16 Vital Things I Learned About Writing and the Book Industry

Letter and Key

The Roman god Janus, for whom January is named, has two faces, one which looks ahead to the future and one which looks backwards to reflect. It is at this juncture that writing blogs usually post something about writing goals for the year ahead, and I was going to do that, till I remembered that every time I make a specific New Year’s resolution, that is the one thing that gets actively attacked by the Opposition. Oh, I still have all my goals and I continually work towards them, but singling out the One Big Thing I’m going to do in a given year and announcing it just attracts bad mojo. So instead, I’m going to reflect on all the great things I’ve learned in the recent past which are making my writing better.

How this list came to be is, I decided a while back that, after many years of homeschooling my kids, and having them moving on soon, I was ready to look towards a full-time career as an author. I made the decision and the commitment. Then nothing happened. Or so I thought. Months later when I still had not written a word on a book, I felt defeated and discouraged. But slowly, like lights going down and a great curtain being lifted on a much-anticipated play, I began to see what had really been happening right under my nose. I had read and studied and learned more about the craft of writing and about the book industry than I had ever learned in such a short time before. All vitally necessary stuff to know before I could proceed with writing top-notch stuff.

Here is the list of what I Didn’t Know I Didn’t Know…But Now I Do. Any one of these could make a blog post by itself, and maybe sometime will.

Regarding writing:

1) developed an interest in the mind and behavior, which helps with characterization

2) an in-depth point-of-view study

3) avoiding back story dump

4) how to rough draft quickly

5) how to separate content editing and copy editing to be more effective

6) how to “hack the flab” (make wording more concise) when editing

7) the need for beta readers and to not be stubborn but to listen to them and others I can learn from

8) discipline myself to focus and write through all circumstances of life

Regarding the book industry:

9) how rights work with traditional publishers

10) the need to direct my work towards a target market – word-of-mouth can carry a great book outside that market.

11) organizing the daily work of a writing career (all the stuff authors do which isn’t writing)

12) learning tips for writing media materials

13) When dealing with agents, editors, publishers, and media, don’t take anything personally. It’s all business.

14) the necessity of learning about social media and picking up tips for that

15) given several public speaking opportunities (they’re not so scary now)

16) contacts – networking and business opportunities have acquainted me with several industry pros.

Look out, 2014! I’m tackling you, and I have skills and resources with me.

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