Friday, May 25, 2012

Ten Things I’ve Learned Along the Way

I plunged into writing about eight years ago. I started my first book just to see if I could actually write a book from start to finish. That first novel was published in 2007 and, in quick succession, three more books were published in 2008. April of this year marked the publication of my twelfth novel. And I recently signed the contract for number sixteen (with four books now scheduled for publication between January and June of 2013).
I have a little experience under my belt now, having worked with four publishers over these years. I think it’s always good to take some time to reflect on what we’ve learned from our experiences as we move forward.

Here are ten things I’ve learned along the way on this amazing journey:

1. Follow your passion. Don’t second-guess yourself or let anyone tell you you can’t do something. Do it. You’ll either prove that you can or you can’t. But at least you will have tried.

2. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, especially of others who are more experienced or seasoned. For me that came in the form of critique partners whose mentoring was invaluable (and it still is).

3. Don’t fear rejection. It’s part of this business and you might as well get used to it. Let it inform you rather than stop you.

4. Embrace the small successes along the way. Sure, I’d love to see my name on the NYT Bestseller List. But take joy in the smaller victories—like an honorable mention in a Writer’s Digest short story competition. We all have to start somewhere.

5. Be your own promoter. There is little room for quiet humility in this business. So blow your own horn, cheer for yourself. You can do this without becoming obnoxious. It’s called believing in your own work.

6. Know what you want. Set your own goals and choose the path that will take you and your writing to the place you want to go.

7. Watch the trends in publishing—stay on top of what’s going on out there. Don’t become a dinosaur and get lost in the dust.

8. Honor those who gave you a hand by offering the same to writers coming up behind you.

9. Always look for ways to improve your skills and to network to promote yourself and your books. Your work isn’t over when the you write ‘the end’—it’s just really beginning. Participate in writers groups. Go to conferences or take advantage of online conference opportunities. Keep your name and your books in front of readers, either through booksignings or online author chats. Take online courses in writing, marketing and promoting.

10. This is probably the most important lesson of all—HAVE FUN! Yes, there are ‘rules’ to writing and getting published. And sometimes you have to follow the rules. But, then, there are times when you push those boundaries and play with the plot or the characters. And that’s when you just might create your best work ever. If writing is your passion, the thing you do that gives back more than it demands, then it should be enjoyable. Lighten up and have a blast.

Please stop by my website to find out more about my books at
and watch for A Falling Star coming in January, 2013 and Dark Horse in June, 2013 from Champagne Books.


Linda Rettstatt
2012 EPIC eBook Award Winner - Love, Sam - Mainstream Fiction


Janie Emaus said...

Great advice. I just took a break from working on my WIP and you're blog gave me a renewed energy.

linda_rettstatt said...

Thanks, Janie. I'm glad I helped :) We always have to remember why we do what we do--because we love writing.

Big Mike said...

I think number 5 is really difficult for many wantabees and newbies. I've often heard at signings "I want to write but am fearful to talk about myself." Only advice I known to give in that arena is conquer that fear first cause it is a necessity to interact with others and push who yourself.

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2011)

Ute Carbone said...

Great advice Linda! I'm caught up in promo right now and its so easy to lose sight of why I write in the first place--because I love it. Thanks for the reminder!

Veronica Helen Hart said...

Great blog, Linda. I particularly like #2. Critique groups are probably the most important part of a writers life. I rely on mine to help keep my stories on track. It's so easy to become involved with a character and wander away from the point.

January Bain said...

Fantastic Blog, Linda, thanks!!!

Rachel Schieffelbein said...

Great post. Thanks for the lessons! :)

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Good practical advice. Ninety-five percent of the help I've received along the way has come from other writers. You are one.

Keep em coming.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Fabulous list, Linda, thank you. It's obviously working for you!

Taryn Raye said...

Great advice Linda and a wonderful reminder of why we do what we do. ;) Have a great Friday!