Top 6 Lessons I’ve Learned as an Author

Top 6 Lessons I’ve Learned as an Author, guest post by Leslie Jones

1.       Take your writing seriously. If you don’t, no one else will. Family and friends have a tendency to assume that because you can set your own schedule, you have plenty of free time to get together for lunch, run to the grocery store, or instantly jump on that website update for your local writing chapter. Diligently fence your writing time. Explain to friends politely but firmly that you’d be happy to share an early dinner after work. Make sure your volunteer activities don’t impinge on your ability to put words to paper. Set boundaries, or you’ll look back at your week’s progress and realize you’re already behind.

Top 6 Lessons I’ve Learned as an Author, guest post by Leslie Jones
2.       Writing is a business. It’s a passion and an art, but if you want to have a successful career as an author, you have to treat your writing as a job. That’s distasteful to a lot of writers, who like to rely upon their Muse for inspiration. When Thomas Edison said that it all boils down to 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration, he meant that you must BIC-HOK (Butt in Chair-Hands on Keyboard) every single writing day. For me, that’s the distinction between being a hobbyist and a serious author.

3.       Study your craft. Writing is a learnable, teachable skill. Because being a writer is different from knowing how to write, natural talent will only get you so far. Take workshops on pacing, creating character arcs, goal-motivation-conflict, and editing your book. I always worry when a writer tells me gleefully that s/he breaks all the rules of writing. While the rules are merely guidelines, they exist for a reason: it creates publishable books. If you insist on leaping from one character’s point of view to another’s from sentence to sentence, writing long paragraphs of expository backstory for the 1st 10 pages, or have an incoherent plot, the odds of you having your books published will be greatly diminished.

4.       Most writers are introverts. We prefer sitting in front of a computer creating compelling stories to attending book signings, giving workshops, or pretty much anything that requires interaction with other human beings. Unfortunately, all authors, no matter how they are published, will have to actively promote their books, and therefore themselves. At some point, we have to put on our big girl (or boy) panties and get ourselves out there.

5.       Good writers are avid readers. Reading refills your creative well. It inspires new ideas, or suggests creative plot twists. It can also teach you a lot about how to craft a great novel. I’ve deconstructed some of my favorite novels to try to figure out how the author created such vibrant characters or pulled together a fascinating plot. Conversely, reading a bad book might remind you why those writing rules exist in the 1st place.

6.       There are many paths to publication. Do your homework on the pros and cons of each, then decide whether you want to self-publish, go with a small press, or hold out for a Big Five publishing house. If you produce a professional product, no path is better or worse than another. Self-publishing gives you complete control over your book (and higher royalties), but the entire process is solely your responsibility. Traditional publishers, on the other hand, will handle cover creation, back cover copy, content editing, copyediting, production, binding, distribution, marketing, and warehousing your book. They’ll arrange blog tours and interviews. The downside is the loss of complete creative control and a lower royalty rate, since you’re not paying for any of these services. Small press publishers usually fall somewhere in the middle.

Top 6 Lessons I’ve Learned as an Author, guest post by Leslie Jones
Leslie Jones was an Army Intelligence officer for many years and she brings her first-hand experience to the pages of her work. She resides in Scottsdale, Arizona, and is currently hard at work on her next book.

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