Monday, 19 May 2014

How I Found the Write Path bloghop



Today I'm taking part in Carrie Butler's blogfest, to celebrate her bloggy anniversary. You can find out all about it, and sign up if you want, right here. Basically, I have to write a note to my pre-published self with advice. She's going compile all the letters into a free ebook for writers. Carrie, of course you can use mine!


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Dear 20 year old me,

You've just had two short stories published, and you're feeling pretty cool about everything right now. This writing lark is easy, right? Wrong!

I'm supposed to give you advice now, but I really don't want to. By submitting the way you are (a constant rolling process of one rejection landing on your doormat and being instantly repackaged and sent off again) you're learning patience, stubbornness, how to handle rejection... And, believe me, when most submissions are email based and can be returned in an hour, you definitely need to know how to handle rejection.

And, you know what, every time you reach despair, you'll write some cracking stories - honest - and they are the ones that'll get published.

However, there are some things I want to share with you:
  • Don't compare yourself to other writers - especially not the ones writing popular genres - that will just depress you greatly.
  • Use beta readers as soon as you starting writing novellas. You can get away with when you're writing 2000 words, but not so much 20,000 words.
  • Don't ignore self-publishing - it's not the same in 2012/13 as it is in 1994 - in fact it's pretty cool now, and means you get to be in charge and make all the decisions. There are so many options, which means you no longer have to buy 1000 copies and store them in your house.
  • Take marketing seriously. In fact, take a marketing course right now! (Pauses to see whether a marketing certificate appears on wall... Nope, it doesn't... Are you even listening to me, Child?
Also, make friends with writers - use social media (it's okay, you'll understand what I'm talking about soon). Instead of being the only writer you know and having to work everything out for yourself, you'll appreciate how supportive, understanding and helpful other writers are. And you'll make some brilliant friends.

Enjoy being 20
xxx


74 comments:

  1. I think when we compare ourselves to others of the same profession it always leads to feelings of inadequacy. Good point. Happens in every profession!

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    1. It always leads to misery, so it's good to avoid it if you can.

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  2. I love the idea of telling yourself not to compare yourself with other writers. Such good advice for all aspects of life really. We all need to run our own races and not worry so much abut what everyone else is doing. :)

    Madeline @ The Shellshank Redemption

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    1. Precisely, Madeline. We have different paths and destinations too.

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  3. You gave yourself some really good advice. I like that you don't compare yourself to other writers. That is a lesson I too must learn. Good for you.

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    1. I still do very occasionally, although it's usually in the 'why are they selling 10,000 copies and I'm not?' kind of way. Which is why I don't compare myself to authors of those popular genres.

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  4. Self-publishing has changed so much in the past 12 years or so. The pendulum has changed directions more than once.

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    1. It's no wonder people sometimes struggle with the best way to do it.

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  5. I could've used that marketing class!

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  6. Amazing how much self-publishing has changed. It is freeing to know we don;t have to give up on our dreams, we just have to accept that we will need to work really hard and never give up.

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    1. And isn't it funny how it doesn't feel like really hard work when you love it so much?

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  7. Some useful words of advice. Especially about not comparing ourselves to others and how important social media will become.

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    1. Without social media, I don't think I'd know any writers at all! Scary thought.

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  8. I really like the part about writing amazing stories from the despair - this is so true!!

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  9. A great letter to your 20 year old self.
    Marketing course? Good idea, especially when you are younger.
    "Don't compare yourself to other writers - especially not the ones writing popular genres..." I hear you loud and clear on this one...

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    1. The problem with being a writer is you don't know what skills you don't have until it's too late!

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  10. Great advice not to compare yourself to others - and you definitely learn from those rejections!

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    1. I definitely learnt that what I think is good, perhaps isn't just yet.

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  11. Taking a marketing course is a smart idea. When I started to give book talks I took a public speaking course, which really helped me a lot!

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    1. Now, that's a great idea. Public speaking scares me!

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  12. you were darn smart at 20 and now even more brilliant, plus still learning. All good advice - don't forget to tell your young self to read, read, read too.

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    1. Thanks Joanne, I think I was. My mum might say too smart for my own good, but I take it as a compliment :-)

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  13. Excellent advice! I wish my younger self had known those things too. :)

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  14. I agree. Some lessons are better learned the hard way.
    Great entry! :)

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  15. HI Annalisa,

    And now the future is here. Your reflective wise words do resonate. We learn and the lessons can help our destiny. I never compare myself to others in all aspects of my life. I think that is an integral part of how our writing comes across. Indeed, writing and life does not have to be a contest. I know I have fun and Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet superstar has fun.

    Gary :)

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    1. Having fun is much more important than trying to be better than everyone else!

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  16. Brilliant! Spot on advice and beautifully written - I hope your 20 year old self appreciates it?? Love the kisses to her at the end :) And that's a great idea, Carrie.

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    1. My 20 year old self really needs those kisses :-)

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  17. Don't compare. Absolutely perfect advice. I read an article this week about that very subject. You could be comparing yourself at the start of your journey to someone in the middle of theirs so it's no comparison, they're in a different place. Good advice Annalisa x

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  18. Comparing yourself with others is the quick way to depression. Brilliant advice!!

