Mary Deal Talks about How to Doom a Writing Career!

How to Doom A Writing Career


Mary Deal

Quite often, I read a writer’s first book and feel sad for that author. But let me digress.

My first published novel, The Tropics (with 3 subtitles on the cover) was a mess. I was in such a hurry to have a book of my own and start a lucrative career. I accepted my publisher’s editor’s critiques as to mean my book was perfect. What I didn’t realize is that the editor would offer a vague critique of the story overall. He or she did not critique on grammar and composition.

Once The Tropics was published and local friends began reading it, I found it difficult to understand why they didn’t give me glowing comments. They even looked at me in a strange sort of way.

I then read the published book myself and saw the error of my ways. Unfortunately, errors and discrepancies show up better in a published book. Grammar, punctuation, composition, sentence structure, typos and just about everything lacked true polish. A dear friend offered to do a rush edit when I said that I knew I had get help and republish. Her edit totally surprised me in how I could have made my first book so much better from the beginning, without allowing such a flawed book to hit the market. I republished The Tropics within two months. Then I began to resume intensely studying writing like I had never done before.

Knowing what I had to do to make my book acceptable, today when I read a writer’s first effort, and especially when I hear they plan to do nothing to improve it, I feel their writing career may be doomed from the beginning.

Many writers are so in a hurry to have their first book published, they are blind to the errors they’ve made, or thinking their subsequent books will be better. That’s just not the case. Without acknowledging errors in the first book, and perhaps republishing, they will continue to make the same errors in each new book. One person told me, “I’ll get better as I write more books.” This is a poor premise to allow. The first book is a major factor in determining if a reader will follow a new author into reading their next book.

Getting better as a writer progresses is a horrible misconception. Getting better does happen as a writer hones their craft, but that will not be done without acknowledging errors already made. A writer cannot allow the belief that a reader will read their subsequent books. Most writers feel they are telling a new story that readers will love. The plot and unique setting may be great, but if all the elements of good writing are far from perfect, readers will not even pick up the next book by that author off the shelf – or download it, even though eBooks are less expensive.

If your first book isn’t selling the way you thought it would –

If you haven’t had a thorough edit from a trusted, knowledgeable stranger or a professional editor –

If you’ve spent a lot of time and promotional funding and it still doesn’t sell –

If the sales of your second book are much fewer than your first –

All these are reasons for the author to re-examine exactly what it is they have put out for public consumption.

At the point where writers feel they must hurry and get their book published is the point when they need to cease and desist and literally assume something will go wrong because they work in haste.

It is better to have a book take an extra few months to receive an edit and be made as perfect as possible – than to rush and produce something flawed.

Once having been a new writer, I felt my book would set flame to the writing industry. All writers feel their books are unique. Simply put, that is ego speaking from lack of experience. It could doom a career.

Please visit Mary Deal’s website for more wonderful articles like this one: Write Any Genre.

About Mike Angley

Mike Angley is the award-winning author of the Child Finder Trilogy. He retired as a Colonel from the Air Force in 2007 following a 25-year career as a Special Agent with the Office of Special Investigations (OSI). He held 13 different assignments throughout the world, among which were five tours as a Commander of various units, to include two Air Force Squadrons and a Wing. He is a seasoned criminal investigator and a counterintelligence and counterterrorism specialist. In his last assignment, he was Commander of OSI Region 8 with responsibility for all of Air Force Space Command. He’s fond of saying, “If it entered or exited Earth’s atmosphere, I had a dog in the fight!”
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