Last year at a convention, I was horrified to discover that there were handouts in the swag bags that promoted predatory “publishing” companies. (Both were mentioned by name in Writer Beware.) Sure, I started each panel by saying “take the handouts out, crumple them up, and throw them away – and here’s why”, but that only goes so far.
So this year, I decided to do my own PR blitz. I asked writers, editors, and small publishers to offer the single most important thing they could tell an author today. This is what they told me. Each person speaks for themselves. Some quotations were edited for length and clarity.
You may reproduce the PDF below for your own local convention’s swag bags under a CC license. You can copy it, just keep it intact as it exists. Please link to https://ideatrash.net/p/sentences-on-writing.html instead of this post.
Business Advice From Writers To Writers by Steven Saus is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Exposure is a word pertaining to nearly dying of cold, not a useful way to make a living as a writer.
– Tobias Buckell, www.tobiasbuckell.com
Don’t be afraid to try something new – audiobooks, bookmarks, book blog tours, serializing, etc. Don’t hesitate to stop doing what doesn’t pay off.
– Daniel Coleman, www.dcolemanbooks.com
Sales need contracts. Read everything in the contract and pay attention to what rights they’re buying. This is more important than how much money you get, especially for a short story.
– K. W. Taylor
Think long and hard before you self-publish. It is easy to get a self-published book in your hands, but incredibly hard to get it into someone else’s hand.
– Maxwell Alexander Drake, www.maxwellalexanderdrake.com
Finish your work. No one publishes half of a story.
– Stephen D. Sullivan , www.stephendsullivan.com
Never collaborate with someone you don’t trust; never undertake a collaboration that lets someone else hold YOUR idea hostage.
– Richard Byers, https://plus.google.com/109653442268427334895/posts
Never say yes until you’ve thoroughly vetted the offer. Check the contract, company, co-writers, etc. Even the big players respect your right to get the details before making a commitment.
– Kerrie Hughes
When researching agents or publishers, always, always check Preditors & Editors and Writer Beware.
– Matt Forbeck, www.forbeck.com
Ask questions and learn to parse the advice you’re given. Learn the business as well as the craft. If I wanted to write just for the love of it, I’d just put my stories on my blog. My time and work are worth pay, not just the promise of “exposure.”
– Maurice Broaddus, www.mauricebroaddus.com
Professionalism in everything: your finished product, your attitude, your whole life. Those worth working with will do the same.
Never stop learning – business, craft, economic changes. Be a student forever – and check your ego at the door!
– Kris Rusch, kriswrites.com
Tell the story you want to write; otherwise no one will want to read it. And if no one wants to read it, no one will want to buy it.
– Dylan Birtolo, www.dylanbirtolo.com
Believe in yourself, and don’t give your manuscript to yes men. Get readers that are honest – your story will benefit and so will you as a writer.
– Janine Spendlove, www.ailionora.com
“Writing” and “Publishing” are two very different things: Many people enjoy writing, but few people can put up with the effort and heartbreak required to publish.
– Margaret S. Lundock
When you deal with small press, sanity is optional. When working with a new publisher, never send them a second project until they’ve paid you for the first.
– Ramsey Lundock
Write what you want to read. Finish what you start.
– Jennifer Brozek, jennifer-brozek.livejournal.com
True writing is rewriting. Your first draft isn’t good enough. Your second and third probably aren’t either. Have someone else read it and give honest feedback. Have the professionalism to polish your work before you submit it.
– Justin Swapp, howtothinksideways.com/members/?rid=1230
Find a writing group with similar interests and share not only your work but information about opportunities for publishing, further education, and suggested reading. Although many of us still cling to the image of the solitary writer, don’t fear collaboration and cooperation.
– Cynthia K. Marshall
Don’t be afraid to spend money on improving your writing skills via writing classes, coaching, and workshops, but do your homework first to match what you need and want with a reputable teacher/program/workshop. This may not seem like publishing advice, but it is, because the better your writing becomes, the more opportunities become available to you.
– Sarah Kanning, www.sarahkanning.com
Publishing services means that a specific service is delivered for a specific fee. I do what you pay me for, and not any more or less. Someone providing publishing services gets paid by the author. A publisher takes a percentage – usually a majority one – but handles much, if not all, of the business aspects without involving (or bothering) the author. The publisher pays for editing, cover art, and also (usually) pays the author an advance against royalties with royalties paid out to the author through the sale of the book to the general public. A publisher makes money from sales of the book to the public.
– Steven Saus, stevensaus.com
This industry is not about telling compelling stories, creating dynamic characters, nor memorable villains – you have to have all those to succeed, yes. But, this business, at its root, is about making money.
– Maxwell Alexander Drake, www.maxwellalexanderdrake.com
Keep writing. A lot. No matter what happens.
– Patrick Tracy, pmtracy.com
The following were mentioned by many of the respondents
Money Flows Toward The Author – Yog’s Law
AbsoluteWrite – absolutewrite.com
Book Country – www.bookcountry.com
Critters Writer’s Workshop – www.critters.org
How to Write a Query Letter – accrispin.blogspot.com/2010/08/how-to-write-query-letter.html
Miss Snark (read the archives) – misssnark.blogspot.com/
AgentQuery – www.agentquery.com
SlushPile Hell (how NOT to write a cover letter) – slushpilehell.tumblr.com
Preditors & Editors – pred-ed.com
Writer Beware – www.sfwa.org/beware/
Duotrope’s Digest – www.duotrope.com
Ralan’s SpecFic and Humor Extravaganza – ralan.com
Strange Horizon’s “Stories We’ve Seen Too Often” – www.strangehorizons.com/guidelines/fiction-common.shtml
William Shunn’s Manuscript Format Guide – www.shunn.net/format/story.html
Writer’s Digest – www.writersdigest.com
Science fiction & Fantasy Writers of America – www.sfwa.org
Horror Writer’s Association – www.horror.org
Romance Writers of America – www.rwa.org
International Association of Tie-In Writers – www.iamtw.org/