Oh advice. They’re like opinions and other things…everyone has some they’re willing to offer at a moment’s notice. While not always a bad thing, the important thing about advice is that what works for one person, might not work for you.
There’s a lot I’ve received over the years that I would consider “bad advice”. Not because it was wrong, it simply wasn’t right for me. I was able to take away positive lessons, even if it didn’t work for me.
1. You’re either a plotter or a pantser. You need to figure out who you are and stick to that!
Let’s start with the big one. I’d heard about plotting vs. pantsing writers since day one of me sitting down in front of a computer to start on this writing adventure. All writers fell into one camp or the other. If you’re a plotter, the thought of simply writing would be OMG TOO MUCH! And god forbid you ask a pantser to provide you with a synopsis or outline. NO WAY EVAR!
I learned that I didn’t do storyboards well. That grinding through the details of the story ahead of time wore me out. Well then, I guess I was a pantser! I’d sit my ass down in my chair and pound away until I had some semblance of a story when I was done.
Though, a funny thing happened over the years. I discovered that it was hard to fly by the seat of my pants ALL THE TIME. And guess what? Agents and editors kind of want partials, which means planning things out a bit. It wasn’t so very black and white for me.
Today when I sit down to write a book, I approach things as a hybrid. I will get an idea, pound out a few chapters, then plan out the rest of the story via outline. Not only do I have a working proposal that I can provide my agent, I still have the flexibility to change things as I write, without going off without any direction. I found my own path that worked for me. I’m sure this will change again as I continue forward with my career.
2. If you want to be successful, you need to make sure you do , or else you’ll fail.
There are a lot of opinions on how to make it as an author these days. Traditional publishing vs. e-first published vs. self-publishing…THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE!! No. Of course not. Some people will find success down one path, others will go a different route.
For a while I thought I was missing the boat by not going the self-published route. Everyone else was gaining all this success that I was clearly missing out on. I felt awful, but at the time it wasn’t a viable option for me. It took me a while to realize that was okay. I have dipped my toe into self-publishing, but that’s in addition to e-first pubs and traditional publishing. You have to do what’s right for you…and don’t feel bad if that’s a different path that what other’s take.
3. Don’t follow trends.
This one is actually really good advice. You don’t want to try and write YA if you’re not a YA author. I’ve done that and it soooo didn’t work out. But there is a bit more to this advice than what I’d first assumed.
No, you don’t want to be chasing a trend because you think it will sell. You do want to chase a trend if you want to sell a book. Huh?
Okay, so I have this urban fantasy/paranormal book. It’s a great book. That book is such a hard sell right now. The market for that is small and the spots are taken by the established authors who are sure things for their publishers. Yes, I could e-pub it or self pub it, but that’s not what I want for that story. The market however, is simply too tight at the moment. So that book will sit and wait for a better time.
I wrote it when the “trend” of urban fantasy was at its peek. I know lots of authors who have chicklit stories, good ones, sitting under their bed. Those are also good books, but have no market at the moment.
Writing is a business. You need to write what you’re good at, but you also need to write what the market will take. Or look for alternatives. In other words, if you want to make a living at this, you might have to look for another path.
Well, there you have it, some of the advice I’ve received that didn’t work for me. What’s some of the things you’ve been told over the years?
Christine’s recent release Taste Test, is her first adventure into self-publishing. Her second Cosmo Red-Hot Read, Snapped, will be out later this year.