Maybe you don’t have an agent yet because your writing still needs more work. Agents are a wonderful resource, many of whom have blogs and forums online giving out great advice for free. You need to remember to use your resources.
Not to say that self-publishing doesn’t have its benefits or that it can’t be successful, but it’s not for everyone. I can think of two successful sp authors off the top of my head. I can think of 100’s unsuccessful ones too. And that’s where the problem lies. There is a way to do it, but most people go about it the wrong way or for the wrong reasons. Which brings us full circle, why do you write? If you find that you can answer this question honestly, and set goals for yourself along the way, then it doesn’t matter how hard it is, you’ll figure it out. But the first step is to know what your motivations are, then recognizing your shortcomings and making the necessary steps in the right direction. None of us are perfect, we’re human, but we can make strides to success.