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    1. We all do it at some time or another, it's one of those 'life lessons', I think.

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  19. Meeting other writers is the best way to learn, hands down.

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    1. Most of my meet-ups happen online, but they're very important to me.

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  20. Love that you let yourself do what's she's doing now/then, but giving some great advice to think about. Marketing....Yikes...it's all up to us now, isn't it? BTW: do you walk on the other side of the writing path on that "side" of the Atlantic Ocean?

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    1. We absolutely do walk on the 'right' side! Feel sorry for the Aussie's though - they walk upside down :-)

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  21. I think you're right - we do need the rejections. Well maybe we could manage with a few less, but I think we need to learn through trying.

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    1. I have so many rejections, but I kept the best - I was lucky enough to submit to editors who had the time/inclination to jot down encouraging notes.

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  22. That beta reading advice is wonderful. It really is hard to get someone to read an entire book, but if you're only asking for a couple thousand words at a time, that's totally doable.

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    1. I've been so lucky that I've found people to read my long books... although 'long' for me never gets more than 50,000, so it might not be such a big deal.

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  23. The publishing industry has changed dramatically over the last five years and self-publishing has some really great pros to it! Yes, there are cons, but the pros allow us to be in complete control of our rights, marketing and if we choose to do so, author visits. I self-published my 1st children's book in January of 2013 and have been visiting schools all over N.J. because of this incredible decision. Would I like to see my work at a traditional house? Sure, who wouldn't! But to each his or her own. I might query agents for my adult fiction novel over the summer and see where that route takes me. But for my children's work, self-pub all the way=)

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    1. You have a great idea of the path you want to take - having a plan is important :-)

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  24. It worked out for me that right before my book came out, I started writing for a variety of marketing firms. I observe what they do, plus they often have me write blogs on how to get more customers on social media, by blogging, etc...so I keep learning...and I'm being paid to do so. Marketing is definitely essential, whether you're self-publishing or doing things the traditional way.

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    1. Now, that's the way to learn marketing.

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  25. one good reoccurring theme I see is don't judge yourself based off of others. it's true and vital to our own success or measurements of success!! hugs to you girlie!

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    1. It's a hard lesson to learn - but once you've cried over someone getting more sales than you - there's much more time for focusing on your own writing!

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  26. Sounds like you started off on your path on a pretty good footing by how you handled those rejections. That's excellent advice, to use them to spur you on to do even better. Amazing how much the landscape has changed in 20 years too - there's so many more resources available to writers now!

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    1. It's a brilliant time for writers, right now.

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  27. This is terrific Annalisa! I particularly like the tip about taking a marketing course!

    Have a great weekend!

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  28. Awesome advice! I'm also having the same sort of issue with writing my letter, since all the stuff I know now, I know because I learned from my mistakes. :-D

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    1. Making mistakes yourself is important - they hurt at the time, but you don't make them twice!

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  29. I love reading these letters and seeing how others went through my writing growing pains. We writers get each other.

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    1. They've been really interesting, haven't they?

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  30. It's great advice to use beta readers sooner, rather than later. I wish I had known to do that years ago.
    Elizabeth Hein - Scribbling in the Storage Room

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  31. Hi Annalisa .. what great advice to younger self .. definitely do what one can and be sensible as we go along .. and ask for help - why not ... sounds like Carrie's go the right sort of blog fest going - adding to everyone's knowledge base .. cheers and hope the weather cheers up for us! Hilary

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    1. It's definitely been interesting to read all the other letters.

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  32. I hear you on rejections and the need to develop rhino skin to handle it. :-)

    Good beta readers are a blessing. They help you in so many ways. Easier to share writing with them than family, lol! Family has always been harder for me for a lot of reasons. Being around other writers is a learning experience one shouldn't miss.

    sounds like you've learned a lot!

    Sia McKye Over Coffee

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    1. Family can be either over-positive or overly-negative to cancel out the positivity. Much easier not to ask, and let them buy a book when it's published ;-)

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  33. This hop is amazing. I've read the most interesting posts - including yours! I loved the part about the marketing certificate appearing on the wall. It reminded me of a Big Bang Theory episode where Sheldon and Leonard pause to see if their future selves show up before signing the roommate agreement. So funny! I haven't been successful with marketing. Now I just use social media to meet great people, find support, and enjoy myself. Have a delightful weekend!

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    1. Lol, yes, I thought of that scene when I wrote it!

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  34. This is all good advice! And just think how much more we'll all know twenty years from now? We'll be experts by then. ;-)

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    1. Well, that's something to look forward to... although having done the maths, I don't feel quite so happy about it :-/

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  35. Heck yeah! Marketing courses are fun. :D

    Then again, I'm kind of weird...

    Thank you so much for participating, Annalisa!

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    1. Fun? Uh? I'm still half-hoping for my certificate to just appear. Thanks for hosting this blogfest, it's been really interesting reading everyone's advice.

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  36. Great advise... so wish I could have told myself these things...:)

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    1. I think you sometimes have to live through it to really learn.

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  37. Great words of advice. Nope, no marketing certificate on my wall either :)

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    1. Look again, Botanist - time travel will be reality some day :-)

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Please comment - I love a good chat!