Monthly archives for December, 2011

The New World of Publishing: Keeping The Writing Going

The Third of the “Goals and Dreams 2012 Series”

Got the goals? Dreaming the dreams? All set for 2012 and a good year of writing?

Standing here at the beginning of the year, every writer I know says, “Ready!”

And they mean it. But sadly, ask all but the most driven writers in May the same question and life will have stopped almost all writers cold. And they will not be back at it.

And the year will pass and around Christmas many writers will wonder what happened, swear they will do better in the new year, set new goals, and off they go into yet another new year to repeat the same problem.

Sounds horribly cynical for me, doesn’t it? But alas, it’s not. It just normal human action that I am reporting. I wish like hell I would be wrong, and I always am happy when a writer proves me wrong on this. But alas, for the vast majority of writers, I will be correct in my horrid assessment.

But there are ways to keep going, to start again in May or August, to climb back on the old horse you mounted on January 1st, and keep riding toward the end of the year. And thus end up having a great writing year.

But these ways are only used by the most driven writers, I’m afraid. And those of us who do this for a living. (You think this gets easier once you are making a living, think again. It gets harder.)

Once you learn and can apply some of the tricks and methods and drive I am about to talk about, you will have helped train yourself to be a long-term professional fiction writer. At least on the production side.

So, I am talking to everyone with this last post in this series, with the hopes the most driven will remember this in a month or three when the world knocks them for a loop.

Stopping is Not Failure

Failing to restart is a failure.

Giving up is a failure.

Failing to even start in the first place is a failure.

But once you are going and get stopped, which will happen at one level or another, you have not failed at that moment. You have only failed if you don’t get back to work.

So let me be very, very clear here. Everyone who starts a challenge or sets goals for 2012 will get stopped at one or more points along the way in 2012.

Everyone. No exceptions.

It’s a long year.

The stops will range from not getting to work at all for a few weeks, to a nasty sickness, to life events like the estate one I dealt with this fall. Friends will need help, people will die, day jobs will need more attention, family and friends will suddenly need to take writing time you hadn’t planned on.

It’s called living. Duh.

And you can’t control all the living aspects of the world and people around you, so don’t even try.

Let me say that again. Back to control. You can’t control what comes at you, so don’t try.

But you can control how you act in response to the life events.

And you can control when you get back to work on your writing.


Most beginning writers I know do one of two things when major life events hit them.

One… They just put the writing away until everything is done. (This is normal and caused by focus. Your focus has been ripped away from writing. Most times this is the only option when an event is very, very large.)

Two… The writer gets mad at the event and gets into blame games and makes restarting writing seem like a HUGE event. And thus never does restart.

So what kind of response is sane and professional?

When the dust has cleared, meaning you are able to think about your writing again, you look at the situation. Cold and clear-eyed, not angry or emotional.

Ask these questions:

1… How much time have I really lost on my goal or my writing? 

2…How far behind am I on any real deadline? (contract deadline with publisher)

3… With the new situation, is the old goal still possible?

But what I skipped and made sound easy is the very, very first step: Remembering. 

Sounds like a problem you would never have? You can only hope. Because when life comes flashing at you throwing curve balls, only the most dedicated writers even think about writing. Most do not. Most do not remember the January 1st drive and excitement. Most just forget the writing.

But assume you do remember, assume you have looked at the questions and got the answers. Then you are ready to start again.

Sometimes you can just pick up and keep going. By the end of the year a two-week slip won’t even be noticeable in the large total.

Or if the old goal isn’t possible, you reset the goal.

Personal aside:

With my public challenges of 100 short stories and losing weight and running a marathon, I felt like I was right on track on August 21st. I knew I could finish the stories, I had signed up and paid the fees for a marathon and felt comfortable with that as well. All good.  

Then I woke up August 22nd after getting home from the World Science Fiction convention and my world had changed. Not just a little, but a lot. And at that point I didn’t know how much, actually. One of my closest friends had died suddenly at the convention after I left, and I was his executor on his estate. And he left me a mess that to this day I am stunned at the scope and size and legal issues.

Over the next few days my thoughts came back to my writing, but only in such a way that I was glad I didn’t have any New York deadlines at that point.

A couple weeks later I surfaced enough to think about the challenges. I cancelled the marathon run, but still hoped to get back to the writing of the short stories. I even did a few of them in that next month, but it soon became clear that I wasn’t going to be home much at all for months. And the estate was going to take all my focus at least until November. As it turned out, it took until December. And then I got sick. Go figure.

So I changed my challenge. (Notice, I was paying attention to it all along.)

I will still write 100 short stories in the challenge and put them up here, but I took the deadline off it, since any yearly deadline is just artificial anyway. And in a coming post I will talk about how I will climb back onto writing. What some of you don’t know is that even though I got home in December, for the most part, I’m still not totally here. For the first time in my life I’ve had a really, really bad flu. And I lost (temporarily) most of the sight in one eye from one of the estate trips.

If I had traditional deadlines, I would have been talking to editors this fall and just now getting back to working on those books. But thankfully, I am still clear of major deadlines, so I have time to rest and come back naturally. And I am allowing myself that time, much to the surprise of my wife and friends. (grin)

But Kris will tell you, over the last two months, we’ve had a ton of conversations about how I will get back at the writing and when. I am not angry in the slightest. It’s not the first time life events have stopped my writing and it won’t be the last. It’s just the way life rolls and the key for me is to not let it stop me any longer than is sane and healthy.

I’ve detailed out all this to show how a professional writer deals with major events. Take from it what you will.

End personal aside.

Some Help in Getting Back On the Horse.

Assuming you remember your writing challenge, that you really, really want to get back at the writing, and it is healthy to restart, let me give some tricks on how to restart.

Trick one: 

Plan out ahead what you are going to work on first.

And write it down! I don’t mean outline, I just mean know what story or novel you plan to work on when you start back writing.

And maybe have two or three out ahead of you. Example: Tomorrow plan to work on X-Novel. Chapter 10. Friday plan to work on X-Novel, finish Chapter 10 and start Chapter 11. And so on.

If you have three or four writing sessions out ahead, roughly  planned, it will cut down on the panic of the restart.

Trick two:

Have a back-up project to work on.

And have it written down on a back-up list.

Example:  Plan to work on Chapter Ten of X-Novel, but for some reason, that’s just not coming, so back up plan is to work on Y-Short Story about (blank).

There is no such thing as writer’s block, but there is “project block” so be ready to move to a new project and fire at a moment’s notice. The moment you do that, the pressure on the other project will ease, your subconscious mind will figure out what was stopping you, and you can go back to it later.

But as you restart, it’s a good idea to have two or three projects ready to switch to.

Trick three:

Set an emergency back-up time each day for writing.

You have your writing time figured out, and you have told your family you are getting back to writing. But life is nasty at times. Be prepared to have that time yanked. So prepare for that.

For example, you plan on a writing session between 7 and 9 in the evening, but alas, family gets in the way and you’re going to miss. Nope. Your back-up for the day is after the family goes to bed, you’ll stay up and get the minimum pages cranked out. That way when you wake up the next day, you’ll feel amazingly good about overcoming yet another life issue and still getting your pages done.

