Things I heard at a Writer's Conference

I've got a post writer’s retreat hangover. While inspiring, coming down off the high leaves my brain frozen. I love going, but I am always glad to be home.

Several authors shared highlights of their careers.

  • Are you planning for a long career?

Some authors can’t get past how little money you make for publishing. The pay can be abysmal. Do you write because it’s a passion? I hope so because the first five to seven years are slim with profits.

If you can stick it out, you might see better money as you reach the middle of your career. It can be hit or miss. We used to talk a great deal about mid-list authors, but with the advent of self-publishing and small presses, authors can find creative ways to extend their careers and fill their pockets.

  • Speak your mind.

A common thread shared by all the successful authors I’ve met is they stand up for themselves. You can do this with grace or be an asshole. Up to you, but kindness goes a long way. If something isn’t working out with your editor, ask questions. No editor is infallible. Maybe the cover you’ve been sent looks awful, maybe you don’t like the marketing ideas, or you could feel your story has been changed in a way you can’t accept.

You need to say something. Even if it doesn’t change the circumstances, show up for yourself. Your writing is uniquely yours. If your gut churns at what you’ve been offered, handle your business. Writing is commercial fiction. Your story is your best asset. Protect what you can.

  • Don’t break the bank

I spoke with a self-published author who thought she would spend about ten thousand dollars on her newest book. This enormous figure included editing and marketing. I asked if she felt she would recoup her investment. The answer was no. She considered that a new business is in the red for a few years. This was her plan of attack.

Somehow, I managed not to offend this fabulous lady. My jaw had hit the floor. I know the shock had to have been clear on my face. I don't have any skill at hiding it. How do you come out ahead? It’s almost as ugly as when we had the vanity presses. You are paying out the nose for your book to be seen in the glutted market of cheap offerings.

Stop the bleeding. How much do you need to spend? I’ll say less than you expect to make. While it is all great to speak of writing as your passion, if you are trying to publish, you need a budget. The market has been volatile. Don’t over extend to keep up.

I learned so much this past weekend, but the main takeaway was my writing is what I have to sell. Don’t be so busy doing other things you forget your most important tool. Your story will invite others to spend time in your world. Maybe they will like it so much they will come back for more. What do you think? Please leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you.