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Where the learning never ends ...

Wild Ink Interview Part III

• From my interview in Wild Ink: Success Secrets to Writing and Publishing in the Young Adult Market by Victoria Hanley

I probably put in 45–60 hours a week, including cleaning the oven and other feats of procrastination. More hours than that and my writing gets stale. If you start earning enough that it affects your taxes, get a tax preparer who knows the ins and outs of the tax code in regard to freelance work. You’ll be glad you did.

Much more importantly, cultivate a good relationship with your editors. Again, that sounds obvious, but too many writers view critical comments from an editor as a personal attack. It ain’t. Writing is usually solitary but publishing is a collaborative process. Once I got that, really, really got that, I was much happier and I started getting more work than I could handle. Want to win the devotion of an editor? The first response to any feedback should be, “Sure, I can fix that.” Later you can niggle about the details—in a thoughtful and respectful manner, of course. I’ve worked with editors that at one time drove me batty, but later became the ones I trusted most because they pushed me to do my best work.

In my experience, there are three “abilities” of any successful freelancer, or perhaps any successful anything. Ability—talent to write clear, engaging material. Reliability—the ingrained habit of getting quality work in on time. Likeability—the can-do character that makes an editor’s job easier, not harder. Rule of thumb is that if you can master any two out of those three, you’ll always have writing work.

How many rejections have your received in the course of your writing career? How did you deal with being rejected?

Rejections aren’t really an issue now since publishers are the ones coming to me. Believe me, I know how fortunate I am. However, my fiction is rejected consistently. It’s part of the game. I belong to an outstanding critique group of writers who keep me honest and encourage me at the same time.
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