Again, this time is emergency time only. But it will really help you keep up a great attitude along the way.

Trick four:

Set up a “report into” person.

You may have already had this set up when the challenge started. Tell them you are restarting and ask them if can you start reporting into them again?

Knowing that you have to report in will drive you even more. We all hate making excuses and missing. Especially since you just came off a miss. It will drive you to write in your emergency time more than not.

Reporting in to another person is one of the most powerful tools in structuring new habits and rebuilding ones you think you lost in the down time.


You have your goals all figured. You have your daily or weekly work total figured. You have told your family and friends that you have a set writing time and you plan to protect it.

In other words, you are set to get into a great year of writing in 2012.

Now, somehow, in some fashion, when life bumps you off your goals, off your pace, you need to do the following things to keep the year in writing going.

First: Remember your writing. It might not be on the top of your mind in the emergency, but as things clear, bring it up. Make it important.

Second: Plan your restart. Don’t make it into a big deal. Just do a little planning and then get some words done.

Third: Never try to catch up. Be willing to change your goal, change your plans. Setting a yearly goal is artificial at best.

Stopping and getting knocked off track is going to happen to every writer this coming year. I have never had a year when life didn’t send me spiraling off into strange directions away from my writing. It’s normal. Treat it as normal instead of some big disaster.

Then get your butt back in the chair and get back to typing.

Stopping is normal.

Not restarting is failure.

Have a great writing year, everyone. And stop back here at times. This is going to be a fun year-in-transition for publishing and we can talk about it.


Copyright © 2011 Dean Wesley Smith

Cover art copyright Philcold/Dreamstime

This chapter is now part of my inventory in my Magic Bakery.  I’m giving you this small slice as a sample. I’m giving you a taste, but not selling any of the pie.

If you feel this helped you in any way, toss a tip into the tip jar on the way out of the Magic Bakery.

If you can’t afford to donate, please feel free to pass this chapter along to others who might get some help from it.

And I would like to thank all the fine folks who have donated over this last year. The donations and the comments both after the posts and privately are really keeping me going on this. Thanks!

Thanks, Dean

New World of Publishing: Shifting Goals in This New World

The Second of the “Goals and Dreams 2012 Series”

A Dream:

An objective in the future that is out of your control.

A Goal:

An objective in the future that is totally in your control.

Basic and very simple. Selling to a traditional publisher is a dream. Mailing manuscripts to traditional editors is a goal.

A person sets goals and works toward them in the hopes of achieving dreams.

This concept must be very, very clear or you just ask for a ton of pain and disappointment when the people you can’t control don’t do what you want them to do when and how you want them to do it.

The first third of this series was about failure and how it must be accepted and built on. Sadly, so many writers wrote me saying they had “failed” by only getting three of four novels finished in 2011. Or only 200,000 words when they wanted more. Or something similar. Holy smokes, folks, let me simply say that thinking is very, very messed up. You wrote THREE novels. That is total success. Claim it as a success for heaven’s sake!!!

It’s one thing to accept failure and live with it, but my point, or part of my point of the first third of this:

Success is often buried in what seems like failure.

Type that up and put it on a sign on your office wall. If you only do 1,000 words in a day instead of your 1,250 word goal, climb back on the horse the next day (never try to catch up) and get the 1,250 words of your goal the next day. And be happy with the success of getting the 1,000 words you did get done the first day.

I wrote 32 original short stories last year because of my challenge. Sorry, that’s success. No matter what I set out to do a year ago. In fact, I couldn’t give a crap at this point what I set out to do, I wrote 32 short stories in 2011. (Plus three, actually.)  That is a damn fine short story year.

So in other words, quit calling writing a failure just because a year ago you set a goal and came only close. Dig in and find out what you did, how much you actually wrote, and that is success.

Call it that.

The Point of a Goal

The point of a goal is to help set guidelines on work and maybe deadlines on that work that help drive the work forward.

That’s pretty simple. But how do you set goals that are right for you? That gets a lot more tricky.

So let me run you through a step-by-step worksheet to set a goal.

Step One:

Move away from the computer, go to the couch, and let yourself daydream. In your fondest daydream, what kind of writer would you like to be? (I am using writer here, but this works for any dream.)  Do you want to be rich, write one book per year and get waited on by publishing staff on your book tour? You want to do commercials for your own books like James Patterson? You want to write the great literary novel and win a ton of prizes?  You want to sell 100,000 books per day on Kindle alone. All good dreams.

Of course, no one knows the exact path between that couch and having those dreams come true.

What we do know about writing is that it will take a ton of practice, a lot of years, and many miles of words written while walking in deep publishing forests filled with evil monsters that always jump out at you when you least expect it. In other words, there is no chance can you see a road that leads from that couch to your dream. None of us can.

But there is a road and the first little bit of it can be seen if you know where to look. But first you have to dream! And dream big!

So assuming the dream is to be a bestselling, rich writer with millions of readers waiting for your every book. What next?

Step Two:

Analyse what the writers who have attained yourt dream did in their early years.

For example: Koontz wrote under a dozen or more pen names as fast as he could, practicing his writing while fixing up houses to make enough money.  King wrote nine novels before he sold one, teaching high school English and working in a furnace room. Nora wrote and published upwards of fifty or a hundred novels before she became a bestseller. Patterson worked for decades in advertising writing. So did Cussler. Bradbury wrote up to a short story per day for years. And so on and so on.

In essence, they all wrote a great deal, practiced, studied what they did, and just kept going. That’s a pretty uniform trait of all mega-bestsellers in publishing. (Except for a few lucky modern ones. Jury is out on if they will be around in ten years, so stay with the long-term writers in your study. You want to be good and stable, not just lucky.)

Got that?

Step Three:

Now look at your own schedule for the upcoming week, upcoming month, upcoming year. With your job and family, how many hours per day or per week can you carve out safely for your writing? Talk to your family about this. Make them part of the process right here.

Write down the number of hours so that after a week or a month you can check back with the number to see how many hours you actually were able to carve out for your writing. You can adjust at that point.

Step Four:

Time your writing speed. If you tend to do about 250 words every fifteen minutes like most of us, just use that. One thousand words per hour is pretty good pace. No big deal if you are slower or faster typist. No one cares. You just need the amount of fiction you can type in an hour comfortably.

Step Five:

Tricky part. Using your speed of writing and available hours, figure out how many words you can write in a week. Safely!

However, if you are being too safe because of fear or need to rewrite or need to research or some other silliness, catch yourself and refigure.

Your writing hours are not for rewriting or research, they are for creating new words.  Protect those hours like a mother animal protecting cubs. Especially from yourself. That is the only way you will actually move down that path toward your dream.

Step Six:

Convert the number of original words you can write in a week into some unit of measure that works for you. Or leave it as words. I tend to like short stories or novels as units of measure. Actual word count means little-to-nothing for me. Everyone is different, find your own comfort measurement.

