Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing,  Topic of the Night,  Writing in Public




As I expected, my short little topic of the night last night made some people very angry. I’ll talk about it below.



Made it to the WMG offices around 1:30 p.m., grabbed some banking things that needed to be done, then headed out to the banks and then a meeting.

Got back to WMG around 4:30 p.m. after running another errand. I did some work around there for a time before heading out to the grocery store, home to take a nap, then dinner. Got in here to work on mail around 8:30 p.m. and then ended up doing some other stuff.

Finally back in here around 1 a.m. and didn’t move to the writing computer until around 2 a.m. Again, still not getting the book back in my head, so cycled back again and got almost no new words done, which is fine. This restart is damn painful on this one for some reason, but I’ll get it in the next day or so.

Fun to see a long-time professional struggling, huh? (grin)

(And this will be short… lights flickering as yet another storm powers ashore.)


February Online Workshops Start on February 1st!

That’s Less Than One Week Away!!!

All of the February Online Workshops marked below have openings. Click the workshop tab above for description and sign-up or go to

Each regular workshop is six weeks long and takes about 3-4 hours per week to do at your own pace and your own time.

All workshops have openings.

Class #11… Feb 1st … Advanced Depth
Class #12… Feb 1st … Character Voice/Setting
Class #13… Feb 1st … Adding Suspense to Your Writing
Class #14… Feb 1st … Ideas into Stories
Class #15… Feb 2nd … Character Development
Class #16… Feb 2nd … Depth in Writing
Class #17… Feb 2nd … Plotting With Depth
Class #18… Feb 3rd … Designing Covers
Class #19… Feb 3rd … Writing and Selling Short Stories
Class #20… Feb 3rd … How to Write Science Fiction

Classic Workshops and Lectures are also available at any time.


Topic of the Night: Responses

Got some great comments, both on the post and in e-mail to the Perspective post last night. And as expected, got some people disagreeing with me (which I let through in the comments… I have no problem with people disagreeing with me in reasonable and thought-through fashion… I actually like that.) And then there was a couple people really angry. One in a comment I did not let through and another by e-mail that I did not respond to.

All expected. And didn’t upset me in the slightest, but telling someone it will take years to build a career can really hit people’s dreams hard. I do understand that. And if the belief you are a special snowflake and can learn an international career in a year and make a living and that keeps you writing, more power to you.

I have no problem with delusions being a motivating force in writing. I have used delusions to power my writing off and on for decades. Starting my own monthly magazine was a delusion of immense scale, you have to admit. (grin… now working on Issues 26 and 27.)

Tonight I was about to head in here and Kris had flipped to a recorded American Idol. I don’t watch the show even though the three judges will often say things worth listening to. They are teaching beginners. Doesn’t interest me like the Voice does.

But the show was focused at that moment on a large auditorium full of people all waiting to get their turn at preliminary judges. I asked Kris why all those thousands and thousands of people thought they were good enough to be professional singers.

Kris said simply, “Why does every person who can type think they can be a professional fiction writer?”

Yup. And the two angry letters I got were from people who could type, but had no sense of what it actually takes to learn how to be a professional fiction writer. And by me saying that this is a profession and it takes time, I made them angry.

I honestly hope the two angry letter writers prove me wrong and then hang around for a decade or two to show me how wrong I really am. That would be cool, honestly.

Might want to read the comments from yesterday. One person had a reasoned myth argument that the reason people are quitting is that they are the smart ones and can see that there is too much fiction for readers to find anything anymore, so there is no point.

That is a myth now circulating that allows writers to have an excuse to not try too hard. That assumption comes from the idea that all books published are completely equal and that readers are too stupid to figure out what they like and don’t like.

Of course, not all books are equal and readers are far, far from stupid in general. But it’s a nice excuse for writers to quit because it’s too hard now with so many books. (Say “it’s too hard” with a long whine to get the real way writers say it.)

So interesting. Thanks for the responses, both agreeing, disagreeing, and angry. All of them were fun.


