Sunday, July 15, 2012

Stupid Mistakes You Can Make in Your Writing Career

Rogue's Pawn releases tomorrow!
Rogue's Pawn releases tomorrow!
Rogue's Pawn releases tomorrow!

*deep, cleansing breath*

Okay, now that I have that out of my system, at least for the next five minutes, I can focus on today's topic: The Stupidest Thing I Did on the Path to Publication.

On the one hand, I feel like I have any number of mistakes, embarrassing gaffes and foolish choices to choose from. On the other.... I feel like my path has been meant. That things went the way they should have. Even my disappointments led me to a better place.

Maybe, it's like the truism that there are no stupid questions. Really, there is no such thing as a stupid mistake. Unless you keep making the SAME mistake. Then you're just being pathological.

But I am a bit embarrassed to admit that what I consider my most foolish mistake is one that is often repeated in warning: I sent my novel out too soon.

I hear this all the time now: don't shop it before it's ready. Which is absolutely what I did. I finished my novel, which I had slaved over for a long time and I started querying it. Agents jumped at it, asked to see it - and sent me rejections.

Over time, I learned it hadn't been ready.

Now, looking back I can see that, though I was a reasonably accomplished literary nonfiction writer with decent credentials, I did not know how to write genre. Though I'd had people read it, none of them were genre writers. I missed that opportunity - to be the fresh new thing for all these agents, because the book wasn't ready.

The thing is: I didn't know that.

Also? I don't think I could have known that.

Sure, maybe if I'd gotten involved in RWA earlier, had different crit from different kinds of writers, they might have guided me. But I didn't know that was something I needed to do until I got those rejections.

I know I rant sometimes about bad writing advice, stuff like "write a really good book." In truth, any time I hear a published author advice aspiring writers to "write a really good book," I want to kick him or her. Most useless, self-satisfied piece of advice on the planet. Right up there with "don't hurt yourself" and "choose wisely." And "don't send your book before it's ready."

This is all stupid advice, because if you could control these things, you would.

Oh, and that book I sent before it was ready? It's Rogue's Pawn. And it releases tomorrow!!!

Did I mention that part?

No such thing as a stupid mistake.


  1. Congrats on the new release!

    Patience is hard in an industry that moves so freaking slow.
    Good advice.

  2. Thanks Tuck! I *would* have been more patient, had I realized... Live and learn!

  3. Loved it! And will be telling everyone I know to pick up a copy. Can't wait for the next book in the Covenant of Thorns series.

  4. Heh. I've heard that piece of advice so many times it's playing on an endless loop in my head. But yeah, how would you know if it wasn't ready? They don't tell ya that, now do they? Feh.

    SQUEE! Rogue's Pawn releases today! I can't wait for everyone to read it. It's just that awesome. =oD

    1. I think it's easy to be paralyzed by that advice, too - after all, how can you know that it's not ready until people look at it?