Writers FAQ

I get a lot of questions from people that want to write. I’m always happy to answer these questions best I can. I am also as honest as I can be. Sometimes people don’t like this. They want sunshine, roses, cocktails with publishers, and release parties. The reality is a lot different from the fantasy.

I enjoy writing. Does this make me a writer?

Absolutely.

Can I turn my love of writing into a lucrative career? 

Maybe. This is a hard one to answer. One thing I can say for certain is that there is a distinct difference between writing for pleasure and the profession of writer. Writing profesionally is HARD WORK.

I want to be a writer. I can’t imagine being anything other than a writer. 

Quit now.

No! I’m not going to quit and you can’t make me. 

You suck, you’ll go broke, your mother dresses you funny, and I mock every word you write. Quit now.

I am never going to stop and nothing you can say will stop me. 

I think you might be a writer. Nothing I’m going to say is going to stop you, is it?

My son/daughter/sister/brother/cousin/friend wants to be a writer. What should I tell him/her?

For this I quote Dorothy Parker. “If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.”

I enjoy writing for the sake of writing, but publishing seems like a quick and easy way to turn my hobby into a bit of extra cash.

Writing is a wonderful creative expression. Just as painting, music, and cooking are wonderful creative expressions. Enjoying painting doesn’t mean you must quit your day job, open a studio, and become an artist. Playing an instrument doesn’t mean you must be a professional musician. Being a great chef doesn’t mean you need to open a restaurant. My point is, just because you enjoy writing does not mean you need to publish. Writing to publish is a business. It is a really really really (times a million) hard business.

But it just seems so easy. 

I have met so many hobby writers that think publishing is easy simply because Amazon and Smashwords have made it easy. Publishing a book is just the beginning. If you’re happy with just putting your book out there in the world and seeing what happens, more power to you. If you put your book out there and then are gutted when no one buys your book or (and this will happen) someone does buy your book then trashes it in a review, then you have no one to blame but yourself.

I published my book on Amazon and someone left me a really mean one star review. This makes me sad 😦 

When you made the choice to publish your book on Amazon you went from writing as a hobby to writing as a business. Writing as a business is hard and unforgiving. You open up yourself to near constant criticism and rejection. Negative reviews are part of the job. Not everyone is going to like your work and there are trolls out there who leave scathing reviews just because they can.

But if they didn’t like it then why not just not bother? 

Probably because they paid for the book and it’s their right to leave a review. A good assumption to make is that everyone is a critic.

But my book was FREE!

Thems the breaks chicca.

But how can someone leave a negative review for a book they received for FREE?!

What do you want me to tell you? That’s the business.

What happened to if you don’t have something nice to say don’t say anything at all?

Grow up. This is a job. Act like a professional.

This is a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. 

I hear you.

How much time do you spend writing? 

If I were writing for the pleasure of writing 100% of my writing time would be taken up with writing. Because I have made a choice to make this my career, I would say 40% of my time is spent writing. The other 60% is all about marketing, editing, and the business end of the job.

You haven’t talked me into doing the sane thing and becoming an accountant/lawyer/doctor. What now? 

Perfect your craft.

How do I perfect my craft

Write, write, write. And then write some more.

What’s the biggest mistake you ever made? 

He was 5’10”, brown hair, brown eyes, and had abs I could bounce a quarter off of. How is this relevant to writing?

What’s the biggest writing mistake you ever made? 

Waiting to self-publish. Self-publishing was the best career move I ever made. It helped me establish a reader base which is one of the things a publisher looks for when taking on a new author. Self-publishing opened doors for me and things started to happen.

Wouldn’t traditional publishing have been more lucrative?

That would have put books on shelves. Something self-publishing doesn’t do. This is one of the reasons why I held out as long as I did.

How do I self-publish? 

For every writer there is a way. I learn best by doing. I made a few mistakes along the way, but eventually I got there.

There seem to be a lot of companies willing to do the hard work for me if I pay them enough money. 

Run. Run fast, run hard, run until your lungs bleed. There is nothing these companies can do for you that you can’t do for yourself. Unless you have a lot of money to spare and don’t mind paying far more than you’ll likely ever earn from your books, this is a bad idea. For the amount of time you will spend earning the money to pay these companies you are better off doing the legwork, making some mistakes, learning what to do, and doing it yourself.

I was contacted by someone starting up a publishing company. Should I go with them? 

This is a decision only you can make. The question you need to ask yourself is this: Can they do more for me than I can do for myself?

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