Mark Charan Newton on Things He’s Learned About Being a Writer

Some concise and useful thoughts, especially for writers with only a couple of books out. Here’re the last three on his list (below). The very last one is crucial. The second-to-last is influenced by how hard you work to position yourself for luck. The third-to-last depends on how many open channels and how much white noise you’re willing to carry around in your head. Me, less and less these days. I can see a time coming when I can tolerate none.

8. Following the debate on forums and blogs only makes you tired. Of course you want to monitor what people are saying; doesn’t mean you should. Scott Lynch’s summon author spell seems to work for the most part, thanks to Google alerts, but it’s hard to know when to stop.

9. Luck matters just as much as talent. Kind of speaks for itself, really.

10. I knew this anyway, but getting a writing contract doesn’t mean you can give up your day job. Not that I’d want to, since mine is fun, but the money (for 99% of new writers) isn’t enough when you sign a deal. The initial advance is broken into smaller payments, for signature, manuscript delivery, publication in hardcover, paperback etc. Then you need to earn that advance before you get royalties, which takes time to accrue.

5 comments on “Mark Charan Newton on Things He’s Learned About Being a Writer

  1. Larry says:

    While I liked just about all of his points, I think #5 was the one that stood out the most for me. Measuring the press certainly seems to be a better way of dealing with the mixture of positive/negative reviews (I never had the time when I had read his book to go into detail, but mine would have been a qualified positive, I think) than trying to see just how that one review one receives would stand up.

  2. Hellbound Heart says:

    luck….hmmmm….being at the right place at the right time……yep…..

  3. Nick Mamatas says:

    I have no sympathy for authors who receive negative reviews.

  4. Mark says:

    You’re a heartless man, Nick! :)

    Thanks for the link, Jeff. I think I’ll be with you on point 8 before the year is out.

  5. Terry Weyna says:

    #5 was an important point to me, too, and I wish more authors would remember it. Alice Hoffman would have spared herself some recent embarrassment had she kept it in mind!

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