Happy Weekend to you!!
Today’s guest is the lovely Dawn Reno Langley, author of several books. In her own words, “Dawn Reno Langley’s published works span the gamut from novels to theater reviews, children’s books to poetry, short stories and nonfiction books. Everything except screenplays. Has she learned a few lessons about publishing throughout her career? Duh!” Continue reading for the 10 Things Writers Should Never Do……
The 10 Things Writers Should Never Do
10. Stalk editors/agents at conferences.
Yup, not something you should do. I know you’re excited about meeting the people who might determine the course of the rest of your life, but don’t tell them about your book in the rest room or the elevator or while there’s a line of other people waiting to talk to them. Don’t. Just don’t do that.
9. Attempt to tell booksellers how to do their jobs.
Confession time. When I published my first novel, All That Glitters, I’d already published quite a few non-fiction and children’s books, so I knew how to market my books and put everything I had into publicizing the new novel. My publisher told me they were going to make me “a star” (true words) and that blew my head up a bit. I met the booksellers at a huge conference and became that ugly business person who thinks she knows it all.
Not the right thing to do.
The next novel I wrote was published by the same publisher, but under a pseudonym. All the work I’d put into branding that first novel was down the chute – and I had no money, time or energy to put the same into the second book.
That conversation I had with the sales staff was the proverbial equivalent of shooting myself in the foot.
8. Think your publisher will do all the publicity/marketing for your book.
The only writers who get all the publicity/marketing they need are the ones making the most money. Kind of ironic, isn’t it? And even those writers (the Stephen Kings, JK Rowlings, Nora Roberts, Colin Whiteheads, Margaret Atwoods) have publicity teams working with them.
Get it out of your head that you can sit on your hands and be famous. It takes work!
Your publisher might send out copies to be reviewed and might arrange a couple of interviews, but the book signings, the library visits, the mailing lists, and reaching out to readers – that’s all up to you.
Prepare for your marketing campaign by doing a little at a time and start at least six months in advance. AT LEAST six months. (I could go on, but that’s another blog.)
7. Ignore the advice of those who have been there/done that.
Never turn your nose up when an experienced writer (editor, publisher, marketing consultant, publicist, etc.) offers you advice. Even if it’s unsolicited. That person’s experience might not end up being yours, but listening and considering the implications of that advice on your own career is imperative.
Recently, I met a younger writer who has it going on. This woman has all the technical skills, knows the ABC’s of social media, and understands her audience. When I sat down with her to discuss a few of the things she was doing, she shared some interesting points. However, when I shared some of my own experiences from the 30+ books I’ve had published, she commented that “that’s history.”
Yup, it’s history, all right, and you usually learn from history not to make the same mistakes.
I believe that we, as writers, need to support each other. There are a lot more readers than there are writers. We are really not competition for each other, because readers read more than one book in their lifetime. Know that every writer’s experience is going to be different from yours, and that piece of information/advice someone gives you might not seem relevant today, but it’ll make up the quilt of information/advice/experiences that develop you into a better, more publishable writer.
6. Tell editors/agents you’re going to be a bestseller.
No one likes a braggart.
Besides, editors and agents like to think they can define the next bestseller. Not the writer.
5. Write about something you don’t know or haven’t bothered to research.
If you think you can hide a bad piece of research, you’re wrong. Mistakes will destroy your credibility as a writer, and your audience is usually the group that knows the most about your subject – and they’re the first ones who’ll know it if you don’t know what you’re doing.
The long and short of it is if there’s the slightest ghost of a chance that a fact might be questionable (or that cross street your character is coming to might be Broadway and Elm . . . or is it Elm and Broad Street), check it out! What takes you a couple of minutes to research will make a huge difference in your career.
4. Steal someone else’s words.
This isn’t just a suggestion, it’s against the law.
I remember a few years back when I was at a writers’ conference with a group of writer friends at the moment when a famous author was accused of stealing lines from another famous author’s work. We were all speechless since we knew both of them well (professionally and personally).