Step Seven:

With all the information, set your goals for the year. Talk about them with friends and family or not. Put them on your blog or not. Up to you. Just get them set.

And written down.

In Your Control

What you have just done is set a goal that is completely in your control. A writing goal.

You can then use the writing you will produce to set other goals. Goals such as mailing stories or books to editors or indie publishing your own books. Go through the same basic steps of figuring time needed and time you have to give to those new goals.

Caution!!!!  Never take writing time for rewriting, publishing, mailing, or anything else. Writing time, the production and practice of creating new stories is the only real way you will move along the road toward your dream.

There are a thousand disappointments every year in this business, usually from the outside directed inward toward you and your writing. If you TAKE CONTROL of what you can control, which is your writing and writing time, and protect it and meet your writing goals, the outside disappointments won’t be as bothersome.

An Honest Warning

What seems so simple in this section is actually very, very hard to accomplish. It is like I am telling you to follow Heinlein’s Rules. Those rules Heinlein set out are basic and simple and almost impossible for most writers full of myths to follow.

Well, setting writing goals, producing new words at a consistent basis seems simple as well. But it takes a driven person to accomplish even a percentage of the set goal. Most writers set goals in January and forget about them by April. The writing myths are very powerful in this area. For a little help with myths, read the chapters under the title Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing under the tab at the top of the page.

And if you do manage to hit a monthly goal with your production of new words, celebrate!

And don’t be surprised when the world decides that your writing isn’t going to get done, no matter how much you want it to get done. That happens all the time to all of us. And that will be the subject of the third part of this series: Climbing back on the horse and helping you get a goal all the way through a year.

When this series is done, I’ll post my new challenges and goals for 2012 so you all can follow along. I fell off a ton of horses in 2011, even though I ended up having a pretty fine year.

Time to mount up again.


Copyright © 2011 Dean Wesley Smith

Cover art copyright Philcold/Dreamstime

This chapter is now part of my inventory in my Magic Bakery.  I’m giving you this small slice as a sample. I’m giving you a taste, but not selling any of the pie.

If you feel this helped you in any way, toss a tip into the tip jar on the way out of the Magic Bakery.

If you can’t afford to donate, please feel free to pass this chapter along to others who might get some help from it.

And I would like to thank all the fine folks who have donated over this last year. The donations and the comments both after the posts and privately are really keeping me going on this. Thanks!

Thanks, Dean

New World of Publishing: Failure is an Option. Quitting is Not.

The First of the “Goals and Dreams 2012 Series”

I’ll bet a few of you got very uneasy by me starting off a goals and dreams series of blogs with the words: “Failure is an Option.”

That’s right, you must fail, over and over to become an artist in this business and to just survive. And that’s normal and perfectly fine.

Let me say this clearly. The reason I am starting right here, talking about failure, is that until you understand failure in publishing, you don’t have a lot of chances at success and setting goals for success. Failure is very much an option in publishing in all levels. However, quitting is not. You quit, you are done. You go into the “whatever happened to…?” authors and after that the “blank look” authors when your name is even mentioned.

So first let me talk about failure. It’s going to take a minute, so hang on. I need to try to see if I can get everyone on the same page here.

When setting goals, everything about your goal must be in your control. Completely.

Let me give you a list of examples of “control.”

1a) Selling a book to a traditional publisher…NO CONTROL

1b) Mailing a submission package to a traditional editor. YOUR CONTROL.

2a) Wanting your book to sell 200 copies a month on Kindle…NO CONTROL

2b) Getting your book on Kindle with a great cover, good, active blurbs, and written well… YOUR CONTROL.

You get the idea I hope.  So when some writer talks to me about a goal of selling a book to a traditional publisher by the end of the year, I just snort and they walk away insulted. I wasn’t laughing at their ability to write. Not at all. I was laughing at the goal they set and put a deadline on that was out of their control completely. Such goals are guaranteed to create disappointment.

In fact, to be clear, when I talk about an objective in the future that is out of your control, I will call it a “dream.”

An objective in the future that is totally in your control I will call a “goal.”

I will talk about setting dreams and using goals to work toward them at different places in this series of articles.

Plan Point #1…

Check through all your goals for 2012 and make sure they ONLY concern your work level that is in your control.

Nothing more.

No action from another party can be involved, otherwise it is not realistic.

So if you are an indie writer and thinking you want to sell a thousand copies of all your books per month next year, that’s a dream. Retreat back to how many new projects you can write and indie publish. Set up how many you want to finish and publish. That’s a goal. Let the sales take care of themselves.

So do that now. Step one for next year. (I will have these basic step Plan Points through these columns. Start your list now.)

Now, back to failure.

To become a professional fiction writer, you must become a major risk-taker without fear of failure or a care in the world what anyone else thinks of you or your writing.

Now, saying that, all new writers have just turned away, convinced I am muttering stupidity. But alas, I am not.

Examples from writers of fear of failure:

Example One …

A manuscript must be perfect. The writer doesn’t dare let a “flawed” manuscript out for anyone to see. 

The writers who have this major fear are constant rewriters, are major workshop people, are writers who write for their critique group instead of what they want.

Writers with this fear will take five people’s feedback and try to get it all into their manuscript turning their story into boring garbage written by a committee.

Writers with this fear spend huge sums of money on book doctors and other scams.

Writers with this fear are writers who let agents tell them to rewrite over and over. And so on.

Writers with this fear are replacing reality in publishing with their own fear. There are no perfect books in publishing. Never has been, never will.

Writers with this fear are often afraid of success, and certainly don’t trust their own art, because they willingly let many other people mess with it.

A personal note about this: Back when I was first getting serious, I was writing a story per week. I could not type much on my typewriter and certainly couldn’t spell anything. So I would write a new story, have my trusted first reader (Nina Kiriki Hoffman) read it and find the billion mistakes. I would fix the mistakes in spelling and typing. Then I made a copy to mail and copies to turn into the workshop. I would mail the story to an editor on the way to the weekly workshop. (I turned in the story to the local workshop to get audience reaction and see if I could learn something for writing the next story, not to “fix” the story I already had in the mail.)  Stories the workshop beat up and said were worthless, I often sold. I never told them I hadn’t “fixed” the story. (If I had “fixed the story,” it never would have sold.)

Were those stories flawed and scarred?  Yup, they were. Zero doubt about that. But they were my stories, my voice, my mistakes, done at the best skill level I could manage at the time, and that’s what helped them sell. I trusted my own art, even flawed.

If I had been afraid of mailing out anything but a “perfect” manuscript then or now, I would be done as a writer.

Another personal example. In 1973, in Palm Springs, CA, I finished up a pretty good professional golf tournament for me a few under. Not at all happy with the round, but it made me a buck or two. One of my friends at the time, another young professional out chasing, had just shot one of his best rounds ever. And won the tournament. When asked about his round, he was proud of it, but mentioned to the reporter a few places he had left shots on the course. And a wedge he had missed on #14.

