• It is said that good things come to those who wait. I believe that good things come to those who work. - Wilt Chamberlain
  • A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit. - Richard Bach
  • You don't find time to write. You make time. It's my job. - Nora Roberts
  • Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most. - Buddha
  • Luck is when an opportunity comes along and you're prepared for it. - Denzel Washington
  • I can accept failure, but I can't accept not trying. - Michael Jordan

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

What I've Learned So Far

Since receiving 'the call' my life has been a whirlwind of activity. In an effort to help you all who are not yet published, but close, you know who you are - you're finaling in writing contests, agents/editors are requesting partials or fulls - I'd like to share what I've learned so far.

In the process of pursuing publication, writers spend a lot of time waiting. Waiting for critique partners to get back to you, waiting for contest results, and waiting for a response to your numerous queries and submissions. How you spend that time can ease your transition to contracted/published author.

Within a few days of receiving my offer from Harlequin Mills and Boon, I needed to complete more revisions and submit a brief bio, a dedication page, and a Dear Reader letter for my book. Then there was the contract to review (thank goodness for my agent, Michelle Grajkowski), the promo picture to coordinate, and the website to design. Oh, and did I mention I have a deadline for my second book? 2/1/2011. That's in three months. A little stressful considering I worked at writing my first book for over a year and then revised for five months to get it where it needed to be for publication.

Anyway, my suggestions to you all who are close to publication:

1) When you visit author websites you enjoy, jot down what you like and make a note of the web designer (usually listed at the bottom).  This will help you when it's time to create your own website.

2) If you have some techno-savvy, which I do not, consider exploring do-it-yourself website options.

3) When you visit author/writer blogs and websites, note their promo pictures. Are they outdoors or indoors? Formal or informal? Note outfits, expressions. Figure out how you want to look in your promo picture. Maybe have a friend or family member play around with your digital camera. Although, in my very limited experience, while a professional portrait is not required by my publisher, it is highly recommended.

4) When you read books by your favorite authors, pay attention to the dedication pages, the bios and Dear Reader letters. Becoming familiar with these, maybe playing around with writing your own, will make it much easier when it's time to do it for real.

5) Join writers loops where you have access to published authors. Their suggestions and guidance are invaluable. For instance, I am a member of Heartbeat RWA, a special interest chapter of RWA for medical romance writers and writers who use medical scenes in their writing, as well as others. Once I posted news of my sale I was contacted by several of the published author members. I was invited to join a Medical Romance authors loop and I was invited to blog on the Medical Romance Authors Group Blog at All because I'd put in the effort to find special interest groups, specific to my writing, ahead of time.

6) KEEP WRITING! Toss around ideas for new stories. Create character profiles for book 2 or 3 or 4. So when an agent/editor asks, "What else have you got?" you have something to show them

So what do you think of my suggestions? Have you done some of these things? All of them? And if you have experience with do-it-yourself web design, would you please share it here? (While I've contracted with Novel Website Design to build my site, some of my visitors may be looking for info on how to do it themselves.)


  1. Great advice! I just dealt with the promo picture issue last week. Ugh. Professional photos are SO expensive when you have to get the copyright to be able to use the pics for promotion. I went ahead and did the amateur pic for now but hope to have the funds to do the real thing soon, lol.

    Good luck with everything!

  2. I second you on the UGH! Having my picture taken was torture....and they all came out looking like me, even though I requested the special lens to make me look ten pounds lighter, ten years younger, and ten IQ points higher!
    With regard to paying for a copyright, my photographer didn't mention anything about that. Has anyone else heard of this? If I were you I'd interview a few more photographers.
    Good luck!

  3. These are great practical bits of advice! Thanks so much for taking the time to share.

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  4. amazing stuff to think about Wendy, am not as close to publication but I know its only a matter of time eh? Another thing I was going to suggest is getting business cards

  5. You're welcome, Angela!

    Hi Joanna!
    Re: Business cards. I had a couple of hundred made up before I went to RWA national this past July. I gave out maybe 10. I received maybe four one-time e-mails from strangers I'd given them to. Which is probably a good thing since I now have to add my middle initial to my published author name (to distinguish me from another Wendy Marcus author) and my e-mail address will be changing once my new website is up and running. Business cards did not turn out to be a worthwhile investment for me.

  6. Wendy, All good suggestions. One other thing I have to say is if you are writing for a group that wants sequels, you better have at least three chapters of the next book in hand before the contract arrives.

