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What You Wish For
by Gina Wynn
How To Succeed As A Writer
One, thanks for joining me today. Two…I don’t know if anyone can tell someone how to have success as a writer because each journey is so individual, and it depends how each person defines ‘success'. But lets look at some of the things you can do to create your own success…so maybe consider this post as: Some Tips to Find your Success as a Writer.
Most importantly, read. I bet you thought I might say ‘write', and—clearly—in creating success as a writer that's important. But read. Read everything from street signs to lists of ingredients, novels, news reports, poetry…whatever you can get your hands on. Learn to love those words. Don’t like something? No problem—at least you tried it. Chances are, if you don’t like something, you’ll know why and it’ll influence your writing. Everything you read will impact how you write—even if you only learn a new word.
Write. Write when you feel like it, write when you don’t. Write when you can devote a whole day to it, write when you have to squash that next great idea into two precious minutes. You can edit the words on the paper, and you can read them back and know you put them there. If writing is the true measure of success as a writer, you just made it. In fact, if nothing else, we have categorically learnt how to fail—don’t write. So never stop writing.
Learn the rules. Yes, sadly, even writing has rules. It has subjective little rules created by the trends of an industry—sparkly vampires, anyone?—and it has the rules of grammar and well edited prose. Think you don’t need the rules? Think they’re stealing your voice as an author? You’re different from all those other writers…right? Think again. If someone is talking to you and you can’t understand them because they aren’t following the rules of spoken speech, you don’t listen. It’s the same with a book. If someone is reading your book and you’re writing to your own rules, you might have lost a reader. Worse, you might have lost anyone who publishes alongside you their readership as well.
Find an agent or editor who loves your work. They will be your cheerleader when you want to set the whole thing on fire, and your most honest critic when you edit. I’m not going to segue into the whole topic of agent vs publisher vs small press at this point because those things don’t really limit your success. You can be equally as successful or unsuccessful in any of those arenas.
Send only your most polished work out on submission. There’s almost no point in including this tip because I bet every writer has, at some point, jumped the gun on submitting their writing. It’s easily done. Excitement at a finished product combined with adrenaline and fear, and the send button almost pushes itself. Well, sit on those hands. Really. Put that work in a drawer. Padlock it closed if you have to. It’ll be the biggest favour you ever do for yourself. I promise.
Learn how to market. Yes, even big publishers, so I’ve heard, expect their authors to do some of their own marketing. Probably even the biggest of writers have a name that sells their books for them. So, take a good look in the mirror. Is that Stephen King staring back at you? No? It’s not at my house, either. So…like I said, learn how to market. There are lots of websites out there dedicated to helping authors market their work. Some are free, some are very costly, and some seem far too good to be true, so do your research. You don’t want you book ending up owing you money it can never pay back.
Earlier, I said don’t stop writing. In truth, you can’t stop doing any of the things on this list. The writing industry is as dynamic as it is crazy good. Trends drop in and out with agents and editors trying to be ahead, and authors scrambling to catch up. If you catch a wave, ride it. Ride that wave and enjoy it, but don’t forget to write your next book.