That night instead of drinking, we were both hitting golf balls and practicing under the lights at the driving range. And he was working on hitting wedges. Luckily, he didn’t need a perfect golf game to put himself on the line. He just needed to keep working and trust the skill and art he had at that moment in time. And even though the next spring I quit golf and went back to college, he went on to do just fine in the world of golf. And trust me, you would recognize his last name.

Plan for 2012… If you have this fear that everything needs to be perfect, take drastic action to fix it, otherwise 2013 just won’t matter much. 

Example Two…

Afraid to mail a story because of the rejection or afraid to put a story up indie published for fear of not having many sales.

I have never understood this fear, but I know it is real. For me, this fear is beyond silly. It’s like walking up to a golf course and then deciding not to play because your score might not be perfect.

This fear is one of the “quitters’ fears” as I call them. It is safer to not try than try and fail.

Nothing I can say or do to help you past this fear because, honestly, I just find it too silly. And sad. What do you think an editor will do to you? Come to your house and shoot you for not sending in a perfect story? Never once heard of that happening in the history of publishing.  And if you put up a book on Kindle and no one buys it, WHO IS GOING TO NOTICE??  No one. Because no one bought it. Duh.

But interestingly, by not trying, you guarantee failure. Quitters never really understand that logic.

Example Three…

Afraid to write or finish a story you have been talking about for a while.

People respect others, especially artists of all stripes, who work hard in their art. There is no respect for those who claim they want to do something then never “get around to it” or as the laughing-stock phrase of all writers who are quitters, “I just can’t find the time.” Maybe for a month or six months or a year you won’t find the time as life beats on you with something special. But if you don’t really have this fear, you will come back to writing when life gets off your back and you will finish your work.

This fear is just an excuse to quit by never starting, never putting your skill and art on the line for anyone to read.

Remember, quitting is not an option. Failing is fine and you will do that a lot, but the moment you find a reason to quit and stay away, you and your art are finished. And if you can’t find the time, just keep telling yourself that, but please don’t write me with your excuses because I won’t care because you have quit by never starting. I want to help people who are not afraid of fighting for their art.

If you suffer from this fear and can’t just use logic to snap out of it, get professional help if you really want to be a writer at some point. Not kidding.

I think that’s enough examples of fear for now. We can talk about more if you want in the comments section. I’ve seen them all, actually.

… “It’s too hard” fear.

… “It’s going to take too long” fear. (Kids under thirty worry about this one the most.)

… “The system is rigged against me” fear.

… “I don’t have enough talent” fear.

… “Fear of success” fear. (This fear is deep and subtle and needs professional help to get past.)

… “I am so good, I don’t have to practice” fear. (Yes, this is a fear of admitting a need to keep learning. It is ego-based fear.)

… “Fear of public failure” fear.

And so on…

Summary of Fear and Quitting

You must be fearless in writing and at the publishing business. If a fear slows you down or causes you to quit, then you have lost your art and your fight. Stay aware of the fears as you set goals for next year. Trust me, over these articles, I will repeat a few points about fears and failure.

One way to find hidden fears is look back through Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing series. You can find them all under the tab up at the top of the page.

But the very, very best way of getting rid of fears is just not worry about failure.

Failure is normal in publishing and writing and all art.

Kill the fear of failure and all those fears I listed will just vanish. (Except for fear of success, which more than likely will take professional help to deal with.)

 Going Personal Again

Okay, as we start getting into goal-setting and dream-setting in this series, let me just get out onto the table the goals I sat last year right here in public.

I seem to remember two challenges to myself besides my normal writing.  I wanted to write 100 short stories in one year and post them all here when finished. I also wanted to lose a bunch more weight and run in a marathon in the fall.

I did not run a marathon, lost only some weight, and wrote thirty-some short stories. So when looked at in the cold light of last December’s writing, all three goals were all a complete failure.

But nothing is ever a complete failure.

Challenge #1:  I was on track to hit my mark fine for one hundred stories in one year. Then what Kris and I called “A life roll” hit with my friend’s death and I am just getting back. Not an excuse, a fact.

So failure?  Nope, not in the slightest.  I had a blast writing the 32 short stories for the challenge and the other three for traditional markets, stories I might not have written without the challenge. I wrote over 140,000 word of short fiction last year, my best short fiction year in more than a decade.

I had so much fun, I am extending the challenge to now just be 100 stories. Stay tuned, more stories coming.

Challenge #2: Weight and Running. Again I was on track to run the marathon, or better put, run/walk the marathon in September and “Life Roll” moved me down. So here in December, looking back, complete failure? Nope, not in the slightest.

I dropped 14 pounds total in 2011. I still have thirty more to go, but I am not unhappy with dropping and keeping off 14 pounds. (By the way, when I run the marathon, I will get pictures and I have a great “before” picture you will believe that was taken when I started this drop in weight four years ago. I was what my friend Jim calls, “A big boy.”)

As far as the running went, I got up to some pretty good milage which shouldn’t take me too long to get back to. Not great, but not bad. That’s all positive as well.

Attitude is Everything

It says that on my iced tea mug. And it is true.

I am not afraid of failure, and my attitude is to look at what did get done from a goal or challenge and see the success.

So this year, part of helping some of you set goals in your writing and publishing for the new year is to help you look at your “failure” positives.

Going Personal Again.

A number of blogs back, while talking about the rudeness of a young, traditional editor, I laid out a challenge a friend and I did two years ago at this time. Read it here. I made up, wrote the first three chapters, a synopsis, a cover letter and sent off 13 novels in 13 weeks. I had a blast. Was that a horrid failure? Nine of the books I sent to five editors each. No one in the comments much mentioned how frighteningly successful that challenge was for me. I SOLD TWO BOOKS and almost sold a third series.

In essence I laid out the secret to selling books quickly to traditional publishing and not one person mentioned that.

So, when looked at that challenge from one side, I got at least 50 no-response or rejections from editors. Horrid failure. Right?

Other side, I got two acceptances of what I wrote and I ended up writing both books. And I got a phone call from another editor who wanted to buy a third book called “Subway Martians: A Romance” but it was too weird for her sales force. (I really got to get around to writing that book some day.)  Failure? Not in the slightest.

50 rejections against 2 acceptances. Wow, that has to be a complete failure. Right?

Of course not.

Summary: Failure must be an option.

When you are setting new goals for 2012, you must expect failure at all levels in your plans.

And you must not allow the worry about failure, or a bad attitude about failure, to bury the success you are having.

Plan Point #2…

Check in with yourself and figure out where your writing fears are.

If you have none, you are more than likely just deluding yourself. I’ve never met a writer (or any artist) who doesn’t have strings of fears, some small, some crippling.  I was no exception.

List the fears. Write them down! Keep them to yourself.

Then  figure out which ones you can climb over without any problem every time and which ones twist your stomach even harder when you think about them. Can you mail a manuscript after only fixing typos your first reader found? If not, you have perfection fear. You get the idea. Figure out the ones that are your problems and give them so thought.

Then stay tuned for the second article in this series.

Going Personal Again: By the way, with my “failed” short story challenge, a rough guess on the amount of money I will make from the stories in the challenge is $3,500.00 in 2011.

