10 Things I've Learned About Publishing In The Last Five Years

I recently celebrated my five-year-anniversary of writing full-time. Here's a talk I gave last night at our local library about ten things that I've learned about publishing in those five years. 

1. Life is not fair and neither is publishing. Some doors open and some stay shut. Keep knocking.

2. Think long term. Nobody else is going to think long term if you don’t. What kind of writer would you like to be? Keep that image in mind even if you don’t tell anybody else.

3. Being published, being paid to write, and especially being read is a privilege. It’s too easy to feel entitled. Don’t act like you deserve to be published.

4. Publishing can either make you cynical and bitter or optimistic and hopeful. I used to be bitter. Now I choose hope.

5. Even if you work twice as hard and twice as fast, publishing still takes A VERY, VERY LONG TIME. Be patient.

6. Writing is like running a marathon. You have to train. And you train by running a lot. But when you’re finally in that race, you might surprise yourself by what you can do. Write and keep writing to build up stamina for whatever’s next.

7. If you’re going to write full-time, make SURE you have about ten fallback plans. Plus about a million dollars in the bank. Think long and hard about writing full-time.  

8. Even if you think you’re well-connected, get out there and build relationships. Not Facebook friends but face-to-face. In 2009, going to a convention landed me a couple of jobs. Personal connections matter. Network in every way possible. 

9. So many things in publishing are out of your control. Do everything you can that’s in your control. For me, that’s thinking of new storylines, talking to possible collaborators, working on future books, marketing. Be urgent when nobody else is.

10. Occasionally remind yourself why you are interested in writing. Re-read that book you love. Re-watch that movie that moves you. The joy comes in creating, not signing a contract or holding your book. Don’t ever forget to love what you’re doing. 

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