Monday, July 5, 2010

The 3 P's to Writing Success by Gini Koch, Part 1

As you all probably know by now, I have mad love for author Gini Koch. Not only does she write a fun and fast paced series, starting with Touched By An Alien, but she is one of the funniest and most generous people I've met recently. She has given me some really great writing advice and she's master of the motivational/kick in the butt speech and I love it. So, because I'm demanding, I asked her to write up something for the blog and because she's nice, she agreed.

This is going to be a 3 part series of posts on Gini's advice if you are an aspiring author that wants to be published one day. Enjoy and bring your notebook to class, they'll be a quiz after.....just kidding, but I bet I got the 'ol heart rate up a bit, eh? LOL.

The 3 P’s to Writing Success
By Gini Koch

There are many things aspiring writers can do to achieve publishing success, but there are three things that will ensure a more successful, pleasant, and profitable road. And, because I’m a nice girl, I’m going to tell you what they are.

They’re the 3 P’s to Writing Success: Professionalism, Patience and Perseverance.

Part One
Aspiring authors are many things -- creative, excited, confident, scared, eager, etc. -- but unless they learn how to act like great big boys and girls, what they all manage to consistently be is annoying. Why? Because they act like spoiled, petulant, demanding know-it-alls who expect the world and the business of publishing to change for them. Therefore, the first step to becoming a successful, published author is to act like one.

Most writers aren’t professionals. Oh, many may work in professional jobs, but when it comes to their writing career, they act like rank amateurs. And, truly, no one wants to work with an amateur. Because amateurs are, quite frankly, big, huge PIAs.*

Professionals understand that agents and publishers have requirements for manuscript submissions for a variety of reasons, most of them related to how said agent or publisher does business. Amateurs decide that the rules aren’t for them, because their book is special.

Professionals understand that anything they do or say will come back to haunt them, particularly if they’re saying it about people working in a very small, insular industry. Amateurs decide that they can trash anyone who doesn’t think their work is staggering genius, because their book is different.

Professionals understand that they need to work at their craft, try different approaches and styles in their writing, and slog on through the “apprentice” years, in order to become good enough to be published. Amateurs toss their first finished MS out, regardless of worth, usually without real editing, simply because it’s done and, well, their writing talent is exceptional.

Professionals understand that they can learn from others and do their best to attend as many writing conferences as they can, join good online writer’s forums, join and become active members in the writing associations that most relate to what they write, and so on. Amateurs don’t listen to anyone, especially published authors, editors, and agents because their book is so amazing and those professionals are just jealous of their genius.

Professionals listen to advice, weigh it, and then, even if the advice isn’t something they like, follow the advice, particularly if it’s coming from people who are where they want to be (successful, published authors with agents and viable careers). Amateurs ignore anything they don’t like, because their book is so much better than anyone else’s.

Professionals find critique partners, beta readers, and others who can provide feedback and constructive criticism, and professionals take that criticism as professionals, without ruining relationships. Amateurs either get no feedback before sending their MS out, or they argue every single piece of feedback, including spelling, grammar, punctuation and syntax errors, because their book is such staggering genius that agents won’t mind if it doesn’t look perfect, and besides, they only want to hear how great their writing is, because it is.

*Note: Your book isn’t special at all, kids. There are only three plotlines in the entire world, and a limited number of variations on those three themes (oh, and those themes are: good versus evil, boy meets girl, man against nature). You’re not doing anything new, and if you’re just starting out, you’re not doing it well, either. Move over to acting and then thinking like a professional ASAP, because the sooner you do, the faster you’ll become a professional…and professionals get published.

Gini’s Motto: If you can’t take constructive criticism, nay if you cannot take criticism at all, perhaps a career in the arts is not for you.

Gini Koch speaks frequently on what it takes to become a successful author and other aspects of writing and the publishing business. The first book in her Alien series, “Touched by an Alien”, released April 6, 2010 from DAW Books, receiving a starred review from Booklist as well as other excellent reviews. “Touched by an Alien” has also been named by Booklist as one of the Top 10 adult SF/F novels of 2010. “Alien Tango” releases December 7, 2010, and “Alien in the Family” releases April 5, 2011, with “Alien Proliferation” following later in 2011. You can reach Gini at her website,, or via email,

I'd like to thank Gini for stopping by and giving us some great advice. Also, she will be checking in to answer any questions you may have in the comments, so feel free to ask away. ;)

Tune in later this week when we tackle the remaining P's: Patience and Perseverance.

Check out Gini's books, Touched By An Alien which is out now and Alien Tango which you can preorder:

 Touched by an Alien

 Alien Tango


Sullivan McPig said...

Great post! Thanks for your words of wisdom Gini!

Amber Scott said...

I love it when someone articulates what I wish I could. This 'P' is so true. Can't wait to read your wonderfully candid take on the other two!

Gini Koch said...

@Sully - not sure it's wisdom so much as experience. And listening to the agents & editors I know. LOL

@Amber - yeah, it's amazing how many aspiring authors just choose to ignore this part of the equation.

Anonymous said...

::waves:: Hi Gini! And B! Great post!!
I am reading Touched By An Alien right meow and LOVE IT! The Luggage of Doom scene had me laughing out loud last night.

Kelly Anderson said...

I remember vividly sitting at Gini's knee, on the floor, where all rank amateurs begin and receiving these same words from on high! Okay, I was at her kitchen table on a padded chair...but the words were the same. I love nothing more than to learn, and Gini's advice is always freely given with the intent to help. That is the best thing about it...she wants to help! I love that about you Gini!!

KT Grant said...

*bows down to Gini of everything hot elevator lovin.*

Gini Koch said...

@Pamela - so glad you're enjoying it! And glad you're liking the blog, too. :-D

@Kelly - Aw, you're so sweet, how do I keep the blushing away? I just tell aspiring authors either what I wish someone had told ME, or what I WAS told that worked for me. Despite my rep, I really am a nice girl. ;-D

@KB - bow to me, minion! *cough* Oh...wait...wrong blog... Um, hey, still glad you love the elevator scene(s)!

Twimom227 said...

What a great blog series! Thanks Queen B and Gini!

Lisa Dovichi said...

No! You're wrong! My MS's ARE special! And I spelled/punctuated/syntaxed wrong on PURPOSE to make it EVER BETTERER! I'm sheer genius!


This is one of my favorite Gini rants... er... I mean speeches. And truer words were never spoke about taking criticism.

Gini Koch said...

Thanks @Twimom and @Lisa. Glad you're enjoying and finding it helpful!

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