And I will make more than that in 2012 from those same stories at their rates of sale, not counting the new stories I add to the challenge.

And in theory, in three years I will be past $10,000 in income from those 32 stories that I had a blast writing. And that income will just keep on coming in.

Yup, that’s failure.

I love this new world.


Copyright © 2011 Dean Wesley Smith

Cover art copyright Philcold/Dreamstime

This chapter is now part of my inventory in my Magic Bakery.  I’m giving you this small slice as a sample. I’m giving you a taste, but not selling any of the pie.

If you feel this helped you in any way, toss a tip into the tip jar on the way out of the Magic Bakery.

If you can’t afford to donate, please feel free to pass this chapter along to others who might get some help from it.

And I would like to thank all the fine folks who have donated over this last year. The donations and the comments both after the posts and privately are really keeping me going on this. Thanks!

Thanks, Dean

The New World of Publishing: The Big Hurry

Every beginning writer I know (including myself back about thirty plus years) is in a hurry.

Fact of publishing, sadly. But before two years ago, beginning writers knew that getting into publishing was going to be a long and hard road through the head-shaking methods of traditional publishing. Most writers who started down that road didn’t make it. And many who did make that first or even second sale quit shortly after, often because the process didn’t get easier, but actually harder.

Now let me be clear here. Like my much-missed friend Bill, I still consider a writer new until at least ten novels published. Most writers never make it to ten. Only a tiny, tiny fraction of us did in the old traditional system. Under the new indie publishing way, a ton more writers will make it to ten and far beyond. And that’s fantastic.

But writers need to understand some time factors involved in this business. Especially if the writer hopes to make a living with his fiction on either the indie or traditional road (or both roads). And understanding the time factors involved will allow a writer to keep writing and attempt to be patient and maybe make it to that tenth novel or beyond.

Compare and Contrast

There are a number of pretty major assumptions I am going to make in the following calculations.

#1 Assumption: I am going to assume that the writer is fairly smart and doesn’t go crazy self-promoting their first novel past normal Twitter, Facebook, and web site.

#2 Assumption: I am going to assume the writer just keeps writing and can finish a novel in six months. If you are faster, you can do the math.

#3 Assumption: I am going to assume the first novel is just a first novel and following books get better with practice. And the books are genre books, meaning if they sold in science fiction or mystery or romance, they would make about $5,000.00 advance.

#4 Assumption: I am going to assume sales are very low to start off on the indie side. And I count AROUND THE WORLD sales from ALL SITES, not just Kindle.

#5 Assumption: Even though I suggest writers do both indie and traditional in the real world, for the purpose of this article, the author either goes one way or the other. Not both.

Let me play some simple math games to show the point I am driving at. If I get any of these figures wrong, please correct me.

Step One: Finish First Novel. Genre Book. Ready to go on January 1st, 2012.

Traditional: Mail book to editors.

Indie: Put book up for sale on all sites.

Income while writing the second book.

Income: Traditional: No response in six months other than rejections. No money.

Income Indie:  Sales are slow because it is the only book up under that name. Maybe average 5 sales per month across all sites at $4.99 list price. $3.50 profit per sale. $3.50 x 5 sales x 6 months = $105.00.

Step Two: Finish Second Novel. Genre, Same Author Name as First Novel. Ready to go on July 1st, 2012.

Traditional: Mail book to editors. Keep first book in the mail at same time.

Indie: Put book up for sale on all sites.

Income while writing the third book.

Income: Traditional: No response in six months other than rejections on both books. No money.

Income Indie:  Sales pick up a little because a second novel is likely better than the first and there are two books under same author name. Maybe both books now average 10 sales per month across all sites at $4.99 list price. $3.50 profit per sale. $3.50 x 10 sales x 6 months = $210.00 per book. ($420.00 total for the six month period.)

Total income for first year (2012) of writing:

Traditional: Nothing

Indie: $210.00 + 210.00 + 105.00 = $525.00

Step Three: Finish Third Novel. Genre, Same Author Name as First and Second Novels. Ready to go on January 1st, 2013.

Traditional: Mail book to editors. Keep first two books in the mail, getting discouraged on first book and slowing down on submissions.

Indie: Put book up for sale on all sites.

Income while writing the 4th book.

Income: Traditional: No response in next six months other than form and personal rejections on any book. No money.

Income Indie:  Sales pick up even more because a third novel is likely better than the first two (called practice) and there are now three books under same author name for readers to find and buy. Maybe the three books now average 25 sales per month across all sites at $4.99 list price. $3.50 profit per sale. $3.50 x 25 sales x 6 months = $525.00 per book. ($1,575.00 for the six month period.)

Step Four: Finish Fourth Novel. Genre, Same Author Name as First Three Novels. Ready to go on July 1st, 2013.

Traditional: Mail book to editors. Keep first three books in the mail, getting even more discouraged on first book and slowing down.

Indie: Put book up for sale on all sites.

Income while writing the 5th book.

Income: Traditional: Sell book #4 for a $5,000 advance in November. One book deal. Three payments. No contract or money will come in before spring of 2014. So No Money.

Income Indie:  Sales pick up slightly even more because a 4th novel is likely better than the first three (called even more practice) and there are now four books under same author name for readers to find and buy. Maybe the four books now average 30 sales per month across all sites at $4.99 list price. $3.50 profit per sale. $3.50 x 30 sales x 6 months = $630.00 per book. ($2,520.00 for the six month period.)

Total income for second year (2013) of writing:

Traditional: Nothing

Indie: $1575.00 + $2,520.00 = $4,095.00

Step Five: Finish Fifth Novel. Genre, Same Author Name as First Four Novels. Ready to go on January 1st, 2014.

Traditional: Can’t mail book to editors because your contract for the 4th novel restricts you. Must sit on book and earlier books to let editor exercise options clause on your next work in the same genre under the same name. The company doesn’t even have to look at your option book until after acceptance of the first novel in the contract in the fall of 2014.

If book sold in November, contract will arrive by February 2014 if lucky. Payment will arrive in May if lucky. 1/3 of advance on signing. Acceptance of book will be 1/3 in the last part of 2014 and publication payment will arrive, if lucky, the last half of 2015.

Indie: Put book up for sale on all sites.

Income while writing the 6th book.

Income: Traditional: 1/3 of $5,000 contract, assuming no agent. Income total spring of 2014. $1,666.00

Income Indie:  Sales pick up slightly even more because a 5th novel is likely better than the first four (called even more practice) and there are now five books under same author name for readers to find and buy. Maybe the five books now average 35 sales per month across all sites at $4.99 list price. $3.50 profit per sale. $3.50 x 35 sales x 6 months = $735.00 per book. ($3,675.00 for the six month period.)

Step Six: Finish 6th Novel. Genre, Same Author Name for Indie as First Five Novels. Traditional author will switch genre and name to get away from option clause. Ready to go on July 1st, 2014.

Traditional: Mail new name and genre book to editors. No responses other than rejections. No response from your publisher before the end of the year on the option book under your contract which is one of your first novels already written.

Indie: Put book up for sale on all sites.

Income while writing the 7th book.

