This Thanksgiving season, I’m thankful for the opportunity to write books and share them with readers. (And they hopefully enjoy them, too!) Recently, I’ve been thinking about the (dumb) luck that got me to point. Maybe if I remind myself of these mistakes, I can go even further.
#1) Submitted too early. Didn’t know the book wasn’t ready.
#2) Submitted too late. Didn’t know when to stop editing and missed an opportunity regarding a timely topic.
#3) Queried in bunches of 30. Yes, 30. And yes, that’s embarrassing and thankfully was a long, long time ago with a book that shall never see the light of day. Spoiler alert/no surprise: I did not succeed with this book.
Wait. What? -- image courtesy of Armando Sosa, Flickr Commons
#4) Chickened out on a prime pitch opportunity where it was just me and the agent, hanging out in a workshop room well before the program started. I just … couldn’t do it. Dunno, guess it’s because I like my quiet time before speaking, I figure other people do, too. But it was a missed opportunity, no question.
#5) Paid for pitches at an event. Because somehow that made it more likely to be successful? Nope.
#6) Queried on major holidays (Christmas Day, Thanksgiving Day batches). Hmm. Just because that’s when I might have time on those holidays doesn’t mean that's when agents/publishers want to read my query/manuscript. Turns out Thanksgiving-New Year is kind of a “dead period” in agenting and chances of success are less then, or so I’m told.
#7) Listened to only one source of advice. It wasn’t a good source.
#8) Listened to too many sources of advice. Some were helpful. But which ones?
#9) Compared myself to other authors. Because Nora Roberts writes bestsellers full time and also works a full-time non-writing job, right?
#10) Purchased useless swag. It’s always a challenge to provide something memorable and fun for readers. There are so many dumb types of swag out there. Eventually settled on chocolate and bookmarks, which appear to be winners for most readers…
#11) Haphazard table display. Only took me 2 years to get collapsible (for travel) shelving for my display. Yes, I’m slow to catch up.
#12) Didn’t create a website until after first book was accepted for publication. Should have started this – and a newsletter – far sooner.
#13) Tried to implement every bit of advice until I’d ruined a manuscript. It’s still ruined, and huddled in the fetal position in a virtual drawer.
#14) Put NovelRank on my computer bookmarks. Good God, that’s worse than monitoring Amazon rankings in terms of making a person paranoid and feel bad about themselves.
#15) Misspelled an agent’s name on a query letter. Yeah.
#16) Sent a query with THE WRONG AGENT’S NAME on it. Double yeah. In my defense, I was on call and fielding admissions and phone calls from the nursing home at the time. Take home lesson: do not query while on call. Just don’t even try.
image courtesy of The Provident Woman, Flickr commons
#17) Didn’t figure out -- until after months of querying -- that cutting and pasting within yahoo mail shows up differently than the rest of the text. Looks incredibly bush league, too.
#18) Spent too much time reading about marketing/writing retreats/ways to get more readers or followers…and not enough time just writing.
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Author, daydreamer, and practitioner of trying very hard to duct tape folks together and help when I can.
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