Monday, February 24, 2014

10 Signs You Might Be a Professional Writer

This post started out with a five in the title but once I started outlining it the list grew with a mind of its own. Then I tried to rank them in order of importance and found the task impossible. Each one's importance varies depending on where you are in your writing and publishing career. So check your sign. Are you a professional writer?

1.  You continue your education in the field. There is so much to learn and so many sites available. Check out our links here on IWSG. And today, our very own Alex J. Cavanaugh is guesting on How to Write Shop, hosted by Lori Devoti. You know how helpful Alex always is.

2. Make a plan and then work your plan. Professional writers know what they intend when they sit down at their keyboards. Some of us call it setting goals and all businesses do it. Do you have a plan?

3. You're the boss. Even if you work under contract, you are the one who determines your hours and how hard you're working each day. There are no sick days or calling a temp agency for a substitute.

4. Know your field. Read within your field. If you write creative non-fiction then you should be reading it. If you write fantasy and read a fantasy book that you didn't care for or that you loved, figure out what worked or didn't work for you.

5. Network with others. All businesses network. Not only does it help with promotion, but it connects you with others you will learn from and perhaps some that can learn from you. And be reciprocal. If someone hosts you, do you offer the same back? Build a network of friends who will help you when you need it and help them back.

6. Always be professional and courteous. Unfortunately many of us have witnessed disagreements spiral upward into hurtful flames online. Stay out of it. Receive a bad review, let it go. Avoid politics unless that's the genre you're writing about.

7. Meet your deadlines and obligations. When your manuscript is due back to your editor in seven days, do you make the date? If you are writing a guest post for someone, do you get it to them in a timely matter?

8. Be alert for opportunities. Want to increase your blog's reach? Join a blog hop like the A to Z challenge or the IWSG monthly posting. Is your library hosting author appearances? Get in on that. Does one of your fellow bloggers do weekly book reviews? Maybe they'll do one for you. Some of these things take effort and work but put them in your plan.

9. Keep records of your work. Have you submitted to a publisher before? Is there a certain reviewer you want to use again and again? Did a certain promotion work or was it a bomb? Have you received timely payments for articles you wrote? Lists. I'm a big fan of lists.

10. Manage your money. Most writers don't earn a living from the craft though some do. Are you tempted to spend your money on a paid blog hop or cover reveal? Do your research first to make sure you're spending your precious dollars to their best advantage. Do you really need to purchase aprons with your book's cover on them?

And in between all that, you write, write and then write some more.

Don't forget to visit Alex at How to Write Shop today. You're sure to find something useful to you on Lori's site.

What would you add to my list of 10 signs? Any you would delete? Any of these you learned the hard way? Please share.

Susan Gourley/Kelley writes fantasy romance, epic fantasy and is author of the bestselling science fiction romances, The Recon Marines Series.
You can find her at:
Susan Says


Julie Flanders said...

Great advice, Susan! I think the hardest thing for me is making a plan and then actually sticking to it, that's something I need to be more diligent about. And I cracked up about the aprons with the book covers on them. :D

S.A. Larsenッ said...

Great (and very true) list! I can see how when you began writing it, it decided to grow on its own. LOL

L. Diane Wolfe said...

You're your own boss, so it's up to you to be responsible!

Elsie Amata said...

I just came back from How To Write Shop. Great post, Alex! And, thanks to Lori for letting him take over her blog for the day.

I admit, I don't always have a plan when I write. I do it by the seat of my pants =P

AJ's wHooligan in the A-Z Challenge

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Networking and being professional are key!

Elsie, thanks!

Pat Hatt said...

I like being the boss, too bad I can't give myself a pay raise though haha

Stephen Tremp said...

You're the boss! I love that one. This is why I self publish and have respectfully thanked and declined offers to sign on with a small press.

Stephen Tremp said...

And this is worth a Tweet!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Julie, as busy as you've been over the past few years I would be amazed if you had a plan. And I knew someone who ordered aprons.
SA, you sound like you could have added a few things to the list.
Diane, I know you know all about being your own boss.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I write by the seat of my pants too Elsie, but I run the business side with a plan. Thanks for visiting.
Alex, you are the expert on networking.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Pat, I would really like to read one of your posts where you demand a raise from your demanding boss.
Stephen, thanks for the tweet. You're a great example of taking charge of your own career.

Unknown said...

Hi Susan! This is a perfect list. I'm so glad to see the emphasis on craft, and I'm fan of lists too! The only one that I can't identify with is number 10 - Manage You Money. What money? Although I've managed not to spend on my writing career and publishing my book, I haven't seen any income. Considering my sales, I'm unlikely to... :P

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Thanks for stopping by, Lexa. I think you are managing your money if you haven't spent more than you make. Don't you love those lists.

Christine Rains said...

Fantastic advice. I've gotten much better at keeping lists and organizing. Along with keep records of your work, keep more than one back-up too! I've heard way too many writers learn that the hard way.

Silvia Writes said...

Great tips. Always good to be reminded of what's at stake. Networking, I'm learning more and more, is so important. I agree that number 6 is extremely important.

Silvia @ SilviaWrites

Michelle Wallace said...

I've worked out my strengths and weaknesses from the above list.
And I know that I need to work on a plan... a solid one.
Thanks Susan.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Yeah, Christine, another list lover.
I always obey #6, Silvia. I stopped following an author on facebook because all he posted about was politics.
Glad the list was useful for you, Michelle.

Stephanie Faris said...

I write fiction and freelance projects--so I make a full-time living, for certain--but it definitely requires discipline! I don't work 8-5 hours...and I have to keep track of billing, invoicing, and managing multiple deadlines at once. I wouldn't trade it for anything!

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Fabulous list and I can almost tick off every one... almost ;)

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Good for you, Stephanie!
Lynda, I'm surprised you don't have them all checked off but a few extras besides.

Julie Musil said...

Excellent list! My biggest thing is planning a task and following through. Not always easy when working through difficult edits or a tough scene. But we're pros, right?

Sheena-kay Graham said...

I'm a career pantser and while I'll never be the perfect planner I have learned that I need to buckle down on some goals if I plan to achieve them this year. Namely getting my MG done in time to enter it in October in a competition to get it published by Chicken House. I wouldn't delete any of the pointers all of them have their strong suit.

Karen Lange said...

Great list! Every once in a while I forget to record a submission or payment. Working on getting better at that. Thanks for sharing! :)

Shah Wharton said...

Great advice! Thanks Susan. I try to stay on course with regards to planning out stories, writing, re-writing. I stumble at the writing. But I push on. :)

Ornery Owl of Naughty Netherworld Press and Readers Roost said...

I published a book in 2007 under a pen name. One of the things I learned the hard way is to have an attitude of cool politeness until one actually gets to know people. By befriending anyone who praised my work, I ended up with some not very nice people in my life. I also learned the hard way that not all writers are nice people, and that rather than having an attitude of "we're all in this together," some of them have a less than altruistic agenda.

dolorah said...

I doubt I'm in danger of becomming a professional writer; I'm even questioning my status as hobby writer, lol. But, I do continue to learn about the craft, and occasionally finish a long term writing project. I do nothing to gather followers just to have them, but I've managed to cultivate some writing/critique partners through the exchange of favors


J.L. Campbell said...

Good advice, Susan. Keeping track of what we're sending out is good advice, so is making sure that we're actually writing.

Damon said...

is so interesting. good advice thanks for this . good post