Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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25 Truths about Writing

From Chuck Wendig at Terrible Minds, 25 MORE HARD TRUTHS ABOUT WRITING AND PUBLISHING

Right from Truth #1, this is a really good post. Here’s #1:

YOU’RE ALWAYS ABOUT 12 TO 24 MONTHS FROM DYING IN THE ABYSS

I talked about this in one of my more recent posts (advice for the mid-career writer) — but looking ahead a year or two down the line, most writers will see a cliff. This cliff represents the end of your current contracts, maybe the end of a series, and at that point you should expect your career to become a giant blinky spinny question mark.

I have to say, this is certainly true for me and I’m sure it is for most writers. I deal with it by being optimistic! I assume Things Will Work Out! I am *glad* to have all four books under contract written and three mostly revised! I really am! But I do need to write something else now. On spec, probably. This is okay, by this time I think it’s clear that I like writing on spec better than writing to a deadline, but yes, there is that giant blinky question mark up there in the near future, just as Chuck says. Yep, yep, there it is!

I’m an optimistic person in general, more or less, which is good, otherwise my nerves would probably be shot. I think I use up my entire quota of pessimism when I attempt to breed a litter and there’s nothing left but optimism for the other areas of my life. (My new puppy is fine, btw, post coming soon with many cute pictures).

Lessee, what other Truths does Chuck point to? Okay, here:

#2 SOCIAL MEDIA WILL NOT SELL YOUR BOOKS

#3 YOUR BOOK MAY NOT SELL FOR A LOT OF UNCONTROLLABLE REASONS

#4 QUALITY MATTERS LESS THAN YOU’D HOPE

#5 LUCK MATTERS MORE THAN YOU’D LIKE

#6 YOU HAVE MORE POWER THAN YOU DESERVE

#7 AMAZON AND BARNES & NOBLE HAVE WAY MORE POWER THAN YOU

#8 SELLING POORLY CAN MARK YOU

#9 … AND SO CAN SELLING WELL

And here I must say, wow, I would love to have this particular problem! Chuck does say that, too, like this:

Selling well is amazing! Go you! Now you can pay bills and buy cool stuff and fans carry you around on a motherfucking palanquin. It’s all cake from here. And what I mean is, it’s all one flavor of cake. I hope you like that flavor because now if you try to write something of a different flavor, nnnnyeah, it may not work. A big successful book is like a moon orbiting you — that bastard has gravity, and it will affect all your tides. It will be harder to pull away from the thing that made you successful and harder to do something more creatively satisfying. Maybe that’s okay. Maybe it feels like an ART PRISON. But it’s something to note! A good problem to have, admittedly — but it can still be a problem.

To which I’m sure 99.99% of all writers respond, Hah hah hah my heart *bleeds* for you, super-successful writer! Where is my violin?

If I ever have this *cough* problem *cough*, I hereby solemnly vow to handle the typecasting issue with grace and forbearance.

Okay, moving on:

#10 NO ONE WAY IS A LOTTERY TICKET

I think he actually means, no one way is a golden ticket to sure success, but click through and read the entry yourself and see how you interpret the lottery ticket thing.

#11 BIGGER ADVANCE MEANS BIGGER MONEY SPENT ON YOUR BOOK

Analysis: Not absolutely sure this is true, and also not totally positive what a publisher counts as a big advance, but I’m sure there’s some truth to it.

#12 PUBLISHERS DON’T ALWAYS KNOW HOW TO SELL YOUR BOOK

Analysis: Absolutely true, alas. No one knows how to get a book to take off for the stratosphere, or we’d all be a lot less surprised by mega-hits like FIFTY SHADES.

#13 GETTING THAT FIRST BOOK PUBLISHED IS LIKE YAY, AND THEN, OH SHIT

Meaning:

You’d gnaw your own arm off for some data. … BookScan is about as accurate as you throwing shoes at cars.

Analysis: True! But getting your first book published is still totally a YAY thing! After your book hits the shelves, though, I recommend a firm policy of never looking at sales data and only ever reading good reviews. Way easier on the nerves that way!

#14 GETTING THAT SECOND AND FOURTH AND TWELFTH BOOK IS THE SAME WAY

Analysis: Definitely true! I am even now waiting anxiously for reader reviews of THE KEEPER OF THE MIST. Which got a starred review from School Library Journal, btw! So that’s good!

#15 PEOPLE ARE GOING TO HATE YOUR BOOK

Analysis: Alas, true! Also, of course, people are going to love your book. See above for my soothing policy regarding reviews.

….And ten more Truths About Writing, complete with snarky commentary, if you’d care to click through. As is usually the case for Chuck Wendig, the post is fun to read, but a bit long. (I enjoy long posts. But 15 points is enough to copy over here.)

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