The Writing of Dead Hand: A Cold Poker Gang Mystery

Day 1…. 700 words.  Total words so far… 700 words.
Day 2…. 1,200 words.  Total words so far… 1,900 words.
Day 3…. 1,000 words.  Total words so far… 2,900 words.
Day 4…. 1,100 words.  Total words so far… 4,000 words.
Day 5…. 1,400 words.  Total words so far… 5,400 words.
Day 6…. 2,450 words.  Total words so far… 7,850 words.
Day 7…. 3,300 words.  Total words so far… 11,150 words.
Day 8…. 1,200 words.  Total words so far… 12,350 words.
Day 9…. 1,150 words.  Total words so far… 13,500 words.
Day 10.. 2,300 words.  Total words so far… 15,800 words.
Day 11.. 3,200 words.  Total words so far… 19,000 words.
Day 12.. 2,100 words.  Total words so far… 21,100 words.
Day 13.. 1,050 words.  Total words so far… 22,150 words.
Day 14.. 2,300 words.  Total words so far… 24,450 words.
Day 15.. 1,500 words.  Total words so far… 25,950 words.
Day 16.. 3,200 words.  Total words so far… 29,150 words.
Day 17.. 1,100 words.  Total words so far… 30,250 words.
Day 18.. 2,150 words.  Total words so far… 32,400 words.
Day 19.. 1,700 words.  Total words so far… 34,100 words.
Day 20.. 1,100 words.  Total words so far… 35,200 words.
Day 21.. 1,050 words.  Total words so far… 36,250 words.


Totals For Year 3, Month 6, Day 25

Writing in Public blog streak… Day 858

— Daily Fiction: 00 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 12,250 words  

— Nonfiction: 00 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 1,200 words 

— Blog Posts: 700 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 13,700 words

— E-mail: 11 e-mails.  Approx. 400 original words.  E-mails month-to date: 518 e-mails. Approx. 22,500 words

— Covers Designed and Finished: 0. Covers finished month-to-date: 3 Covers


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And thanks.

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  • Dane Tyler

    I still don’t get why folks get angry at you when you say things. You have FOUR DECADES of experience in the field, in almost every aspect of the industry. Why get upset about that? And I’ll never understand why they’re compelled to write something hostile in response when they do disagree instead of just…moving on.

    I think I like the expression “powering my writing with delusions.” I’m going to update my blog tagline to that one, I think. It’s awesome. 🙂

    • dwsmith

      Actually, I like that tagline as well. Go for it, Dane. (grin) Sometimes delusions can get you over the impossible nature of this business.

      The reason they get angry, Dane, is that my experience no longer counts in their minds. It can’t, or it will mean this can’t be done in a year. So easier to get angry at the messenger than look at the reality of learning an international profession.

  • Suzan Harden

    I wasn’t going to say anything about yesterday’s post because I agree that it takes time to build a backlist and word-of-mouth, i.e. reputation no matter what the profession is.

    But I’ve been spending a lot of time reading and writing in hospitals and doctors’ offices (elderly in-laws) lately, so one day I needed a break and cleaned out my Twitter contacts. I deleted sixty people I’d met in 2011 when I started indie publishing, 58 of which were writers and 57 of them had quit writing. About half no longer had a website. For those that still did, neither the website nor the Twitter feed had been updated since December 2012/January 2013. Only two of the writers had a post saying what had happened. One had become disillusioned with her lack of sales; the other decided to focus on her trad-published romance pseudonym than her indie urban fantasy.

    People can get mad about Dean and Kris’s advice, but that’s not going to change reality. Not everyone wins the lottery, and winning the lottery doesn’t fix all the problems in your life. Continually producing quality work will get you where you want to be, no matter what your job/career is. All these people that quit only left the way open for other writers to succeed. It could have been them if they stuck to the path.

    Sorry, Dean. I’ll get off my soapbox now. 🙂

    • dwsmith

      Thanks, Suzan, and your numbers don’t surprise me from those gold rush days. Just makes me sad when a really good writer who was working on the craft as well as the business tosses it in. A couple of these people who I still call friends were just within a year or so of having the solid foundation they had been working toward. Like building a house and deciding to stop with a twenty foot gap in the back wall foundation. Sad.

    • allynh

      Suzan Harden said: Not everyone wins the lottery, and winning the lottery doesn’t fix all the problems in your life.

      What’s interesting about that statement, is that people even give up on the Lottery.

      They will buy a few tickets, say that this is just too hard, that they will never win, then give up. They hope to win the Lottery, then never bother to buy a ticket. HA!

      • Gnondpom

        Except that with the real lottery, you never get better at it. You just buy more tickets (and lose more and more money) and your chances at winning remain strictly the same (meaning awfully low).

        Whereas for a writer (or any professional really) the more you practice, the better you get at it, and the more likely you are to “win the lottery”, or at least make regular smaller wins that allow you to eventually make a living. That’s an investment on the future. But of course if you give up you lose that investment.

