Recently, I was thinking about the mistakes I’ve made in my writing career. There have been a few. But what career doesn’t have some? Screw-ups are all part of learning…as long as you don’t keep making the same ones again and again.
- I wish I’d gone with a pen name. There were several other writers called Simon Wood already published before my first book came out. I really should have done my homework to avoid confusion. And eliminating my namesakes has proved costly and time consuming.
- I wish I’d been more confident in my own work at the beginning. I didn’t always believe in my writing in the early days. This led me to aim low and work up. The reverse would have been smarter.
- I should have never given my work away for free and/or low offers. This falls back to #2. My work is worth paying for and I now hold fast to that rule. Some of the stories I gave away to magazines and anthologies, while they might have given me “exposure,” actually cost me further down the road. There’s nothing worse than when a big time editor wants to make an offer on your work and you’ve given your story and rights away to someone for free.
- I wish I’d been pickier about contracts. I’m no push over when it comes to contracts now, but the rights I signed away on some of my earlier contracts cost me (and not just financially). In my eagerness to get published, I missed out on some big opportunities because I wasn’t the rights holder on some options.
- I wish I’d remembered business is business. I like my working relationships to be friendly, open and low key but I should have been more professional when it came to my contracts. I once felt bad for my editor during my contract negotiations and gave him all rights when I signed the paperwork. It was a mistake that could have cost me a small fortune if I hadn’t been able to break the contract years later.
- should have associated with good people only. Publishing, from bookstores to editors to publishers is filled with a lot of different “personalities”. That means there are going to be difficult and abrasive people you have to work with. I spent a lot of time bending over backwards for people who were rude, selfish and acted as a detriment to my reaching new readers. I don’t tolerate someone’s poor behavior, regardless of who they are.
- I wish I’d gotten into eBooks about a year or two before I did because I could have really established myself in the industry. I had a good writing friend tell me to work my backlist as eBooks and I didn’t because a couple of publishers asked me not to because they didn’t want the competition. Again, it was one of those things where doing publishers a favor came at my personal expense. I missed the chance of establishing myself in the emerging industry which could have sent me on my way.