Everything I've learned over the past 30 years about improving your writing, publishing it, and promoting it after the sale. Since the first 20 of those years involved collecting hundreds of rejection letters, we can hope I've learned a lot. Never pay to be published!
Here's everything I know about improving your writing, publishing it electronically and in print, and promoting it after the sale.
Two questions you should ask:
1. What will it cost me?
2. What does this Michael LaRocca guy know about it?
Answer #1 — It won't cost you a thing. The single most important bit of advice I can give you, and I say it often, is don't pay for publication.
My successes have come from investing time. Some of it was well spent, but most of it was wasted. It costs me nothing to share what I've learned. It costs you nothing to read it except some of your time. Answer #2 — "Michael LaRocca has been researching the publishing field for over 10 years."
This quote from Authors Wordsmith was a kind way of saying I've received hundreds of rejections. Also, my "research" required 20 years.
But in my "breakout" year (2000), I finished writing four books and scheduled them all for publication in 2001. I also began editing for one of my publishers, a job I've been enjoying ever since. After my first book was published, both my publishers closed. Two weeks and three publishers later, I was back on track.
See how much faster it was the second time around? That's because I learned a lot.
Also, I found more editing jobs. That's what I do when I'm not writing, doing legal transcription, or doing English consulting work in Thailand (my new home). But the thing is, if I'd become an editor before learning how to write, I'd have stunk.
(Some readers say I still stink. Ignore them.)
2005 EPPIE Award finalist. 2004 EPPIE Award finalist. 2002 EPPIE Award finalist.
Listed by Writers Digest as one of The Best 101 Websites For Writers in 2001 and 2002. Sime-Gen Readers Choice Awards for favorite Author (Nonfiction & Writing) and Favorite Book (Nonfiction & Writing). 1982 Who's Who In American Writing.
Excuse me for bragging, but it beats having you think I'm unqualified.
I'll tell you what's missing from this monologue. What to write about, where I get my ideas from, stuff like that. Maybe I don't answer this question because I think you should do it your way, not mine. Or maybe because I don't know how I do it. Or maybe both. Once you've done your writing, this essay should help you with the other stuff involved in being a writer. Writing involves wearing at least four different hats. Writer, editor, publication seeker, post-sale self-promoter.
Here's what I can tell you about my writing.
Sometimes an idea just comes to me out of nowhere and refuses to leave me alone until I write about it. So, I do.
And, whenever I read a book that really fires me up, I think, "I wish I could write like that." So, I just keep trying. I'll never write THE best, but I'll always write MY best. And get better every time. That's the "secret" of the writing "business," same as any other business. Always deliver the goods. I read voraciously, a habit I recommend to any author who doesn't already have it. You'll subconsciously pick up on what does and doesn't work. Characterization, dialogue, pacing, plot, story, setting, description, etc. But more importantly, someone who doesn't enjoy reading will never write something that someone else will enjoy reading.
I don't write "for the market." I know I can't, so I just write for me and then try to find readers who like what I like. I'm not trying to whip up the next bestseller and get rich. Not that I'd complain. But I have to write what's in my heart, then find a market later. It makes marketing a challenge at times, but I wouldn't have it any other way.
When you write, be a dreamer. Go nuts. Know that you're writing pure gold. That fire is why we write.