Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Pitfalls of a Writing Life: IWSG

Welcome to August! It's the first Wednesday of the month which means it's time to let our insecurities hang out. Yep, it's the Insecure Writer's Support Group blog hop. If you're a writer at any stage of career, I highly recommend this blog hop as a way to connect with other writers for support, sympathy and networking. If you're a reader, it's a great way to peek behind the curtain of a writing life. 

The August question - What pitfalls would you warn other writers to avoid on their publication journey?

After you check out my post, be sure to check out the rest of the hop! Especially our co-hosts: Erika Beebe, Sandra Hoover,Susan Gourley, and Lee Lowery!

The oldschool videogame Pitfall is a pretty good analogy for building a writing life, at least the business side of it. 

There are alligators out there: predators who smile while they make plans to eat you. Beware the offer that sounds too good to be true: it is!

Snakes too, springing out to attack. Creatives are sensitive people, and they've been known to turn on other creatives. Ask anyone who's had a critique partner turn on them, or gotten in the middle of something ugly online. 

You can get so busy jumping over promotional hurdles that you fall into a plot hole in your new work and struggle to write your way back out! I've found this especially true after publication: balancing writing new material with promoting my published work and keeping my name "out there" for discovery and networking is quite the Balancing Act. 

The worst is when you think you're on solid ground and pit opens up. When a publisher fails to hold up their end of the bargain and your supports drop away. It's an industry, but it's all just people as well. Sometimes people's lives and businesses fall apart, leaving a writer hanging. 

I've been careful and fortunate in my writing life, and I've still run into some of these traps. Especially when you're not yet published, it can be easy to get involved in something less than good. You might accept a deal that isn't fair to you and your work just because you're so grateful to have an offer at all. We're all chomping at the bit to get started as writers after all. 

Luckily for us, it's the twenty-first century and with a bit of research, a lot of scams can be avoided. A bit of cyberstalking of your potential business partners is just due diligence, protecting yourself from abuse. Sites like Writers Beware are helpful, but I've done best by reaching out to other writers through organizations like this one (IWSG), WFWA (Women's Fiction Writers Association), and Broad Universe. There are plenty of other groups out there, too, where you can find advice and support about the business end as well as the craft end of a writing life. 

When I'm checking something out, I post in forums and Facebook groups asking other writers to share their experiences. We can all help protect each other in this way. Other writers have been so generous to me with their time and advice. Writers don't let writers get cheated or scammed! 

So, yes, just like in the game, there are many pitfalls and traps out there. But there are ways to keep yourself safe and protected while enjoying the grand adventure we call a writing life! Just do your research and take time to ask questions.

How about you? Where do you go to find out about potential business partners? What steps do you take to protect yourself and your work? 


  1. I loved that game! Thank you for the sweet post today and happy IWSG. I agree with you. I was so naive in the beginning but now, with careful research, we can avoid scams easier. I've decided mostly to use references for my writing and also to hire a professional editor. It makes matters easier for me and also a guarantee that my material will get read. I wish you the best Samantha :)

  2. Nicely put. Being cautious is being smart. We are so full of hope that we are easily victimized. Eyes open everyone. :-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

  3. That game is a very good analogy!

  4. Research isn't just for our stories, it's for our careers. Great post.

  5. Publishers' Marketplace is an invaluable resource for sussing out agents and editors. Find out who is selling what to whom. I wish I'd known about this before signing with my former agent. It's especially great for Twitter pitch sessions. That agent who favourited your mystery book pitch? Well, if PM tells you she's only had success selling non-fiction, she's probably not your best bet.

    It costs to subscribe, but it's worth every penny.