Mystery Author: Strong Women, Great Stories

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I write three series: The Loser Mysteries, The Dead Detective Mysteries & the Simon & Elizabeth (Tudor) Mysteries as well as stand-alones that offer readers "Strong Women, Great Stories."
These days I also answer to Maggie Pill, who writes a cozy sleuth series. Maggie is a lot like Peg, just younger, cooler, and funnier.

It's Really, Really Work

Every writer who ever left her house has encountered aspiring writers. Some have a finished manuscript. Some have an idea. Some have a vague notion they'll write a book when they get around to it. Most writers are polite, but what we think, hint at, or sometimes even say is "It's hard. Writing is hard. Publishing is hard. Promotion is hard."

Many things in life seem easy from the outside. Writing is one of the big ones, and here are 9 reasons why.

Writing takes talent.
    There are certain people who shouldn't do certain stuff. (For instance, I should not be any kind of a medical professional.) Wanting to write a book doesn't make you capable of doing it.

Writing takes skill.
    If you paid attention in English classes, great, but the skills of writing need to be developed. Studying writing can be as simple as reading a lot, but you have to think about what you're reading, why it affects you or doesn't, and how you might write something similar. Then you have to do the next step.

Writing takes practice.
    Most people don't practice writing enough before beginning a career as a writer. Like anything else, writing takes hours, days, weeks, and months of writing, getting reaction to your writing, and rewriting.

Getting published takes persistence.
    Some really good writers will never be published because they gave up trying to get published. It takes a lot of work to put out a book, and that's true any way you do it. In traditional publishing, the work comes with finding an agent and/or a publisher, who will then direct you in the remaining tasks (a great way to become educated in the business of publishing).
    In self-publishing, the work of making your book the best it can be is completely yours, so you have to be sure you know what to do and how to do it. Otherwise, it gets expensive, in both spent money and spent "capital" in terms of reader tolerance. (Ask yourself: Would you buy a second book by an author whose first book was badly done?) 

Getting published takes luck.
    Even if you do all the right things to become traditionally published, there's still a lot of luck involved. Publishers might not be buying your genre right now, or maybe they just bought something similar and don't want another for a while.
   Self-published authors find their luck or lack of it comes in finding people who'll read, recommend, and review a book by an unknown, first-time author.

Getting published takes courage.
   Aspiring authors need to consider that publishing brings the chance someone will hate what they've done. What will you do when you get a one-star review on Amazon with all sorts of criticisms of your "baby"? And it gets worse: The more you write, the more famous you get, the more likely someone will want to shoot you down.


Selling books takes work.
   These days, authors do most of their own promotion (certain mega-authors aside, but even they're expected to make personal appearances and make nice with readers). Successful authors do a hundred things a day that have little to do with writing a book, often things we aren't the least bit fond of doing.

Selling books takes time.
   Even though we'd love to pop out a book every three months, it doesn't just happen. A good book takes time. You write, you leave it for a while, you rewrite. Repeat, repeat, repeat. (There are authors who claim they only write once, but they're either liars or freaks of nature.)
   As indicated above, the actual selling of books takes time away from the writing of them. Appearances, blogs, and such slow down the writing process, so any book after the first is squeezed into a time frame.

Selling books takes skill.
   Honestly, it takes years in the business to get a handle on selling. At first, I floundered a lot, doing things without having any idea if they worked for me. I have a better idea now of what I want to do and what is helpful for my readers, but no one knows for sure what works or why it works when it does. All a writer can do is keep a finger on the pulse of publishing and do what she feels capable of doing.

So if you're aspiring, don't be dismayed--just be informed. Don't picture yourself breezing through a manuscript, sending it off then waiting for money to pour in. Picture yourself working very, very hard in many, many, different areas, and in the end feeling satisfied that you've done you best, pleased some readers, and--if you're lucky, make more than the $1000 (that's ONE thousand) the overwhelming number of published authors make per year.

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