Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

04/10/2011

There’s No Such Thing as Easy in the Writing Biz!


Joanna Penn is one of my favorite mentors and I have learned a great deal of insight from her. Two days ago she had a guest post on her Creative Penn site by Grant McDuling titled “Write For A Living In Seven Easy Steps”

While reading this post, two things struck me right off…First, I thought, NOTHING is easy in the writing business world; unless it happens by accident, it seems!

And second, after Mr. McDuling lists his seven easy writing steps (which I respectfully disagree with as being easy and are much too broad and generic), he goes on to say (and rightfully so) that “Launching out on your own in business – any business – takes courage and a great deal of faith in your own abilitiesJohn’s Note: and here comes the kicker: But it also takes a whole lot more; money, discipline, dedication and even, some would say, madness. But there’s another absolutely important ingredient that no university, school or college teaches, and that’s ATTITUDE. You have to think of yourself as a businessperson and not a writer. You are a businessperson whose business happens to be making a profit – through selling words.”

All true enough. But even MORE true is Mr. McDuling’s statement about it taking a lot more than intimated in the seven easy steps…and included in this “more” is money, discipline, dedication and even, some would say, madness…The money part is especially true. 

I loved the post, though, because it got my juices going!

Write For A Living In 7 Easy Steps (from the Creative Penn):

This is a guest post from ghostwriter Grant McDuling. You can also listen to an audio interview with Grant on making 6 figures as a writer here.

As a full time writer, I get asked so many times by all sorts of people what it takes to give up the day job to become a full time writer. This was a question I too had pondered long and hard years ago.

You see, I had been dabbling in writing since a school boy back in the 1960s and always felt this inner urge or compulsion to write. But as time went on and I grew up, realizing this goal became harder and harder because I found myself going down a path I didn’t want but had to pursue because commitments came along that had to be tended to. Commitments like paying the rent, buying food, paying off a car, to mention but a few.

The road to becoming a full time writer seemed to be an impossible one to follow — until I couldn’t resist the urge any longer and decided to do something positive about it.

My experience in the business world convinced me that, if I was to be serious about it, I would have to treat writing just like any other business. I was going to have to set about developing a plan of action.

This I did, but mostly by relying on non-business-like behavior; a healthy dose of enthusiasm mixed with gut feel and a liberal sprinkling of trial and error got me to the point where I at least had a system to work with. And it was a system based on business lines.

This gave me the courage to take the proverbial plunge, and I have never looked back.

So what was my system?

In simple terms, it consisted of 7 basic steps:

(1) Take control of your own future. Here I am referring to assuming responsibility for your own future. And become accountable. Have a plan to get rid of debt. You can read more about this in my Kindle book Write for a Living in 7 Easy Steps

(2) Getting into the writing profession needs the right ATTITUDE. It’s about seeing yourself as a professional writer.

(3) Become a PRACTICING writer. Just like lawyers or doctors are in private practice, so too must you be. Understand and make use of the principle of leverage to achieve more with less. Syndication is a good example here.

(4) Concentrate on sales and marketing. Understand that, as a practicing writer, you should be spending around 50% of your time on sales and marketing.

Read and learn more

02/24/2010

Autopsy of a Successful Writing Career


Successful authors oftentimes come from the most unusual places and with surprising unprepared backgrounds. Paul Lindsay, now 66 and the author of 7 novels beginning with Witness to the Truth, is one of these surprising individuals. Jim Sullivan of the Boston Herald dissects his story this way:

It was 1986. FBI agent Paul Lindsay, fresh off a three-month job working on the infamous Green River serial killer case in Seattle, was back home in Detroit. He found himself bored, sitting on the couch, watching “The Smurfs” with his two kids.

“My brain was rotting,” Lindsay said from his home in Rye, N.H. “I had no other cultural interests.”

So he enrolled in an adult-education course. Math was his first choice, but Lindsay, who failed English in college, ended up in a creative writing class.

“The teacher asked us to write a three-page short story,” he said. “So I wrote this thing and she said, ‘With your background, life experience and the way you write, you can do this professionally.’ ”

Lindsay, who just published his seventh novel and comes to Andover this week to read from it, took the advice to heart. His first book, “Witness to the Truth,” came out in 1992. It landed him in hot water with his superiors at the FBI, who said the book revealed too much inside information and cited him for insubordination.

Then a 1993 Vanity Fair article quoted Lindsay calling then-FBI director William Sessions a very bad name. Another insubordination charge, which came, ironically, just as Lindsay received a commendation for solving the Highland Park serial killings in Detroit. He decided it was time to retire.

“My first 15 years in the FBI were a dream,” Lindsay said. “If I’d had the money, I’d have paid them to let me do it. But the last five years, ever since I came back from the Green River murders, it started getting really bad. There were so many career-building managers who’d never worked a case and ended up becoming bosses.”

Meanwhile, Lindsay’s new career was on the rise. Movie producer Jerry Bruckheimer bought the rights to “Witness to the Truth.” And the G-Man-turned-author wrote five more novels for Simon & Schuster.

Now Lindsay, 66, has a taut new thriller, “The Bricklayer.” It features Steve Vail, an ex-FBI agent and loner-renegade, and Kate Bannon, the FBI gal who pulls him back in. But the book was written under a pseudonym, Noah Boyd, for a new publisher, William Morrow.

“My writing has taken a new direction,” Lindsay said. “So they wanted a fresh start with a new name. It’s a three-book deal and the only stipulation is it be the same two male-female characters.”

Best-selling crime writers Patricia Cornwell, Lee Child and James Patterson have all praised the book, which is on The New York Times [NYT] bestseller list at No. 22. Lindsay will read excerpts from it Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Andover Bookstore and on March 4 at 7 p.m. at Book Ends in Winchester.

“The Bricklayer” features new characters, but Lindsay said it continues the theme of his previous books.

“I divide the FBI into two groups,” he said. “Street agents who go out and take chances and get the work done and the managers who are mainly concerned with being promoted and retiring at a higher salary. I always try to make the street agents look like good guys and the managers look like the idiots they are. I’ve sent in a few books where the editors have said, ‘You make these guys look so dumb,’ and I’ve said, ‘You don’t know how much I smartened ’em up.’ ”

Is Vail an idealized version of Lindsay?

“To a certain degree,” the author said. “Or maybe the guy I’d like to have been.”

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