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Advice to Myself as a Newbie Author

May 22, 2008 by in category Archives tagged as , , , ,

by Shauna Roberts

Today’s Guest: Maureen Child

Maureen Child is the author of more than ninety romance novels and novellas and has been nominated for a Rita five times, including in 2008 for Christmas Cravings (Silhouette Nocturne). More Than Fiends (NAL) is a Bookseller’s Best Finalist and a National Reader’s Choice Award finalist.

Silhouette Desire recently released three books in Maureen’s “Kings of California” series about millionaire brothers: Falling for King’s Fortune (May), Marrying for King’s Millions (April), and Bargaining for King’s Baby (March).

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

When I was a newbie, I was ready, willing, and eager to hear advice. All advice. Not to say I always took that advice, but I did listen.

I remember watching the published members of OCC heading off to their PAW meeting every month and wanting to be a part of that crowd so badly I could taste it. I thought if I could just be published, everything would fall into place. Then one of our members, Rita Rainville, gave me some advice. She said, “Being published doesn’t mean your problems go away—it just means you have different problems.”

True, but even back then, I remember thinking—I’d rather have those problems, thanks!

So, if I could reach back in time to my newbie self, I’d tell me to listen up and make notes!

1. Ask questions. Don’t pretend you already know all the answers. Don’t make decisions when you don’t have all the information. Don’t assume your agent is going to make the right choice for you. Ask.

2. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Yes, you have to write to the market if you want to be published, but just because you’ve written ten Westerns doesn’t mean you can’t try a Regency or a contemporary. If your current house isn’t interested, look around. Try another publishing house. No one says you can only write for one house.

3. Know when to pack up and move on. This goes for agents as well as publishing houses. Fear is a big factor in the writing world. And we all get comfortable and sometimes stay too long at the party because the unknown is just terrifying. We’re sure that the agent or editor is going to come through for us if we just wait long enough. Sometimes they do. But sometimes, it won’t get better until you find the courage to step out of the comfort zone.

4. Be dependable. If an editor knows she can count on you to come through for her, she’s going to be more willing to work with you. Trust me on this. Editors have to deal with hundreds of people. If she’s got the choice between working with a flake who consistently lets her down while playing the diva or working with a professional writer who always makes her deadline . . . well, whom would you rather work with?

5. Find friends you can count on. When the writing world gets ugly—and believe me, it does, regularly—you’re going to need a few close friends to pull you through. Be loyal. Don’t tell tales. Celebrate their successes and let them celebrate yours. Sometimes the only thing that holds you together is the voice on the other end of the phone. Treasure your friends. You’re going to need them. Life’s too short for competition. The only writer you’re really up against is yourself.

6. Keep reading. So many times, you get sucked into your own fictional world that you forget other writers are out there, making up fabulous stories. Reading those books is what brought you to this place, remember? Don’t lose the joy of reading.

7. Don’t be afraid to say no. Looking back, there were plenty of times I zigged when I should have zagged. We all make the best decisions we can at the time, but try to slow down. To look at the offer from all sides. Make sure it’s going to be the road you want your career to take.

8. Rejection isn’t permanent. My first book, a Western historical, was rejected all over New York City for a solid year. Everyone loved it, but no one had room for it. On the second round of submissions, the first house that had rejected it before made an offer, and I hadn’t changed a thing. Different editor, different day, different outcome.

9. Get out from behind the computer! I don’t care what you do. Go to the mall, the movies, the beach, the mountains. Sit in the backyard and laugh at the neighbors. But don’t lose touch with the life you’re writing about. If you never see beyond your computer screen, your stories are soon going to sound just as flat as that screen.

10. Give every book you write everything you’ve got. I work as hard now on book number 102 as I did on book number 1. I still worry about getting it ‘right,’ whatever that is.

Trust yourself and never give up. For all the ups and downs, writing is the best job in the world, and you’re a lucky newbie to be heading down this road.


To learn more about Maureen, please visit her Website at http://www.MaureenChild.com or her blog at http://MaureenChild.blogspot.com. Her newest book, Falling for King’s Fortune, is available at all major bookstores and can be ordered online from Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

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