6/8/09

Persistance Pays...


Are writers groups truly useful in getting you published? Now that’s a good question. I do think groups can be extremely helpful especially if you are a newbie. While the bloom is still on, an aspiring pre-published writer needs to connect with others for support and encouragement. Learning together can be a big asset. To critique each other’s work not only helps the giver learn skills but also the receiver too. Then there are links to publishers, online writing workshop/classes and contact with others who write. Members can share a bunch of knowledge with each other. Some do form lasting friendships.

It all sounds wonderful. But as several more experienced writers have discussed recently, there is usually a downside as well. One of the biggest problems I’ve encountered with new writers groups is many aspirers don’t persist. After a while, they lose interest in writing. Their every day life gets in the way of publishing dreams. Or they just don’t want to put out the effort, endure all the rejections and continue the persistence it takes to get there. It could take several years depending on the market you target. Instant publication is not the norm.

Any one who has remotely touched on the business side of this industry knows well that marketing plays a key role in the life of a writer. Some don’t enjoy this side and may be discouraged by it.

Face it-- there are hundreds, even thousands of distractions out there to discourage us from reaching our goals. Not to mention ye ole writers block! The adage ‘persistence pays’ should become the song of all writers.

When bestselling and oft-quoted Joe Konrath said, “There is a word for a writer who never gives up— published.” He wasn’t kidding. The man knows. He claims to have amassed some 400 rejections before he got his first yes. Now that’s top notch persistence!

Many of my friends who visit here are already successfully published authors. But there is always a new crop waiting for sage advice. With that said, here are some questions to ponder:

What advice would you more experienced writers give a newbie? For the aspiring among us, what would you like to ask those who have been where you are now?

Kaye

13 comments:

Maria Zannini said...

Here are some things I wish someone had told me:

1. Read and review a LOT of other people's works in progress before you put your work out so you can get a feel for the process.

2. Don't get sucked in by the cheerleaders--those kind-hearted folks who want you to feel good. Look for thorough and honest critters who will give you the plain truth.

3. The benefit of #1 above is that it endows you with a sense of confidence and knowledge. Listen to your gut and don't make changes just to please your writers' group.

Kaye Manro said...

Very good add on, Maria! Thanks for stopping by and sharing what you've learned.

Debs said...

When I first started writing, my main concern was how to set it all out, how long the ms should be, etc.

Now I know I just have to keep writing, and honing my craft and keep on at it.

Kaye Manro said...

Good point, Debs. I know exactly what you mean! It's the same for me.

Helen Hardt said...

Hi Kaye -- I'm only just starting my career, but I do have several contracts now, and the biggest thing that has helped me along the way is self-education. The writing world offers tons of wonderful resources -- books, conferences, workshops, other writers. Use them. I went from dreary contest results, to winning contests, to getting published in less than two years. I attribute this mostly to self-education. The romance genre has rules. There's more to it than being able to write a colorful paragraph. Learn the rules and apply them. You'll be amazed at the results ;). That's the best advice I can give to aspiring authors. The second best advice? Be open to multiple publishing options. E-pubs ofter new writers some wonderful opportunities.

Helen

Cari Quinn said...

Great blog as always, Kaye. I started with 2 of my CPs last summer and I know my work has grown so much since then. It helps so much to have people to share this crazy journey with. Also, I like that old saying, "Nothing worth having comes easy." That definitely applies to writing.

Christina Phillips said...

Great post as always, Kaye, and I agree with the excellent advice here in the comments.

I'd like to add one thing and that's to keep options open. I used to write romantic comedy but it was only when I tried something completely different - dark erotic romance - that things clicked into place (this ties in with one of my fave quotes of course - Never Say Never!!)

Linda Banche said...

What I'd say is find out what works for you. Some people swear by critique groups, some don't like them. Same for contests, and other things. When you're starting out, you can try these things to see if they help you. But if something really turns you off, don't do it. Writers got published long before there were critique groups, contests, whatever.

