Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Advice for Authors

Bad Advice for Writers = Most Advice for Writers

writers advice I have 34 past posts tagged “writing advice” and I encourage you to use the Top Tags widget in the left side-bar for all things Reading, Writing, and Publishing

And, “writing advice” needs those quotes around it these days—such a slew of “experts” out there—so much B.S.

And, along with all the “advice” about the act of writing, there’s a bigger slew of “experts” yelling about how to make your book sell, sell, sell

One particular previous post that any aspiring self-published author could benefit from is, What About All The Authors Whose Books Don’t Sell Very Many Copies?

Here are a two quotes from that post:

“An extremely small percentage of writers sell more than 500 copies of a book

“Perhaps, no matter what an author does (or, a publishing company), most books will still sell not so many copies?”


Someone is a writer and writes a book—no, wait—wants to write a book.

That someone looks at the publishing landscape and realizes the intended years of effort to create the book could be followed by many more years of the book not selling, even if they self-publish, even if they spend every waking hour doing social media, even if they can afford to pay a publicist, even if they find a magician who specializes in spells woven ’round readers hearts

Perhaps, to salvage the self-esteem of aspiring writers, there need to be other options than sales and money to keep their artistic boat afloat?

There used to be an article on the site Electronic BinderyNot About The Money: 10 OTHER Indie Author Motivations—but; it seems to have disappeared… Good thing I saved its bullet points—I’ll just add my own comments :-)

1. It’s classless and egalitarian

Many writers shun class-consciousnesss and desire equality in their relations. Many more writers, these days, are working together on projects, not letting themselves fall into the AuthorWars that sometimes rage

2. Indie authors enjoy creative freedom

Naturally, creative freedom to produce your own unique work is a necessity—including the freedom to not care about money ( My books used to be available for purchase; but, now, I persist in giving them away ).

3. You’ve got an authority problem

I surely do And, gatekeepers for authors is so medieval.

4. You want a dog

Or, any other high maintenance pet that needs your attention and doesn’t want you to spend all day promoting some damn book.

5. You think you may think like an entrepreneur

I probably could be considered in that group but I prefer the term maverick—less accountability for generating cash.

5.5 You think you may NOT think like an entrepreneur

Authors as business people is all the rage these days—raging authors—creative types concerned with their bottom-line—really??

6. You like making stuff

Yep. Far too many folks don’t realize the joy of playing around with fonts and typefaces and cover art—crafting a book to your own idiosyncratic specifications.

7. You’re a control freak

Much better to be a control freak about books than attempting to control other people

8. You’re an introvert

I’m one—glad of it—wouldn’t ever want to live the life that demands I use the available world-scene as what I should consider the spur for my intentions and actions.

9. You don’t look good in a suit

Well, I kinda do look good in a suit but why the bother?

10. You stopped buying stuff

Stuff needs attention. Stuff needs caring for. Stuff costs money. Stuff accumulates. Stuff can cause one to stuff their sensitivity to stuff that goes way beyond mere stuff

O.K., my brazen opinions :-)

Do check out the explanations in the electronic bindery article.

And, do leave a comment with your ideas about all this
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GRAB A FREE COPY of Notes from An Alien

Select as many as you like:

An Author’s Advice To His Child . . .

We’ve had 28 posts on this blog covering various aspects of “Writing Advice”

Of course, you can use the links in the Top Tags widget in the left side-bar to find all kinds of categories of posts or you can put search terms in the Search widget in the upper right corner :-)

As far as an author’s advice to his child, I have Maria Popova at Brain Pickings to thank for an article that features two letters from Sherwood Anderson to his son: Sherwood Anderson on Art and Life: A Letter of Advice to His Teenage Son, 1927.

I’ll be sharing one of those letters here and encouraging you to visit that last link to read the other letter :-)

Maria begins her article with these words:

“The quest to find one’s purpose and live the creative life boldly is neither simple nor easy, especially for a young person trying to make sense of the world and his place in it.”

And, even though Anderson’s letters to his son are addressed to a young man pursuing painting, I feel any young aspiring writer would benefit from reading them

And, the meaning of “young” writer could be expanded to include a writer of any age who is just beginning their writing journey.

Maria also links to the book these letters came from:

Posterity: Letters of Great Americans to Their Children

The first letter from Anderson to his son:

    The best thing, I dare say, is first to learn something well so you can always make a living. Bob seems to be catching on at the newspaper business and has had another raise. He is getting a good training by working in a smaller city. As for the scientific fields, any of them require a long schooling and intense application. If you are made for it nothing could be better. In the long run you will have to come to your own conclusion.

    The arts, which probably offer a man more satisfaction, are uncertain. It is difficult to make a living.

    If I had my own life to lead over I presume I would still be a writer but I am sure I would give my first attention to learning how to do things directly with my hands. Nothing gives quite the satisfaction that doing things brings.

