Write whole books
Most of us do write whole books at the beginning of our careers, but then the pressure is on and most contracts call for a proposal, which is around 50 pages and a synopsis. There is nothing wrong with this practice, except that it can sometimes allow a lot more feedback than an embryo book deserves. When that happens, pull back and write a whole book. Every time I’ve done this, it led to a leap in my career. That’s worth the time.
Remember when things take a bad turn that you are building your backlist.
Every book deserves your highest, most passionate attention, no matter the market or the publisher or whatever else might be weighing on you. I heard this one from Anne Stuart when I was devastated over the cover and mishaps that struck what I felt was my best book up to that time. It eased the heat of despair then and I keep it in mind at all times. Life—and careers—are long.
Remember there are always delays, upsets, and problems in publishing.
Sometimes a check doesn’t come for months after you expect it. Sometimes your editor leaves to have a baby, or your editor leaves to get married, or he gets fired, or the publishing house is restructured, or another house gobbles yours up, or you have a book with astronauts on the cover the very month the Challenger explodes, or there is a hurricane that disrupts all travel in the South for months and nobody’s books get on the shelves. Maybe you face a cross country move or a friend dies or you break an arm and it takes twice as long as you thought to finish your book.
Go ahead and wail to your friends. Hit something, swear, have a good cry, then let it go. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep moving.
It’s not personal.
See above. Life happens to everybody.
The world of publishing is not just your tiny corner. Read widely, read every day. Give yourself the pleasure of reading something at random—grabbing it off the library shelves or bookstore rack of remainders. Ray Bradbury says that every writer should read a short story, an essay and a poem a day. This will keep you fresh, thinking, challenged.
Don’t listen to your own press.
Good or bad. That way lies insanity. It will also seriously interfere with the process of working on your next book and the one after that. Keep all those voices out of your head and you will be a much happier, more productive writer.
LOVE THE WORK
Nobody is forcing you to be a writer. If it is too hard, or the business makes you psychotic, stop. Find something else to do that doesn’t make you nuts.
If you do love it, it will be a friend for life, something that belongs entirely to you, a unique and beautiful offering to the world. Enjoy that!
Photo courtesy Flickr’s Anderson Mancini