Secrets of My Writing Life

by Fae Rowen
Most people think a writer's life is glamorous, exciting, and filled with celebrity.

When I was offered my first contract, my husband made an appointmentwith a boat broker for a sea trial. (He didn't tell me.) After a wonderful afternoon at sea, he was asked about needing a loan. My wonderful, supportive spouse told the broker that his wife had just sold a book and that we'd be paying cash.

Well, he didn't buy that boat, and I had to explain the business side of a
writing career to him. All he'd seen up until then was a closed door for hours, for days, for months, with occasional visits to my local writing group, my critique partners, or a big conference. Then, voila, a finished book! This is very unusual, but when I pitched my first book at a conference, I was asked for the partial (which I sent), was asked for the full (which I sent), was asked for some edits (cutting 85 pages and a story-line, which I did), then I was offered a contract. I have to tell you, this is not the way the industry works these days.

Probably the biggest secrets are about contracts with New York publishers.

When I began writing there was a category of writers called midlist. Midlist writers were able to make a modest living with their books. The midlist writer is a thing of the past, gone as the publishing houses dwindled in number. Also gone for non-blockbuster best-sellers are covers with the author's name in gold foil, great book covers made from oil paintings of special photo shoots from scenes in the book, publicity—including book tours—set up by the publishing house, a case of free books to give away as promo material, an editor who dedicates his/her time to the structure and polishing the words in your book, and more.

Now, my biggest single secret as a writer has to do not with writing, selling or marketing my book, but with my time when I'm not writing, selling, or marketing my book. I have to admit that I have declined social invitations with the excuse that I'm writing on deadline when I'm actually taking a day off from writing. My friends know when I'm writing on deadline. They know when I hope to be finished so we can go out to lunch, see a movie, take a trip. They expect me to be writing every waking second of every day until that deadline.

But, sometimes my brain dries up, ideas take a vacation, or rearranging blocks of text just isn't working the way it should. Those days I need alone time to do mindless tasks. Brain research shows that repetitive non-brain intense tasks can unlock the creative mind with new ideas. As supportive as my friends and family are, a day of making greeting cards when I'm on deadline is frowned upon. (You can do that when you are finished with work!)

Now, as an Indie Published author, I wear all the hats. I contract and pay my editor and my cover designer. I work with someone on my website and social media. I set up opportunities to promote my newest books. I give myself pep talks when I think the book I'm working on isn't going to be better than my last book.

As an aside, this is a HUGE thing with me. If every book isn't better than the last, I'm not growing in my craft; I'm not growing as an author. If I stagnate, how can I expect readers to be excited about a new book? So I travel, take classes, learn new hobbies (one of my favorite scenes came about because of a belly-dancing class I took) to enrich the experiences I deliver to my readers.

Other than these things, I'm just an ordinary person, sharing my thoughts, experiences, and feelings with others. As a writer, maybe I ask more questions about what I see—my walking buddy can attest to this—but my life isn't that different from anyone else's. The secrets of my profession aren't that different from the secrets that all professions have.

Of course, I haven't hit it BIG yet. When that happens, well, I don't expect the supermarket checker to know my name or recognize me. Disneyland isn't going to close the park for me. I probably still won't get that airline upgrade—but maybe I'll be able to pay for it.

P.R.I.S.M., Fae's debut book, a young adult science fiction romance story of survival, betrayal, resolve, deceit, sacrifice, and love is now available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Fae's second book in the series will be available for pre-order on Thanksgiving, 2019.


  1. I might do that too--use deadlines as an excuse to kind of catch up on myself. :)


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