        • dwsmith

          I agree with you, Gnondpom. All art, making a living with art, has elements of luck and some risk. But those can be moderated and controlled with a focus on craft, writing better stories, learning copyright and business. All that doesn’t eliminate mistakes, but it makes making a living with your writing a long, long ways from a lottery.

          I actually bought a few lottery tickets this last time because I was priced in, as they say. If you don’t understand that term, stay away from gambling of any sort.

  • Linda Maye Adams

    Can’t say I’m surprised at the anger. Some people get into writing because they think it’s easy, then find out it takes quite a bit of time, and may even be hard for them. Then they expect to be rewarded for the effort. Complete disconnect from the reality. No doubt, a lot of comes from beginners listening to beginners, and everyone saying what they want to hear.

    By the way, a cure for rejection blues that I saw yesterday that had me flabbergasted. The writer recommended after receiving a rejection to go back to the story and make changes. The writer in question does this with every single story she has.

  • Frank Powers

    You are selling reality in a world filled with dreamers. Few things inspire passionate anger like killing someone’s dream. The sad part about the reaction you get is that your advice doesn’t kill the dream at all. Having a 10 year plan doesn’t mean you can’t break out in the first year. Your advice provides a cushion for the ego when you don’t break out with that first novel even after following all the advice in the how-to books.

    I am an aspiring writer so I am reading everything I can on how the business works, from writing to selling to building a platform. A lot of writing advice tells the aspiring writer they probably won’t succeed, but, the reasons they give for why people fail is, at best, questionable. They’ll tell you that people fail because they didn’t use social media correctly or their stories have too many adverbs. The theme is that people fail because they didn’t do this one thing and that if you do this one thing, you will succeed where others failed. Writing well is important but has any book really failed because the author wrote that the protagonist ran quickly?

    Then I found you. You don’t tell me I probably won’t succeed. You put chance of success on the willingness of the writer to actually work, to hone their craft and to keep telling new stories. No one wants to hear that they need to write 20 novels to make a living. That much writing sounds too much like work. Besides, they read a book that told them all they have to do is have the right online presence or the right hook in their first chapter and their work will sell tons.

    At this point, I honestly believe the quickest path to being a successful writer is writing a how-to write book.

    I appreciate your advice because it doesn’t offer a magic bullet dressed up as a grammar rule or online platform. While I’d love to breakout with my initial book, I find it comforting to know that even if I never have breakout success, with work I can still earn a living if I commit to doing so. That while there are no guarantees, there are possibilities beyond having one huge best seller.

  • D J Mills

    Dane, I also don”t understand why emotions (anger, etc) have to come into the discussion at all.

    Dean speaks and I listen. So far, I have not disagreed with anything Dean said, but if I did disagree, I would tell myself to prove Dean right or wrong by writing more and publishing more. 🙂

    I listen and try to put into practice every helpful bit of advice Dean talks about.

    • Irina

      I agree. Even if I would disagree, I needn’t be angry. Nobody forces me to read this blog.
      Dean doesn’t even say quick success won’t ever happen. He just says “Don’t count on it, don’t get discouraged.”
      This is affirming, positive and healthy contrasted with “If you’ve not made it in a year, you never will.” (Which is the not-so-subtext, if someone quits after a year of not being J.K.Rowling)

      • dwsmith

        Yup, don’t get discouraged, keep writing because you love to write and enjoy the process of telling stories. The rest will follow with learning.

  • Big Ed Magusson

    I kind of like hearing 10-15 years. It means I haven’t been a failure this past decade. 🙂

    I guess I’d better keep writing for another decade, just to be sure. Maybe then I can entertain the concept of quitting….



  • Rob Cornell

    There have been days where I felt like quitting. There have been days where I said I *was* going to quit. Especially after some life events and a couple of poor decisions sent my slowly growing progress into a tailspin that has nearly put me back to square one.

    For some stupid reason, however, I have not quit. Honestly, I don’t think I could.

    • dwsmith

      And Rob, is that one trait alone combined with the ability to learn that will have you still writing and making a living down the road. The inability to quit for long. The one trait I have noticed in every long-term writer. We quit, sure, but not for long.

  • Kyra Halland

    I found that post incredibly reassuring. I published my first book 3 years ago, in Feb. 2013, and I’ve added about a dozen titles since then (with a lot more in the pipeline). I’m not where I hoped I would be at this point, but your post reminded me that 3 years really isn’t very long and if I keep working hard and learning and doing my best and writing these stories I love, chances are I’ll eventually get to where I want to be.