Mistakes Not to Make When Starting Your Writing Career (RWA 2010 Blog Series)

Posted on Updated on

Today I’m blogging on some of the tips I picked up from the “Do as I Say, Not as I Did” Workshop given by Mindy Klasky and Maria V. Snyder during RWA’s 2010 Conference.

  • What are some mistakes these presenters made in the start of their career?
  1. Choosing critique groups that didn’t work for them.  Make sure to choose a group that is more than just a social network.  The members should provide constructive criticism, not flowery praise or (god forbid) nasty comments.
  2. Rewriting and revising the first three chapters over and over, rather than moving on to the more difficult parts (like the middle). 
  3. Not doing enough research on agents.  Visit the Predators and Editors website to make sure any agent you query is legitimate.  Find out whether the agent represents clients in your genre.  Has he or she sold anything recently? 
  4. Keeping an agent that wasn’t working for them.  If you have an agent and feel like things aren’t working, don’t second-guess yourself.  You know in your gut what’s right.
  5. Becoming best friends with an editor.  Don’t become too familiar with your editor.  She’s a business partner, not a best friend.
  6. Not following up on social media.  Find a social media routine and stick to it.
  • What are some things you can do to advance your career?
  1. When you find a good critique partner, hold on to them.
  2. Make sure you are confident in your choice of agent.  Don’t just sign with the first agent who wants to represent you.  Since your agent is in effect a business partner, he or she must be a good fit.
  3. Be friendly but professional with all of your business contacts.
  4. If you end up getting a new editor, don’t be afraid to ask questions.  Communication is key.
  5. Don’t take on any more promotional opportunities than you can adequately manage, including social media like Twitter and Facebook. 

So what about those of you who have agents or are published?  Do you have any tips for starting or advancing a writing career?  Anything you can strongly caution against?


6 thoughts on “Mistakes Not to Make When Starting Your Writing Career (RWA 2010 Blog Series)

    Cerise Deland said:
    October 30, 2010 at 9:46 am

    After 18 novels in print and 20+ in e-format plus non-fiction and journalism degrees, I offer my biggest advice is to go with your gut. Not always what your agent wants, how she wants you to compromise or accept bad terms. Not how your editor wants you to change sub-genres, although her edits are always welcome. Not how anyone wants you to change your voice.
    Always what you know in your heart and gut you are good at.

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      October 30, 2010 at 10:06 am

      Sage advice, Cerise, especially for those of us just starting out who are constantly advised to write to the trend.

    Cathryn Cade said:
    October 30, 2010 at 11:18 am


    Great piece, with some truly sage advice for newbies. Wish I’d read it before I started, LOL!

    When my first book came out in ’08, I knew nothing about social media, didn’t have a website, etc.

    I’ve learned much along the way – mostly that I’ll always be learning new things. Ever feel as if you’re treading water in a rapidly rising pool? Yikes – so much to do besides writing.


      Rosalie Lario responded:
      October 30, 2010 at 11:44 am

      Cathryn, it does seem a bit overwhelming for a newbie, having to navigate the social media waters on top of writing. It also seems as if social media has ramped up with the advent of Facebook and Twitter. Maybe I’m wrong; I’ve only been writing in the pursuit of publication since early 2009. But it seems like self-promotion with social media is rapidly becoming a necessity.

    Ciara Knight said:
    October 30, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    I already made two of the above mistakes. That just means I’ve learned a few things and will continue stronger.

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      October 30, 2010 at 4:47 pm

      I think they are all easy mistakes to make, especially nos. 3 and 4. We hear so much about how hard agents are to get that it tends to color our judgment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s