Persist or Fail

Husband and wife writing team Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta shared a myriad of professional advice Saturday afternoon at the panel, “What Every Writer Needs to Know.”

From tax tips to sage tidbits, they gripped the audience with anecdotes of successful and, in some cases, misguided writers. Always be professional, they emphasized, appear and behave respectfully, and arm yourself with an arsenal of knowledge about the publishing industry.

“Don’t make any enemies; it will pull you down,” said Anderson. Every author is responsible for their own career, from keeping track of expenses and monies owed, to delivering your work on time, on length, and on the topic promised.

“Be friendly to everyone,” said Moesta, “and word will spread that you’re a nice person.” Both cited the importance of networking at conventions like WorldCon, World Fantasy Con, and the Nebula Awards weekend.

On the topic of persistence, Anderson described his popcorn model of success. Some people will cook popcorn one kernel at a time. They put in just the right amount of oil, heat the pot to the perfect temperature, and coddle the seed, shaking and watching until it finally pops. Anderson, on the other hand, throws a fistful of kernels in and inevitably he’ll end up with a big bowl of popped corn. Don’t write one story and wait for the response. Keep writing, keep submitting, and although, like him, you might receive eighty rejections before your first sale, the more you have out there, the more you’ll see in print.

To wrap up the panel, Anderson stated, “the most important thing I can tell is DON’T quit your day job.” Publishing is a slow and intermittent business, and you can wait months, years even, before seeing any proceeds from the sale of a novel. Moesta added that the bank won’t let you skip a mortgage payment while you’re waiting for the next check to arrive.

Author of the article

When Suzanne Church isn't chasing characters through other realms, she's hanging with her two children. Her short fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, On Spec, and Cicada and in several anthologies including Urban Green Man and When the Hero Comes Home 2. Her collection Elements: A Collection of Speculative Fiction is due out in spring 2014 from EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing. She is a three time finalist and 2012 winner of the Prix Aurora Award in the Short Fiction category.