Part One of my "Getting Published" series - Practices of a Published Author -
Treat Writing Like a Job
The best advice I ever received as a writer came from my husband – who, incidentally, does not even read books! I had been lamenting the sour economy. Two weeks before 9/11, I’d bought Ryan Piano Company, building, business, inventory and all. Making a piano business work for someone with no experience in running a business was not an easy feat. I had single-handedly funded the store with my side business of giving my ghost walk tours and selling copies of my regional ghost story collections which I had self-published.
Piano sales fell somewhere between slim and none.
My husband, who is a businessman, asked me, “If you could do anything for a living, what would you choose to do?” I didn’t even have to think about it. I told him, “I’d be a writer.”
I waited for the response I’d gotten from husband one and husband two which was this: “Who’d want to read anything you would write?”
Instead, my husband said, “All right. If you want to be a writer, then treat writing like a job.”
(Cue light bulb illumination) I’d never thought of treating something that I enjoyed doing like a job and from that moment on, I began thinking in terms of working as a writer.
Writing means more than spending inordinate amounts of time in front of a computer or with a pen and paper in hand. As a serious writer, I realized I had to learn the market. I needed to know what was selling, to whom it was selling, how much it was selling, which publishing houses were buying and which were not. I researched agents and editors just as I would have if I’d been looking for a job as a potential employee.
I joined a professional writer’s organization. Since I wanted to publish in the romance genre, I joined the national organization, Romance Writer’s America, and then the local Heart of Dixie chapter.
I had joined RWA ten years prior and was more in awe of the other published authors than learning how to hone the craft for myself. But when I got down to the business of becoming a writer, I recalled watching, then unpublished authors, Rhonda Nelson and Debra Webb network and learn the ropes while developing their writing skills. Both are amazing writers who can weave unforgettable stories but they knew that in this business where only 1% of submissions make it to publication, if they hadn’t researched their market, then those fabulous manuscripts might be sitting in a drawer somewhere instead of attracting readers on the book store shelves. Because of their dedication to networking, skill-building, and their overall professionalism, both Debra and Rhonda are now multi-published authors.
I learned a lot from watching their careers unfold.
Watching other writers taught me the difference between being a writer and being an author. An author is someone who writes when the muse strikes and who probably drinks bourbon before noon. (But hey, bourbon is also a job requirement for a southern belle as well – so that one didn’t count.) Kidding aside, a writer is someone who writes daily, who studies the publishing market, sets goals and works to achieve them.
Only after I worked at all these things (minus the bourbon) and began treating my writing like a job, I got what’s known in the publishing world as “the call” – or my first acceptance.
About the author
DEBRA GLASS is the author of over fifteen books of historical and paranormal romance, non-fiction, and folklore. The recipient of the National Society of Arts and Letters Alabama Screenwriter Award, she went on to win the NSAL Empire State Award for excellence in screenwriting. She received nominations as favorite erotic romance author with two of her books earning nominations as best erotic historical romance of 2009 from The Romance Studio. Two of Debra’s historical romances are currently finalists in Romance Writers of America’s Passionate Ink contest for published authors.
Debra is a member of Romance Writers of America, the Professional Authors’ Network, and Passionate Ink. She is also a member of RWA's Heart of Dixie chapter. She lives in Alabama with her real life hero, a couple of smart-aleck ghosts, and a diabolical black cat.
For more information about Debra and her books, click HERE