I’m often asked how I’ve managed to stick around for the past six years. I’m going to be honest, writing full-time isn’t easy. As in, it’s no joke. Be that as it may, I’m going to lay out my own personal advice for the aspiring author.
- Understand why you write. If you’re doing it for the money, quit now! Seriously, this is one of the poorest gigs on the planet. If you are writing in order to feel “accepted” by the cornerstones of this industry, then I’m here to tell you that traditional publishing has become about as necessary as the pay phone industry. Use your time to hone your craft, rather than ass-kiss, schmooze, attend writing conferences and send query letters. You need to be writing for no other reason than the pure joy of writing!
- Have your cover done professionally and find yourself an editor. Passing your work back and forth with an editor is a strange experience. This person will read your thoughts long before your dedicated fans do. You need to find someone who will call you out if your work isn’t up to snuff. The professional cover goes without explanation.
- Blog. This one hurts because I hate the internet. I mean I seriously, absolutely hate the internet. Social media is the biggest waste of human life, so I was reluctant to start blogging (and still don’t do it enough). That said, blogging brings attention your way and if you’re an aspiring author, attention is a good thing.
- Six hours a day, six days a week. You need to understand that each day, thousands of new authors show up in hopes of pitching a tent in the industry. These folks are talented and hungry to succeed. The only way you’re going to keep your spot here is to absolutely work your tail off and then some. If you plan to do this full-time, then this is your job. Six hours a day, six days a week is usually more than enough to keep the stories churning out. Personally, I like serialized pulp fiction. That’s where I’ve found success.
- This will likely be an unpopular one, but pray. Don’t pray for success or even the ability to write better. Instead, pray that God will take control. You’ll begin to understand that you don’t control the ship as much as you’d like to think you do, which is fine. You don’t have to. All you need to do is remain humble, be willing to work very hard and trust that you’ll make it…which you will.
I carry two different pieces of advice with me and both have served me well over the years. Hard work beats talent when talent refuses to work hard. The truest statement you’ll ever hear. I’ve consistently outsold more talented writers because they’ve shown a tendency to be lazy, whereas I’ve written my tail off. Hang around a barber shop long enough and you’ll eventually get a haircut. Now this one speaks volumes. I literally stumbled into the profession of writing and knew absolutely nothing about publishing. I had no computer, no professional writing program and began with ambition and a stack of notebooks. Since then, I’ve written two best-sellers. I hung around the right people and most importantly, I paid attention.