Thursday, 19 July 2012


I'm going to hand you straight over to Wendy with some great advice for aspiring authors. Thank you Wendy :)

Hi Charlotte and friends! I’m so happy to be blogging with you today to share my best advice to new and aspiring authors. For those of you who don’t know me, I write medical romance for Harlequin Mills and Boon. And this past June marked my one year anniversary as a published author. In short, after winning a Harlequin contest in March 2010, followed by six long months of revisions under the watchful eye of my current editor, I received ‘The Call’ in October 2010 and my first book, When One Night Isn’t Enough, was officially released in June 2011.

As of today I have three books published, two accepted (to be released in early 2013), and I’m working on my sixth contracted book. While that may seem productive, I’ve also spent hundreds of hours on my computer, away from my family, doing ‘author stuff’ that had nothing to do with adding words to my WIP – work in progress. So I’d like to share a few things I’ve learned in the hopes your transition to published author will be easier than mine.

  1)  A love of reading will not make you a good writer/author. You need to learn and practice and grow. After  you’ve taken some classes and studied craft guides, find a critique partner/group who will give you an honest opinion of your work and enter contests judged by published authors/agents/editors to get professional feedback.

2)      Set daily, weekly and monthly goals for yourself. They can be for word count, submissions, or contest entries. Whatever you need to keep you focused on writing. Even if you don’t have publisher dictated deadlines, this focus and discipline will help you when you become a published author.   

3)      If you’re easily distracted by the Internet (like me!), consider a program such as Freedom – Internet Blocking Productivity Software.  It works with Mac and PC. 

4)      While maintaining an online presence is important, nothing is more important than your writing. Meet your daily word count goals BEFORE you go onto the Internet. 

5)      There is no better marketing device than putting out a quality next book as soon as possible. (I say this after pushing myself to the point of burnout marketing my first book with a 35 stop blog tour.)

6)      Checking your e-mail every ten minutes will not make an e-mail appear. Your time would be better spent writing.

7)      Checking your sales rankings every hour will not increase your sales. Your time would be better spent writing. (Of note, once you have a book up for sale on Amazon you can open an Author Central account. This will enable you to get a snapshot of your sales ranking over time. It will also allow you to update and change information on your book page including uploading your covers and fixing errors. To find out more do a Google search for Amazon Author Central or Amazon UK Author Central.)

8)      Your body has limits. Eye strain, neck/back strain, and hand/wrist, forearm strain, are very real (and bothersome) conditions affecting people who spend hours a day on the computer. Make sure you have a quality ergonomic chair and maintain good posture while you are working. Get up and move around often. Work at a steady pace so you’re not put in a position where you have to work round the clock to meet a deadline.

9)      Maintain a positive online presence. An agent once told me that she’d received a submission from a very talented writer and was thinking of offering to represent her. But when she visited the writer’s blog she saw very negative posts so she passed.

10)  For published authors, don’t focus on reviews. The good ones will make you feel better than you are, the bad ones will make you question your abilities. The same goes for sales rankings. When your books are selling well it is euphoric! When sales slow – and they will – it can be depressing, ruining your creativity for the day.

11)  Maintain a system for backing up your work. Sometimes I use a flash drive. The problem with this is making sure you are always working on the most up to date copy of your work in progress. I also have an external hard drive. Except a few weeks ago my house was struck by lightning which fried my external hard drive. For reasons I cannot explain – but am very thankful for – my computer was not affected. That night, at the recommendation of other authors, I downloaded Carbonite  ( )  an online continuous backup software. I’ve also heard good things about Drop Box ( which allows you to save and share your work between your computers, but I’ve never used it.

12)   Learn that it’s okay to say no. Guest blogging and group blogging and volunteering for groups and loops are great ways to increase your online presence and meet people. But they also take time away from your writing. If you want to be a successful published author, your writing must always come first.

13)  Your time is your greatest resource. Don’t waste it!

