Monday, June 10, 2013

Why “Keep Moving Forward” is My Best Advice For Writers Everywhere (Guest Post by Chuck Sambuchino)

(This column excerpted from my book, CREATE YOUR WRITER PLATFORM, out from Writer’s Digest Books.)

Keep moving forward. That is probably the best advice I can give you as you continue toward your writing goals, whatever they may be. Just keep moving forward.

Photo by welcometoalville
I remember specifically that 2011 was a strange year for me. The first eight months seemed to be filled with near-misses and small disappointments concerning my writing. Things just weren’t going my way. I vented to those who would listen; my wife and literary agent both told me they could take no more so I started complaining to the dog. (If he listens for five minutes, he gets a treat.)

But then, in a span of 45 days in the fall of 2011, I had a flood of good writing news. I formally sold the film option and Japanese language rights to my first humor book about garden gnomes. I sold my latest book on writing called Create Your Writer Platform (fall 2012). And I finally sold my second humor book — a fusion of funny dog pictures and political humor called Red Dog / Blue Dog: When Pooches Get Political (summer 2012).

So much happened in a span of weeks—all of it amazing news. And I attribute it to one simple thing.
I kept moving forward.

In my opinion, the most frustrating thing about writing books is that so much is out of your control. It’s crazy. You can’t control which editors will connect with your book and which won’t. You can’t control what an agent’s mood will be like on the day they review your query letter. You can’t control when your book will be considered timely and part of the pop culture conversation (and therefore a valuable project). You can’t control when an editor or publicist assigned to your book will get laid off, or when your agent will retire, or your editor will switch houses and leave your book orphaned. You can’t control when Amazon will make a pricing decision that forces your publishing house to decrease the print run of your book. You can’t control if foreign markets or Hollywood will buy rights to your book. You can’t control whether some staffer at EW or Vanity Fair or wherever has a bit of time one day to pick your book out of their “to review” stack and take an interest in your work. You can’t control when another title in the marketplace will be a breakout hit and direct readers to your book because they have some kind of connection.

You can’t control any of these things. All this stuff will drive you mad if you let it.

But there is a way to keep your marbles. The way I personally stay sane is to focus on the things I can control. These include 1) always writing the best work(s) I can, and 2) always building my author platform so that I can control my personal visibility as well as a bit of my sales, no matter what external circumstances bring. But the most important thing I do, in my opinion, is 3) I keep moving forward.

My latest humor book idea was rejected? I vent to the dog then brainstorm more concepts. A blog post fails to generate interest? I punch a pillow then sit down to write two more. 10 people don’t return my e-mails? I write to new contacts and tell myself it’s a numbers game. A writers conference cancels my trip suddenly? I reach out to another one. My first screenplay didn’t turn out the way I wanted? I’ll write a second one — and improve on my mistakes. My script manager left the business? Well I can’t find another one unless I just start querying—so why waste time?—I’ll start querying people this week…

I promise myself that while I may fail at a task at hand, whether it’s small or big—I will not fail because of a personal lack of effort. There are so many things I cannot control, but you can be damn sure that I will keep moving forward through bad news. I do it because it’s all I can do.

Keep moving forward, and I promise everything will be all right.

(Hi, everyone. Chuck here chiming in for a second. I wanted to say I am now taking clients as a freelance editor. So if your query or synopsis needs some love, please check out my editing services. Thanks!)

Check Out These Great Upcoming Writers Conferences:
Feb. 23, 2019: New Orleans Writing Workshop (New Orleans, LA)
March 2, 2019: Minnesota Writing Workshop (St. Paul, MN)
March 8, 2019: Alabama Writing Workshop (Birmingham, AL)
March 9, 2019: Atlanta Writing Workshop (Atlanta, GA)
March 9, 2019: Pittsburgh Writing Workshop (Pittsburgh, PA)
March 29, 2019: St. Louis Writers Conference (St. Louis, MO)
March 30, 2019: Kansas City Writing Workshop (Kansas City, MO)
April 13, 2019: North Carolina Writing Workshop (Charlotte, NC)
April 27, 2019: Seattle Writing Workshop (Seattle, WA)
May 4, 2019: Michigan Writing Workshop (near Detroit, MI)
May 4, 2019: Writing Conference of Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA)
May 11, 2019: San Diego Writing Workshop (San Diego, CA)
May 18, 2019: Cincinnati Writing Workshop (Cincinnati, OH)
June 8, 2019: Florida Writing Workshop (Tampa, FL)

Other columns by Chuck Sambuchino
- What to Write in the “Bio” Section of Your Query Letter
- How to Write a Screenplay: 7 Starting Tips for Adapting Your Own Novel
- Do You Need Multiple Agents if You Write in Different Genres?
- How to Write a Novel Synopsis: 5 Tips
- Building Your Writer Platform—How Much is Enough?
- Getting Specific: What Literary Agents Want to Get RIGHT NOW
- 15 Questions to Ask a Literary Agent Before You Sign
- Crafting a Novel’s Pitch: 7 Tips
- 25 Debut Authors Share Advice for Getting Published
Chuck Sambuchino of Writer's Digest Books edits the GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS and the CHILDREN'S WRITER'S and ILLUSTRATOR'S MARKET. His Guide to Literary Agents Blog is one of the largest blogs in publishing.
    His 2010 humor book, HOW TO SURVIVE A GARDEN GNOME ATTACK, was optioned by Sony Pictures. Chuck has also written the writing guides FORMATTING and SUBMITTING YOUR MANUSCRIPT and CREATE YOUR WRITER PLATFORM.
    Besides that, he is a freelance book and query editor, husband, sleep-deprived new father, and owner of a flabby-yet-lovable dog named Graham. Find Chuck on Twitter and on Facebook.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for inspiring me to finally look at publishing my first novel. I finished writing it about five years ago and have re-written parts and re-edited several times.
    However, now at that crucial stage of putting it forward for evaluation, I am concerned about revealing the whole plot unless it can be copy written first and safeguarded in some way. Is this possible to do or even necessary?
    Thanks in advance.


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