Sunday, September 11, 2011

Investing in Your Career

Last Saturday I taught a class called "How to Get Published" at Murder on the Beach, a wonderful mystery bookstore in Delray Beach, Florida. We had 24 attendees, all eager learners. A few had manuscripts completed. One was a cartoonist. Another had a book published by a company that went out of business. Two had written books for children. One was a high school student whose writing I've heard is exceptional.

The single best piece of advice I can give anyone who wants to get published is this: Invest in your career.

I own nearly a hundred books on writing, the business of writing, grammar, plotting, getting published, and marketing your work. I attended all sorts of conferences BEFORE I was published. I joined Sisters in Crime before I was published. And every cent I've spent has been worthwhile.

I know a lot of folks at the start of their career think, "As soon as I sell a book, I'll go to a conference." But that's the wrong approach. By going before you sell your work, you meet wonderful people--lifelong friends. You learn about the business. You avoid costly and expensive mistakes. And yes, you can wind up selling your book at a conference such as SleuthFest.

Speaking of learning about this business. This month's Vanity Fair (the one with Angelina Jolie on the cover) has an outstanding article about the making of a bestseller. While I don't agree with everything the author says, the piece is highly educational. An expanded version of the article is available on e-readers. Go to

I've learned so much about getting published, that I put all my thoughts together in a download that's available at Just plug in my name to go to my "library" and you'll see "The Road to Publication." There's 52 pages of advice there for a modest fee!

I'll be traveling today, so I might not get the chance to check back in--but I'm curious. What advice would my blog sisters give to someone who wants to be published?


Dru said...

I'm not an author or writer, but I would tell them to persevere and hone your craft using all methods available.

Betty Hechtman said...

Writers organizations are a great help.

Monica Ferris said...

I agree that pre-published authors should to to conferences. There is a world of good information and advice there. I think a good writers group is extremely valuable not only for getting published, but for improving your skills.

Linda O. Johnston said...

Sounds like a fun class, Joanna, and I'm sure your audience learned a lot! Another thing I suggest to people not yet published is to join Romance Writers of America, since it has guidence for writers of all levels, whether or not you write romance.