You gotta ask yourself, “Do I feel lucky?” (nope)
Aspiring writers who have yet to publish or whose books seem to sit on Amazon with very few sales, often suggest that more successful writers were lucky–in one way or another–to become successful.
Nope, asking, “Do I feel lucky” is the wrong question (unless you are really adept at using the Law of Attraction to seemingly manifest your desires out of thin air.
In her recent Funds for Writers newsletter, Hope Clark writes, “First of all, there is no serious luck in this business. It’s a matter of constantly putting yourself out there in terms of writing, publishing, appearing, working social media, fighting to be current, taking chances. There is no one right way or best way, only the way that happens to work for you at that moment in time. “
Sure, we hear the occasional story where an English Department student taking a short story class just happens to live next door to a senior editor at Random House who reads her story and turns it into a bestseller. But counting on that, or any other kind of lucky break, is probably worse than expecting lottery winnings to pay off your credit card debt.
Hope looked for paying markets, building up writing credits, publicizing them, and then repeating what worked to improve her Google ratings.
- Paying markets are better resume material than free markets other than, perhaps, top-flight literary magazine that are widely known. Start with the easy markets. Work up to the harder-to-crack markets. Each level of improvement helps you break into the next level. Editors don’t credit you with much if you’re not being paid.
- Build a website where you talk about and link to your published work, while adding value of some kind (free articles, links to writing or subject matter resources, and other interesting material that keeps people coming back. Talk about your successes in a blog, careful, though, to keep the blog interesting for readers rather than turning into an “all about me” advertisement about you. At some point, consider a newsletter to keep people up to date, especially if you start appearing at workshops and conventions and want people to know your schedule.
- Once you find out what works, keep doing it so that you draw a following while improving your search engine ranking. The more you do within a niche, the more people who will find you, including editors who begin to notice you have a track record.
- Use this platform as a base if and when you decide to write a novel. Your platform will show potential publishers you weren’t born yesterday and that you have a following. But don’t kill off the platform just because you’ve submitted a novel and want to quit writing nonfiction and/or short stories for magazines. Keep your audience alive because they will be interested in your books once a publisher gets interested in your books.
Maybe you’ll catch a so-called lucky break or perhaps “chance” does favor those who are prepared and who have done their homework, paid their dues, and kept trying.