In celebration of the National Novel Writing Month (November), Webucator is asking authors about their writing careers. Here’s my responses:
1. What were your goals when you started writing?
For the longest time, writing was just a hobby for me. I’d create my stories in notebooks for my eyes only. Then, a few years ago I decided to take writing seriously. How cool would it be to have a career as an author? Being a writer or author was my dream in elementary school, so why was I stopping myself?
My goals became: publish books and interact with readers. Social media has been a huge step in connecting with readers. I’m a shy person, but Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Goodreads help bring my personality to the forefront. I’ll admit that I have to work on a better publishing schedule. Releasing one book a year is too slow in this fast-paced industry. Everyone knows the more books an author produces, a better chance they have in gaining a readership.
2. What are your goals now?
I’m proud of myself for releasing three books so far on Amazon and having my short story published in a literary magazine. I’m still pursuing my self-publishing journey, but I also want to see my stuff on the shelves in bookstores. In order to do that, I’ll have to look for an agent or publishing house someday.
I would love to be able to make writing full-time. That’s my ultimate goal, so I’m also looking at doing some freelance opportunities for newspapers or ghostwriting. Screenplay writing has also interested me.
3. What pays the bills now?
Unfortunately, my book sales don’t cover my bills, so I still work part-time at a regular 9 to 5 job.
4. Assuming writing doesn’t pay the bills, what motivates you to keep writing?
My motivation is my imagination, my daydreaming. If I didn’t jot everything down, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself. I keep writing because it puts a smile on my face to know that someone has taken the time to leave me a message of what they thought of my book or character. I love connecting with readers and other writers. I love calling myself an artist, and life would be boring if everything was so serious all of the time.
5. And optionally, what advice would you give young authors hoping to make a career out of writing?
My advice: research, research, and research. Watch out for scam artists trying to weasel money out of naive writers. Trust your instincts. Play nice. If someone leaves you a negative review, don’t respond. Vent to your family and friends in private, but don’t say anything online. Writers must develop a thick skin if they’ll make it in the publishing world. Believe in yourself, because if you don’t, then who will?
I love Stephen King’s advice of “Don’t write in fear.” Write the story that speaks to you. Don’t be afraid to write unlikeable characters or have your plot so twisted that it’ll make a reader’s head spin. Once you write what interests you, then you’ll be able to find the right market or genre for your book.