So what do you think? Anything up there you haven’t heard before? Anything you’d like to add? One lucky commenter will win a paperback copy of my third book, The Nurse’s Not-So-Secret Scandal.

To learn more about me and my books, please visit my website:

Find Wendy Marcus on    Facebook ,Twitter , Goodreads


  1. Hi Wendy
    Thanks for the awesome advice. You are an amazing writer and I have already read The Nurses not so secret scandal and I think it's a great book. Can't wait for the next one- such a pity I have such a long wait though and pity I missed your first book. Might have to look for a back copy. Keep writing.

  2. Hi Kamy!
    I'm glad you found my advice helpful. I remember how I used to get upset with authors because of the length of time between their books. Now that I'm an author, I understand the process a bit better and it takes time to write a good book. I don't want to rush and wind up disappointing my readers!

    Hang in there! January will be here soon...not that I'm rushing because I love the beautiful weather we're having here in New York right now.

    Thans for stopping by!

    1. Don't worry- not complaining too much- just wish NZ didn't have to lag so much behind on the release;-) Enjoy the weather it's hit and miss down here:-)

  3. Excellent all round advice. I particularly like the bit about maintaining a positive on line presence. I'm sure there are fans/stalkers that occasionally try your patience with their nitpicking and general neediness. In fact I'm certain there are ;-].
    Thanks for taking the time to put this list of useful tips together.

  4. Hi Princess Fiona!
    And there are also fans who brighten my days and make me smile on a regular basis. Thanks for being one of them! And thanks for stopping by! I'm glad you found my advice useful.

  5. Hi Wendy, what a great post, lots of useful advice! I've heard about Freedom and will now actually go check it out. Same with Carbonite-last month-2 days after I handed in my book to my editor my computer just gave up! I didn't lose all my work, but it was such a lesson in the importance of backing things up. Congrats on your success! :-)

  6. Hi Wendy,

    A great point, thanks for sharing and congrts on your winning and contract :)

    I never read medival romance before, hope to have a chance to win and read :)

  7. Thanks for you advice Wendy! I've only been at this for a few months but I find my biggest frustration is finding the TIME to write. Seems like after working and doing the necessary things around the house, there's no creative energy left! Any advice?

  8. Hi Victoria!
    Glad you found the post helpful. I am so thankful that I've never lost all my work. (I hope I didn't just jinx myself!) But I've heard horror stories. I thought by using an external hard drive I was safe. Apparently not!

    Thanks for stopping by and for retweeting the link to this post!

  9. Hi Eli!
    Glad you found the post helpful. Medical romance is a wonderful line of Harlequin Mills and Boon. Stories range from sweet to sexy. I write on the sexy end of the line.

    Good luck in the giveaway! And thanks for stopping by.

  10. Hi Anonymous!
    You are most welcome! Finding the time to write is a common problem. When I first started out I worked full time and my three children were involved in all sorts of sports/after school activities. After waking up at 7:00 a.m., most nights I didn't sit down to write until after 10:00 p.m. But I'd decided I wanted to write and I made the time to write. I set goals for myself and I worked hard to achieve them. That said, if I was too tired to be productive, I skipped a night.

    And as an FYI, good friend and fellow medical romance author, Scarlet Wilson, writes every day during her lunch hour at work. And there were times I'd bring my laptop in the car and work while my children attended their sports practices. And when my children were younger I had my husband take them to the movies so I could carve out a few hours on the weekend to write.

    Be creative! Make it work! You can do it!

  11. Thank you for the great advice Wendy, I know I am guilty for sitting at a computer too long and not taking breaks. Hubby has threatened to switch it off if I don't start taking them.

  12. Hi Taylor!
    I suffer with eye strain if I spend too much time on the computer - which I do way more than I should. And when I get close to deadline and am typing like a maniac to reach The End, I suffer from achey hands/forearms and sometime back. I need to follow my own advice!

    Thanks for having me on your blog today!

