Today I'm handing over the reins to guest blogger Mark Terry. And all I can say about Mark's post is, "I agree," and, "I wish I had the presence of mind not to freak out ..." Mark's newest book, The Fallen, was just released—it's an old-school thriller that literally opens with a bang. Check it out, or take a peek at the first six chapters on his website (then buy it).
Without further ado, take it away, Mark:
I wrote a fairly long blog post yesterday about Writing For A Living, and someone asked me what my best writing advice would be that wasn’t related to money. I gave her the usual answer, which is “think more, write less,” which is advice given to me by an agent I once had. I still think that’s pretty damned good advice.
But afterward, thinking about it, it occurred to me that there might be a piece of advice I can give to writers that is significantly more important and probably more useful.
Since Jon is a freelancer I’m pretty sure he will agree with me. I have found this to be something I picked up from being a freelancer more than a novelist, but it applies to novels and publishing.
When do you quit sending out queries? When do you stop marketing a story? When do you stop looking for an agent? When do you stop marketing a novel, looking for a publisher?
Ultimately, only you can answer that question.
But here’s the thing about being a freelance writer and doing it for a living: When do you stop querying story ideas?
You don’t. Not UNTIL you get an assignment.
Otherwise you’re going to have to go back to whatever lousy job you had before. If you open a restaurant, you don’t close the doors because it’s not busy unless the bank or your accountant tells you to. You keep marketing and working it until your business takes off. And that’s just like any other business.
I went through a slow period last year and my response to it wasn’t to freak out (if I freaked out every time something strange happened in my writing career I’d be totally insane by now). It was to start sending out more and more queries, trying new markets, hitting old markets, scanning job postings on Craig’s List and others looking for writing gigs. Until I was busy again.
So that’s my best advice for writers. When should you stop? When should you quit? Well, only you know for sure, but I would say, “don’t stop UNTIL you’ve accomplished what you wanted to accomplish.”