Don’t Quit Your Day Job, Writers

I heard that this weekend at the Writers of the Flathead Conference in Kalispell, Montana.

I remember David Morrell saying the same thing at Thrillerfest several years ago. It’s a mantra. It used to worry me when I heard it, but then I realized my day job is writing, so, well. Duh.

After three decades of writing, I’ve learned one or two things. I’ve also done things wrong, maybe one or two. There was recently an article that caused a ripple in the writing community titled: How to Lose a Third of a Million Dollars Without Really Trying.

Its by an author who talks about all the wrong decisions she made after getting her traditional book deals.

First, the title is disingenuous and misleading. She didn’t “lose” the money. She spent it. She acts like she put it in a pile and burned it. She lived off of it. The issue was how she lived off it. She quit her day job. Moved to New York City, etc. etc.

Second, she complains that her agent and editor and NOBODY told her anything about how the system works. Of course, googling this was out of the question. Or joining a writers group? I always recommend the local RWA chapter because there is considerable experience there. Hell, I wrote an entire book that preceded her career about being an author because, guess what, no one told me anything when I was first published. So I wrote an SOP for writers to explain what I wish I’d known.

She also refers several times to her awards. We used to joke in Maui that they give awards to literary writers and checks to genre writers.

Hey, I empathize with her. I’ve made some mistakes in my writing career. I’ve made a few. I’ve had my share of sand kicked in my face, but I’ve come through. Okay, okay, hold on.

Chuck Wendig gave a good response to this article with some solid suggestions so I won’t repeat them,

What I will say is everyone’s situation is unique. I just came back from the Writers of the Flathead Conference (excellent and well worth the time and effort and most of all, great people) and one thing I harp upon is each writer must gather as much information as possible about both the craft of writing and the business and then make their own unique decisions.

We had a workshop on what makes a bestseller where we went over certain bestsellers and I didn’t really get into the that. I gave some generic advice (title is really important!) because each of those bestsellers followed a unique path and yes, damn it, let’s admit it, they were LUCKY!

Oddly, I find luck tends to settle on those who work really, really, really, hard. But there is still an intangible.

Here’s one key piece of advice. Over three decades of writing, I’ve watched many authors come and go. The moment any author thought they “had it made” their career was over. I am constantly reinventing myself. People ask what my favorite book is and I answer: the one I’m writing. I am always learning about the craft to improve my art. My most recent book is always my best or else what am I doing?

The other thing? Never quit. Because:

But it’s been no bed of roses
No pleasure cruise
I consider it a challenge before the whole human race
And I ain’t gonna lose

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just came out on Monday and is the second book in my Will Kane series, 90 days after New York Minute. My two best books. because. Sales are stronger and that’s the goal. Walk on the Wild Side will be out in early December.

If you believe in what you are doing. Don’t Quit.

Originally published at https://bobmayer.com.

West Point grad; Special Ops Vet; NY Times bestseller of over 80 books; for free books and over 200 free downloadable slideshows go to www.bobmayer.com

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