Daily Archives: April 22, 2009

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Advice to Myself as a Newbie Author

April 22, 2009 by in category Advice to Myself as a Newbie Author by Shauna Roberts tagged as , ,

by Shauna Roberts

Today’s Guest: Trish Milburn

Trish Milburn is an eight-time Golden Heart finalist and two-time winner—once for Romantic Suspense and once for Young Adult. She writes YA as Tricia Mills for Razorbill (Heartbreak River, April 2009) and contemporary romance under her real name for Harlequin American (Her Very Own Family, May 2009). She is a former magazine editor and still puts those editorial skills to use as a freelance copy editor and writer. She has her own blog and is a regular contributor to the Wet Noodle Posse, Romance Bandits, Supernatural, and Harlequin American group blogs.

In what little spare time she has, she enjoys reading, traveling, watching TV and movies, and hiking.

Trish, if you could travel back in time to before you were first published, what advice would you give yourself?

1. Do not take rejections personally. There were so many times, particularly early on, where they felt personal when they weren’t. I could have saved myself a lot of tears and hurt feelings if I’d had a tougher skin from the beginning.

2. Related to No. 1: Remember, this is a business. Sure, we deal with creative works and we get emotionally invested in our books, but we can’t lose sight of the fact that those books are, in fact, products that we want the publishing companies to take a chance on selling. All our decisions should at some level be made through the prism of good business sense.

3. I live this one, but I think it’s important for all new writers to remember that old saying, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Publishing might seem like a big world, but it really isn’t. Editors become agents; agents change agencies; other writers cross your path. Trust me, if you say something negative about an agent, editor, publishing house, or fellow writer, it’ll come back and bite you. I’ve unfortunately seen it happen to people.

4. Constantly learn. Read writing how-to books (but don’t necessarily absorb them as gospel), other books in the subgenre you want to write, novels in other genres (I like mysteries), nonfiction books, and magazine articles. You never know where inspiration will strike, and all this varied reading opens up your mind to so many possibilities about plots, characters, and writing styles.

5. Try lots of different subgenres or styles of writing to see which one fits you best. You may discover you like and are good at more than one. I like the freedom of going back and forth between writing my Harlequin American romances and my teen novels.

6. Support fellow writers, whether by buying their books, attending their book signings, giving them publicity on your blog, talking their work up to friends and family, or other means. I believe when you help others, good karma comes your way. Everyone benefits.

7. Jealousy has no place in your life. Don’t compare yourself with another writer, particularly one who started out about the same time you did and seems to be having more success. That way lies madness. Each writer’s journey is different. It took me eleven years to sell, and though it was hard to keep going at times, I believe I learned so much more and now appreciate the wonder of selling books more because it took me so long.

8. Even after you sell, don’t stop appreciating every single positive—each new book sale, each fan letter, each positive review. I just saw an interview with John Grisham on BookTV, and he said that he didn’t ever want to take any of his success for granted. I feel the same way.


To learn more about Trish, please visit her Web page at http://www.trishmilburn.com or her blog at http://www.trishmilburn.com/blog/. You can purchase her April young adult release, Heartbreak River by Tricia Mills (Razorbill), and her May release, Her Very Own Family (Harlequin American), at your local bookstore as well as online. Click on your favorite online bookstore below to go directly to the purchase page.

Heartbreak River by Tricia Mills: Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Borders

Her Very Own Family by Trish Milburn: Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Borders

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