(part 10–closing thoughts)
91. Become fiscally responsible. Writers get paid in lump sums—usually when you sell a book and again when the book is released (or something like that—it varies). This means you might only get two paydays a year. Or two paydays every two years! So learn to budget wisely and make that money last.
92. Pay your taxes! Unlike occupations where your employer takes taxes out of your check and mails it to the IRS, writers (and other self-employed people) are responsible for making those payments themselves. Unfortunately, a lot of writers forget about this, and by the time their taxes are due, the money is long gone. And this is very, very bad.
93. Find a non-writing hobby because this business can make you pretty crazy sometimes, and it’s important to have something to take your mind off of it from time to time.
94. Become involved in some writers groups/organizations. This is a great way of staying informed and learning more about the business and the craft. Be careful, though, that you don’t spend more time talking about writing than actually doing the work itself.
95. To sell your first book you will almost always need a complete and polished manuscript. Once you have a track record of finishing books, meeting deadlines, writing under pressure, etc, it may be possible to sell a book based only on an idea and/or a few chapters. This is called writing “on proposal”. There are pros and cons to doing this, but until you have your first sale under your belt, don’t worry about it.
96. Read everything—especially the types of books you want to write. If you want to be a NY Times Bestselling Romance Writer, then read all the romances that appear on the Times list. If you want to win the Newberry Award, then read the Newberry winners (and finalists.) Read. Learn. Repeat.
97. If you’re anything like the writers I know, then it doesn’t matter how many books you sell; how many awards you win; how many emails you receive from fans; you will spend the majority of your time thinking 1. You’re a hack; 2. The entire world will soon find out you’re a hack. This is usual. There is a word for people who think everything they’ve ever written is perfect and there’s no way they can be better: unpublished.
98. If you’re going to be a writer—write like it. Always. Nothing amazes me more than when I get emails that say “I wunt 2B a writer…” etc. etc. Writing well is a habit. Get into it by writing professionally now in all you do.
99. Pressure. I don’t think anyone can comprehend the pressure in this business until you’ve experienced it first-hand. This is why I tell new writers not to rush to finish their first book—don’t wish away the opportunity to be free of critics and doubts. Savor that because once you go pro you’ll never have it again.
100. I’m about to finish my fifth (published) book, and I can tell you that—in my experience—success in this business isn’t about writing a great book. It’s about writing a great book. And then another one. And then another. Almost every writer I know says that his/her second book was far more difficult than the first. There’s no guarantee that it will get easier. But I can promise you that each book will be different.
101. There are some writers who will become wealthy superstars, but the majority of published authors have to maintain a “day job” just to pay the bills, so whatever you do, don’t pursue writing because you want to be rich; don’t even do it because you want to “be a writer.” It isn’t like the movies. The only reason to pursue writing is because you want to write. Period.