Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Secret to Publishing Success

Okay guys--I'm going to share a secret with you, something a published author friend shared with me about a year ago. I'd asked her what the most important thing was when it came to getting published, and held my breath as I waited for her answer, knowing she would have The KEY (she's especially smart). And here's what she said:

Keep Writing.

That's it. That's all she said. And I know that advice might seem like a bit of a letdown--especially given the title of this post. 

(Honestly, I was a little disappointed too. I mean, this was her chance to tell me: set your margins to 1.26 inches--that's the secret code to communicate to an agent/editor that this will be a future bestseller!!!)

(Side note: as far as I know there is no secret code to communicate to an agent/editor that this will be a future bestseller.)

(And if there were, I'd probably have to kill you after I told you.) 

(I'd also be a LOT more successful right now if I knew it)


And yet, I can tell you right now that the longer I'm around this industry, and the more authors/agents/editors I get to know, the more everything always comes back to the same piece of advice--and I've come to see the wisdom behind it.

Keep Writing.

Stuck on a scene/draft? 

Waiting on CP feedback?


Subbing the project to editors?

Waiting on edits?

Waiting for your book to release?

Whatever you have going on with a current project...
Whatever discouragements are dragging you down...
Whatever you have going on in your real life...


Even if you only have a few minutes here and there. Even if you're at a crucial stage with an existing project. Even if you're feeling completely blocked. Work on something new. Revise something old. Try a short story or a flash fiction. Just keep writing.

Remember, this dream we're all chasing is also a career. Treat it like one. At any other job you can't just let everything screech to a halt because life got busy or things got hard, or you're waiting on big news. You still have to go to work. You still have to be productive.

Obviously this doesn't mean you can't ever take a break. And sometimes life happens and you can't write for a period of time. But IF you can, WHENEVER you can, KEEP WRITING. 

Because that project that you think is THE ONE? might not be. The market might not be right for it. Maybe your writing isn't *quite* there yet. Or maybe the publishing world is making the biggest mistake ever by letting it pass them by. But it happens. And it sucks. 

And you survive it by moving on to THE NEXT PROJECT. 

You keep writing. 

You keep refining your craft. 

You keep polishing your drafts.

You keep exploring new ideas. 

That's the difference between those who make it and those who don't. The ones who make it don't give up. They KEEP WRITING. And that's why they finally get where they want to be.

Yes, some people get there faster than others. Yes, some people sell the first thing they've ever written and go on to megastardom. But...those stories are REALLY rare. 

The rest of us? 

We just keep writing. Keep hoping for the best. Knowing that the hard work really WILL pay off someday. If we never give up, we will get there.

So I challenge all of you to write something today. A page. A paragraph. A few sentences. If you only have a few minutes--fine. Just write SOMETHING. And tomorrow do the same thing. And the day after that. On and on. 

KEEP WRITING and you'll get where you want to be someday. 



  1. I remember when I first set out to write a novel. I told myself "just a page a day" or "just an hour a day" (or several other promises) and I figured that as long as I kept doing something every day, eventually I would have something worth calling finished.

    It's now technically two years later, and I'm still not done, but that's a story for another day. I have come a long way.

  2. Keep writing!!! Yay!! Off I go to do some now! :-) Take care

  3. Shiny New Ideas are the best! They're what keep me going. Just got one the other day and I am flying high right now.

  4. Thanks for sharing this important secret to publishing success.
    : )

    Have a great day!
    : )

  5. I can almost see you with pom-poms, Shannon. :D

    Awesome post!

  6. Yep, spot on with the advice :)

    Because I woke up WAY too early, I'm going to take that advice, and instead of going back to bed, I'm going to write.


  7. Thank you! This is so inspiring. It makes me want to go and write something RIGHT NOW.

  8. thank you for this post. I know this, and yet its helpful to hear it again. After a very rough past 9 days of life, I promised myself that no matter what, I would write today, even if something bad happened. Great post.

  9. so so true. I was lucky enough to reall "get" this a few years ago, and since then, i've grown in leaps and bounds and been much more successful and satisfied in my creative life. And the best thing about "keep writing" is it's a practice that "keeps giving"

  10. I knew it! I knew you had the secret to publishing success tucked up your sleeve somewhere. Oh, wise #1, as I ALWAYS do what you tell us to do . . . I'm off to get some writing done! :-)

  11. Somedays the someday seems far off, but - absolutely - the only way to reach the someday is to keep writing. Thank you for the encouragement today!

  12. Great advice. I think I'll work on another chapter tonight :)

  13. Wow! Powerful post today! So powerful in fact that I am going to leave cyberspace right now and get to it. I think I will benefit doing my writing first and then later when I'm needing a break, check email, twitter and the many blogs I stalk. Thanks Shannon!

  14. Nice uplifting, encouraging post! Hope you're having a happy June 1. :)

  15. Wise words. It took me eleven manuscripts to sell one.

  16. Well, I'm going to assume a lot of us in this business like writing, so not bad advice, yeah?

  17. Excellent advice.
    And that is what I shall do this afternoon!

  18. Short, sweet, simple: The most essential advice. And the truest!

  19. Oh dear, I really needed to hear this. I've been such a lazikins lately.

  20. I kind of like the fact that there isn't a secret more complicated than this. I can control this. I'd be much more stressed about making it as a writer if you told me I had to come up with an idea that's 80 percent commercial, 20 percent literary with four subplots, one non-absentee parent, a cross-country drive, some sort of life-or-death fight or battle, and exactly five kissing scenes, no more and no less.

  21. Just two little words, but so very important. Thanks!

  22. The best advice ever - and not just because it's short and concise! You have to keep writing to get there in the end. Makes perfect sense!

  23. Exactly. I write every single day but the huge blocks have to wait for the weekend sometimes. Which seems to be coming faster and faster lately. Is it freakin' June already?

    Head down...back to writing.

  24. Best advice ever. It really is true. Thanks, Shannon! I'm heading back to writing now... :)

  25. Okay. So what you're saying is: I don't need to clean up my desk in order to start writing, I don't have to have a hot cup of chai tea (and if I've run out, dash out the store immediately), I don't need my fuzzy down slippers in order to write a single word, AND I don't have to find my special green pen before I can make notes. Sigh. Okay. I get it. Just do it!!!

  26. I know you have a zillion comments already, BUT. I remember Randy Pausch said, "Brick walls are there for the people who don't want it bad enough."
    So every time I feel like I'll never get there, I think of that.

  27. Great post Shannon, very motivational. I think the hardest days are the tying up loose ends days or writing the synopsis (that's me today)best get moving :)

  28. This is great advice. Even on the days when I don't think I'll be able to focus because I've had exciting news, I find that if I just sit down and make myself produce something, I am able to get back into the story.

    You keep writing, too!

  29. As much as I despise Nike (ADIDAS!!!) "Just do it!" applies to just about everything in life.

    The more you write, the better everything gets. You've got greater chances for a hit, you've got a distraction, and you're practising your craft. How do you not win by writing?

  30. I already commented but this stuck with me. I linked this post to my current blog post, fyi. I like to tell people when I do that.

  31. Shannon, you inspire my writing more than any other person out there. Every word I take to heart and I am so happy I got to come to your blog through you INCREDIBLE books! Thank you so much for being amazing, cause my current motivation wouldn't have happened without you! Thank you SO SO SO SO SO SOOO much!!!


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