7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Delilah Marvelle

This is a recurring column I’m calling “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,” where writers (this installment written by Delilah Marvelle, author of THE PERFECT SCANDAL) at any stage of their career can talk about writing advice and instruction as well as how they possibly got their book agent — by sharing seven things they’ve learned along their writing journey that they wish they knew at the beginning.

Delilah is excited to give away a free book to one random commenter. Comment within one week; winners must live in Canada/US48 to receive the print book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Update: Jennifer M. won)


Delilah Marvelle is the author of The Perfect Scandal
(Feb. 2011, HQN) as well as four other romances. She
was a naughty child who was forever torturing her
parents with adventures that they did not deem
respectable. As a child, she discovered the quill
and its amazing power. See her website here, or
her blog that explores the naughtier side of history.


1. Practice doesn’t necessarily make perfect. No matter how many books I write, I feel like I’m never quite where I need to be. And it’s made for countless frustrating days and nights. I think I’ve lived with the illusion that practice makes perfect, when in fact, there is no perfect. There’s only the art of honing the craft and praying that it’s good enough.

2. Being a genre writer comes with a set of boxing gloves.
Genre writing, such as romance, gets very little respect from the public, even though romance makes up for a little more than 50% of all books sold. If money talks, it’s not talking loud enough.

3. Hate mail comes with the territory. I got sooooo excited about being a published author that I totally didn’t think this aspect out. I knew there would people who wouldn’t like my writing and would post bad reviews, but I was unprepared for those whackos who decide that bad reviews aren’t enough. They need to personally email me and tell me all about it as if I were a Nazi in need of a moral lecture.

4. An author is responsible for most, if not all, the promotion. I think this was the biggest kicker for me.  Realizing that a writer doesn’t just write, they also have to juggle promotion, the readers, signings and everything under the moon.  It makes it difficult to stay focused on writing sometimes. I had this illusion that once I sold a book, I just had to write. That may have been the case 20 years ago, but it sure as heck ain’t the case anymore.

5. The term starving artist applies to a writer.
No kidding. I knew there wasn’t much money to be made as a writer starting out and while trying to climb to the top. But I didn’t realize how little money I made until I put in my hours and counted out the pay. As of today, I make $1.25 an hour.  Mind you, I do put in a lot of hours. But still. Don’t assume that because you’re published with the big 6, you’re going to get 6 figures. It takes time. And sometimes, it may never happen.

6. Don’t think that because you’ve landed a contract, you’re golden. Because in the publishing world, you’re not golden until you’ve proven yourself to be a cash cow. And needless to say, it takes time to become a cash cow.

7. Writer’s block is a state of mind. It only exists if you let it exist.  I always lived in fear that I’d be under contract and would suddenly be slammed by writer’s block. It hasn’t happened yet. Why? Because I haven’t let it happen. I’ve worked too hard to get to where I’m at to let freakin’ writer’s block set it on me. Enjoy the journey, not the destination is what I’ve learned. Because if you don’t enjoy the journey, you most certainly won’t enjoy the destination, whatever it may be.


Writing books/novels for kids & teens? There are hundreds 
of publishers, agents and other markets listed in the
latest Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market.
Buy it online at a discount.


Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:


Want to build your visibility and sell more books?
Create Your Writer Platform shows you how to
promote yourself and your books through social
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and more. 
Order the book from WD at a discount.


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19 thoughts on “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Delilah Marvelle

  1. plumage

    Don’t you play ever play games with your word rate?
    Calculate how much your favourite writer earns per word and then ‘pay’ yourself at that rate for a day’s work. In other words instead of saying that your novel is currently at 42,500 words say it is worth $85,000. What you have achieved seems much more valuable that way, and if you are earning thousands per day then you can’t afford to waste time.

  2. plumage

    wow I’m shocked to see how big the romance sector is. It made me think that maybe if i can’t get published I ought to try writing some romance, the odds have got to be better (assuming there aren’t more people writing romance than ‘the great American Novel’). I have an idea for a kind of romance but it is sooo far far from a Genre romance- no I’d better leave that one for those who know how.

  3. JWalker

    Thanks for the great article – especially numbers 1 and 7. It’s so important to remember that writing is a constantly evolving craft and there is no "perfect". Writer’s block is a state of mind but with determination like yours, we will not let it exist.

  4. CJIsThinking

    I am so excited about this book. Considering that I do not normally read this genre. Actually, this would be my mother’s department. However, I am trying to expand my reading all across the board regardless of genre as I am an English Language and Literature major. I guess this is me putting aside my fear of romance literature so to speak. I wouldn’t mind being such an avid reader of this genre, in fact I hope it will put forth something in me and inspire me to write differentially; my writings tend to be poetry or articles. So I would like to wish Delilah all the best of luck to her new book and I also hope that your work may inspire me and my writing to take new avenues this year as well as beyond.

  5. Giuliana Ramirez

    I love the point about being a starving artist. It proves if you’re in something just for the money, it’s never gonna work, Baby.

    The whole article is light and very helpful. Good luck with tne new book!

    Thanks for sharing!

  6. Jena Lang

    It would be nice if publishers handled all of the promotion and offered writers a bit more support. At least you know all of your hard work has paid off when you write books your fans love, like the Scandal Series.

  7. Diana Quincy

    Hate mail? Really? I never realized. Very interesting reality check that all is not golden once you’ve published. Still, looking at that gorgeous cover for "The Perfect Scandal," must go a long way to making it all worthwhile!

  8. Karen T

    Great article with some very good points. I’ve never thought about hate mail. I’d like to know what prompts these people to write rude letters. Retired therapist, here. As for writer’s block, I need to just get back to my keyboard. I think I am afraid I will actually finish something. Thanks for bringing these points to our attention.

  9. Linda Studley

    Not what I was expecting! You raise some issues that are not only experienced by writers. I found, as an independent recording artist that promotion became a very time consuming aspect. And yes, some people won’t like what you do, what you write, how you sing… whatever. But I think if you keep your audience foremost in your heart, no matter what art form you practice, you will find that more like your work than not. Very insightful "7 Things".

  10. Samantha12Jane

    I didn’t even THINK about having to do your own promotion, etc. I’m glad I’m currently working somewhere that allows me to practice on their business. I should probably be compiling all that information as well as HOW to get my foot in the door, once I can actually nail down a final draft that has 15,000 less words than it currently does, trying NOT to have any sort of, oh, run on sentences, to distract from my quality of work. Nor did I even THINK of the hate mail. Even as I WANTING to write a hate letter to someone. (I read a really bad book.)
    Also, people mostly hate me, anyway, so I’m ready for what they can bring. I grew myself a lovely thick skin under the outer shell of my Crab-like shell.


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