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53 Books Later: Ten Things I’ve Learned As a Writer

27 August 2013

From author Bob Mayer:

My first novel came out in 1991:  The Green Berets: Eyes of the Hammer  It is still selling well and the Green Beret series just saw its eighth book, The Green Berets: Chasing the Lost come out.  The protagonist from that first book, Dave Riley, is a bit older, supposedly retired, a bit crankier, and more than a little crazy.  Reminds me of someone I know.

I’ve published 52 books since that first book.
Off the top of my head, here are some thoughts of lessons learned.

  1. The best thing a writer can do for their career is:  write.  The best promotion is a good book, better promotion is more good books.  Everything else is secondary.
  2. The moment an author thinks ‘they have it made’ is when their career is pretty much over.
  3. Don’t say bad things about yourself or your writing.  There are more than enough people out there in the world willing to do it for you.

. . . .

10. There are two very important aspects to this job: being a writer and being a business person.  They are equally important and required for success.

Link to the rest at Write on the River and thanks to Will for the tip.

The Business of Writing, Writing Advice

16 Comments to “53 Books Later: Ten Things I’ve Learned As a Writer”

  1. Margaret Rainforth

    One of the best lists ever… including #11!

  2. Love it! #9 is so important when we get so focused on the blockbuster sellers and think that as writers we should be making that kind of money but aren’t. It’s easy to get disappointed. As long as we’re reaching readers, being able to pay a few bills is icing on the cake.

    And #11, I must add the cat who lays behind the monitor supervising.

  3. Thanks for posting this, PG. This is an excellent list. There are a couple of things on there that severely apply to me. I’ve got to stop being so damned snobby about myself and just start networking with people. Communicate, interact, support, just get out of my mental cave and stop brooding.

  4. “I’ve got to stop being so damned snobby about myself and just start networking with people. Communicate, interact, support, just get out of my mental cave and stop brooding.”


    Could be a touch of introversion hidden in there?

    Not being snotty, trying to help. I suspect it applies to quite a few writers and some don’t know it.

    The introvert advantage/Quiet and Party Of One, (commonly referred to as POO by Intros in the know:) might help.

    If this doesn’t apply to you, please accept my apologies-I put it here because I think there are some to whom it might.

    brendan (A Gemini schizophrenic introvert)

    • I’m an introvert, no doubt about it. But I’m also learning that I’m a bit of a prick as well. I sit from my isolated little corner (conveniently located atop an ivory tower) and cast my judgement down upon all of the writers who I consider to be in my category. I’m new to writing, I have nothing published, so of course I’m qualified to decide whose work is better or worse.

      Essentially, my focus on writing has revealed just how large my ego is. I’m awesome, everyone else is crap. I don’t have to ‘network’ because I only want readers, not people who want to exchange likes and site clicks. I should be famous now (of course), my work (that is essentially non-existent) should speak for itself, writing is an art that should never be compromised for the sake of more money, and so on.

      So yeah… Hi everyone!

      • lol. I think it’s Midnight in Paris where it’s said that a writer should hate another writer’s work because if it’s crap you should hate it, and if it’s better than your work… well you should definitely hate it. 🙂
        The only time I’ve seen writers’ egos become an issue is in workshops. One can see some writers dig into a writing and do nothing but tear down (easier to see with others rather than your own) in nonconstructive ways.

        • In person I do my best to be positive and open and as helpful as I can. I don’t find a lot of use in trying to tear down the work of others. I want to be constructive. I want to be helpful. I want to see other people do well and succeed and enjoy what they’re doing, and then when they do, I resent them for it.

          Ah well, just keep punching the keys. Thanks for the Midnight in Paris bit, it made me smile 🙂

      • It’s helpful to take a Episcopal approach to envy. It’s all right to feel it, so long as you don’t express it.

        (How do I know? Oh, well, you know, look a squirrel!)

  5. Shawn, at least you’re honest. I know a little about Bob’s path to networking. Part of it came about because Jennifer Crusie suggested they co-write a book. This was Bob’s intro to Romance Writers of America (RWA). By attending the national conference and giving workshops with Jenny, at first, and later on his own, Bob grew his reputation as a writing expert and grew awareness of his backlist. It’s an interesting case study of networking outside the box, something maybe we should all think about.

    • I’m getting closer and closer to attending conferences and things like that. I live near the bay area so there are plenty to choose from. But I need to get out talk to people, hear what they have to say, learn from their experiences, so on. It will at least feel a bit more real than the circle of bloggers who reciprocate hits.

  6. Good no nonsense list.

    I have to say, 53 books is pretty amazing.

    And those dogs are cute. I wouldn’t mind a dog or two sleeping on my feet while I typed. 🙂

  7. I love my dog but when she starts licking her butt, I can’t concentrate on writing. I’m always snapping, “Stop it. Stop it now.”

    • And I bet it works, every time. 🙂 I have cats. They demand far more attention at certain times of the day, no matter if I’m writing or not.

      I should get a dog.

      • One cat I had insisted on stalking my lap. She’d sneak into the room, which I usually saw out of the corner of my eye, then slip around behind my chair and pounce from the other side. She’d demand thirty seconds of attention and then curl up and go to sleep, so it didn’t become a problem until I had to get up for more tea.

  8. My next pet is going to be a bearded dragon.

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