LTUE 2018 Cautionary Tales For First Time Writers

Published: February 2018

Advice to past self

Keep trying. The Gap - Ira Glass.
Writers of the Future Contest - Runs quarterly.
Allow yourself to suck.

Don’t polish on a line by line or paragraph by paragraph basis. Write the entire thing first and then go back and polish.

Big breakout authors are 1 in a million.

Takes years to get to the point where you start winning.

Persist through the crappy writing and the growing as a person. Sometimes it is life experience and sometimes it is writing experience.

Key Stumbling Block

Somethings you get for free other things you have to learn. Characterization and Dialogue and Plot. You need to learn all of the things that you are not good at. You don’t get all of the things for free. There are some aspectst that you are going to have to just grind through and learn. You have to polish each aspect of the whole things.

Write short stories first can be bad advice. It depends on the type of person that you are.

Don’t start out trying to be someone else. Be you. Trust yourself.
Prose quality does not matter as much. The story is selling not the prose.

Don’t think you know what you are doing. Don’t think you know more that you do. Always be willing to learn and to listen. Hybrid publishing can be nice because you can fit all of your stuff to the right market.

Recognize when to let a project go. Recognize when your writing is not quality. Kill your darlings. It’s okay if your first book is not amazing. If it’s not getting there, let it go.

Learn as much as you can. Don’t go in blindly.

Step outside your comfort zone. Teach yourself different tenses. Broken Earth - can even use second person. First person can be really good for short fiction.

Short Story writers to emulate. Arthur C. Clarke, Ursula K. LeGuin Italo Calvino, Amy Hemple, Barthelme.

Business Aspect you did’t know

Science Ficton Poetry - Get a patreon.

Anthology - Follow the guidelines, don’t try and be clever.
Meet your deadlines. If you are not reliable you will lose friends.
Take advantage of how things are changing. Write it once and sell it as many times as you can.

Marketing - Learn how to do this well. Start doing this well. Start saving towards marketing. Learn how to self-promote.

Recognize that what worked last week does not work now. Evaluate week to week.


Do AB testing with writing. Try new things. Find a way to measure the impact.

Go to conference and cons. Go and learn. So much of publishing is a face to face business. Network and be a known quantity. Sell yourself.


Amazon, ibooks, kobo. Different countries.

Book - The Usual Path To Publication