Thursday, April 24, 2008

What makes you an aspiring author?

I often wonder what makes writers aspiring authors instead of published authors? For myself, I know a lot of it is lack of time. Yet, I also know, I waste time here and there that I could more wisely use to concentrate on some of my works in progress.

So, why don't I do it? Hmmm...that is a good question.

I promised that I would be bringing you some new stuff soon. And here I am delivering on that promise. I would like you to comment on why you feel you haven't become a published author yet? I'll start you off:

1) Time
2) Lack of support from family and friends
3) Haven't found the right market
4) The shoulder vultures named self-doubt and anxiety keep me from submitting my work
5) The editors I've submitted to don't recognize good talent when they see it

Okay, that last one is supposed to be funny. But seriously, I want to know what you think is holding you back. Then we can talk about some of these reasons you haven't been published yet and possible solutions in future blog entries.

So, let me hear ya!

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Blogger Cheryl said...

In just the few moments it took me to tell people about this blog entry I've come to the conclusion that my problem is one of two things: I'm lazy or I don't want it bad enough. LOL!


1:33 AM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

I think all of those are the reasons I haven't been published yet, although, I really think it is because I haven't found the right niche.

1:45 AM  
Blogger Dorothy Thompson said...

Can I answer even though I'm published? I think the #1 reason is the competition. For the aspiring author, he or she is having to compete against the established authors for publisher's slots and there aren't enough to go around. So, they either pay to be published or they self-publish. It's like a catch-22 situation. If you want it now, you pay for it. If you want to wait, there's too much competition. It's no wonder half the writers give up.

2:23 AM  
Blogger Theresa Chaze, Wiccan Writer said...

I think there are several reasons why authors aren't published.

1. They are insecure about their work so they don't put the hard work behind it that it takes to succeed. Nearly every writer ever created has a wall of rejections. The key is to look at them objectively, learn what you can from them and move on.

2. They are holding out for the big traditional houses to snap them up and make them millionaires over night; that only happens in the movies. Even JK Rowling had her share of rejections. It was always a crap shoot with the big houses. More often than not they will not put their money and time in to a new writer; usually they will let them prove themselves in another venue before considering them.

3. They aren't willing to be honest about the quality of their work. Every one can be a writer, but not everyone is willing to learn how to write. Just because you can put together a correct sentence doesn't mean you can make an interesting statement or create drama. Taking writing classes not only teaches the craft, but help to make contacts as well.

4. They don't have an honest understanding of the business end. It is a creative forum, but it still is a business. You have to know what the market is looking for whether it be fiction or non fiction. You wouldn't send a science fiction novel to a publisher who only publishs romances.

2:24 AM  
Blogger Dorothy Thompson said...

Oops, left something out. Cheryl, you're not lazy. I can vouch for that first hand. You're the most hard working person I know. I think it's the time element for you. With putting together tours, how could you write? If you find out the answer to that one, let me know because I sure would love to learn how to focus on writing a book without feeling guilty I'm not focusing on tours. There must be a way.

2:26 AM  
Blogger Dorothy Thompson said...

Agree, Theresa. I think more and more people are turning to their own publishing companies to publish their books. I know a lot of people who have chosen that route. I still say hold out for the big publishing houses but don't expect to become a millionaire if it happens, and then on the other hand, be very very prepared for rejection because 9 out of 10, it's going to be a rejection and after so many rejections, that's when the aspiring author turns to other means of publication. LOL, I think we're not helping Cheryl at all.

2:33 AM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

All great comments ladies and very helpful.

Becky, finding your niche can be hard. And sometimes you find your niche by accident like I did.

I had a friend who ran an Ezine that I wanted to contribute to, but I knew my fiction wasn't good enough quite yet. I had concentrated on articles in my writing course, so I asked her what she was looking for in nonfiction. She said time management was a big issue that a lot of writers deal with. That's how I ended up specializing in time management and organization. It's actually a natural for me because I am very organized person.

I agree, Dorothy, competition is fierce. Susan Sukman McCray--who has worked in the entertainment industry for many years--wanted to write a book about the early life of her father, Academy Award-winning composer Harry Sukman. She ended up self-publishing. She told me that she thought the publishing industry was even more competitive than the entertainment industry.

Oh, and thanks, for the compliment about my work. I'm not lazy in all things, just my writing. I'm really a closet workaholic, but when it comes to writing there's no one who is going to lose out if I don't submit a story to a market--except me. It's not like VBT's, where a client won't get the best online exposure if I don't do a good job.

