December 30, 2018
by Barbara O'Neal
From Writer Unboxed a wonderful resource for writers.
On Thanksgiving, I celebrated 30 years since the sale of my first book. It’s a crazy milestone and made me consider this writing and publishing life with a sense of bemusement. To celebrate, I have collected 30 things I’ve learned in those three decades.
1. Persistence is more important than talent.
2. Be nice to everyone. It’s a very small world. The meek editorial assistant of today will one day be running the prestigious imprint you most want to break into.
3. No one actually knows what talent means.
4. Don’t compare yourself to others.
4. Don’t buy into your own press. There’s nothing more obnoxious than a writer who swans around in a perfume of her own self-importance.
5. Learning never stops—which is one of the best things about the writing game. No one can possibly understand all of it.
6. A great agent will be your best ally—and the relationship can last as long as a marriage. I’ve been with my agent Meg Ruley for 20 years.
7. A bad agent is worse than no agent at all—by far.
8. ALL writers need good editors. I plan to write an entire blog on this very subject in the near future—editors are enormously important to creating your best work, and creating those relationships can make you a much better writer. No book should enter the world without editorial eyes. Period.
9. Some books will do better than others for absolutely no reason you can fathom.
10. Some books will flop. Also for no particular reason.
11. If you’re lucky, some books will soar. This almost certainly will happen if you keep writing and keep improving. That persistence thing again.
12. Understanding who your own particular readers are is powerful in today’s marketing landscape. If you don’t know, you can’t target and if you can’t target, you’re going to waste time, effort, and money.
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