It’s with great pleasure that I hand over the reigns to my friend and fellow author Robert “Sharky” Pruneda for today’s post. Robert is the author of Amazon bestselling horror Devil’s Nightmare, is a gamer like myself, and is an all-around scholar and gentleman! Oh, and if that weren’t enough selling points, he’s a fellow Texan!
In today’s post, Robert shares 5 writing tips I wish I would have known when I was starting out.
ROBERT “SHARKY” PRUNEDA
A WRITER’S JOURNEY
Monday, October 6, 2014
First of all, I’d like to thank Nat Russo for allowing me to take over his website for a day to share a little bit of what I’ve learned during my journey as a writer. I personally have learned a lot from Nat from the short time I’ve known him, and if you aren’t following his blog, you are definitely missing out. He writes some of the most profound and intelligent posts I’ve seen on the web. Okay, now that I’ve paid my debt with a bit of kissing up to the site administrator, let’s move on with the top five things I’ve learned during my writer’s journey. J
There is no “one size fits all” formula for success.
One thing I learned quickly when I began to get serious about my writing is that there are a ton of authors and editors out there that have advice to share on the dos and don’ts of publishing. If you follow this blog, you’ll know that Nat Russo offers excellent advice regarding this business. He knows his stuff. But, I think Nat will agree with me on this when I say that what works for him or for me may not work for you. You may follow a successful author’s formula exactly word for word, bullet point by bullet point, and still not achieve the same results. In my experience, you need to do a lot of research and combine strategies from multiple resources, customizing this formula for what works best for you as an author. Anyone who has published over the past few years knows how quickly things can change in the publishing arena, ranging from figuring out the right price for your books (an ongoing debate that will probably go on well after we are all six feet under and feeding all of those slimy worms) to social media and marketing strategies. Be prepared to evolve.
It is vitally important to connect with other authors.
I’ve worked in several different industries throughout my life, but at times I feel that writing is the loneliest and most challenging profession I have ever been involved in. I highly recommend connecting with other authors, especially with those that write in the same genre, because only other writers will truly understand you as an author. I began building my network of writers on Twitter through a group called #Pubwrite. At the time, I knew absolutely nothing about Twitter. I didn’t know anything about social media or what to do with it . . . and I really didn’t care what Ashton Kutcher was eating for breakfast. So, I started following a few other writers. I eventually made friends with one writer who introduced me to #Pubwrite, which was basically a place where fellow authors would hang out and talk about books, work (most of us also had full-time jobs), and just goof off. Think of it as a virtual pub for writers, hence the name #Pubwrite. Long story short, I discovered that folks in the writing community are the most giving and helpful people I have ever met. If it weren’t for the encouragement, guidance, and advice I received early on, I never would have published Devil’s Nightmare. Sure, you can learn things on YouTube and surfing for articles on the Internet, but having real-time conversations with other authors that you can relate to is priceless. If you aren’t building your professional network as a writer, begin doing so today.
Learn to say “No” without sounding like a jerk.
While you want to build up a decent network, when you start getting a bit of experience in the field, you’re going to have to learn how to say “No” sometimes. This is one of the hardest things for me, because I love helping others. I learned the hard way. I could focus an entire post on this alone, but basically, someone asked for my assistance regarding publishing on the Kindle platform, and the nice guy that I am (and practicing a bit of “Pay It Forward”) I helped guide this author to some resources that explained the process. Then he asked if I could look at his file because he didn’t think it was formatted correctly. Again, I agreed. BIG MISTAKE! For some reason he interpreted my willingness to look at his manuscript as “I’m going to do all of the work for you and send it back so you can upload it to Kindle Direct Publishing.” Hell, he even wanted me to do THAT for him. Needless to say, I politely informed him that I was tied up with my own projects and did not have time to work on his. I provided more resources for him to study so he could do it himself and he ended up getting upset with me, acting as if I had promised to do this for him. I eventually had to block him. Apparently, I wasn’t the only author he was trolling for free services, because Twitter suspended his account.
I still have a hard time saying “No” to fellow authors asking for guidance, because I have had others help me, but none of them did the work for me. They pointed me in the right direction so I could gain the tools needed to learn it for myself. “Teach a man to fish” you know? All in all, I think I handled the situation well, but I still feel like kind of jerk sometimes when I say no to people. And then there are the folks who have a great idea for a book and want you to help them write it. I love every single one of them (and I know they mean this as a compliment), but the fact of the matter is if I’m helping someone else write and publish his or her book, I can’t get my own novels written and published, which can take months or even years. Writing and publishing is harder than you may realize, folks. Never mind trying to figure out how to get your book into readers hands; that’s the hardest part! J
Treat your writing as a business.