    Above all avoid taking the advice of men who have no brains and do not know what they are talking about. Most small businessmen say simply — ‘Look at me.’ They fancy that if they have accumulated a little money and have got a position in a small circle they are competent to give advice to anyone.

    Next to occupation is the building up of good taste. That is difficult, slow work. Few achieve it. It means all the difference in the world in the end.

    I am constantly amazed at how little painters know about painting, writers about writing, merchants about business, manufacturers about manufacturing. Most men just drift.

    There is a kind of shrewdness many men have that enables them to get money. It is the shrewdness of the fox after the chicken. A low order of mentality often goes with it.

    Above all I would like you to see many kinds of men at first hand. That would help you more than anything. Just how it is to be accomplished I do not know. Perhaps a way may be found. Anyway, I’ll see you this summer. We begin to pack for the country this week.

    With love,


The part of this letter that stands out to me is:

“Above all avoid taking the advice of men who have no brains and do not know what they are talking about. Most small businessmen say simply — ‘Look at me.’ They fancy that if they have accumulated a little money and have got a position in a small circle they are competent to give advice to anyone.”

Just change “small businessmen” to “authors” and you’ve got what I would say to any aspiring writer :-)
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Advice for Authors from Jane Friedman

If you use the Subject Index Links (in the side-bar), Writing Advice & Writing Tips will give you a total of 39 posts to read.

Many of those posts are cautionary—be sure you think for yourself, no matter who’s giving the advice—let yourself break rules if the words you write feel right—if you’re just beginning, read many authors’ opinions before accepting a point-of-view

Jane Friedman is the former editor of Writers’ Digest and of The Virginia Quarterly Review.

Her site includes many sections that can be considered as potential aid to one’s writing life and practice:

There’s Jane’s Writing Advice Archive.

Her Resource List for understanding the future of publishing.

Her section on How To Get Your Book Published.

Her Definition of Author “Platform”.

The Checklist for Evaluating E-Publishing Services.

Plus, More, so Explore :-)

And, it would be Great if you’d share some of Your  favorite writing advice and tips in the Comments
Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com
* Google Author Page

Must Writers Suffer Melancholy, Anguish, and Depression?

Being a creative writer seems to me to be one of the weirdest professions on the planet.

Catering to imaginary characters who may seem more real than the folks next door can bring certain challenges.

Many writers have faced suffering so debilitating they wanted to die—some have clung to suicide as their only solution

Does it have to be this way?

Why would creating stories be so rife with mental and emotional distress?

Elizabeth Gilbert is an author who has discovered a path around the demons, shared some insights into the common malady, and given us a creative solution to the problems of Creativity.

If you are a writer, or know one, and you watch the video below, it would be wonderful if you shared your thoughts and feelings in our Comments

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Getting Published Is Easy ~ Getting Readers Is Hard Work

My New Year’s Resolution will be Steady As She Goes

I have a new novel published and two companion books in the works

And, I have a somewhat unique way to find Readers

Past posts in this blog about Traditional Publishing and Self-Publishing can, hopefully, help a few writers make a few decisions about which path they want to trudge

I published my novel, Notes from An Alien, for a total of US$200.

If you need to pay an editor (mine did it just to be acknowledged in the book) and a cover designer (NASA provided me with an image, gratis), you could use something like Kickstarter to generate a few thousand dollars.

For some insight into using Kickstarter, check out, The Challenges of Using Kickstarter to Fund a New Novel.

So, you get published. Where are your readers?

Even traditionally published books can languish in the arena of readership and many a traditionally published author has had to do their own work to build an audience.

And, while traditionally published authors can wait years for a finished book to hit the shelves, it may only be on those shelves for a few months.

Digital shelves bring up the concept of the Long Tail—books selling “forever”—“…the cultural benefit of all of this is much more diversity, reversing the blanding effects of a century of distribution scarcity and ending the tyranny of the hit.”

Still, the author with print or ebooks on a digital shelf needs readers

That Long Tail article addresses some of this but an author will still have to build an Audience or Platform to get the “recommendation tools” of the digital shelves working for them.

Seth Godin in the article, What I Learned In My Year Of Revolutionizing Publishing, says something profound about what he calls Permission Marketing—having a “tribe” of readers who have given you permission to let them know what you’ve done (this is the modern way to “sell”):

Permission is still the most important and valuable asset of the web (and of publishing). The core group of 50,000 subscribers to the Domino blog made all the difference in getting the word out and turning each of our books into a bestseller. It still amazes me how few online merchants and traditional publishers (and even authors) have done the hard work necessary to create this asset. If you’re an author in search of success and you don’t pursue this with single-minded passion, you’re making a serious error. (See #2 on my advice for authors post from five years ago, or the last part of my other advice for authors post from six years ago.)”

Is all this talk about the hard work of finding readers going to make you give up?

If you have a book, in your head or written out, does its Life justify lots of hard work?

Does it seem unfair to you that sensitive, creative people need to roll up their sleeves and build a sustainable author platform?

What do you think is the most important attribute authors need to develop to be successful?

What is “success”?
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