  7. Great post, Wendy! You made some very important points and I still haven't done the photo thing. I still have an old Walmart picture from 7 years ago - younger yes, but not looking like me anymore - lol! I used Network Solutions and designed my own website for $100. It took a long time but once I got the hang of it, it was fine. But I know getting it done professionally is the best route to go if you can. Thanks for the tips. I do find business cards useful. I put my blog on it and give it out all the time, especially when chatting up a stranger who's interested. I've given them to doctors, dentists, moms at pre-k, etc.Of course, not sure if they are ever being used but it was a cheap form of promotion!!!

  8. Excellent advice, Janet. That was part of what added to my craziness. Upon offering me a two book deal, my publisher wanted character profiles, a synopsis, and first three chapters for book two. (Which I didn't have.) I quick whipped up the profiles and synopsis. I'm working on the first three chapters now!!

  9. Hi, Jen!
    Thanks for your input! You're more outgoing than me where business cards are concerned. Glad they worked for you! And why don't I have one??? For anyone interested in checking out Jen's self-made website here's the link for you to copy and paste:

  10. How much does having a website professionally developed cost these days anyway? Does anyone know?

    I hate having my picture taken so if/when I do manage to get published it'll be against me will lol!

    Thanks for a great post Wendy! I love living vicariously through new authors. The behind-the-scenes activities fascinate me. Do you provide a summary for the book cover too?

  11. Hi Lacey!
    You take a nice picture. Have a glass of wine first, it will loosen you up!!!

    Re: How much it costs to have a website designed. I'm guessing it varies according to who you go with and what you want. If you'd like, click on the link for Novel Website Design and chat with Diane, my web designer.

    Re: Book cover summary. I have not been asked to do that. I'm under the impression someone at the publisher does it.

  12. Great advice Wendy. I love this blog and the information. I made post-it notes to remind me to do the things you suggested.

    And congratulations again :-)

    Happy Writing!

  13. Hi Christine!
    You and your post-it notes. I'd love to see a picture of your office!!!! Thanks for stopping by.

  14. Great advice, Wendy! Thanks for the reminder... on that hopeful "just in case" note, I really should get a synopsis ready for the sequel to the book that's with Silhouette. ;)

    What sort of character profile did you do? What did you include? I'd be curious to see that!

    good luck with the new book. Let me know if you need me to look at anything.

  15. Thanks Wendy for sharing this information. Great tips to remember when the time if it ever comes!
    Please blog about the character profile, how you whipped it up and all. Only if it doesn't interfere with your writing time.

  16. Hi Joanne and Nas!
    Busy working on my next book. Sorry I didn't get back to you until now. My character profiles are very generic. Name. Look. Likes. Dislikes. Personality ie. funny, intense. Quirks ie. gum chewer, nail biter, neat freak, perfectionist. Backstory. Goal - what they want. Motivation - why. Conflict - what's standing in their way. There are some great character profile sheets out there. Do a google search to find one that works for you.

    Re: writing a synopsis, here is a link to an excellent article by CJ Redwine that I refer to each time I have to write one. Cut and paste it into your browser:

    Good luck!

  17. You have a 3 month deadline for your next book? Wow. Good luck Wendy, I know you can do it!

  18. Great advice, Wendy. Thanks for sharing. :)

  19. This was a great post Wendy! So informative. I am still in the close by not quite category and the wait is torture. I have a novel partial at an agent, and a full novella ms at an epub. The wait to hear back is agony! But I agree that you need to move on and do something productive with your time. And I like the idea of planning ahead a little with your bio and letter to readers etc. Maybe I'll get ahead of myself and try my hand at those. I know you're finding yourself very busy now, but I can't wait for my whirlwind to start!! Congrats again!!

  20. Hi Shoshanna!
    Now it's less than three months and with all the holiday's coming up and my daughter, who I haven't seen since October 1st coming home from college for two weeks, I'm feeling a bit stressed about whether I'll finish on time. But one thing is for certain, I'll do my best.

    Thanks, Regina! And you're welcome. I hope you are doing well.

    Hi Heather!
    I joked with my husband that writing is waiting, and waiting and waiting and then BAM...bedlam ensues. The key I see now.... is making good use of your waiting time. Like Janet suggested, getting to work on your next story is key. If I had, I wouldn't be as stressed as I am right now!!!