The Journal: A Few Tidbits

In today’s Journal

* Quotes of the Day
* A few tidbits
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Quotes of the Day

“My problem isn’t piracy, it’s obscurity.” Cory Doctorow

“Your next book is your best promotion.” Dean Wesley Smith

“A writer is a person who writes. An author is a person who has written.” Dean Wesley Smith

Yesterday as I watched and listened to Dean Wesley Smith in a few pop-up lectures, I was reminded of a few tidbits I’ve found to be true. I thought I’d pass those along:

1. The difference between writers who make it and writers who don’t is attitude.

Writers who make it are only storytellers, only entertainers. They Just Write, and what they write isn’t important in the slightest. They’re storytellers, so what’s important is THAT they write, not WHAT they write. “Being published” isn’t important. What’s important is the check clearing.

2. In other words, writers don’t allow their ego to enter into the process. And with no ego, they have no critical voice issues.

The ego demands perfection. The ego is what requires rewrites, critique, polishing, etc. The ego requires writers to become authors. It requires them to stop moving forward and look back at what they’ve written.

3. But readers readfor Story, not perfection. So as a writer, go for broke. Don’t hold back, and don’t LOOK back. Don’t judge your own work. Write it, submit or publish it, and move on.

This—the difference in attitude between those who call themselves writers and those who call themselves authors—is what Dean was talking about several years ago when he uttered the third quote above. I remember the entire utterance:

A writer is a person who writes. She tells a story to the best of her ability, then submits it or publishes it and moves on to write the next story. She’s always moving ahead, never looking back.

An author is a person who has written. Having finished a story, she stops writing and spends all her time promoting what she’s written.

4. But you have to promote your work, don’t you?

Well, yes, you do, but not in the way authors believe.

To promote your book, do this:

1. write openings with depth that pulls the reader into the story (the opening sells the current book),

2. write a satisfactory ending (the ending sells the next book),

3. design a genre-appropriate cover,

4. write effective sales copy, and

5. write the next book.

I know. None of that feels like “promotion” because it’s part of what you should be doing as a writer anyway. But it IS promotion, and it is the best promotion.

5. So in answer to the old question of whether you can “sell without promotion,” no, you can’t sell without promotion. But YES, you can absolutely sell without all the gimicky crap that passes for promotion, like exclusivity agreements and paid ads and other money- and time-draining activities. You really don’t need any of that. To sell well, all you need is what’s in the list above.

But that’s for writers. Let’s go back to authors for a moment.

6.I already talked aboutwriters always looking forward and authors stalling and looking backward. So I’ll just leave this here for any authors out there:

Remember the old truism that writers are the worst judges of their own work?

a. Authors quote that truism, usually with a chuckle, when they look back at their work and believe it’s “good.” Then they use the truism itself (“Well, I am the worst judge of my own work”) as an excuse to launch into a series of rewrites, etc. It’s as if they’re saying, “I wrote this, therefore it can’t possibly be any good.” What a horrible lesson that is to teach the creative subconscious.

b. Yet when those same authors look back and believe their work is “bad,” they seem to forget the truism altogether. And with “writers are the worst judges of their own work” firmly hidden away, again they launch into a series of rewrites, etc.

7. So how to break the cycle?

Simple. Believe in yourself, and understand that you really ARE the worst judge of your own work. So if that’s true, why bother looking back at what you’ve written at all? Besides, that isn’t even your job. Your job is to write the story. The READER’s job is to judge it.

And seriously, how you feel about your own work is neither here nor there. Good or bad, it’s only one opinion. And the only opinion that matters is the opinion of the person who wants to buy it.

So don’t judge your own work. Write it, finish it, submit or publish it and move on to the next story. Always move forward.

Talk with you again later.

Of Interest

See “Career You Learned No Longer Exists” at

See “A Guide To Crime Scene Investigation” at

See “Holliday Collection” at Or you could just write 5 stories, bundle them into a collection, and publish it without going through the class.

See “Big Business of Library E-Books” at

The Numbers

The Journal…………………………………… 840 words

Writing of WCGN 5: Tentative Title (novel)

Day 1…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for August……… XXXX
Total fiction words for the year………… 623282
Total nonfiction words for August… 840
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 156060
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 779342

Calendar Year 2021 Novels to Date…………………… 13
Calendar Year 2021 Novellas to Date……………… 1
Calendar Year 2021 Short Stories to Date… 3
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 66
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 217
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31

Disclaimer: In this blog, I provide advice on writing fiction. I advocate a technique called Writing Into the Dark. To be crystal clear, WITD is not “the only way” to write, nor will I ever say it is. However, as I am the only writer who advocates WITD both publicly and regularly, I will continue to do so, among myriad other topics.