Personal, Technology, Writing Life

Advice I’d give a new writer

Self-publishing: easy, fast, cheapGiving advice to someone in any business these volatile days is risky—no less in the writing biz. Things have changed drastically since I first put my toe into freelance writing waters, fifteen plus years ago. It’s hard to predict what new condition, improvement, or obstacle will come along tomorrow, let alone a year or two from now. One piece of advice I would give to someone starting out today, though, is related to new developments.

My advice: Don’t be too quick to self-publish.

I’m not saying don’t do it. Just don’t let the ease, affordability, and popularity of self-publishing alone lure you onto the bandwagon. One can feel a certain amount of pressure to get work out there just because it’s easy to do and it seems like everyone is.

  • Get advice from those familiar with your work about whether or not it’s ready for prime time.
  • Get familiar with the market and what people are reading, so you know whether you  have a commodity people want and will buy.
  • Know your goals.
  • Count the cost in terms of the whole package including marketing and publicizing.
  • Above all, pray about it, and let the peace of God be your heart’s umpire in this – Philippians 4:6,

Blog hop for writers - logoWhat advice would you give a new writer?

More advice for newbie writers is found HERE.

After I wrote this post, I came across an interesting article about self-publishing at Writer Unboxed: “The New Class System” by Donald Maass.  More food for thought.

16 thoughts on “Advice I’d give a new writer”

  1. Many thanks Violet – this was such great advice. I very much agree with your warning not to jump into self-publishing without knowing all the facts first. Very much like in other areas of life: be sure of what you’re getting into.


  2. This is the one piece of advice I wouldn’t touch but feel strongly about. It’s great to self-publish–if you’re ready–but sometimes new writers haven’t experienced enough to know when they are ready, myself included. Thanks for sharing!


  3. I wrote about not rushing into anything too – self-publishing can be a truly great option if it’s the right fit for you and for your work, but not if you are just trying to avoid putting in the effort it requires to produce a quality product you can be proud of. Thanks for the reminder!


  4. I am horrified to think back to the time I thought my MSS for She Does Not Fear the Snow was ready to publish. On that same day, I read about the importance of an editor. It seemed Godincidence and so I paid what seemed a lot for a professional line-by-line edit ahead of publication. Best money I ever spent.


  5. Thanks for the all the comments. I was thinking this advice might get more resistance than support, as I know many are self-publishing these days (including myself). If I had to do it again, I’m not sure I would, even though I’m happy with the book that resulted.

    (I’m not commenting individually today because I’m busy looking after my three grandkids after the birth of their baby sister this morning! What a happy day.)


  6. I agree totally. I think there is a time and a place for self-publishing – and some books that should be self-published – but I do agree it must be done thoughtfully and carefully, for the right reasons. And if you do self-publish, PLEASE hire an editor! There’s nothing worse than self-published books with typos. That gives a bad name to all self-published books and writers! 🙂


  7. Great advice, Violet. I paid for “assisted self-publishing” on my first novel. I’d been convinced that no publisher would touch a newbie, but now I doubt if I’ll ever recover the costs involved. Wish I’d known then what I know now.


  8. Violet,
    First, congratulations on the new granddaughter!

    Second, I was feeling pressure (not from anyone in particular…just myself maybe) to self-publish my books. Every other writer I hear about is doing it, and most, not to great success.

    In the picture perfect image of myself as a published author it isn’t because I uploaded the book to Amazon. I want my writing to be wanted by an agent and then a big name publisher. That’s the dream. I don’t know if it will ever come true, but I’m holding onto it.

    Who knows? It may change sometime in the future. If it does, I will surely do my research and hire an editor.

    And third, thanks for making it over to my blog and for your good advice.

    Leanne Ross ( & @LeanneRossRF )


  9. Violet, I’d add one more point: invest a lot of time in researching marketing, building a platform and connections, before even beginning the self-publishing process. And as I’ve already seen in the comments, be sure the writing is edited well. Also invest in a professional cover.

    I think it’s a great time to self-publish, and it’s something I’d consider in the future if the project was right for it. But the ease of doing it is a trap. We sabotage our work if we expose it too soon. And our opinions, at least in the early years, are not to be trusted.

    When I first went to Write! Canada, I took my completed manuscript and honestly hoped to find a publisher. Instead, wise but gentle professionals helped me see what it looked like through their eyes. Definitely not so good for my self-esteem! Then, many years and revisions later, I submitted it to my publisher, absolutely confident it was ready for the market. Again, not so good for the self-esteem. After three fairly intensive rounds of editing based on what the publisher’s team saw, we all believed it was ready and Heaven’s Prey was released. Is it perfect? No, but it’s much closer than if I’d relied on my own understanding and self-published it.


    1. This is so interesting, Janet! Thanks so much for sharing the journey of Heaven’s Prey. You have a final product to be proud of. I think we all need to keep in mind the long trek to such a thing, whether we wait for a royalty publisher or decide to take matters into our own hands.


      1. We do, indeed. It’s a great time to self-publish, if a person has done the research and is prepared to do the work. Just re-reading my first comment, I should have ended with “If I’d relied on my own understanding and self-published it when it wasn’t ready.”


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