I’ve been a writer for about four years now. Actually, I’ve been a writer forever, but it was only about four years ago that I started trying to get published again. I had tried once before back when I was in my twenties. Needless to say, I had more success this time around.
I thought I’d share some of my observations.
#1 It’s way easier to write fiction when you’re older and have more life experiences. Lesson learned: If you’re twenty-something and having a hard time getting noticed, maybe your time has not come. Keep at it. Or give it a twenty-year break, as I did, and then come at it again.
#2 Despite how easy self-publishing has become, there is still value in at least trying the traditional route. Even if your work doesn’t get accepted, some editors will give you suggestions for improving your writing.
#3 Take an editor’s suggestions with a grain of salt, but do take them. It’s your story, but chances are good that they’re giving you insight into what the market is looking for. If you want to sell well, their advice is at least worth considering.
#4 It’s not the publisher’s job to market your book. They may have a marketing department, and they may do some marketing, but at the end of the day, the author does most of the sustained marketing. (Speaking as a marketing consultant by day, sustained effort is absolutely key!)
#5 While we’re on the topic of marketing, social media is great, but don’t let it get in the way of actually writing. I’ve seen Twitter, Facebook, et al, consume lots of talented people, both authors and business people alike. At the end of the day, you must have something to market.
#6 While books with a lot of grammatical, punctuation and storyline errors can still sell, that doesn’t seem to be the best way to build a following. If you decide to go the self-publishing route, look into hiring an editor. Presumably, your spouse, sister, mother-in-law, etc., love you and are more concerned for your feelings than a hired editor would be.
#7 Everybody and their brother is a writer. Don’t quit your day job just yet.
Perhaps observation #8 should be that every writer’s experience is unique. Let me know if you agree or disagree with my observations, and I’d love to hear some of yours.
All the best!