There is no road map to becoming a successful writer and the path is different for everyone. The first question you have to ask is what success means for you, but that’s a blog post for another day. So now, without further ado…
My journey (still in progress…)
|The secret of my success.|
My first sale was in 1992 when I started doing comic strips for a local kid’s magazine that ran once a month in one of the local newspapers. The magazine ran for 12 years and I had a strip in each issue. Later I bumped that up to two strips a month. There wasn’t much money there, but as a kid with no published work, it was a great experience. It was also where I learned the importance of deadlines.
From there I did a little work here and there, although nothing major and very little that garnered attention until I started as scripter on the comic book series, Demonslayer, for Avatar Press. I got the Demonslayer gig the old fashioned way-- by submitting. I had contacted several companies via email with an introduction letter and samples of my work. Only one company replied and that was to tell me “no thanks.” A year later, that same person emailed me back to try out for Demonslayer. I went on to script that book for 4 years. It still remains one of my better selling comic book works.
That brings me to today where I still use this same technique. Having a body of published work from multiple publishers shows publishers and editors that I pitch that I have a track record for completing the work. It also allows them to check with other publishers I’ve worked with to make sure I hit my deadlines, am not difficult to work with, and help promote the work once it is released. All of these things, in addition to writing ability, helps me sell myself and my work to publishers.
|Bobby written by Bobby Nash|
One of the pieces of advice I usually give when asked about writing advice is that, if you want to write as a career, then you have to treat it like a job. That means you hit your deadlines first and foremost. Sure, sometimes things happen, but that’s the exception. Sometimes this means sleepless nights or not going to the movies with your friends because you have to write. It can mean missing a family Christmas Eve party because you’ve fallen behind (this one happened to me) or passing on a fun activity. It happens, but once you learn to plan your work schedule, it becomes easier to plan these things. Persistence is important. For me, the hardest part is getting started. Once I finally put my butt in the chair and start typing then I’m good to go, but getting to that point is sometimes harder than it should be. There are distractions everywhere. As a full-time stay at home writer, the biggest obstacle is people knowing I’m home and thinking it is okay to stop by or call me up to help with some project or another (my parents are really bad about this). I have to remind them that just because I’m home doesn’t mean I’m not working.
|The journey ala Neil Gaiman|
As a writer I have to sell myself as much as my work. That means keeping a professional demeanor on-line (we all know how tough that can be) and at conventions. I’ve had people buy books from me at cons because “I seem like a nice guy” and they appreciated me chatting with them.
Still, for all of that, I feel like I have a long way to go. It’s still work to get the books out there and to get
Is it easy? Not always, but it’s a great job and I still feel a rush of pride every time I receive comp copies of books I’ve worked on in the mail or get an offer from a publisher to work on a new project. I love being a part of the creative process.
The journey is far from over, however. Even though I’ve been a “professional” writer for 21 years now (WOW!) I feel like I’ve only taken a few baby steps. There is still a lot of walking (and probably running) ahead of me. I look forward to walking alongside you.
If you’ve not read any of Doug’s work, you’re missing out. Check out his work at http://shocknoggin.com and tell him I said hi.