Writing as a Career

Recently I’ve had more and more conversations about professionalism as an author. I’ve also seen more posts popping up on how to behave professionally. This is something that comes and goes in waves. Last year there was a lot said on “Authors Behaving Badly” and “Reviewers Behaving Badly”. What I haven’t seen much about is the overall professionalism that is necessary when you decide to make writing your career. Not just with reviews, but at conferences, online in general, and at signings.

So here are a few things I think we tend to forget when we spend day in and day out behind a computer in our PJs.

1. Appearance

One of the greatest things about being writing being your career is the freedom to be who you are. A stuffy suit isn’t always required. While PJs are fine for working at home, when you head off to a signing or conference, I’d recommend making sure you check to see what general dress codes are. Also, make sure you plan your wardrobe to fit what you’ll be doing. If you are on a panel speaking, signing, or pitching to agents you want to make sure you look your best. Even in jeans and a nice shirt.

2. In-Person Attitude

I’ve had a handful of experiences that I would prefer not to repeat when I’ve met an author. It’s important to remember that no matter how big (or small) you may be, you are still a person. Readers will be ecstatic if you acknowledge them with a simple hello. You will more than likely make their day if you offer to sign swag or their book. And if you have a conversation with them about every day life, not just your work, then you’ve probably made their whole weekend. But don’t forget a blow off can ruin the weekend as well. When you are promoting yourself in person, you have to put away all the stress and focus on the positive. Fake til you make it if necessary.

3. On-line Attitude

If you’re anything like me, it’s a lot easier to open up online. As a professional I have to remember just because I’m behind a screen doesn’t mean I can let it all out. It can be easy to type a long ranty post and hit publish. But I caution you to do this. Yes, readers like to see authors as people. That doesn’t mean they want to know all of your dirty laundry. You don’t have to be upbeat and happy all the time, but it’s important to have someone close to you who you can confide in when the waters gets rough. A close confidant is much better at offering advice than the Internet anyway. 🙂

I love writing. It is now my career and I wouldn’t want anything different. It’s always good to remember that this is still a job. One that helps to pay my bills and if I want to be successful I have to be professional–I just get to have fun while doing it.

What tips do you have?

Resolving Like a Boss

I tend to go nuts with resolutions. I make lists and pin them to the wall in my bedroom where they can taunt me each time I walk by. I do fairly well at keeping them, too, though the occasional project keeps getting rolled over from year to year.

Like losing the ten pounds I’ve gained since leaving grad school. I’m starting to fear that one will stick with me till the day I die.

This year’s list was simple:

1. Yoga: I’d like to actually develop a home practice, and stick with it.

2. Schedule: This means I’ll keep my self-imposed work schedule, which includes two hours of reading on weekdays, and (generally) sixish hours of writing or at least starely blanking at Scrivener. In other words, I’m treating my writing like a job.

3. Read more new fiction: This is an important part of the writing job. I need to know the market, and I learn something from every new book I read. The more I can take in, the more I can learn!

Nope. No bacon that way.

There’s actually a theme here. All of these goals are about routine and sticking with it. They’re about taking myself seriously, at work and at play.

So many writers, crafters, photographers, runners, WHATEVERs always excuse themselves from real work and real success by saying, “Oh, I’m an aspiring writer,” or, “Oh, I just run for fun,” or “Oh, I just take pictures of my kids.” And while those things are all great, they’re also a self-fulfilling prophecy.

If you treat yourself like an amateur, you’ll continue to work at an amateur level. We get from these things what we put into them. No matter how much the doggie wishes, no bacon will appear in his tummy unless he raids the fridge and steals some dang bacon.

This year is the year of treating myself like a professional, putting in professional levels of work, and getting some professional results.

Like a boss. (NSFW!!)

How can you take yourself more seriously this year? What have you wished you could do or be better at?