1. Concept is almosteverything. Your prose might be fabulous, and you might be an amazing storyteller. But if your concept isn’t catchy enough, no one will ever bother to find out. Always think about concept.
2“Write what you love” is only useful advice in two situations. 1) You don’t care about being published by an established press. 2) You’re lucky enough to love what’s popular. That doesn’t mean you should write stuff you hate; that will show. It does mean it helps to read widely until you fall in love with something that lots of other people love too.
3. Finishing a novel is only the first battle. By the time you’re done editing it for yourself, you’ll be sick of it. By the time you’re done editing it for an agent (and/or an editor), you will despise its very existence. When someone tells you they love it, you’ll be overjoyed but look at them like they’re smoking crack.
4. Writing is a bit like being bipolar. There will be days when your novel is the greatest thing ever. There will be days when it should be burned. It only gets worse once you start querying agents or editors. Your opinion and mood will fluctuate with the sort of responses that show up in your inbox. Say goodbye to having an even emotional keel. Stocking up on booze or chocolate, depending on your vice of choice, is an investment in your mental health.
5. Although many people make it sound like signing with an agent means you’ve got it made, the truth is finding an agent is only one of many hurdles. The number of writer/agent relationships that go bust is a shocking but dirty secret that people rarely discuss. The number of books that agents can’t sell is, too. Then there’s the number of books that do sell to a publisher but readers don’t buy them, the books tank, and so does the author’s career. For every hurdle you overcome, you will be faced with yet another.
6. Don’t discount luck, or timing or serendipity or whatever you prefer to call it. There are factors out there beyond our control. Is the editor who gets your manuscript having a bad day? Did the agent you queried just take on a book very similar to yours? Some people will swear that all great books get published. But while being great helps, it’s no guarantee. (Luckily, self-publishing is a good option these days, and there are many excellent self-published books.)
In the end, the only thing you can control is yourself. Do you keep writing? Do you persevere with submitting? Do you work at your craft? Do you love what you do? Sometimes it’s easy to get beaten down and forget the love, but that’s the only reason to keep on going. After all, it might take nine books to get you where you want to go, although I certainly hope you get there faster than I did!
Tracey Martin grew up outside of Philadelphia, the lucky recipient of a drama-free childhood, which is why she spent so much time reading about other people’s lives. It was while she was working on her doctorate in psychology that she had an epiphany — imaginary people are way more fun than real ones. And so she began writing. Never able to choose just one of anything, she currently writes both urban fantasy for adults and contemporary stories for teens.
She likes her coffee simple, her music epic, and her movies to contain explosions. A city girl at heart, she doesn’t understand how she and her husband ended up living in New Hampshire, but writing keeps her off the mean, small town streets. You can find her online at tracey-martin.com. Website | Twitter
Tracey, great post, and every one of your points are so true, especially the part about having the right concept. It’s hard to get anywhere unless your concept has some unique note to it.
A very great point. Thanks for stopping by.
Hah! Great post, and so true about writing what you love. I think you have to love what you write, which is sometimes, but not always, the same thing.
And luck, gods, yes. The secret ingredient.
Can’t wait to read this one!
I totally agree. You have to love what you write or it will never work.
Wow! This is a great post! And I’m loving the blurb for this book, too.
I am very excited for this book. I am reviewing it soon!!!!!
This an awesome guest post, especially for those who are into writing and looking to get published. And Wicked Misery sounds pretty good 🙂
Janina @ Synchronized Reading
I think this will really help writers our there. Or at least I hope so. That’s why I started this feature.
Great post. I loved #3. Lol at this line: “When someone tells you they love it, you’ll be overjoyed but look at them like they’re smoking crack.” HAH!
Is Tracey not awesome? Loved how she puts things.
Great advice that isn’t heard enough. Thanks, Tracey.
Happy you liked it!
Great advice Tracey, particularly about having a concept. My fifth novel landed me an agent, and lots of positive comments from the Big Six (as it was then), but no sale as it ‘wasn’t what they were looking for at the time’ – I’m guessing not different enough in concept to what’s already out there.
I wrote another couple, approached an agent in the UK (where it’s set), and got an enthusiastic invite to send the ms. She then decided she wasn’t ‘passionate enough’ about it, despite her initial enthusiasm about the original concept.
So I got fed up with the roller coaster, self-published the one that did the rounds in the US, and 10 weeks in it’s selling well and gaining great reviews, and I’m just about to publish the more ‘original’ one. I love the options that exist now, and I won’t be going back on the merry-go-round.
BTW I am a traditionally published non-fiction author, and my self-published novel is fast outstripping my tech books in terms of sales and, most important, income 🙂
Wow, loved hearing about your journey! Happy you finally found a way to get your book out there.
Deborah, that’s awesome! Congrats and good luck with it!
I hear you on getting fed up with the roller coaster, and I’m so glad there are more options for writers now. I can’t tell you how many times I heard “too similar”, but just as often I got “too different.” It’s crazy-making.
Thanks everyone, and thanks for hosting me, Jennifer!
Thanks for the awesome guest post.
This is a very sobering post about getting published and writing a book. No wonder some authors feel so attached to their work to the point where they start to get into it when someone gives them a bad review. I like #3 the best 🙂
I know what you mean. I can’t imagine how a negative review can hurt, but it’s a part of being an author.
Melissa (My World...in words and pages)
Great advice. Thank you. And amazing looking and sounding book. Best of luck to the author.
Thanks so much for stopping by.
Awesome! So many great tips. My favorite has to be #2, but I can see how all of it is so honest. Thank you very much for sharing 😀 Jaclyn @ JC’s Book Haven.
I think #2 is the most important, though I relate to #3 the most, lol.
Great tips, and top three made me giggle. Wicked Misery looks good, congrats and thanks for sharing your experience!
Happy you enjoyed the post. I am reviewing this book soon.