7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by K.M. Ruiz

This is a recurring column I’m calling “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,” where writers (this installment written by K.M. Ruiz, author of TERMINAL POINT) 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.

GIVEAWAY: K.M. is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Update: Lisa won.)




K.M. Ruiz studied English and American Indian Studies at San
Francisco State University. Her debut novel, MIND STORM,
released in 2011. Her newest novel, TERMINAL POINT, comes
out in June 2012. Kirkus said of her second book, “The action
is nonstop, insanely violent and mostly lethal, like X-Men on
steroids … It’s a tribute to Ruiz’s skill that, somehow, when
a winner finally emerges, it’s the one you’ve been rooting for.”
K.M. lives in California. You can visit her on Twitter.



1. Be Patient – The whole hurry up and wait aspect of the publishing industry is so very, very true. You will be waiting on agents, while on submission, through the editing process, right up until release day. Sometimes there will be little flurries of action (Cover! Blurbs! Reviews!), but for the most part, keep an eye on the book working its way toward reality and know that when it arrives, you might actually miss the lead up.

2. Fingers On The Keyboard (Or Pen In Hand) – So you turned in your first or even latest book? That’s great! Where’s the next one? Keep writing, even if it’s just to flesh out an idea before you find the words to turn it into a story. Write a little (or a lot) every day if possible, no matter how busy your life gets.

(Getting specific: Agents explain what they want to get RIGHT NOW.)

3. First Readers Are Gods – When you find a good first reader, commit to keeping them willing and docile by bribing them with whatever is necessary to keep them happy. Every story needs a second pair of eyes (or more) to keep you focused. You’re not going to always see what’s wrong and a good first reader should be able to help you with that. Listen to them. You don’t always have to edit according to their suggestions, but keep listening.

4. Become An Extrovert – I’m not an extrovert but I can fake it really well! Seriously, no matter how much you hate talking in front of a group of strangers or putting yourself out there online, you need to be present. Being accessible online is a must, I can’t stress that enough. Consider Twitter and other variant blogging sites your social masters. Take any opportunity to do a reading or a signing, even if it’s just dropping by a bookstore to autograph stock. Bite the bullet, drink some alcohol, and get in front of the crowd.

5. Thick Skin Is All The Rage – You will get reviews. You may not like the reviews but you know what? Those reviews are for readers and the negative ones are just as valid as the positive ones because they’re someone’s opinion. (Unless it’s an attack on the author themselves, then it’s a whole different ballgame) Accept that not everyone is going to like your book as much as you love it but be happy and grateful they read it anyway. Don’t be a diva over reviews and attack bloggers or reviewers. It’s just not cool.

(What a movie can teach writers about how to start a story strong.)

6. The Internet Always Remembers – On the other hand, if you do trip into diva territory, know that the Internet will never forget and that social media can be a tsunami of humiliation. You don’t want people to hear the title of your book and think oh, I heard s/he is a rude author first instead of I must get my hot little hands on that book to read it. In other words, be nice. (For real, guys, BE NICE.)

7. Networking Is Required – Going back to being an extrovert. Writers live in their heads and are fairly isolated when it comes to their work. Get out of your headspace from time to time and get online to make connections with other writers and readers. It’s so worth it to be part of a community.

GIVEAWAY: K.M. is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Update: Lisa won.)


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Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:



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30 thoughts on “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by K.M. Ruiz

  1. paula

    The advice about being patient is especially good for me.
    Being patient (in general) is probably the hardest thing in the world for me …and then to be an impatient writer?! lol, the entire process of finding an agent / getting your work out there and into the public arena is such a slow process that it definitely requires patience.

    Thanks for the reminders in this post!



  2. LisaF

    Great advice. I especially struggle with the idea being extroverted. The idea of being so visible often serves as an obstacle for me. But, the urge to become a published author is much stronger and I know I can master the public me. Thanks again! Wishing you continued success.

  3. lozoller

    Thank you so much for your pearls of wisdom. As an aspiring author who is finishing up her novel and getting it ready for agent review, your advise inspires me.

