Saturday, October 15, 2011

Writerly Stuff: A Writers' List of Concerns

The writer awaiting his or her first sale fantasizes about what “the call” will be like. The writer who has made their first sale wonders if they will make a second or a third sale, and so on. There are many things we writers still have in common no matter what stage of the path we’re on.

Let me illustrate what I mean with what I refer to as “A Writer’s List of Concerns”:

Group One: Unpublished (As Yet) Author’s List of Concerns
1-Will I Sell My Novel/When Will I Sell My Novel?
2-Will the agent/contest judge/editor like my story?
3-Will I make any money as a writer?
4-What’s the best way to get my work out there (submit to agents? Enter contests? Ask my published writer friends to put in a good word for me with their publisher?)
5-How do I cope with the ever present voice of self-doubt that whispers, “Should I even be trying to do this? Am I a terrible writer?”

Group Two: Published Author’s List of Concerns
1-Will my next novel sell/When Will I Sell My Next Novel?
2-Will my agent/editor like this new story?
3-Will I ever be able to make a living as a writer?
4-What’s the best way to make readers aware I have a book out? (Visit bookstores? Advertise? Make a nuisance of myself on Yahoo groups, Message Boards, Blogs, and Forums?)
5-How do I cope with the ever present voice of self-doubt that whispers, “I’m sure that first/second sale was a fluke! I’m a terrible writer! Just look at some of the reviews!”

Group Three: Highly Successful, Award-Winning, Best Selling Author List of Concerns
1-How on earth am I going to meet these deadlines?
2-What will my reader base think of my new book(s)? Will I lose readers because my publisher has asked me to write for the current hot trend, and I’m just not feeling it, even though I have a deadline?
3-Help! I need a good accountant to assist with tax planning so I can keep some of the money I’m making!
4-How do I keep all my readers happy? I can’t write books fast enough!!
5-How do I cope with the ever present voice of self-doubt that whispers, “One of these days the world will figure out that I can’t do this. I’m a terrible writer!”

As an author, I am wedged in the precipice between the second and third groups, although I’m newly published enough to remember what was on my mind while waiting for that first sale, and I’ve realized that the concerns I have today echo some of the same concerns I had before my first sale, and that fact is probably not going to change.

My advice to all of us would be to savor the sweetness of the journey and take time to celebrate the milestones along the way. Don’t forget to celebrate when you get “The Call” because that moment in your journey will be hard to eclipse, no matter what career heights you might attain after that. And save those first fan e-mails or fan letters forwarded to you by your publisher. I’ve saved all of mine, and they really help when dealing with item #5 on the list of concerns.

Lisa Marie

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