And Theresa, thanks for your input. All of these can be true for the aspiring author. It seems many struggle especially with number 3. When I began writing for Writer2Writer, my editor made some suggestions about my first article. I reviewed them and made the changes I felt were necessary to improve the quality of the article. We ended up having a conversation about how unreasonable writers can be about edits. And editors don't want to work with writers like that. There are enough writers out there who willingly consider changes that they can work with. Not that a writer should make a change solely to please an editor, but refusing to consider edits can be detrimental to a writer's career.

Once again, thanks everyone. I hope more people chime in soon.


11:32 AM  
Anonymous allison pittman said...

When I first became serious about writing, I had a great conversation with a well-established novelist, James Scott Bell. I remember just bawling and telling him I didn't want to be some cliche washed-up English teacher who never followed her own dream. We were in the dining hall at a writers conference. He took a napkin, drew a triangle on it, and he said the whole realm of publishing is found within that triangle. At the base are all the people who say they might want to write a book someday. At the very top is Max Lucado (author of hundreds of books!). Every step you take moves you higher, and puts you with a smaller group of individuals who have accomplished something. At the time, I'd written about 7 chapters of my novel, and he made a little mark a wee bit higher than the base and said, "See? Look how far you are already."

That little mark represented my first novel. Now I'm writing my fourth.

I still have the napkin.

1:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have something to add. Learning to write marketable fiction is very difficult. It can take years and then learning how to edit your own work can take more time. Many writers are not willing to put in all that work. They think they should sit down, write a book, get it published and become famous.

I think that's why some people self-publish, but I've read a lot of that work and it is sorely in need of editing and revision, for the most part. Yes, there are exceptions, but that's why they're called exceptions.

1:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wrote a Children's story for the little ones in my church years ago and read it during the morning worship service a few weeks before the holiday. I then shared it with family, friends, AND CHERYL, and many people said that I should look into having it published. I however know nothing about the process at all. I guess that is the reason why it hasn't happened for me yet. I wrote it to share a lesson with the children, one that they could remember throughout the year, not with publication in mind. It might happen yet, who knows.

2:49 PM  
Anonymous Maureen Fisher said...

I was very lucky to find a small publishing house (via networking) to publish my first book -- Lachesis Publishing. I put my success down to a great plot and characters (I know, I know, that's immodest), luck, and PERSEVERANCE.

A lot of aspiring authors I know either get bored or discouraged. I spent three years writing, submitting, receiving rejections, re-writing, attending workshops, re-writing, re-writing, re-writing. Many people were surprised that I could persevere with the same manuscript, but believe me, persistence paid.

Maureen Fisher

4:19 PM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

Great story Allison. Thanks for sharing it.

Anonymous (sorry, I don't know your name), I agree that self-published can oftentimes mean "needs heavy editing", but I've been reviewing for over a year now and I've only come across a few books that I would put in the "should never have been published that way" category. I agree, though, writing is hard work and writers need to realize that and be ready to put in their time just like every other published author did.

Marilyn, I loved that story. Maybe figuring out the industry is overwhelming, but like with all things we take them one step at a time. I hope it does happen for you because it's a wonderful story.

Maureen, you know how much I enjoyed "The Jaguar Legacy". I am so glad you persevered, because it is a story I would pick up again in a heartbeat if I didn't have 30 other books in a pile waiting for reviews.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and advice everyone.


12:54 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

I want it bad enough but have recently discovered how important support is.
All just excuses aren't they?
~Elizabeth aspiring not for long

2:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For me, I think it's that I have no confidence that anyone wants to read what I write.

If I could believe in myself more, I think I could solve some of my own problems.

9:20 PM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

Elizabeth, I think every writer can come up with an excuse as to why he or she isn't submitting work. I know I sure can.

Support is very important. That's why I love my online writers group. Feel free to check out It's a group that offers support and critiques. They are an amazing group of people.

And Anonymous, we are our own worst enemies. I knew I could string words together and make them sound okay, but it wasn't until I began sharing my work with others that I could really judged my strengths and areas that needed improvement. Like Elizabeth, I think you need to find some support. Feedback isn't a bad thing; it's important so that we know where our writing hits the mark and where it needs to be clarified.

Take that step and you'll become a better and more confident writer.

Thanks everyone! I'm glad you're participating in this discussion.


10:49 PM  
Blogger Donna McDine ~ Children's Author said...

Cheryl...what a great idea! I am published with a couple of short stories and several non-fiction articles. And I feel myself getting pushed towards the niche of writing non-fiction. I especially like working off a theme list for a mag and I tend to gravitate to the non-fiction pieces. I have several queries out there and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I'll get at least one interest.


1:25 PM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

Thanks for the comments Donna. Why do you say you feel pushed towards non-fiction?

*Do you prefer fiction?
*Do you feel your fiction is stronger than your non-fiction?

Not really trying to put you on the spot, but the word pushed seems to tell me this is something you're resisting.

