7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Delilah Marvelle - Writer's Digest

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 at any stage of their career can talk about seven things they’ve learned along their writing journey that they wish they knew at the beginning. This installment is from writer Delilah Marvelle. 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.
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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)

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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.


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