Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Writing as a Team Sport

I once told my wife that I loved writing because I didn’t have to deal with people I couldn’t erase with my delete button.

Back then, I thought that writing was a solitary endeavor.   I pictured me as a grizzled old man, hunched over the crumb-infested keyboard, my haggard face warmed by the glow of my monitor, a cup of steaming tea by my right hand.

But the fact is . . . writing is much more of a team sport than I originally believed.

Yes, when I sit at my computer typing away, I sit physically alone; however, I have the echoes of various people in my head.  For instance, I constantly have to keep in mind the readers and reviewers who have given me feedback on my previous work.  They’ve made some valuable points about my first novel and I want to learn from them.

There are also tons of other people who have helped me get published.  My agent, Joelle Delbourgo, for one.  The good people at Diversion Books are others.  More recently, I’ve found an incredible editor who has been going over my second manuscript (Betrayal in the Highlands) with a fine-tooth comb.  I’ll be speaking more about her once she gives me permission to rave about her services.

There are also the dozens of the people who have helped promote and pimp out my book.  Without them, I probably wouldn’t get a chance to write a second one.

I simply could not be writing without all of these wonderful folk . . . my “team.”

And writing is a sport of sorts—complete with various leagues and champions and scorecards. 

In the Big Leagues, score is kept by the thousands of books that are sold and the number of weeks on best seller lists.

In the Minor Leagues, in which I am currently swinging, we keep score by the number of positive reviews we get on Amazon (fifteen so far) and Goodreads (thirty-four! Yippie!!). 

That’s not to say struggling writers don’t care about sales.  We do.  In fact, occasionally four or five people might buy my book in the same day and I allow myself to dream of being called up to Big Leagues where I could hobnob with the likes of Stephen King and J.K. Rowlings.  (For some reason, in these daydreams, I'm always wearing a tweed jacket and smoking a pipe. Go figure.)

It’s a dream.  But the grass is just as green on Minor League fields as it is in the Big Leagues.  I'm happy to be playing the game regardless of what stadium I'm in.

I suppose this is what I want to say to the other writers out there, especially the yet-to-be published writers who are trying to break out onto the playing field:

You need a team.

Get a good group of people around you—people who will tell you honestly what in your story works and what doesn’t, people who are insightful and energetic and supportive. Surround yourself with them and listen to their suggestions. Allow them to help you promote and market your book and above all, don’t try to go it alone.


  1. If your editor is who I think it is, then your editor is indeed great, Robert. :) I'm surprised though that your publisher doesn't mind it being outsourced though. Unless they're also going to edit your manuscript for you. I was tempted a while back to point out typos too, but I didn't in case . . . well, you probably know why. (They were few anyway. :) )

    I wholeheartedly agree with your post too. But that doesn't stop me from fretting about 'bothering others' to look over my work, considering I can't afford to pay anyone.

  2. Oh, yes, a writer definitely needs a supportive team. :D Like you, I'm very lucky to have a plethora of people on my side who'll support me to the bitter end. And I'm also very lucky to have once had an editor who gave me such a swift kick in the "writing pants," so much so I bit back with a snarling vengeance, garnering every little bit of writing and editing information I could so I could fully restructure and drive home what I hope will be a fantastic novel (a notion's that totally debatable at all times!) in the end run.

    So, well said, my friend. Well said. People believe writing's a solitary endeavor. And they're completely wrong on that point. If it were, a writer would never learn and grow, and his/her novel would never get a chance to shine. :)

  3. i'll do my best!

    by the way, i read the first sample chapter of your first book, and i love it so far~ again, i'll let you know through goodreads once i have the review up.