Sunday, November 30, 2014

How to Prevent Writing Career Disasters – 10 Steps

1.   Realize as an author you will make mistakes in your writing career. Ask any author and they may share their horror stories. If I knew then what I knew now... Many of us would have done things differently or made different choices. I think it was Napoleon Hill who said, “Why make mistakes if you aren’t going to learn anything by them.”

2.   Have a backup plan and remember Murphy’s Law. (Everything that can go wrong will probably turn to sh*t). Or something like that. You may have specific goals set for the next 5 years and maybe you’re right on schedule, but what happens if your editor leaves your publishing house, your contract isn’t renewed, your computer crashes and you thought you had backed up your WIP, you have a family emergency, etc., etc. Anything can easily derail your schedule and goals. Be ready to re-evaluate and make new plans.

3.   Write a business plan and make adjustments as needed. In the book, The Naked Truth About Self-Publishing by the Indie Voice authors, there is a really good example of a business plan for writers. I used this as a guideline. If you Google ‘Business Plan for Writers’, you’ll come up with a number of places for ideas too.

4.   Don’t put sales and marketing before product. In other words, don’t spend all your time and money marketing one or two books. Get the next book or series out. Create a good product base.

5.   Always strive to improve your craft and be a better writer. Every book should be better than the last.

6.   Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. That can mean different things. Writing only for one publisher these days can be risky. What happens if that publishers fails or doesn’t renew your contract? As an indie author, some prefer to put all their eBook eggs into Kindle Select and Kindle Unlimited, or a few of their books into this option. It might work well for a time, and it doesn’t hurt to try it. You’re only locked in for 90 days. But again, if the market changes during those 90 days, you’re locked in. That can be a long three months. It’s a business choice.

7.   Work in a collaborative group. The support from other writers with varying skills can be very advantageous to your career. Many authors (like me) are finding great success by being a part of these groups. I’ve learned many new things about the business, writing, technical, promotion and marketing and how to relate to fans. I’ve also participated in brainstorming sessions for developing story ideas, series and serials, box sets, and more. Colaborative groups are great for joint launch parties and promoting. Share techniques and editing knowledge, advice and more. is our group.

8.   Stay positive, online and offline. It’s hard when challenges and bad times occur during those ‘down times’ in your career. Like when you just put up a brand new book and a day or twelve hours later you get a one star review. It’s tempting to get on a blog and spout off after reading an offensive post. Emotions run high when your hard work is threatened. Don’t do it. How do you want to be known as an author? Sometimes I've considered standing up and saying my piece in response to an emotional topic on a blog, or something that hit me personally, or I felt was wrong, but I usually don't. My choice. Authors have to decide for themselves whether or not to respond. It’s a good idea to give it time before responding, instead of a knee-jerk response which you may regret later.

9.   Leave time for fun with friends and family and relaxing time to read or get out to do your favorite activity.

10.        Don’t compare your career path to anyone else. If you look around you, you will always find another author who is climbing the bestseller lists and just started writing six months ago when you’ve been writing for 10, 15, 20 years. If you look again, you’ll find other writers who have never completed a manuscript and have been writing longer than you. Many of those ‘overnight successes’ have taken 3, 5, or 15 or more years of long, hard and heartbreaking work. Set your own goals, run your own race, follow your own path. Sure look to see what the successful authors are doing and LEARN from them. Every author's path is unique.

If you need a few inspirational quotes to remind you to keep positive:

New writing book just released with helpful tips for self-published authors or those wishing to enter the self-publishing world.
WRITE TO  SUCCESS by Eight NY Times & USA Today bestselling authors: Riley J. Ford, Geri Foster, Cathryn Fox, Lisa Hughey, A.C. James, Sarah Makela, and Caridad Pineiro.


Suz said...

Kathy, this is really great advice. Thanks for sharing!

S.J. Maylee said...

Yes, thank you. Fabulous advice and great timing. :)

Kathy Kulig said...

Thanks Suz! And you're welcome.
Hi S.J. You're welcome and cool on the timing. :)
Thank you both for checking out the post.

EM Lynley said...

Great post! I'm coming up on my 6 year anniversary of my first published piece, and I can still find good advice here. Thanks!

Kathy Kulig said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kathy Kulig said...

Thanks EM, hate typos from the phone. ;) Congrats on your anniversary. Keep up the good work. I have to remind myself of these tips on occasion too.