Part 2 – Ten Things Every Aspiring Writer Should Know by Sevastian Winters

I know you’ve been anxiously waiting for the next 5 tips, let me get out of the way and turn it over to Sevastian Winters. Sev, it’s all yours. 

Ten Things Every Aspiring Writer Should Know

about Writing as a Profession

 By Sevastian Winters

#6

Most of the work of a full time writer has nothing whatsoever to do with writing

Stephen King writes two thousand words per day. I can do that in about 3 hours. So what is he doing with the rest of his time? Easy! He’s conducting the business end of the writing business. Most would-be writers fantasize about sitting on a storm deck at their cabin in the woods by  a cozy fire, so engrossed in tapping out the plight of heroes and heroines that they are completely  unaware  of  the bear and bunny rabbit frolicking in the yard playfully with the deer and mountain lion, and surrounded by butterflies that flit about the property, teasing the little fishes in the pond by the tree.

Writing isn’t romantic. It is gruelling, hard work and most of being a writer isn’t even about the writing. It’s about all the work involved in editing, promoting, and selling what is written. Those of us lucky enough to endure this for a living look at Stephen King’s 2,000 words per day and wonder not how come he writes so few, but how he manages to find the time to write so many. If you aren’t ready to commit to being certifiably committed to an asylum, then writing as a profession is simply not for you.

#7

Readers are busy people with busy lives.

This is important information that every writer must understand to their core if they want to earn a living from writing. The title of this article is “Ten Things Every Writer Should Know about Writing as a Profession.” It isn’t very catchy, but in a glance, you had enough information to know what to expect…and to know if you wanted to read it.

Readers are busy people with busy lives. They ‘peruse’ non-fiction. If you really want them to hang on your words, write fiction. But expect to be poor.

Kurt Vonnegut once said “start your story as close to the end as humanly possible.” Wise words from a man who never wasted a reader’s time. In nonfiction, get to the point. In fiction, cut out the stuff that doesn’t tell the story. Grab your readers and drag them through your work and never let them breathe. If you do that, you can’t help but find your audience and your success.

#8

It’s not personal. It’s just Business.

Writing is a business. The ‘noble artist’ thing stops at the moment you type the last word of your first draft.

If you let your personal convictions about your work cloud your business sense, you may or may not succeed, but you will absolutely be miserable.

It doesn’t matter if you are writing fiction or non-fiction. There is no room in this competitive industry for a Prima Donna. I would venture to guess that every writer has experienced some degree of frustration with editors or customers who we felt didn’t grasp what we were trying to do… our titles, our subject matter, our approach.

As writers we find a lot of people to get mad at:

  •  Editors
  • Agents
  • Publishers
  • Readers
  • Ourselves
  • Other writers

Pretty much anyone who comes into contact with our work is subject to our vitriol if they respond with anything other than sincere adulation.

If you want to succeed as a writer, you are going to need to check your ego at the door. I know from experience. There are two major sources of revenue for whom I currently can’t write because once upon a time, I let my ego take over. Don’t do what I did. Instead, remember: It’s not personal. It’s just business. No matter how annoying, you are the service provider. They are the customer, and the customer is always right.

#9

If you don’t write on a regular basis, you can’t call yourself a writer

Don’t just intend to write. Write. Finish. Sell. Query, Write, Finish Sell. Repeat. That’s the gig you signed up for. Do it. No one cares about your Bejewelled Blitz score… least of all, your bill collectors. Nuff’ said.

#10

Accolades are Great, but They’re Also Stupid

We all like to be acknowledged for the work we do, but the fact is writers seem to need it more than most. I know I do. When’s the last time you thanked your doctor for doing such a great prostate exam? Mammogram? How often to you tell the guy at the convenience store how great he was at ringing you up? Wal-Mart? Look, I will give you that writing is a rare talent (Trust me… I happen to think most of the people making money at it suck). But it’s still just a job. Just like a doctor is expected to do a good job and a construction worker is expected to to a good job, and a sanitation worker is expected to do a good job, so too are you expected to do a good job. I remember a poignant scene in an episode of TV’s “Mad Men” when one character was complaining over a lack of praise from her boss. Frustrated, he shouted “That’s what the money is for.” If you’re getting paid for your writing, expect that you did a good job. Accolades are great, but they a cheap substitute for dollar bills. By means of disclosure, I got paid to write this post. That’s all the thanks I need.

Get to work… and good luck in your writing career!