Needless to say, we talked about the impact on the writing community, as well as the two authors themselves. It blew up into a headline-grabbing event, and though I felt compassion for both writers, I knew that the one who stole the other’s words had committed a reprehensible offense.
You might love a writer’s phrasing or become inspired by a plot twist, but if you find yourself lifting those words, stop. Nothing good can come of it.
3. Write only when the spirit moves you.
That spirit can get mighty lazy. Sometimes the spirit only comes on Saturdays or days when it rains or moments in the middle of the night. Then that spirit disappears for months, and when you get back to that novel, you’ve forgotten your characters and your plot.
Put your butt in the seat, your fingers on the keyboard, and write at least fifteen minutes a day. Minimum.
Make it a habit.
2. Quit your day job.
I’ll be the first to tell you that positive notes cover my bathroom mirror, I have one of those gratitude checks in my wallet, and I believe in myself. But would I leave myself without a backup if I had a choice? Nope.
Personal story time: Two years ago, I left my job and have relied on a small income to support myself while I put plans into motion to reach my goal of working full-time as a writer, again. Though I’ve supported my whole family with my writing in the past, it’s not easy. It’s freaking difficult, as a matter of fact. Pretty much a crap shoot. Long story short, I knew what to do in order to get my writing career back on track and I did it. My new novel, The Mourning Parade, will be out in July, and I have the cross-country tour planned, tickets bought, events organized. Yes, I’ve succeeded in doing what I set out to, but the jury’s still out about whether the funds, time, and energy I’ve put into this book will be worth it. And to be perfectly honest, right now, I have less than $20 in my checking account.
Keep that day job. Scale back, if you must. But do not quit until you have REGULAR checks coming in from your writing and plenty more in the foreseeable future.
1. Send out your first draft.
Writing the first draft of your work is the first step. And it’s shit. Don’t think it isn’t.
I have a novel that I’m working on right now that is actually the culmination of three novels – one of which has gone through at least forty rewrites and been to everyone in creation. I still believe in that story, but at this point, it’s going to be part of another one rather than standing on its own.
Write your work, then let it sit. Return to it after a while (not tomorrow or next week. Give it at least two weeks or a month – longer, if you can—before you go back to it) and rework it. Read books about revision and rewriting, because that’s where the writing work really happens. A first draft is meant to be regarded as slightly more than toilet paper. Do not send it out.
Continue to write and learn while that first draft sits and waits for you. It’s not going anywhere, but if you continue to learn from others and to polish that story, it might just bring you where you want to go.
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About the Author:
At eleven years old, Dawn Reno Langley wrote her first published piece: an essay on the Cuban Missile Crisis. Since then her pen/computer has spewed forth a great number of written works ranging from newspaper articles to novels, poetry to children’s books, memoirs to fantasies. Her pseudonyms include: Dawn Reno, Dawn E. Reno, Dawn Elaine Reno, Dawn Reno Langley, and Diana Lord.
An avid traveler, she attempts to visit a new country/international city at least once a year. Though she loves the old standbys (Paris, Venice, London), she’s also fond of Islamabad and St. Kitts. Next on her list: anywhere in Africa.
As a teacher, Dawn has touched the lives of students from a 6th grade Montessori class to students in honors-level university courses. She counts many of them among her friends.
Gardening fills up other hours, and whether it’s a new piece of land that needs to be tilled or a hanging basket that simply needs watering, if it’s green, she wants to nourish it. (However, she’s having issues with roses lately . . . anyone with a new way of handling black spot?)
She blogs about books on Goodreads.com; talks about being a Baby Boomer on dawnrenolangley.blogspot.com/; marvels at being a single woman with a stubborn dog in her blog, Walking Izzy; and discusses gardening and poetry at poetryandgardening.blogspot.com She also reviews the arts in the Raleigh-Durham area for Triangle Arts and Entertainment.
Next on her plate: writing a new novel!
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Follow Dawn online:
Thank you so much for visiting with us! I hope you enjoyed the awesome tips of what *not* to do! I encourage you to continue supporting Dawn with likes, shares and comments.
Until next time……………………Happy Reading & Reviewing!!