Just because January is over, doesn’t mean it’s too late to make writing resolutions for 2012. If you want to make this year better than last year, add these five things to your to-do list:
1. Educate yourself about scams.
Nothing is sadder than sending your hard-won words off for publication, getting an acceptance, then finding out you are dealing with a scam artist. Yet, it happens to writers all the time.
There are several ways to avoid scams. One of the simplest is to check online watchdogs like the Writer Beware section of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. This group watches for scams across all genres, not just Sci-Fi and Fantasy.
Another way to find warning flags that a publication or individual may be a scammer: Trusty old Google. Before subbing anything to an unknown market or agent, Google their name and “complaint” or “scam.”
2. Sell your work where it will earn what it’s worth.
I’ve written about this subject before.
I know it can be hard when you are first starting out to get good-paying assignments. And I will admit writing for little to nothing to get established and garner those early clips. But if you’ve been doing that for awhile, it’s time to move on. Step away from publications that want you to work for slave-wages with no credit other than “exposure.” As noted on The Renegade Writer: “People DIE from exposure.”
3. Spend some time each month seeking new (to you) markets.
Marketing is a fact of life in freelance writing. Make sure you build time for it into your regular writing schedule. (You HAVE a regular writing schedule, right?) As a rule of thumb, look for the same number of new markets per month as the number of submissions you send each month. So, if you send two subs a month, find two new markets each month. Here at Brainstorms & Bylines, I try to add five to the markets page each month.
4. Join a writing group.
Trust me, nobody understands writers like other writers. Why do you need one? Nobody will cheer you on, kick your butt into gear, and help you iron out the rough spots like a fellow Word Nerd. Check at your library, or arts council to find the writers in your area. If you can’t locate a group nearby, try an online community. Absolute Write still ranks #1 in my list of most helpful places for writers.
5. Read at least one good book about the craft this year.
The nuts and bolts are what hold the manuscript together. It never hurts to have a refresher course. Plus, it’s kinda fun to sit back, put your feet up, and see how similar the trials and tribulations of other authors are to your own. This list on Amazon.com offers some excellent suggestions.
Those are my five suggestions for making 2012 a better writing year. What other steps are you taking to boost your career? Let’s talk about them in the comments!