I'm an established full-time author - willing to answer questions if you have them



Thanks to everyone for the advice. It took me a long time, yet I went back to post #198 this morning.

I’m grateful for everyone contributing to this thread.


What I meant to say is that when publishing companies or agents are giving the “ok” to folks, does having years of experience as a professional writer, a long portfolio or resume, or a degree give them more of an opportunity than those that lack all that? Or would mere talent speak for itself?


If a person has an existing platform with fans who will buy their book, you bet that carries weight. That’s why celebrities can get high-money book deals for the stupidest of premises. The publisher knows the celebrity’s fans will buy anything that has their name on it.

For the average person – for fiction, not nonfiction – publishers don’t expect you to have an existing platform. Nor are they going to give a whole lot of weight to short story publications, previous work as a writers, or a creative writing degree. Those things MIGHT get them to glance at your pages if your query is ho-hum, but it won’t get you any further than that.

They want STORY. They want to be hooked by your pitch and FORCED to read more. They don’t care who you are or what you’ve done in the past – if your story and your writing grab them by the lapels and doesn’t let go, you’re going to get requests.


Nothing big here, but if you’ve ever struggled with writers block, apathy or discontent with your work, what motivates you to keep going and what suggestions do you have for other writers struggling with these hurdles?


I have a question. Should a writer ignore criticism for book or novel content in order that they stay true to their artist licence? Salman Rushdie springs to mind with The Satanic Verses.


Well, only the writer can answer that.

Salman Rushdie wasn’t a debut author OR a midlist author when he wrote The Satanic Verses, and he had won a LOT of awards.

Consider as an alternative a writer on Wattpad who hasn’t published before and who ignores every bit of advice from those who has. Sure he can say he has stayed true to his artist self. He can also say he has almost no reads – and when he publishes, he gets almost no sales.

So, yeah. If you’ve earned your bones, you likely know how to break the rules and ignore the peanut gallery without creating a crappy book. If you’re still learning craft, you probably ought to accept that maybe you don’t know everything and listen to those who just might be giving you valuable advice.


They should accept the criticism as feedback that might be correct or might be wrong (per the author’s intent). Not ignore, per se, but analyze even if they don’t agree.


I thinking more of authors who have a publisher already.


I’d say it comes down to skill. If you’ve learned your craft and your secure in your choices, sure.

Just be aware that choices have consequences. Your publisher might not pick up that book. Your readers might not stick with you. You have to decide if you’re secure enough to live with those consequences.


It depends. If you are writing non-fiction than a portfolio of something like journalism is going to help. If you are writing a self-help book or something related to the medical field, then your degree is certainly going to be a consideration.

But when it comes to fiction…your “resume” doesn’t mean anything. They don’t care if you have a MFA or what schools you attended. All they care about is if the story is compelling and they like your “voice.”


I’ve never really struggled with writer’s block. Do I sometimes get “stuck” with regards to where my story is going? Sure. But if I take a walk and work through the plot, I’m usually back at my computer in an hour. If I’m really stuck it MIGHT take me a few days.

As for as apathy or discontent - this also isn’t a problem for me. Writing is my favorite thing to do, so I awake each take “itching” to get to the keyboard. I have the opposite problem in that I don’t need to be motivated, it’s when I can’t write - for instance when on vacation that I have issues.

As for suggestions… (1) write every day, even if what you are putting out isn’t good. You can always edit it later but getting a habit of writing each day should help with the motivation end of things (2) when you are stuck take a walk and discuss your plot to yourself OUT LOUD. There is something about engaging the verbal part of your brain that helps in that regard. I basically “interview” myself like this: “So what’s the problem.” “My characters are locked in a room and can’t get out.” What do they have at their disposal?" “Nothing, the’ve been stripped naked.” “Any chance they have a piece of metal for lock-picking in their mouth?” – “No they were unconscious when arrested - no time to plan.” “Is there someone else who knows they are there and will get them out?” “Hey, yeah, maybe…let me see what I can do with that.”


It depends. If the criticism is valid they should listen to it. If it’s not, then no they shouldn’t ;-). Seriously though, that’s one of the hardest things for a writer, which is knowing when to stick to their guns, and when to realize that the feedback has merit.

You should always be “true” to your voice and the story you are trying to tell. You should’t “cave to pressure” to confirm to someone else’s idea of what you “should” be writing. But any book is the culmination of thousands of decisions and some will be good and some not so much. Listening to those who you trust and heeding their advice as always made my books better than they would have been had I not listened to and acted on feedback.


Your publishers will offer “suggestions” but they know it is YOUR book, and depending on what the contract says, one of you will have “final say” over that content. All of my contracts makes me the final arbitrator. In one of my books, my editor complained that all my women were either murders or prostitutes, and they were. But the fact of the matter, is there were reasons for both. They wanted me to insert “superfluous” characters that had no part to play in the story just so I wouldn’t be hammered about the makeup of the women I had. I said no. The reason, my prostitutes were women who were breaking away from the abuse person that was controlling their life. They broke out and had a great deal of “agency” and “entrepreneurship.” Because this featured a previously introduced character that was a madam, I couldn’t just change her profession. And it turned out there was no backlash from the readers – in other words the publisher was wrong about this being an “issue.”

Now, I have heard from other authors who have said “My publisher made me change this, or that, or the other thing.” And I don’t know how much of this is the publisher really did insist or whether the author heard a suggestion and thought they HAD to make the change. I know when I got back my first set of changes i disregarded about 80% of it, but when they came in I thought I HAD to do them, which wasn’t the case.


Writers sometimes get criticised for daring to stick to their guns, but I have nothing but admiration for them.


And what makes that criticism valid? I would presume the publisher’s?


If following it makes your story better.

Now what’s “better”?


At the end of the day, it’s the author’s name on the book, not the editor’s. So they (the authors) have to do what they thin is best. For me and my contracts, I create the book I want and the publisher can’t change it. The only thing they CAN do is decide they won’t publish it, but in that case the rights would revert and I’d still get it “out there” on my own.


Well, therein lies the rub. And no, a publisher’s change isn’t necessarily more valid than anyone else’s. The do have a lot of experience, and they know the market, so you should LISTEN to their feedback but whether you make a change to the book or not is something that you have to decide for yourself based on your best judgement.


Art is subjective. There’s no way to know for sure, but ultimately the author has to be happy with what they produce so they should never let the publisher twist their arm into a decision that they (the author) are uncomfortable with.


Thanks for a comment that makes sense.