And this leads me to my next point. You need to decide whether you are writing as a hobby or are seriously writing as a profession. You can’t do both. I’m not the first person to talk about this, and I won’t be the last, for a very important reason. If you aren’t treating your writing as a business . . . YOU WILL FAIL. Don’t bother publishing, because you are setting yourself up for major disappointment. When you are at your traditional job and you are working on a project, if someone interrupts you that has nothing to do with work, you’ll more than likely end the conversation quickly so you can get back to work . . . or else risk not meeting your deadline or losing momentum. Writing as a profession is no different. You need to be disciplined in your writing. Turn off the Internet, lock the door, or go somewhere secluded to write where nobody will find you while you are working on your manuscript. Do whatever it takes. If you don’t respect your profession as a writer and treat it seriously, nobody else will either. They’ll feel like they are simply interrupting you as if you were putting together a jigsaw puzzle or building a model airplane . . . a hobby. Unless you are writing as a hobby, you need to treat your writing as a business. It’s even more important if you are an independently published author, because not only are you the writer, but you are also the publishing house, marketing department, social media manager, and accountant. So, is writing a profession to you or a hobby?
Some people are going to hate what you write. Keep writing anyway.
After all of that hard work figuring out a formula for success, learning to say “No” to friends and fellow authors, and taking care of the business side of writing, I learned that some people absolutely hate what I write. I mean really hate my writing. So much that the reviewers resort to some hurtful comparisons. This whole writing gig is a very complicated endeavor. As much as I wanted to make everybody happy, I realized that I’ll never be able to please everyone, so why even bother trying. I learned that just because one reader hated a certain aspect of my writing style, felt it was an insult to their intelligence, or maybe didn’t like my characters, that doesn’t mean others didn’t. Most people who have read my novels have in fact enjoyed them, but most importantly, I enjoyed writing them. So, when you start getting those one-star reviews (and you will) telling potential readers that your book was the worst piece of garbage he has ever read, don’t let it get to you. I’m not going to lie, it’s going to sting like hell, and you’ll probably end up crawling into a corner in the fetal position crying for your mommy. Okay, maybe I’m the only one that does that, but my point is that the most important person in this equation is you. Tell your story and don’t worry about what the critics are going to say. Don’t let any reviewer’s hatred towards your writing define who you are as a writer. Learn from the feedback where applicable and just keep writing.
Robert “Sharky” Pruneda is author of the Amazon bestselling horror novel Devil’s Nightmare. He grew up in Austin, Texas and now lives in south Texas where he has called home since 1994. An entrepreneur at heart, he left his career in the newspaper industry in September 2011 and now focuses his attention on doing what he loves most . . . writing and sharing his stories with the world. When he’s not working on his next writing project, he enjoys reading novels in the horror, thriller, science fiction, and fantasy genres. His favorite author is Stephen King.
Pruneda is also an avid gamer. During his times of leisure, he enjoys playing both modern and classic video games. You’ll usually find him fighting alongside his friends on the virtual battlefields of the latest first-person shooter, where the enemy typically shoots him up into Swiss cheese. Medic!
Official Website: http://SharkbaitWrites.com
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About Nat Russo
Nat Russo is the Amazon #1 Bestselling Fantasy author of Necromancer Awakening and Necromancer Falling. Nat was born in New York, raised in Arizona, and has lived just about everywhere in-between. He’s gone from pizza maker, to radio DJ, to Catholic seminarian (in a Benedictine monastery, of all places), to police officer, to software engineer. His career has taken him from central Texas to central Germany, where he worked as a defense contractor for Northrop Grumman. He's spent most of his adult life developing software, playing video games, running a Cub Scout den, gaining/losing weight, and listening to every kind of music under the sun. Along the way he managed to earn a degree in Philosophy and a black belt in Tang Soo Do. He currently makes his home in central Texas with his wife, teenager, mischievous beagle, and goofy boxador.
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Thank you so much for the awesome blog from Rob Pruneda. I enjoyed it immensely and more importantly it gave me some relief (in my head anyway) from a couple of cutting criticisms from my beta readers.
Thanks again – I look forward to more great blogs. Cheers!
I came across the same thing during the beta reading phase of Devil’s Nightmare: Premonitions. I had six beta readers and there were some differences in opinion about certain aspects of the novel, particularly the ending. They all gave great feedback, but the bottom line is you don’t have to make every change the beta readers suggest. Otherwise, you’ll never finish the novel. In the end, the novel is yours and you need to make the changes that work best (and make the most sense) for you as the author.
Thanks for dropping by, Grant.
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The one thing I like to emphasize is, Not everyone will like what you write or how you write, and of course you can’t please all the people all the time, but if you believe in yourself, and your story, you can succeed. Great post, Rob.
Absolutely. It’s one of the things I struggled with the most at first. I found myself doubting myself every time I received any type of negative feedback. But, the truth is we’ll never be able to please everyone. We can only write in the style that we feel most comfortable with and enjoy the most as authors. The moment we stop enjoying the craft, is the moment it starts feeling more like work . . . and that’s not a good spot to be in.
Thanks for sharing, Karen.
Very Well said by Robert Pruneda, mainly about the last point i.e. Some people are going to hate what you write. Keep writing anyway. I am just to started to write blogs at start my find some people giving bad feedback.
What you say Nat Russo should i continue writing blog or should firstly look into my mistake?
If the feedback you’re getting is consistent and specific, I would take a step back and see if there’s anything to it, if I were you. We can always improve, no matter how far down the path we are!
Great blog by Robert Pruneda
Thanks, Ellie! I appreciate you reading the post and hope you found it helpful. Cheers!
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