Agent Monday: 6 “To Do’s” if You Write

Mixed Race girl on floor with a computerHappy Agent Monday, everyone! I know, I know — it’s been a while since I’ve posted here. But I have been SO busy in a really good way with doing agenty stuff. Okay, so I’m STILL really busy, but I do think it’s time to get our Agent Monday show back on the road, don’t you? So here is my “6 To Do’s if You Write” post. Are you doing these 6 things? And if not, shouldn’t you?

Last week, I was honored to be the featured speaker at Franklin & Marshall College’s Philadelphia Alumni Writers House. As I prepped for my talk, I began to think about what would have helped me when I was in college. Back then, becoming a published author still felt like a distant dream. As an aspiring author, what I really needed were guideposts that would help me truly get where I wanted to be.

Now looking back, I realize there were 6 things I did that definitely helped me achieve my dream of being a published author, plus these ensured that writing would be my life-long career. I hope this list will help you, whether you are just starting out, or are in the thick of things, yet feeling stuck.:

  • IDENTIFY YOURSELF AS A WRITER – Even if it doesn’t seem to make sense, believe that you ARE a writer. Tell yourself that, and tell that to everyone you know.
  • DON’T BE DETERRED – Plenty of things will get in your way…lack of support…writing that isn’t quite ready for prime time…tons of rejections. Just remember that the only thing that can really stop you from writing is you.
  • BE STUBBORN — BUT NOT TOO STUBBORN – Yes, believe in your voice and vision, and persist in getting your work out there. BUT also be open to revision and constructive criticism. And move on to write the next book, and the next.
  • EXPECT MAJOR SETBACKS – AND TAKE A LONG VIEW OF THINGS – Bad things will happen in your writing life and in your personal life. REALLY bad things. But see what you can take from them and look ahead. You can get beyond it (see Don’t Be Deterred above).
  • MAKE IT WORK IN THE REAL WORLD – Realize that there is nothing romantic about a starving writer. Fit writing in, live within reasonable means, AND find a way to make money. Most published authors do this.
  • KNOW THAT WRITING IS AN ART, BUT PUBLISHING IS A BUSINESS – While your writing is very personal to you, for publishers it’s a way to make money. If they pass on acquiring your work, it’s not personal, it’s business. Learn how to act professionally (lots of posts on this blog will help you with that), and it’ll help you share your art with the world. And don’t forget to be appreciative to those on your team. Publishing is made up of humans – a lovely thank you goes a long way!

*Marie is a Literary Agent at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency in New York City. To keep up with all her Agent Monday posts, subscribe to her site.

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11 thoughts on “Agent Monday: 6 “To Do’s” if You Write

  1. Love these tips Marie! I think adding to this would be to challenge ourselves to keep learning and growing as well. For example, I did NaNoWriMo for the first time last fall as I had to get a book written and discovered that yes, I CAN write every day when I have a deadline and push myself. But on a more positive spin, we could also add that things are ever changing in the publishing world and a shut door today could be an open door tomorrow šŸ™‚

    • Yes! That’s a great addition. It could fit under being stubborn, but not too stubborn…and growing! One of the things you and I both know is that top level writers still strive to better their writing. That’s a job that never ends!

      And, yeah – the long game can definitely lead to renewed opportunities in the future.

  2. Pingback: Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 04-06-2017 | The Author Chronicles

    • Hi Emily,

      I’m a writer too – I know it can be tough at times, but I continue to write because it is who I am. And taking a long view of my career helps me to love how actually writing makes me feel.

      Of course you don’t HAVE to write another book. It’s your writing life, after all.

  3. This post was just what I needed today. I’ll use your “6 things” as a guide to refocus and become a better writer. Thank you so much, Marie.

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