Wednesday, September 1, 2021

The Best Advice

 I just read an interesting article on people who target authors telling them that if they don't cough up money, the people will then bomb their books with 1-star reviews.  I've heard it before and it's disconcerting, so the article wasn't really anything new.  At the end of the article, the writer of said article then pimped her own 'how to make money selling books' book.  Not cool, man.  I mean, I felt like she only wrote the post about this disconcerting thing to draw people in so she could pimp her book.  Maybe I wouldn't have felt irritated by it if her book had been about how to defeat these trolls.  But no.  Just another book about making a million writing and selling books by a chick I'd never heard of.  And if I've never heard of her, how many novels has she ever really sold?  

This, of course, followed me reading a FB post by a best-selling author talking about his early years and all the 'how-to-write books' books he'd read in his early years and how many of those were worthless.  He threw out all but two.  His advice basically boiled down to: 'If you've got the knack for writing, you've got it and if you don't, you don't.  If you've got it, hone it and the readers will come.'  Not helpful, per se, but honest.  More honest than 'hey, I've never written a best-selling novel, but buy my book about how to write a best-selling novel'.

Here's a big admission:  I've never read a 'how to write books' book.  Not even the definitive 'On Writing' by King, which apparently every other writer has read.  When I was a teen, I subscribed to Writers' Digest.  Read every issue cover to cover.  And what I learned was... After reading articles on how to write, I was writing exactly like each article said to write and my voice was lost completely.  I was too young then to know about voice, but I knew something was wrong with my writing when I started sounding like someone else.  So I stopped writing.  For years.  

I've been writing and publishing long enough now that my voice is pretty hard to shake, but I still don't read 'how to' articles or books.  I write.  My own way.  If that sells, then awesome.  I've had enough people tell me they like the way I tell my stories to keep doing it the way I've always done it.  The more I write the better I get at it.  

Actually, that's probably the best advice I can give another writer.  Write tons.  

Of course, I'm not writing right now.  I'm busy with non-writing stuffs and it's taking up all of my brain space.  I try to make myself think about writing, and that lasts about 30 seconds before my brain is off thinking about other things again.  This will pass.  And I'll write again.  I can't not write for too awfully long.  

I've got 16 books published now.  If I average their word count out at 75K each, that's 1.2 million words.  Add in the unpublished and unfinished stuff, along with the short stories, etc., and I'm probably at over 2 million.  Just in fiction.  Not counting these blog posts I've been writing since 2006, comments on other people's blogs, FB posts, etc.  

If this writing thing is your dream, keep writing.  I can't guarantee you'll ever become a best-seller, but you'll have some measure of success.  Eventually.  Maybe.  :shrug:  Also, read tons.  Of fiction, not of the 'how to' books.  See how other writers are achieving their dreams by reading what they've written. Maybe what they write will spur you on to your own successes.  

And if this is really your dream, don't quit.  

1 comment:

  1. Excellent advice! I've never read King either. I've read a couple of others, mostly about not "how" to write precisely, but how to write and edit efficiently. I tried writing like someone else, as an "intellectual" excercise a long time ago. I was still trying to figure out my voice and editors/instructors were saying one thing and my head was saying something else. There were two authors--Nora Roberts writing as JD Robb and Sherrilyn Kenyon. I liked their books and their voices. Fan fiction was just becoming a thing and I was way too old to be an active participant but as an exercise, I created a story set in each of their worlds, using their characters for a base and adding some of my own. I did my best to "sound" like them. There was no ulterior motive beyond trying something new that might motivate me. I surprised myself. I DID sound like them. And trust me, they have very different styles and voices.

    That's when I realized that I'd discovered my voice. It was sort of a combination of the two but with my own "flavor." And I started writing. Oh, I still got dinged when I submitted but hey, I knew what the story and characters and worlds needed from me. So I kept doing it, honing and working and tweaking. I have 52 books and novellas published. Averaging out, that's over 3 million words. I won't count all the unpublished words I typed. There's probably another 250K there.

    Anyway, you give good advice. Always. Wouldn't it be nice if we'd made a dollar for each word we wrote? Heck. I'd settle for a dollar for each HOUR I've spent at the computer researching, writing, editing, revisions, etc. Ah well. We obviously do this for love rather than money, but it would still be nice.

    And yeah, anyone can say they want to write a book. Authors actually sit down and do it. Congrats, Miz Author. You are a member of our esteemed club. 😉