7 Things I've Learned So Far, by Jane Makuch

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 Jane Makuch. Jane Makuch writes young adult, middle grade and women's fiction. She blogs about all of it, and is also active on Twitter.
Author:
Publish date:

This is a recurring column I’m calling “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,”where writers (this installment written by Jane Makuch) 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.

Image placeholder title

Jane Makuch writes young adult, middle
grade and women's fiction.
She blogs about
all of it
, and is also active on Twitter.


Years ago when I decided to make a true effort as a full-time writer I felt very alone. It took courage to stand up and say: “My name is Jane and I am an out of the closet writer.” I instantly felt overwhelmed by my complete lack of “top-secret-insider-stuff” and incredibly brash for thinking I deserved to know. Now, after years of researching, I’m happy to say, I’ve found out the really important things aren’t actually “top-secret-insider-stuff.”

1. Believe in yourself. If you don’t think you can be a success, how will you convince respected agents and editors?

2. Pros in the industry are here to help.Successful writers, editors, and agents like to help new writers who work hard, listen, and use their valuable advice.

3. Never give up.The top writers are passionate and never stop working hard.

4. Research what clients say about their agents. A lot of hindsight is out there on twitter, blogs, and author websites. You will find certain agents may be a better “fit” for you then others.

5. Knowing your market requires reading as well as writing. Read books in your genre. You need to know what the buyers are currently reading.

6. Understand the business side.If you write for the sake of writing, that’s one thing. If you write with the idea of selling books, you need to be ready to talk about:
a. Your pitch
b. Your manuscript
c. Your author platform

7. Make sure your work is polished before submitting. It’s been said a million times before and once again here: You only get one shot at making a first impression.

With that said, it’s important to realize there aren’t many industries where you can jump in headfirst and find dozens of powerful people willing to help. But I found that’s exactly what happened when I threw my insecurities aside and signed up for an Editor’s Intensive with Writer’s Digest. I didn’t have anyone to go with so I put my big-girl pants on and went all by myself. Afterward, I took every bit of advice handed to me, used it and am still amazed at how valuable the weekend was.

Also, since I write young adult and middle grade books, I attended an SCBWI conference. On my own I may have thought about going, or dreamed about going, but it would have probably ended there. Yet with a prominent editor looking me in the eye at the editor’s intensive saying, “You have to go,” I knew I couldn’t just think about it, I had to actually go. The SCBWI conference made it clear there was nothing to fear, but much to celebrate. I walked away reminding myself to spend lots of time writing (you have to start with lots of writing), and later lots of rewriting. Then, good stuff will follow.

Image placeholder title


Join the Writer's Digest VIP Program today!

You'll get a subscription to the magazine, a
subscription to WritersMarket.com, discounts
on almost everything you buy, a download,
and much more great stuff.

Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:

Image placeholder title

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

What Is a Palindrome in Writing?

What Is a Palindrome in Writing?

In this post, we look at what a palindrome is when it comes to writing, including several examples of palindromes.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Set a Trap

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Set a Trap

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, it's time to set a trap.

5 Ways to Add a Refrain to Your Picture Books (and Why You Should)

5 Ways to Add a Refrain to Your Picture Books (and Why You Should)

Children's author Christine Evans shares how repetition is good for growing readers and gives you the tools to write your story's perfect refrain.

From Our Readers

Describe the First Time a Book Transported You to Another/Magical World: From Our Readers (Comment for a Chance at Publication)

This post announces our latest From Our Readers ask: Describe the First Time a Book Transported You to Another/Magical World. Comment for a chance at publication in a future issue of Writer's Digest.

About Us: How to Handle Your Story That Involves Other People

About Us: How to Handle Your Story That Involves Other People

Your story belongs to you but will involve other people. Where do your rights end and theirs begin?

Identifying Your Book's Target Audience

Identifying Your Book's Target Audience

Editor-in-chief Amy Jones navigates how to know your target audience, and how knowing will make your writing stronger.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 575

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a safe poem.

ryoji-iwata-QKHmi6ENAmk-unsplash

I Spy

Every writer needs a little inspiration once and a while. For today's prompt, someone is watching your narrator ... but there's a twist.

Brian Freeman: On "Rebooting" Another Writer's Legacy

Brian Freeman: On "Rebooting" Another Writer's Legacy

In this article, Brian Freeman, author of Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Treachery, discusses how he took up the mantle of a great series and made it his own.