THE FIRST RULE THAT I USE:
When I was a senior in college I took a creative writing course. Yeah, me in a creative writing course- it was like a shark in a wading pool. We had to write five types of stories, each 1,000 words long, in order to get an “A.” The class met once a week for three hours. As the second class began I handed in enough material to get my “A” grade. Near the end of the semester the instructor took me aside and said that he had invited a professional writer in to speak to the class. He then confided that he’d actually invited the guy in to speak to me. “Because you’re the only student I’ve ever had who I believe can make it as a writer,” the professor told me.
Now that I’m working on my 26th book, I figure that not only was that professor right, but the advice the pro. writer gave me must have been pretty good.
One of the biggest rules that I was given that day, and the one that I want to pass along to you is very simple:
The difference between “writer” and “author” is; IT’S DONE.
Ask any agent or publisher and they will tell you that budding authors far too often get hung up in tiny insignificant changes and details in their manuscript. The result is the damned thing is never finished. You made a change to this character so not you have to go in and change a bunch of stuff. Oh! Wait! That means you have this, that, and these things. Now… that doesn’t quite look good enough, so you better alter this and that…
It turns into a web of doubt and constant tweeking- and no one will ever get to read it.
Along with that rule came this one:
“Your book will never be good enough for you, but it will always be good enough to sell.”
To a professional author, a book is NOT your child. It is, simply, a product to-be-sold… period. Write it, finish it, have it edited, publish it, get the checks, write the next one.
“What about quality?” you may ask.
Quality comes from two different directions. First the basic care and pride that you put into the original construction of the manuscript. Second, the editor. Keep in mind that there is a vast difference between care and pride while writing the product, and picking the white out of chicken shit. I’m all for writing something, setting it aside for a few weeks then re-reading and punching it up. That’s what I have always done with each chapter of my own books. However, if you find yourself compulsively returning over and over to what you’ve written just to make little changes or search for a misplaced comma or some such thing, you’ll never make the leap from writer to author.
I don’t know everything about writing and publishing and I’m not always right, plus I reserve the right to screw things up. But, since 1992 I have 25 titles in publication with my name on them does give me a bit of handy insight. I hope this may help some of you out there. I do not take myself or anyone else too seriously- so feel free to ask me stuff.
If you'd like to get in touch with me, for encouragement, or just a good kick in the butt, I can be e-mailed at the above address. (I had my youngest daughter write this... the spiders will never be able to read it... I hope.)
This is my latest book... my 25th title and first novel INVISIBLE EVIL- feel free to check it out and use the Amazon "look inside" feature as much as you like.
Folks- if you'd like to find out more about Wes, visit his author's page ... in the words of Senator John Blutarsky, "It don't cost nothin' "