    Point 1: I am old enough to understand that patience is a virture.
    Point 2: Inspite of a hectic full time job, I make time to write everyday. It may not always be great stuff but it keeps fingers on the keyboard.
    Point 3: My best freind Susan is my first reader and you’re right , We spend some Saturdays just sitting, reading, and drinking tea. She finds all my gaps and oops.
    Point 4: I started to twitter and was shocked and thrilled when one of my followers turned out to be a publishing CEO I pitched my novel to.
    Point 5: I expect rejections but I strive for acceptance
    Point 6: Thank you for reminding us that the internet is public domain and once it’s said , it can never be taken back.
    Point 7: I joined Critique Corner at Writers Digest Community to get acquainted with other writers and get feeback.

    Thank you KM for sharing what helped you get published.

    Lily O.

  4. silverquill

    Your comments about being and extrovert and networking bring to mind the overused observation that writing is a lonely profession. While it is true that a degree of isolation is required for writing, if we are not interacting with people at some level, we have nothing to write about. Our stories are about people. Plots, settings, scenes are merely the backdrop to exposing the inner lives of the people we create and share with our readers. So, like you, we must be good at least at faking it, though I suspect that we will discover more of our true selves in the process. Thanks for giving us introverts hope.

  5. Rstringerh24

    Great advice from a gifted author. I thank you for the advice of “just keep writing.” It is so hard sometimes when you know you are in a slump and it’s coming out mediocre at best but keep on going is great advice. Write through the good and bad times!

  6. SilverFayne

    Thanks for the advice! I’ll keep this in mind when I actually finish one of my stories. These sound like important things to keep in mind.

  7. puppeterry

    That extra set of eyes is truly imoprtant, I’ve been lucky to marry my target reader for mysteries. If she likes it, I can try submitting. On top of that, I am the father of my sf-fantasy target reader!

  8. ripleyseven

    “I’m not an extrovert but I can fake it really well!”
    That’s one talent that I wish that I had. Maybe an acting class would be helpful in that regard?

  9. whynot1956

    Thanks for the advice! I am an introvert with a thin skin. I just finally started writing again and set up a blog to allow others to read. Thankfully the comments have been good or if some criticism, it has been constructive. Very hard to thicken your skin, but working on it.

  10. Jenna Bird

    Thanks for these tips! I find, as an introvert, that the internet and social media are some of my best friends. Social media can operate as a partial substitute for the socializing groundwork an author needs to do. It’s not a replacement by any means, but I am very thankful for the connections I can make online versus needing to travel and have a lot of physical exposure time.

  11. Laura S.

    The extrovert part will be one ofmy biggest hurdles. I can really see myself struggling with that. That is also why I like the social media aspect of marketing because it gives you another avenue to reach people without anxiety. I also have seen mistakes people make on facebook or twitter when making sometimes offensive comments/ statements unintentionally. Thank you for your insight.

  12. Daniel M. Clark

    I appreciate the advice about becoming an extrovert – or at least faking it well. I hate large crowds and being on stage is nerve-wracking (at first). I still manage to put myself in situations at least a few times a year where I have to do that though, because I recognized that public speaking is an invaluable skill to have. I don’t necessarily like it every time, but I can fake it!

  13. CLB

    Thank you so much for this great list! So concise and a handy reminder. I am still learning about the thick skin thing. I try to just take a critique as information and not attempt to defend my work–at least not until the next day. Then I say to myself, how is this true? and even the roughest critiques turn out to be treasures!

  14. sfpsBrendan

    Getting involved with Twitter, etc., has been extremely helpful (and fun) for me. It’s also interesting to see how others communicate similar ideas in different ways.

  15. David Fernandez

    Hey K.M.,

    Thanks for the insight. I completely agree with you on keeping those fingers in the keyboard, but I’ve found it hard to change gears–that is after spending so much time with one story. How do you deal with it? I look forward to your novel, as anything billed “X-Men on steriods” sounds inescapably intriguing.
    Thanks again and best of luck.


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