Tips for a Career in Writing and Blogging

Photo via CGD.

Photo via CGD.

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. Scribbling in journals, writing short stories. It’s my way of processing the world around me. I didn’t even realize writing was what I wanted to do for a living until I got to college and took a Creative Writing class. I was a communications major at the time but ended up switching to journalism. I’m all about the written word.

I love everything about the writing life. There is the romantic side of it filled with sipping coffee at the local coffee shop while weaving prose on my computer. Or working in yoga pants and a t-shirt because my office is at home. But don’t be fooled, there’s a ton of work that goes with it. It’s not for wimps or the faint of heart.

I started writing novels about fifteen years ago. I submitted my work to publishing houses for years, waiting and hoping, and always writing. By the time I’d written my third book, I realized that the type of stories I write, publishers just couldn’t find a home for me. I think I have the nicest rejection letters ever received by a writer. They loved my writing. That wasn’t the problem. And honestly, I have the upmost respect for all involved in the publishing world. It’s a tough business. 

During the years of submitting to publishing houses, I joined Romance Writers of America and began attending the sessions of my local chapter. I gleaned valuable information at each meeting from those in the business and self-publishing had really taken off. I was turned off by self-publishing at first. Writers who self publish are still somewhat shunned in the publishing community, seen as the ones who “couldn’t quite cut it so they went out on their own.” I’m here to tell you that this just isn’t true. There are many, many self-published authors working hard and putting out quality work. Yes, there’s some junk out there too, but quite frankly, that can be said for traditionally published books as well. You weed through junk in that barrel of books as well. 

 

I published my first book, Remember Me, in October of 2014, my second one, Get To Me, in April of 2015 and the third one, Rescue Me, will be released November of 2015. It has been a wild ride publishing on my own and I love every minute of it. It has opened doors for me I never thought possible. I just signed a contract with Tule Publishing to release the first book in my next series in 2016, which means I will now be traditionally published as well as self-published. 

 

The toughest past about self-publishing for me though has been the business side of things. I’m an artsy, creative type. I’m whimsical with ideas floating around in my head and story scenes playing out all the time that I have to write down for later. The business side is black and white. Numbers. Statistics. Details. In other words, not my thing. However, here are three things I’ve learned along the way so far:

 

1) Take initiative – In this business, as in many businesses, no one is going to do the work but me. I have an amazing assistant and people who help me, yes, but the books gets written by me. The stories don’t write themselves and no one else is going to put their butt in the seat and get words on the page if I don’t. I never considered myself a highly motivated individual until I decided to self-publish. But I love getting up every day and going into my office. I love it. I WANT to be doing character sketches and sculpting stories. But it won’t happen if I don’t step up. This also leads to the next thing…

2) Never stop learning – Stay humble. You will NEVER know it all in this business. There is no finish line. Which sounds bad to some, but it’s really quite exciting. It’s a journey, not a destination. There’s always something to learn, new ways of doing things. Doing this all myself, I have learned a TON about the publishing business, which has given me a better understanding of the traditional publishing side as well. This is true for bloggers as well. 

3) Promote others and their work – I’ve always been a writer. I’ve also always been a reader. I read all, the, time. And I love to tell others about the books I read and enjoy. I never really chose the romance genre. It sort of chose me. But I’m so glad. The romance community is the kindest group of people I’ve every worked with. Truly. And we love to share one another’s books. It really isn’t a road meant to journey alone.

Although the business side of writing isn’t my favorite, it’s important. I’ve had to work at balancing the two. Sometimes I lose sight of “Writer Lara” and have to back off “Business Lara” for a bit until I find her again. Step away from the numbers and statistics and focus more on the stories and create. And some days “Business Lara” has to step up for a bit and get things done. And that’s okay. It’s all good. I love what I do and thank God every day for the chance to do it.