Top three writing obstacles.




Ah the perks of the writing biz are great, to be sure, but let’s not sugarcoat it. There are some serious obstacles to making a go of it in this strange business. Here are a few I’ve faced personally.

1. You need an agent to get published… and an agent is looking for published writers.

Uh oh. Most publishing houses will not accept unagented submissions and most agents prefer a client with some publishing credits under their belt. That’s an obstacle, now isn’t it? How does one get around that? I published a three book series with Barbour before I was acquired by my agent. There are still a few houses (like Barbour and Harlequin) who will take unagented work, so you can try to build your career that way which will make you more attractive to an agent. You can also build your writing credits by contributing to magazines, ezines, blogs, etc. and even self publishing if you’re enormously committed to marketing that ebook. Every publishing credit can only make you more attractive to an agent.

2. Hours in….money out. It’s a time consuming business to write a book. The fastest I’ve ever managed is three months. As my agent says, “A good book is better than a fast book.” That said, the time investment is huge on a book that may never see the shelf. So what’s the remedy for that? There isn’t one, really, except to stagger your work and make sure there are several income producing projects afoot at one time. Also, books can be self pubbed, of course, but the quality needs to be just as amazing as it would be in a traditionally published novel.

3.  The “write what sells” vs. “what I want to write” dilemma. I know folks who absolutely love what they write and it sells like hotcakes. Me? Not so much. I tend to write “quirky” I’m afraid, and that doesn’t always translate into mainstream sales. Obviously, my publisher and I both want my books to fly off the shelves, but I can’t justify writing about topics just because they are popular. So what’s the answer? Somehow, I need to find that balance. I need to hear from my publisher what they feel is going to appeal to their readers (and they have a keen sense of this) and I must write my own story that balances both what the readers want with what I am comfortable writing. Best case is we hit upon a winner that makes us all happy.

What obstacles do you have in your work or daily life? How do you overcome them? Giving away a Starbuck’s gift card, a signed book and a fall treat this month.


12 responses to this post.

  1. Writing a book first is a risk. Many greats started out by writing short stories, or had short stories published first. Charles Dickens, Edgar Allen Poe, and Ray Bradbury to name a few. Some of Ray Bradbury’s early book credits (such as the Martian Chronicles, and Illustrated Man) are simply collections of short stories that were previously published..He wrote thousands in his lifetime.



  2. Posted by Julie on September 15, 2014 at 3:04 am

    Good article. I agree with the difficulty in finding an agent that likes your work well enough to promote it whether or not you are published.



  3. I agree with cozynookbks and Dana on the aging thing. For me, it’s not so much physical/bodily limitations, but I just can’t seem to CONCENTRATE like I used to! I think the Internet has made us respond to “something new every 10 seconds” and that just doesn’t work for finishing a first draft. Good article, Dana!



  4. Posted by Alexis on September 14, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    My obstacle is being disciplined enough to devote one to four hours for writing my next book. I plan to overcome this by sitting at my computer and make myself write even if it is just free writing exercises because I realize that my next book is not going to be written by me just thinking that I need to devote more time to writing. But then enters my next obstacle, writer’s block. My mind is still exhausted from writing and publishing my first book. I have a lot of great idea for new stories and have written those ideas down but I am too exhausted to turn these ideas into books at least not right now. Not sure how I can overcome that obstacle but God-willing I will! 🙂



  5. An obstacle I’m experiencing right now is the effects of aging and how I have to adapt to it and, as my loving husband tells me: “embrace your new reality.” I’m not even old yet, but I’m having back problems and suffer with other chronic, annoying ailments that have slowed me down a bit. That’s difficult because I love life and experiencing the world around me, but it’s not so fun when you’re in pain. How do I overcome it? I take my husband’s advice and I also remind myself that I’m better off than many others, so I should be grateful for what I still CAN do. Also, I try to exercise and do whatever I can to keep going, realizing that life is a gift and I shouldn’t take any days for granted.



  6. The “need an agent” obstacle is huge, and I even have four books in print from a small publisher. When I looked up Barbour, as a Christian publisher who takes direct submissions, I didn’t find much information. Are they still doing without agents?
    Writing is fun! Selling the product–not so much.



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