Monday, July 21, 2014

Ten Ways to Bomb Your Budding Novel Career

(This post is kind of a summer re-run. Except I've added to it.)

You can find a bazillion pieces of advice online on how to make it big as a novel writer.

Now I must share with you some ways to torpedo your career. I must admit I haven’t tried all these things (thank goodness) but will lean heavily on the warnings of other industry professionals.

Here in no particular order are some likely career crashers for novelists who write from a Christian worldview:

1) Get into it for fame, money and/or the desire to bare your soul. If the first two are your motives, you are statistically unlikely to succeed. (Think of the market as grading on the curve, except almost everyone gets an F, a few get Ds and Cs, fewer get a B and you can count the As in the hundreds, not in the thousands or millions.) And God isn’t much interested in blessing – you know, supernaturally helping and ennobling – people who do things in His name who don’t have His interests at heart.

Want to bare your soul? Unless you have a compelling story and/or can tell it exceptionally well, best to keep that soul modestly covered for now. Maybe later….

2) Approach your writings and publishing decisions from a business point of view instead of after prayer and fasting.

3) Trash-talk an agent, editor, fellow author or other industry professional in public. Christian publishing is a very small world. Many professionals in it have worked for several publishers. They talk to one another, even to their competitors.

4) Criticize anybody or anything in public without a Biblical basis for doing so.

5) Jump around from genre to genre. I admit I have done this:  Fifteen non-fiction books (several co-written or largely interview-based), one children’s fiction, and now onto novels.) I say it is because I have written what I believed God wanted me to write.  It hasn’t killed my career but I’m hardly a household word for any of those genres. (Well, I may be a household word with some Mormons but it wouldn’t be a very nice word.)

5) Listen to and take to heart only opinions about your writing that are offered by people who love you and/or are not industry professionals.   You’ll have that warm glow with you always as you get to sell four dozen self-published books to them.

6) Don’t study and absorb your Bible. Consider its stories and counsels as outdated and inferior to more modern works.

7) Refuse to take the time and offer the vulnerability of letting other authors critique your work. They might steal your ideas and write them faster and better than you and beat you to a publisher. (Yeah, right.)

8) Lament the lack of quality in Christian publishing but do not read the books that have won awards recently.  If you do read them, borrow them so that you don’t directly contribute to the financial wellbeing of the publishing companies nor the authors.

9) Don’t keep up with how the publishing industry is changing. After all, a book is a book, right?

I’ll leave #10 to you. What would you add?


Forest Wells said...

#10 Compare your style/ability with your favorite author. After all, you love how they write their books, and they're quite successful too. If you can't do it as good as they did, you're obviously not good enough.

I've only recently learned this one myself. It's not easy.

Susie Finkbeiner said...

I'd add a few...

-Be jealous to the point of being unfair to other authors.

-Check your Amazon rating every half hour or so.

-Give up after your first rejection.

-Be unteachable. Believe that you already know everything about writing and no one else has anything to offer.

I may or may not have been guilty of all of these at some point or another.

Latayne C Scott said...

Forest and Susie, I've tried many of those. I obviously didn't give up after my first rejection, but I wanted to. I've had unteachable moments, been jealous, and burned up my browser with Amazon. I used to compare my style to others all the time, and found myself wanting. Wanting... and wanting...

Texie Susan Gregory said...

Drag your feet after receiving the advice of your agent regarding the importance of social media.