Check out Sev’s new blog The Homeless Gazillionaire

What’s this all about?  At nearly 41 years old, I found myself having been in back to back relationships for all of my adult life (including 3 failed marriages) with very little to show for my 41 years on earth, and a ton of personal baggage that has made it impossible for me to sort out my happiness. So I am stripping away the whole facade and starting over from scratch.  It’s time to get healthy, happy, and whole. Welcome to my journey.
Related post:  Ten Thing Every Aspiring Writer Should Know about Writing as a Professional Sevastian Winters #1 – #5.

 What do you think of Sev’s tips?  Let us know in the comments below. 

Ten Things Every Aspiring Writer Should Know about Writing as a Profession by Sevastian Winters

If you haven’t already, you need to familiarize yourself with Sevastian Winters.  I have been following his journey to find happiness since he began “unpacking baggage” on his blog The Homeless Gazillionaire.    If his post don’t move you, inspire you, or motivate you, well, your probably already dead.  At the least, his post will make you think about how events that occurred in your past effect the way you deal with thing in the present.  
That is why I was so excited to have Sev offer us Aspiring Writer’s an education:  

Ten Things Every Aspiring Writer Should Know

about Writing as a Profession

 By Sevastian Winters

When I first agreed to write this piece for Syd, I didn’t quite realize what I was getting into. Choosing ten things from amongst the hundreds of things writers should know about writing is a task all unto itself, and I argued with myself over which ten were “most important.” In the end, I decided to highlight the things about this business that are very often missed. So without further adieu, here are the ten things I feel that writers absolutely must know if they aim to make a living with their “pen.”

#1

There are more aspiring professional writers in today’s market than ever before!

If video killed the radio star, then the internet killed the exclusivity and mystery of being a writer. With the advent of blogs, content mills and, more recently, eBooks, everyone from 12 to 112 is getting in the game. The internet is hungry for content, and that means it needs writers. Forget about yesteryear. Writing isn’t just about writing anymore. It’s bigger than that. It is a gangbang of information insemination. If that analogy seems gross, suck it up, princess. That’s the price we pay for moving information around the world at the speed of thought.

If you want to build a career as a professional writer, you can! That’s the good news. The bad news is that if you don’t work smart, you are going to work very, very hard!

#2

Fiction/poetry may feed your soul, but non-fiction will feed your family

I love fiction. It allows me to tap into emotions and the heart of what is, for me, very real. That said, my non-fiction work outsells my fiction ten to one. There are writers who make their living writing only fiction, and the richest writers on the planet write fiction exclusively, but breaking that barrier is hard. In the meantime, if you want to be a full time writer, you are going to have to also get comfortable writing non-fiction. Fiction might make you very wealthy, but if it doesn’t, non-fiction will at least pay your bills.

#3

eReaders are here to stay. So If you want to make money with your writing, you’re going to have to shut  up about how sad you are to see paper go.

Seriously. Writers can’t afford to care about the medium. Pay attention to the content. If tomorrow the fad was to deliver stories written in goat’s blood on the backs of motor homes, no one’s goat would be safe from me. We exist in the market. We don’t control it.

#4

Newsflash: Readers DO Judge books by their Covers!

Even if you’re selling eBooks, you are going to need some cover art. I am constantly amazed at how writers spend months perfecting their work only to give their covers what amounts to a cursory glance. The best book in the world will not sell if it has an ineffectual cover. 80% of what sells books is on the cover, 20% is found in the first 5 pages, and all of the rest of your book determines whether the reader will buy the NEXT book. That means that your books had better damn well be identifiable as yours!

 If a reader likes your writing, they may want to read another. People don’t buy a book called “The Stand” by Stephen King. They buy Stephen King’s “The Stand.” The difference is that they are buying Stephen King. If you want to sell your books, you’d better be sure that people know your work is yours beyond the shadow of a doubt. Covers can’t just be pretty. They have to be memorable! A book cover is not wrapping paper. It is your greatest, and most important sales tool! Treat it with respect.

#5

Without an identifiable Brand, you will spend your writing career fighting an uphill battle.

Branding is about making sure that from a mile away people know your work and know what to expect. It encompasses everything about what makes your product uniquely yours! Branding is why, when I say “Golden Arches,” you know the place I mean.

If people know and become familiar with what to expect from your brand, you will have done 90% of the selling you ever have to to. I have never owned a Canon camera, but if I was in need of a camera, I wouldn’t have the slightest hesitation about choosing that brand. I recognize it, and despite having no personal experience with the brand, I trust it. People buy the brands they trust. If you have not branded your work as yours, you will constantly find yourself selling new product as if it has no brothers or sisters, and that, my friends is an unnecessary and  grueling uphill battle. Brand. Brand. Brand.

I think I will stop there. Let that sink in. If you have any questions for Sev, feel free to leave them in the comments. And please, come back on Saturday, November 17th for #6 – #10.