Guest Post by Author Eileen Cook: What I Know

In interviews I’m often asked what I know now about writing/publishing that I didn’t know before I sold my first book. I can’t tell if I should be flattered that there is the feeling that I now know what I’m doing, or be distressed that they figured out I didn’t know what I was doing before.

Things I Know:

I can’t tell you how to be published: This isn’t because I’m holding out on you, but rather because there isn’t one way. Every writer has to make their own journey, some will take years to reach their goal and another will have success immediately. Don’t stress about how you compare to others, keep your eye on your own target.

You will never please everyone: You’ll never make every reader happy. JK Rowling could collaborate with Jane Austen, Stephen King, Nora Roberts, and Hemmingway there would still be someone who would post a review on Amazon that said “Meh, wasn’t that great.” If your goal is to make everyone love you and your writing, you will end up swilling bourbon in between periods of beating your head on the desk.

Use your team: Surround yourself with smart, positive people and then listen to them. Your agent, editor, critique group, and your entire publishing team (sales, marketing, booksellers, etc) can provide you with guidance, support, and kick you in the ass when you need it. Appreciate the time and effort they give you and say thank you. Smart people know they don’t know everything and aren’t afraid to ask questions.

Remember this is your career: Yes, always listen to advice, but don’t forget this is your career. Educate yourself on what is happening in the business. Read your contracts and royalty statements and make sure you understand them. Don’t complain that others aren’t doing enough to promote your career, ask yourself what else you can be doing.

You can always do better: Is your next book your best? Are you still trying to learn more about your craft? Do you push yourself to do your best? Don’t your readers deserve that? Don’t you deserve that? What I love best about writing is that there is always more to learn.

It’s about the writing: There are a million things that can’t be controlled in publishing, but you can control the writing. Make sure writing is your priority. Remember that writing is supposed to be fun. Is there anything better than creating an imaginary world, filling it with people, and then making it come alive? This is the best job in the world and the one thing I know for certain is that I never want to forget how fortunate I am to be doing it.

Happy Writing!

Eileen Cook