53 Books Later: Ten Things I’ve Learned As a Writer
Posted by Bob Mayer
My first novel came out in 1991: The Green Berets: Eyes of the Hammer. It is still selling well and the Green Beret series just saw its eighth book, The Green Berets: Chasing the Lost come out. The protagonist from that first book, Dave Riley, is a bit older, supposedly retired, a bit crankier, and more than a little crazy. Reminds me of someone I know.
I’ve published 52 books since that first book.
Off the top of my head, here are some thoughts of lessons learned.
- The best thing a writer can do for their career is: write. The best promotion is a good book, better promotion is more good books. Everything else is secondary.
- The moment an author thinks ‘they have it made’ is when their career is pretty much over.
- Don’t say bad things about yourself or your writing. There are more than enough people out there in the world willing to do it for you.
- I don’t remember most of what’s in my books. Readers know them better than I do. I have to go back and re-read my own books when working on a new novel in a series. Once a book is done it is no longer my ‘baby’. It is a product which goes on the market with all that is entailed. I sever my emotional ties to it which causes some of my amnesia.
- My favorite book is always the one I’m currently writing.
- When someone tells me they have the book idea no one has ever written before, I wish them well and walk away.
- The number one thing I did wrong in my traditionally published career and now focus on in my indie career is network. This business is made up of people. Those people make decisions that affect you. If they have to make a decision between an unknown name on the internet or someone they’ve met face-to-face, guess what? It goes against my nature to do this, but I force myself to.
- Someone is always doing something better than me. I try to learn from others but have gotten to the point I don’t let it bother me or worry about it. I do my thing.
- Someone is always going to be making more money writing books than me. I’m thankful I’ve managed to do this as a living for over two decades. Money doesn’t buy happiness but it does pay the mortgage.
- There are two very important aspects to this job: being a writer and being a business person. They are equally important and required for success.
- As an ode to Spinal Tap, there always has to be an eleven. Every writer needs a good dog or two to lie at their feet, snoring under their desk while working.