Writers educate themselves in the craft in order to become better craftsmen.
Successful writers understand the importance of ongoing education in the publishing industry. That doesn’t mean we don’t complain a little along the way. But refusing to embrace continuous improvement can extinguish our flame of publication.
Writers who take their careers seriously explore, study, and value every area of the constantly changing publishing world. This practice ensures we are not only knowledgeable but also positions us to continue publishing, with the potential of higher sales.
How do writers educate themselves?
- Learn what the various publishing houses are releasing, especially those houses that are actively acquiring our genre. We may have an agent, but the ability to discuss writing projects and new projects accurately and in context of current realities is a plus.
- Discover the personalities of our target publishing house to see if our writing style and voice are a good fit.
- Research publishing houses’ submission guidelines. Not every writer has an agent, and some publishers don’t require representation. Double-check your submission to ensure it matches with the publisher’s guidelines.
- Explore acquisition editors for correct contact information, what the editor is looking for, and the correct spelling of their name. Although a writer may have an agent, nothing enhances a relationship like a face-to-face meeting, even virtual.
- Follow industry leaders on social media and share their valuable posts. These professionals stepped into their role as experts through hard work and sacrifices. We have much to benefit from their experiences.
- Make a conscious effort to build your brand through social media and various online platforms. Not every platform is for us, but we need to be aware of our audience’s characteristics and decide if related efforts will build our brand.
- Understand writing, and establishing loyal readers and social media followers, is about helping others with our expertise and building relationships—not selling books.
- Beyond learning about what publishers are publishing, we must read what publishers are publishing. How can we compete in the market if we aren’t aware of the competition? Consider using bestsellers as textbooks to improve our craft. Emulate, don’t plagiarize.
- Attend highly respected conferences to learn from the best.
- Join a writers’ group and participate. Not only can we grow in the craft, but we can also pay it forward by helping other writers.
- Offer to teach at conferences and workshops. The best way to acquire new methods is to teach them.
- Keep up to date on industry trends. Some movements in the publishing world are good, but others may not be a match for us. We won’t know if we’re not actively discovering those trends.
- Schedule daily learning opportunities through how-to books, articles, blog posts, podcasts, online workshops, and videos.
- Practice the latest techniques to see if these could be an asset in our style of writing.
- Value the devotion of our publisher’s editorial, sales, and marketing teams. Realize we are all working toward the same goal and be prepared to help.
- Establish career counseling calls with our agent or editor: Are we on the right track? What is working and what needs to be changed?
- Create spreadsheets to analyze every aspect of our writing. Calendar specific times of the year for a career checkup.
- Challenge ourselves to raise the bar on our skills each time we start a new writing project.
- Read everything we can get our hands on. We can even learn a lot about marketing and sales by walking down the cereal-box aisle at our local grocery. J
- Write! The best way to educate ourselves is to absorb quality information and apply it.
Writers educate themselves in the craft in order to become better craftsmen. When we are disciplined to keep learning, our readers and editors will thank us, and we’ll feel an incredible sense of satisfaction.
DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, and a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers.
DiAnn is passionate about helping other writers be successful and speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. She and her husband live in sunny Houston. DiAnn is very active online and loves to connect with readers on social media and at diannmills.com.