Check out this great interview with twenty-one successful authors about the experience of writing their first book—from how they made a living before they sold their first book to the nuts and bolts of getting the words onto the page.
If you’re being asked to write—anything—for free, I just hope the person asking is your mother or your kid (or the person who shares your bed). Because if the asker doesn’t fit into one of these categories, he or she is no different from someone in a dental chair saying to the dentist: “Oh, and I just want to confirm that you’re not going to charge for this crown, right? I’ll show it to everyone; it’ll give you great exposure.”
Tim Kreider has published an exceptional essay in the New York Times that tells why it’s wrong to write for nothing: Slaves of the Internet, Unite!
You owe it to yourself (and to every writer who ever hopes to make a living writing) to read this article.
I just read a lovely piece in the L.A. Times by writer and book reviewer Héctor Tobar. If you have doubts about whether you’re a good (or good enough) writer, read his article: In defense of ‘bad’ writers.
How many times should you send out a manuscript—and get rejected—before you put that one on the shelf? And if you deem one manuscript a failure, should you push forward to write another?
There is no pat response because no one can answer these questions but you.
The more accurate questions, perhaps, are these:
- How many times can you withstand rejection without losing the faith to carry on?
- How burning is your passion to write and share it with the world?
- How open are you to getting qualified feedback on your manuscript?
- How many times are you willing to rewrite until you get it right?
I wish I had those wonderful stats and stories to pull from a hat: X sent out Y manuscript Z number of times before it finally was accepted and published. I know those stories, but I just can’t remember the names of the writers they’re about. You know the ones: some fifty rejections before going on to finally be accepted and become a bestselling classic. (If you know any of those stories please share some with us!)
Succeeding as a writer does not necessarily mean succeeding easily and gracefully. Not everyone gets to sail effortlessly across the finish line. Some will limp across that frontier (from unpublished to published and paid) with plenty of bruises and scrapes from a harrowing journey.
But those who persevere have a chance of getting there. And those who are willing to rewrite—as many times as it takes—have an even better chance.
The face of publishing is changing, but what is it changing to? And what does it mean for writers and their readers? My colleague Beth Lieberman takes a closer look in her new article, just up on our L.A. Editors and Writers web site: Publishing Convergence: What It Is and What It Means for Us All.
If you have a question about writing, and you think the answer might benefit others as well, please send me an email at Nomi.theWriteCoach(at)gmail.com, and I’ll set to work on a blog post that answers your question. (It’ll be kind of like you’re giving me a writing prompt and benefiting from what I come up with!) If I don’t know the answer, I’ll do my best to find you some resources where you can find the answer.
Then, keep your eyes open for my response (in the form of a blog entry)!
It gives me great joy to share what I’ve learned about the craft of writing over my 20 + years as a book editor, writer, and writing coach.
I look forward to hearing from you.
I’m all ears.