Things I Wish I'd Known: Tips for a Writer's Journey

I'm setting new career goals and taking a look back at what I've learned so far in my writing journey. Here are ten things I'd wish I'd known before I'd gotten published:

Writing is a business. Each story is a product. Your backlist increases your inventory. You're CEO of a brand that'll hopefully attract repeat customers. You've got to market, promote, and know about trends and statistics. You've got to build a platform of friends and readers to support your business.

Networking is extremely valuable but it's not all about social media. A writer's career is a solitary endeavor, so face-to-face meetings are important as well. Conventions offer discussions, information, and opportunities. Networking helps build your business. That said, writing your next book is number one priority.

There's turnover at publishing houses. Editors come and go so it's important to remain positive and roll with the changes that come your way. Remember, your writer's journey doesn't end with your first contract.

Self doubt is your enemy. You have to believe you're a great writer. You have to believe you've something worth sharing. You must believe in yourself. You must, you must, you must! You must be strong when facing criticism. Some criticism will be offered gently, some will be harsh, some criticism will be unnecessary, some worthwhile. With each story, criticism will be dished and doubts will rise... Stay positive.

Know who your true friends are. Now where did I hear that? Oh, Jenny Cruise at a New Jersey conference. She was so right. These are the people who'll give you a swift-kick when self doubt has you in its trance. They'll be honest during their critiques. They'll challenge you to be a better author. They'll curse and rant with you when you receive a rejection. Writing is a lonely business but they'll be there for you.

If you like an author's work, tell her. Connect with her. It's important to make these kinds of connections.

Writers spend a whole lot of time waiting. We wait for acceptance letters. (Be positive.) We wait for edits, and more edits, and even more edits. We wait for covers. We wait for release dates. We wait for reviews. It's always best to put all the waiting out of your mind and write.

Once you're published writing doesn't get easier. In fact sometimes writing gets more difficult as you stretch and challenge yourself. In your writing journey, you discover how tough the road can be to navigate. Writing stories takes a huge effort and an enormous investment of time. You need to make sacrifices and be committed to the job.

People (some friends, some family, some acquaintances, and some complete strangers) will expect you to give them a book. It still surprises me how many individuals have asked me to give them a book. It's so awesome (it's a true privilege) to have readers. But it's vitally important to a writing career that people, especially those who care about you, buy your work.

Writers have to combat e-piracy. Writers have to contest thievery of their copyrighted material. Writers strive to protect what is theirs. Piracy of books has cost authors their livelihoods. E-piracy has cut short the careers of some authors.

© 2012 Melissa Combs