Income: Traditional: 1/3 of $5,000 contract for acceptance payment, assuming no agent. Income total fall of 2014. $1,666.00

Income Indie:  Sales pick up slightly even more because a 6th novel is likely better than the first five (called even more practice) and there are now six books under same author name for readers to find and buy. Maybe the six books now average 40 sales per month across all sites at $4.99 list price. $3.50 profit per sale. $3.50 x 40 sales x 6 months = $840.00 per book. ($5,040.00 for the six month period.)

Total income for third year (2014) of writing:

Traditional: $3,332.00 (assuming no agent and $5,000 advance. Book not yet published.)

Indie: $3,675.00 + $5,040.00 = $8,715.00 (Six books published with a 7th about to go up.)

Total income for first three years of writing: 2012-2014

Traditional: $3,332.00 (assuming no agent and $5,000 advance. Book not yet published.)

Indie: $525.00 + $4,095 + $8,715.00 = $13,335.00 for three years.


You can keep going if you want. But I can tell you that if you keep adding 5 extra sales per book AVERAGE and keep writing two books a year, by the end of year #5 you will be making in indie publishing over twenty thousand per year, if not more.

In traditional publishing you are going to have to sell more books for far bigger advances to make $20,000.00 after five years.

And in indie publishing at 5 years you will have at least ten books published, writing two per year. In traditional publishing you will be lucky to have three published.

And those of us old-timers in publishing know that I am being very, very generous on the traditional side in regards to time and sales.

Assumption I did not mention: The traditional side did not have a home run (meaning a huge advance) and the indie side did not have a home run, meaning hundreds of sales per month per book.

My Final Point

This business takes time. On both sides.

Also, those on the indie side, just because your book only sells ten copies on Kindle the first few months, stop panicking. In six months count all sites, like iPad, Kobo, Sony, and so on to see what the total for a book was for a certain month. After all the reporting is in for all sites. And then do the long-term math like I just did, adding a new book at your normal pace to see what that “low” number will turn into.

And it drives me nuts when a writer who has sold a hundred copies of a novel in a month on Kindle alone thinks that’s bad. Stop comparing yourself to other writers and just do the long-term math on your own sales. Those other writers who sold more aren’t writing, but promoting anyway, and will be gone shortly. You can beat them by simply keeping writing and producing more product and becoming a better storyteller.

Remember, indie writers function on long-term sales. Books don’t spoil.

Traditional publishers act like your book will spoil like a piece of fruit after a few weeks. If it doesn’t sell quickly and in large numbers, your book is a failure. You need to kill that thinking. Your book is inventory that can be sold over and over and over.

Books don’t spoil. They just earn money for you over time.

So stop being in such a hurry and focus on writing great stories. If you do that and just keep going, the money will come.

And when it does, it will surprise you because all you have been caring about is the writing.

Also, not thinking about sales all the time, not checking your numbers all the time, and focusing on only telling stories is a ton more fun.

Go have fun.


Copyright © 2011 Dean Wesley Smith

Cover art copyright Philcold/Dreamstime

This chapter is now part of my inventory in my Magic Bakery.  I’m giving you this small slice as a sample. I’m giving you a taste, but not selling any of the pie.

If you feel this helped you in any way, toss a tip into the tip jar on the way out of the Magic Bakery.

If you can’t afford to donate, please feel free to pass this chapter along to others who might get some help from it.

And I would like to thank all the fine folks who have donated over this last year. The donations and the comments both after the posts and privately are really keeping me going on this. Thanks!

Thanks, Dean

The New World of Publishing: Why Bad Agent Information Gets Taught

For decades, the business of publishing fiction didn’t seem to change much. In fact, for a major industry, it stayed stuck solidly in practices decade after decade, with only slow and often minor-seeming shifts. But now something changes daily in this business.

The point of this blog is to try to explain why some myths exist and why some bad information gets taught still by very smart people. And I hope the best way to show this is to just show the changes in agents over the years.

So let me take on once again the biggest and most powerful myth of all: Agents. And how we writers got into this mess.

Follow along with the changes in writers and agents from 1940 until today.


In the era around 1940, literary fiction agents existed, but only in a minor way. Fiction writers still dealt directly with editors, often going to their offices. Some agents worked with writers for Hollywood and some agents worked with a few writers to deliver manuscripts to New York editors for writers who lived outside of New York. But agents did very little else. And they took 10% when they did manage to place a story for a writer.

95% or more of all writers sold their own manuscripts directly to editors.


By the era around 1970, fiction agents had worked into a more solid position in the business, since many fiction writers now lived outside of New York and the numbers of writers and books published was exploding. The fiction publishing industry had gotten past the huge distribution collapse of 1958 and was settled.

A fiction agent’s job during this period was to do the grunt work for most writers. The agent sometimes sold books by delivering a manuscript to an editor (usually by messenger across town after a phone call to the editor). But most books were sold in face-to-face between writers and editors, or direct pitches from writers, often over lunch or dinner. Not all, but most.

For beginning writers, they sent their books directly to publishing houses and into huge slush piles. Young editors were getting their starts in the slush piles of publishing. These slush piles often filled entire rooms in a publishing house. But the young editors could get a promotion by finding a book that would sell.

Also, some pretty underhanded agents were in business at this point, many charging reading fees. One major agency, The Scott Meredith Agency, had writers as first readers in their reading fee program. That program trained many of today’s major writers. Also Scott trained numbers of today’s major agents, be that good or bad.

Agents handled contracts and chasing the money and getting the bestselling writer’s coffee.  They often did support for writers in trouble, sometimes lending them money if needed. And if they were involved with a book, they got 10%.

This period was the start of the myth that agents took care of a writer. For a few writers, the agents needed to help at times. But most professional fiction writers needed little agent help and many writers didn’t yet have agents other than for Hollywood. This era also started the myth that you need an agent for Hollywood.


The number of fiction books and fiction writers had exploded by 1990 and many of today’s top literary agencies had formed and were growing to fill the need.  Often an agent would help a writer sell the first book, but still a vast majority of books were sold over meals between writers and editors during this period. Usually the editor and writer were great friends. Going out to conferences or going into New York was the main way to meet with fiction editors and sell books. (I can’t begin to count the number of novel projects I sold over a lunch or dinner up until about 1996. I basically sold my first novel in a bar at a convention in 1987.)

And at this point a major way to break in was sell to magazines first, then have editors see your work and come to you for a book. This happened to me as well.

In the mid-1990s, another major distribution collapse started and continued through the early part of this century. This caused many numbers of publishers to merge and a focus away from midlist and toward more bestsellers.  This also brought in the rise of power of the publishing house sales force and the loss of editor’s abilities to just buy a book without approval.

Around 1990, a fiction agent’s job was mostly to chase money and help with contracts that were getting more and more complex. The fiction agents sold a few books, but not many, mostly just delivering books to editors the writers already knew. During this period agents started to link more with overseas agents who tried to sell the agency’s bestselling client’s books to translation rights overseas. This is where the myth that agents sell overseas rights started. Except for bestsellers, it still is a complete myth with very few exceptions.

