Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What NOT to do!

A writer died and was given the option of going to heaven or hell.
She decided to check out each place first. As the writer descended into the fiery pits, she saw row upon row of writers chained to their desks in a steaming sweatshop. As they worked, they were repeatedly whipped with thorny lashes.
"Oh my," said the writer. "Let me see heaven now."
A few moments later, as she ascended into heaven, she saw rows of writers, chained to their desks in a steaming sweatshop. As they worked, they, too, were whipped with thorny lashes.
"Wait a minute," said the writer. "This is just as bad as hell!"
"Oh no, it's not," replied an unseen voice. "Here, your work gets published."
There is a great deal of information on the web regarding what to do to improve the odds of getting published -- write the best book you can, network with other writers, how to query an agent, how to behave at a writers conference when talking to editors, etc.

Then I saw Penny C. Sansevieri's excellent article in the Huffington Post called Why (Some) Authors Fail and realized that she had excellent suggestions on what NOT to do so you don't sabotage your writing career.
  • Not learning enough about the industry --  get to know the market you are in. Learn about who the publishers are, what are they publishing, is the genre your writing hot or fading?
  • Not Accepting Feedback -- Get feedback on your work. Getting other people input on your writing (critique partner, editor etc) is a crucial part to any writer's career. 
  • Not Surrounding Yourself with Enough Professionals -- you need professionals for advice, wisdom, and direction. 
  • Not Doing Their Research -- refer back to one.  
  • Not Understanding How New York Publishing Works -- Understand how the publishing industry works, what they are looking for and when.
  • Playing the Blame Game - If something goes wrong, own it ( Unless it's really not your fault) and learn from the experience and do better next time.
  • Believing in the Unbelievable -- There are no guarantees. No one can promise book sales, fame, or Oprah. Period. End of story. If someone is promising you these things, run, or if the offer seems too good to be true it likely is.
Success is not about hard work alone. It's also about making smart, savvy choices, being relentless, and believing in your work and your mission. But you also need to be objective, realistic, and humble.

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