Advice for Beginning Writers/Authors

“Once you become a novelist, it helps if you can remain philosophical about things like poverty, rejection, and celebrity picture books.”
Author David Lubar from

On writing: Writing is the act of writing, not the bound product. Focus on the craft, on the process, on the journey.

On representation: Having a great agent is better than having no agent. Having no agent is better than having any agent who isn’t great.

On promotion: Your books’ best promotional tool is you.

On the wait for publication: Enjoy writing without having to worry about wearing your author hat (and all it entails).

On publishing: A contract is not a book. It is a contract. Support your backlist. Carpe diem because tomorrow you may be out of print.

On success: Celebrate every success, no matter how small.

On author Web sites: Make sure that your books’ cover art, publisher name and publication date, illustrator credits, etc., are easy to find. If you don’t want related email, don’t provide that link. But realize you’ll also be nixing mail from folks who would, say, like to ask you for an interview or refer you to speak at an event.

On book reviews: If the review is negative and the reviewer misrepresented the plot, renamed your protagonist, and inserted his/her own political agenda, feel free to disregard it. If it’s positive and the reviewer did the same, well, we all have our issues. But in either case, as the author, you’re allowed no rebuttal.

On writer list servs: Stay out of flame wars, especially if they are in no way related to literature and/or publishing and particularly if they involve politics. But do not under any circumstances personalize the conflict.

On interpersonal relations: Apologize for your mistakes. Forgive others. Be open to learning and growing. Make friends. Be kind to one another. Mentor. It’s an incredibly small, tight-knit industry. Keep in mind the best interests of your books and mental health.

On your emotional journey: Stay positive, but acknowledge your humanity. You’re allowed the occasional down days/times. You’re allowed to lean on your friends. But don’t be an energy vampire, and don’t allow yourself to be sucked dry by one.

On competition: Compete with yourself. Try to make each next book better than the last.

On courage: Borrow courage, share courage, hold tight to it. The good news is that you can do all three at the same time.

Cynsational News & Links

“How to Keep Your Passion and Survive as a Writer” by Margot Finke from The Purple Crayon.

An Interview with Jon Scieszka from Bookslut, which I found out about on Laurie Halse Anderson’s blog. And speaking of LHA, she has updated her site with a Teacher’s Guide to Prom. If you haven’t already, read my thoughts on Prom (Viking, 2005).

“Nominate a Teacher to be an ‘American Star in Teaching’”: the U.S. Department of Education again plans to honor classroom teachers by recognizing the 2005 American Stars of Teaching. The Department’s Teacher-to-Teacher Initiative is seeking nominations and information about teachers who are improving student achievement, using innovative strategies, and making a difference in the lives of their students. Teachers across all grade levels and disciplines will be honored this fall. One teacher or team of teachers from each state will be recognized. To learn more or nominate a teacher to become an American Star of Teaching. This link is reproduced with permission from the Public Education Network Weekly NewsBlast.

Grackle Stew: a blog of “[g]eneral musings & gracklin’ about from Bobbi C., Texas writer and artist, the life of an artist/writer, news about other artists, Ganderings (fav sites), and who knows what else?” She’s blogging lately about “The Nervous Artist/Writer.”

E. Lockhart, author of The Boyfriend List (15 guys, 11 shrink appointments, 4 ceramic frogs and me, ruby oliver)(Delacorte, 2005)(Listening Library, 2005) has a “Grease” poll for readers under age 18.

Writers and Depression by Nancy Etchemendy, author of The Power of Un (Front Street), from the Horror Writers Association. A frank discussion of warning signs and why writers are so vulnerable. Be good to each other out there. Take care of yourselves.

I’m blogging lately on spookycyn about The Fonz, Isis, phobias, and Ultimate Spider-Man.