Around 1990, agents often helped writers in many, many ways. They would submit books if the writers wanted them to do so, often keeping a book in the mail to fifty or sixty editors or until the author called enough.

Agents during this time would support writers with money, often making loans to writers who were in need and waiting for checks from publishers.

Fiction agents of this period knew the fiction publishing contracts of the time and were able to help writers with those contracts. Agents also, at times, helped on the promotion side of things, making sure a book didn’t get forgotten inside a publishing house.

The 1990 period (roughly from 1980 to 1995) was the best time for the agent/author relationship and where so many of the myths of today come from.

But somehow during those years agents raised their payment rate to 15% and authors just let them across the board. A sign of the problems to come in the next twenty years.


Around this point publishers had added in the little “agented submissions only” to guidelines that all beginning writers look at. The move was on by beginning novelists from selling a book to a publisher to trying to “get” an agent, a person who could not buy anything.

At the same time, young editors were getting fired as the consolidation after the distribution collapse was settling out.

Hundreds and hundreds of young people, mostly women, many former editors, flooded into agenting to cover the push of manuscripts headed toward agents because of the stupid change in fiction publisher’s guidelines and the masses of uniformed writers who didn’t know how to go around the guideline.

All the young agents, as former young editors, thought they knew what would sell, thus the birth of agents having writers rewrite, a practice that would have been a firing offense just ten years earlier. No agent would have dared tell a writer their job. Ever.

But now thousands of young and uninformed fiction writers were letting agents tell them how to write a novel. And thinking it normal.

The older agencies that had formed in the 1970s and 1980s retreated out of the spotlight and are now the major agencies working with mostly bestsellers, while the baby agencies fought to find that piece of gold in the slush from an unknown new writers, just as junior editors used to look through publishing house slush piles thirty years earlier.

With the huge increase in agents, editors stopped paying much attention to the agents and most of the new agents, unless personal friends with the editor, got their client’s manuscripts as far as an editor’s slush pile (if they bothered to mail it to an editor they didn’t know). The bestselling fiction writers flocked to more powerful agents or fired their agents completely, moving to lawyers.

The writers coming in during this 2005 period (give or take three years) all still heard from more experienced writers how the agents of old treated writers and how good those days were. The newer writers believed the guideline that they had to have an agent to sell a book, and they believed the old myths that agents were needed to take care of them and sell overseas rights.

So for an entire decade, the writers lucky enough to get through this system also taught it to younger writers, believing it was the way things were done. Because for them, it was.

And for the older writers with agents who were still working fine, the agent system was the right way for them as well.

Remember, during this time, just as now, a fiction writer didn’t need an agent to sell a book. A fiction writer didn’t need an agent to take care of them. And a fiction writer certainly didn’t need an agent for overseas or Hollywood sales, since e-mail by this time was a norm for everyone.

But thousands and thousands of new writers believed deeply that all they were being told was completely true. It was, just not for them.

It was true for the writer’s doing the talking.

This period gave rise to the young, unsold writers who gambled their entire careers on finding an agent. When any other way but the agent way was suggested, the idea was met with out-of-proportion anger from the young writer. It makes sense, actually, since any hint that the new writer might not be doing things right and had wasted years and years of time would crush most people.

This anger from the great group of uninformed writers forced most long-term writers into the background. And it made the agent topic became a third rail of publishing. No professional writer dared touch it.

Kris and I during this time used to hate every time anyone asked us about agents and we more-than-not avoided the question because our advice just caused problems.

There are still very few long-term writers who are willing to touch this topic because of the anger of the group of unpublished or newly published writers. Many long-term writers are still with their old agents from the 1990 system and it’s working great for them. They have no need or desire to pay attention to what younger agents are doing to an entire generation of younger writers. It’s not their business. Why should they care ? That’s why you will never see a major bestseller even talk about this topic, or bother to learn what is happening to the young writers of today.

A few of us who have been teaching over the last ten years at times have come awake to the problem. And some longer-time professional writers like Laura Resnick got rudely awoken to the problem by a series of really rude events from agents she trusted. She is also now a major fighter for writers in this area.

Also during this period, the specialty of Intellectual Property Attorney started to grow as more and more artists, writers, and software designers started to hire an attorney to deal with the extremely complex contracts.

Today… 2011-2012

Holy smokes, have things changed in a very short time.

The third major distribution upheaval of the last sixty years has rocked publishing with the introduction of new technology in e-readers.

And with this new technology, the traditional publishers lost their grip on the distribution system for fiction and allowed writers to just easily walk around the publishers and straight to readers and bookstores by indie publishing their own books.

Interestingly enough, traditional publishers don’t care and are using the new system as a large slush pile that they can find good, reader-tested books to buy.

Paper books are going down in sales numbers. Traditional publishers complain about this, but honestly don’t care much because they are moving from a nasty returns system in paper books that allowed a 4% profit to a new system that gives them upwards of 40% profit margins in electronic sales.  This huge extra profit was a gift to publishers back a few years by writers and really, really stupid agents who allowed a writer’s share of electronic publishing to move from 50% of cover to 25% of net.  Wow, what a stunning reduction in payment, yet all publishers made the move at once and all agents and most writers caved.

As I have said before, after this short transition, traditional publishers are going to be making money hand-over-fist and looking for every book they can get in print forever.

Advances are way, way down as the paper book sales collapse and the electronic book sales are not counted much at all by agents and writers except indie writers. Publishers have tightened up dramatically to make this transition.

With sales tight and advances down, agents are failing by the droves. And many agents are rushing to become publishers, because honestly, that’s where the money is now. They see their own eventual demise as an agent.

Many editors have just given up on the agent system and are looking for good books anywhere they can find them. More and more writers are starting to finally wake up and realize that they can send editors books directly.  And contracts are so complex, most agents don’t understand them, so more and more writers are hiring IP lawyers.

Agents today are also unwilling to fight any more for their authors. They have basically shifted over to being scouts for a few publishers and don’t dare stand up on an issue for fear of angering a publisher. This change happened just in the last five years or so and is the most startling change of all in my opinion. A writer hires an agent thinking they are going to help them, but the agent actually isn’t working for the writer at all, but for the publisher.

But IP lawyers are bound by ethics (more than agents) and have no problem fighting for you in contracts and negotiations. My suggestion is that these days, even if you have an agent, hire on an IP lawyer to help with the contract.

The biggest change now is that writers now have choices. We are not forced to only stay with traditional publishing and forced by myth to have an agent do nothing for us. We have options on books agents would never send out, or that are too risky for a tight publishing industry.

We have indie publishing.

This choice gives writers power again, and with luck, we can start turning these trends around.

So how does bad information get taught?

Simple, actually.

One: Writers who still have a good agent from the 1990 period tell young writers they should find a good agent who will help them. It’s good advice from that writer’s perspective because that writer only knows that system. It is true for the experienced writer doing the talking to the new writers, but it sends a very, very bad message in this new world.

