Hello everyone! Laurie invited me over to talk about anything related to publishing/writing, so I thought I’d share some tips for how to stay sane in this business. It’s not easy!
I’ve been with Laurie almost 8 years, and I was first published with Harlequin in 2008. Back then, authors used floppy disks and sent out paper submissions. Can you imagine? Or do you remember? If you’ve been around that long or longer, props to you, sir or madam. Writing for a living can be a discouraging enterprise.
Since 2008, I’ve written 11 books and 3 novellas with Harlequin, HQN and Bantam Dell. I’ve also been active online, especially in the romance community. I’ve had my ups and downs and picked up a number of “dos” and “don’ts.”
This list of tips is based on personal experience, and can apply to writers at any level.
Don’t be annoying
I think this was my number-one rule before I got published. I never followed up on a submission. If I didn’t get a reply from an agent or editor, I considered it a rejection and moved on. There’s nothing wrong with following up, of course—but take it easy on the emails. Nobody likes to be bombarded. The same goes for authors already working with an editor and self-published authors who tweet buy links at me. It’s annoying. I will block you.
Nothing makes me happier than starting a new project. I love immersing myself in a first draft. So much hope and promise and positive energy. When I’m caught up in the magic, I worry less about bad reviews and Amazon rankings. Moving on to the next project can help take the sting out of rejection and criticism. And you’ll be too busy to bombard anyone with emails or respond to that one-star review. Don’t do it, girl!
When I was writing Aftershock, my most popular book so far, I became too immersed. It’s a disaster story about a group of people trapped in rubble after a major earthquake. They are in a confined space with dead bodies and multiple dangers. Near the end, I struggled with insomnia and got really stressed out. I did leave the house, but maybe not enough. No project is worth sacrificing your health or relationships. Spend time outdoors, go on a date, hug your family. Be a human being, not a hunched-over troll at the keyboard.
Make writing a priority
I’m a mother of two with many responsibilities at home. I don’t know how anyone with a family and a full-time job can write a single page! You have my utmost respect. As I suggested above, balance is important. Don’t expect your spouse to raise your children on his or her own while you make precious art. Instead, sacrifice something you can afford. Get up a few hours early every morning, or quit watching TV a few nights a week. I’m a big fan of multitasking. I love football, so I fold laundry while I watch. I take my notebook to soccer practice and the park. Finding daily opportunities to write keeps the story alive.
Write what you like
The common advice is “write what you know,” which I agree with to some extent. If you’re an expert on a subject, you might include extraneous details. If you know nothing about it, you’ll make mistakes. One thing you absolutely must know, in my opinion, is genre. It’s not unusual for acquaintances to tell me about their projects. Often they have no clue what kind of book they’re writing. So read up on genre and do your research, but write what excites you. If you like a hot trend, go for it. Don’t write romance or YA because you think it’s easier. Protip: it’s not. Some people assume romance writers follow a formula, cranking out the same book over and over again. I’d die of tedium. Who wouldn’t? Writing is hard enough with inspiration. You have to respect the genre and love what you’re doing. That’s the key to being a happy author at any stage in the publishing process.
Thanks so much for having me! Feel free to comment or ask questions.
Jill Sorenson writes tales of romantic adventure and suspense for HQN. Her most recent novel, Badlands, debuts tomorrow! Find out more at jillsorenson.com. Follow her on Twitter @jillsorenson.