The single best advice I've heard is "Write a good book". And the only way you write well is to write a lot. Practice does make perfect.

In the end, I'll repeat the advice about persistence. I think it's the key.

From the relative newbie here who does have two contracts.

Suzanne said...

As a newbie newbie with no contracts, I'd just like to thank you, Kaye, for this post - and thanks also to everyone who left such good advice in comments.

It's been wonderful to find such a wonderful group of writers in blogland - all so generous with advice and support.

Shelley Munro said...

Here's my advice:

1. Read and analyze - even a book that doesn't work for you isn't wasted because you learn about the things you like and dislike.

2. Sit your butt down and write. Don't just talk about it.

3. Experiment with your writing. Try different genres. Do things differently. You don't have to follow the same path as the rest of the writers in your chapter. Listen to your gut. Often you can find clues in the direction you should take in your reading material. What do you like to read? Think about writing your version of what you like.

4. Join a chapter or writing organization. There are some great online ones if you're not near a chapter. Check out the forum at Romance Divas for a start.

5. Just because everyone else joins a critique group you don't have to as well. They don't work for some writers. Raising hand - I don't work well in a critique group. It's taken time for me to learn that about myself.

6. Take online classes and learn as much as you can. Go to conferences when possible.

7. Enter competitions if you can afford to. They give you deadlines and often critiques from published writers. They help you develop a thick skin.

8. Once you've finished your book put it away for a few weeks and start something else. When you return to it edit it with new eyes. Send it out to a critique group if you work with one. Edit again. Once you've polished your book send it out and keep working on your second book.

9. Learn that waiting is part of the business. Don't stress during the wait. Work on your next project.

10. Take timeout between projects. The last thing you need is burnout. Refresh the well by reading, spending time with family and people watching.

Kaye - probably WAY more than you needed! :)

Kaye Manro said...

Shelley-- I'm so happy that you share your wonderful experience here! Don't stop. And thanks so much for all the great tips.

Thanks Suzanne, I'm glad I met you too!

Linda, I always love your comments! You have very good info yourself to share.

Cari, that is a great saying.

Christina, thanks for sharing that. I love keeping options open. It has worked so well for you, and will work for other writers as well.

Helen, as always it's great to hear what you have to add. You are so right, and your advice is exactly what we all need to know. Thanks!

Thanks to all my writer friends who come by for visits. You add so much depth to my posts!

Dayana said...

Hello, Kaye!

Great post. I agree for the most part about writing group membership. Weigh your benefits with a group you are considering joining. Writing groups should be motivating and nurturing.

Maria brings up an excellent point. There are many peers writers who will not tell you the truth in fear of hurting feelings. On the other hand, there are critiquers out there who have no idea what an actual crit is all about. Some are overly aggressive, belittling and hurtful.

Always take what you can use and toss the rest. It is very important to have a good strong support system of peers who will be honest and tell you when something works or doesn't.

Groups may not work for everyone. It did for me in the beginning of my career, but now I pretty much write and polish on my own.

I worked my first two books through a critique group.

For me as a newbie, my writing group helped in the following ways:

1.) Motivation and encouragement to keep at it.

2.) Confidence to put my story on display instead of shelving it and allowing it to collect dust for fear of rejection.

3.) Accountability - a driving force to plod on to meet my goals.

What I would say to newbies?

Never give up. Keep writing. The more you write, like anything else, the better you get and the more you learn.

Submit, submit, submit.
Without rejections you'll never see an acceptance letter. In short, if you don't submit you'll never be published.

Oh and don't think the work is over when you finally sell that manuscript. Nope, its only just the beginning but the great thing about the process of publication: You never stop learning new things.

You're writing improves with each new project.

You're style may ebb and flow.

And new doors continuously open.

Promo, visibility, branding, and the list goes on and on.

But all of this takes work, you working to obtain your dreams and goals.

Never say never. Only you can make your dreams come true. Cliches, but so very true.

So get out there and keep at.

Best,
Dayana

Kaye Manro said...

Thanks Dayana! What good advice.