I look forward to your comments. Good luck with the queries!


3:58 PM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

This comment is from a friend of mine. It brings up, once again, the issue of support and also discusses money:

"I fall under reason 6: Lack of resources in my area and my own coffers. There is pretty much nothing at all to help aspiring writers out here in the Coachella Valley (Palm Springs Area). All I have is what's online, and I haven't gotten the kind of help I need from those sources (only recently though). Instead of answering me directly, they refer me to books, blogs, and articles, most of which I have to pay to get, or don't make sense to me as I am still new at this.

I'd go to a conference, but I can barely pay the gas to go to and from school. The money it would take to go to a conference is WAY out budjet for me. So I'm stuck out here with little or no help but my own determination."

4:00 PM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

Online writers groups can be great fun, but since writers don't have a definite commitment to participate or a day of the week they must attend, getting feedback can be very tricky, and if you desperately need support and no one is around, then what do you do?

Anyone have some ideas to share on how to get around this?



4:03 PM  
Blogger zxcvbnm said...

Cheryl, the lastone is NOT funny - it is true. Some people think that because they are rfresh out of Uni with a degree in the umbrella course Communications, they can actually write - but this is not the case at all, quite often.


4:59 PM  
Blogger Rachel Newstead said...

I think in my case, it can be boiled down to lack of workable ideas and lack of life experience. I'm disabled and for much of my life I've led an extremely cloistered existence--there are probably ten- and eleven-year-old children who are more wise to the ways of the world than I am. So what do I write about?

The "write what you know" school of thought wouldn't work for me, obviously. I'm an animation geek and interested in old music. Not much to draw from.

I also could only write the sort of book I'd want to read, and I'm not interested in most genres of fiction--and don't feel qualified to write in the one genre that does interest me, science fiction. So you can see my problem.

5:29 PM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

And that's what I meant by it Tanja. Some writers just don't understand that editors aren't really out to get them. If your manuscript keeps getting rejected, there must be a reason. I don't think editors would consider it good business sense to turn away talented authors.

As writers, we have to take responsibility for our work. We have to listen to feedback and see what value it has. We need to be open to constructive criticism from our peers and editors and make changes that will improve our work. Not every suggested change works, but if you hear the same thing a couple of times then it's worth looking into.

I found my writing course at Long Ridge to be invaluable. I learned a great deal. As Theresa suggested, we have to study the craft of writing.

Thanks for your comments Tanja!


5:34 PM  
Blogger Donna McDine ~ Children's Author said...

Cheryl...I guess my words "pushed towards non-fiction" is not what I truly mean. More like inspired by the non-fiction. I enjoy the whole concept of researching a particular idea i.e., jellyfish, crabs, caribou). The first two I have published - July 2007 and then July 2008 respectively.

Regarding the questions about online writers groups...if you write for children one that is simply fantastic is: The National Writing for Children Center - and for many genres The Muse It Up Club Check them both out you won't be sorry. There is always someone lurking about to give you advice on any particular subject. If not immediately within an hour or two.

I have found to exercise my writing craft is to read, read, read and complete book reviews. I have and continue to grow my readership on my blog through book reviews, author interviews and author guest spots. Check it out at: A lot of this has come through Pump Up Your Book Promotion.


8:02 PM  
Blogger Margay said...

There are some really great responses to this question - lots of brave ladies willing to put it out there for all to see! for me, I think part of it is fear of success - and the pressure to do it again. Right now, writing is still fun. Will it still be fun when I have to meet a deadline? What about criticism? How will I react if my book gets a bad review? Am I just a one-book wonder? All of these things add up to Fear of Success.

4:45 AM  
Blogger Lea Schizas - Author/Editor said...

The difference between aspiring authors and published authors is passions, determination and perseverance. I keep stating this, over and over.

I find many authors concentrate too much while they write, going back into their work and editing while writing instead of allowing the story to move forward and then worry about the editing stage.

We need to wear the writer's hat first, finish our stories, then wear the editor's hat.

For me, what slows my work, is my involvement with many groups and reading emails. These two areas need to come under control so I can move my work faster.

7:17 AM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

Thanks for the clarification Donna.

Margay, I understand what you're saying. Some people might think it's odd to be afraid of success, but it's a reality for many writers.

Lea, this is why you are such a wise woman. I agree with you 100%. When I was working on my first manuscript I tried to edit as I went. Doesn't work. Let the story flow and then go back and perfect it; makes the work much easier.

I really don't know how you get any writing done with everything else you're involved in. I finally had to drop my membership in several groups so that I could get some work done. Problem for you is that you run a lot of yours.

Good luck in finding that perfect balance, Lea.


8:50 AM  

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