Two: Writers who have been lucky enough to make it through the agent system in the last ten years tell newer writers that’s how they did it, and how good their agent is. And that advice is true from the speaker’s perspective. But again it forces beginning writers into a very, very bad place, often losing years and books and entire possible careers to some agent stuck on having a writer rewrite everything.

And that is how this huge third rail of publishing myth continues on just as strong as ever, even though agents are not what they were simply fifteen years ago.

Some basic truths I have said over and over here in different ways.

Being an agent has changed drastically in the last few years. “Getting an agent” isn’t critical to a writer and never really was. So in this new world of 2011-2012, let me offer a few basic agent truths.

1) Agents can not take care of you in business.

2) Agents are not the best people to sell your books. You are. You know your book better than anyone else. You do not need an agent to sell books.

3) Agents who become publishers should be avoided at all costs.

4) Never let an agent have your money. Split all payments from the publisher, especially as agents and agencies are starting to run out of money and fail.

5) Modern publishing contracts are so complex, have an IP lawyer read it and do your negotiating for you.

6) Agents can’t buy a book. Follow Heinlein’s Rules. Only rewrite to someone who can pay you for your work, and then only if you agree with the rewrites. Agents can not buy books.

7)…and the most important truth of all…

Every writer is different.

No one method is right for everyone. In my opinion, it’s all right to have an agent if your agent is still working in the 1990 system. But a new agent who is trying to be a publisher is to be avoided in my opinion.

But no matter if you have an agent or don’t, are traditional publishing or indie publishing, writers need to open up to the sudden changes that have happened and understand how they have changed agents and the business of how agents fit into publishing. Stop acting on advice that was good advice in 1990, but not so good in 2012.

Stand up, writers.

Stop letting agents run you around.

We writers have options now.

Learn what your options are, learn business.

You do that and take back your career and your writing will be a ton more fun.


Copyright © 2011 Dean Wesley Smith

Cover art copyright Philcold/Dreamstime

Okay, I admit it, I had issues at first with putting in a tip jar in the Magic Bakery. It was one of the “I have it made, why do I need to support my writing with tips.” A minor myth, sure, but still one that took me a few days and some talk with Kris to get past back when I started doing these blogs.

And  speaking of the Magic Bakery, this chapter is now part of my inventory in my bakery.  I’m giving you this small slice as a sample. I’m giving you a taste, but not selling any of the pie.

If you feel this helped you in any way, toss a tip into the tip jar on the way out of the Magic Bakery.

If you can’t afford to donate, please feel free to pass this chapter along to others who might get some help from it.

And I would like to thank all the fine folks who have donated over this last year. The donations and the comments both after the posts and privately are really keeping me going on this. Thanks!

Thanks, Dean

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Class #6… July 12th … Depth in Writing
Class #7… July 12th … Advanced Character and Dialog
Class #8… July 13th … Cliffhangers
Class #9… July 13th … Pacing Your Novel
Class #10... July 13th … Teams in Fiction

Class #11… Aug 8th … The Business of Writing
Class #12… Aug 8th … Character Voice/Setting
Class #13… Aug 8th … Adding Suspense to Your Writing
Class #14… Aug 8th … Ideas into Stories
Class #15… Aug 9th … Teams in Fiction
Class #16… Aug 9th … Depth in Writing
Class #17… Aug 9th … Plotting With Depth
Class #18… Aug 10th … Writing Fiction Sales Copy
Class #19… Aug 10th … Writing and Selling Short Stories
Class #20… Aug 10th … Advanced Depth

Sign-up and more information under Online Workshops tab at the top of the page.

Classic Workshops

You can sign up for these and start at any point. They are the regular workshops, only you don't send in the homework and you can take them as fast or as slow as you would like.

They are half the price of a regular six week workshop.

Classic Workshops offered.

Making a Living... Classic
Productivity... Classic
Discoverability... Classic
Writing in Series... Classic
Genre Structure... Classic
Career... Classic

Lecture Series

More information on these lectures under the Lecture Series Tab above.

#1... Heinlein's Rules... Dean Wesley Smith 15 videos... $75.00

#2... Read Like a Writer... Kristine Kathryn Rusch... 8 videos... $50.00

#3... How to Write a Short Story: The Basics... Kristine Kathryn Rusch.... 7 videos... $50.00

#4... Writer's Block and Procrastination... Dean Wesley Smith... 8 videos... $50.00

#5... Carving Time Out for Your Writing... Dean Wesley Smith.... 8 videos... $50.00

#6... How to Research for Fiction Writers... Kristine Kathryn Rusch.... 14 videos... $75.00

#7... Pen Names: Help With the Decision... Dean Wesley Smith.... 10 videos... $50.00

#8... Motivation: Starting Easier and Writing More... Dean Wesley Smith.... 9 videos... $50.00

#9... Practice: The Attitude and Methods of Practice in Fiction... Dean Wesley Smith.... 10 videos... $50.00

#10... Master Plot Formula: How and Why It Works Today... Dean Wesley Smith.... 9 videos... $50.00

#11... Prolific Lecture: How to Become a Prolific Fiction Writer... Dean Wesley Smith.... 10 videos... $50.00

#12... The Stages of a Fiction Writer: How to Know Where You Are In Learning and How To Move Upward... Dean Wesley Smith.... 11 videos... $50.00

#13... Starting Writing. Or Restarting Your Writing... Dean Wesley Smith.... 9 videos... $50.00

#14... Endings: How to Write Them and Understand What Makes a Good Ending... Dean Wesley Smith.... 9 videos... $50.00

#15... Audio Narration Lecture... Jane Kennedy.... 9 audio lectures... $50.00

#16... Your Writing as an Investment Lecture... Dean Wesley Smith.... 9 videos... $50.00

#17... How to Get Your Books into Bookstores Lecture... Dean Wesley Smith.... 10 videos... $50.00

#18... How to Think Like a Science Fiction Writer Lecture... Kristine Kathryn Rusch....11 videos... $50.00

#19... Why Some Books Sell More Than Other Books... Dean Wesley Smith.... 9 videos... $50.00

#20... How to Write a Page Turning Novel or Story: Basics and Tricks ... Dean Wesley Smith.... 8 videos... $50.00

#21... The Basics of Designing Science Fiction Covers ... Allyson Longueira .... 8 videos... $50.00

#22... The Basics of Designing Mystery, Cozy, or Thriller Covers ... Allyson Longueira .... 8 videos... $50.00

#23... Paying the Price: A Working Writer's Mindset ... Dean Wesley Smith.... 10 videos... $50.00

#24... Writing into the Dark: The Tricks and Methods of Writing Without an Outline... Dean Wesley Smith... 12 videos... $50.00

#25... Reviews: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly... Dean Wesley Smith... 10 videos... $50.00

#26... Organization... Allyson Longueira... 8 videos... $50.00

#27... Confidence... Dean Wesley Smith... 10 videos... $50.00

#28... Stories to Novels... Dean Wesley Smith... 9 videos... $50.00

My Publisher

WMG Publishing Inc. is now my major publisher of all my coming novels, collections, and short stories.

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Just click on the image to go to my new Patreon page.