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  14. To echoed the remarks which have been already made. GREAT ADVICE. I'm following most of them now, and will surely the others once I crossover into the realm of published authors [however they got there]. :-)

    Wishing you continued $UCCE$$ in all of your future writing endeavors.

  15. Great advice, Wendy. And huge congratulations on your anniversary!!

  16. Hi Robin!
    I'm glad you found my advice helpful! Good luck with your writing and your crossover to published author!!!

    Thanks for stopping by!

  17. Hi Regina!
    Thank you! And thanks for stopping by. I know how busy you are. Please be sure to let me know when your book is out!

  18. Hi Wendy!

    That's the best advice list yet! Worth printing...and I had to laugh at #6. Seriously? Darn!

    You don't have to include me in the drawing bc you're an auto-buy author :)

    Hi Taylor...thanks for hosting Wendy today!

  19. Hi Rula!
    So happy you found my post print-worthy! I wish #6 was not true, but alas I have found it to be so!

    I am honored to be on your auto-buy list! My next books will be out as a 2in1 in the UK in January. I have the sexy prologue on my blog at if you want to check it out.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  20. It's been a real pleasure Rula :)

  21. Brilliant advice, and your book really has blown the Mills and Boon Medical romance novel wide open. Well done Wendy. You are an inspiration of mine!

  22. Thanks Manda!
    I'm so glad you enjoyed The Nurse's Not-So-Secret Scandal! Congrats on your new release! Best of luck!

  23. All excellent points. I definitely need to watch the time and make sure I don't waste it. I's amazing the times I sit down to write and when I finally get tired and get up, I spent all the time playing around online. I am aware of this and will keep working until writing is a habit that I enjoy.
    :) Thanks

  24. Hi Wendy, whether we've heard some or most of these before, this list is a great reminder of what we SHOULD be doing! It's like eating healthily - we know the facts, but its good to be reminded when temptation crosses your path!
    I hadn't thought about setting different targets for different time periods - its a great idea as I do find them motivating. In fact I'm going to print this list to keep me on the straight and narrow!
    My excuse for the internet (ready?!) is that living in New Zealand, everyone is online when I wake up, which is also, unfortunately, when I write best. By the time I've done my words, America is going or gone to bed and the UK has been sleeping for around 6 hours! It's a lonely world online mid-afternoon in NZ!

  25. Hi Faith!
    It's so easy to get caught up on the Internet and to rationalize the time you spend as social networking, marketing and promo. But if writers don't write, they'll have nothing to market and promote!

    Being aware of the importance of time management is the first step!

    Good luck with your writing and thanks for stopping by!

  26. Hi Jo!
    Temptation is right! And yes, reminders are necessary.

    I can't seem to stop myself from hopping online first thing in the morning. I rationalize this by thinking my editor, who is in England, has already been working for 5 hours and if I wait until noon to go online she will already be gone for the day.

    Unfortunately for me, checking my personal e-mail always leads to me checking my author e-mail then hopping on Facebook and Twitter to see what's been happening overnight. Then maybe I'll follow some links to blog posts. Then I get caught up commenting. Then I check my sales rankings to see if any books sold over night. (And writing for Mills and Boon means I have lots of books for sale in lots of different places!) Then after all that I think I'd better check my e-mails one more time before I shut down the Internet....and before I know it I've been on the computer since 7:30 a.m. and it's noon, and I still haven't written one word!!

    Don't let this happen to you!

    Now this is not the case when I'm close to deadline. Then I am totally focused (crazed!) on my work.

    Thanks for stopping by and good luck with your writing!

  27. This was very helpful. I get distracted by the internet. Once I leave my WIP to check online, I'm away from my writing for ages. Very hard habit to break. Thanks for so much helpful advice.

  28. Happy one year anniversary Wendy ! If I may ask you , I am a bit confused about the positive /negative online presence . How to make a positive attitude in the online presence ? And also how to make a good contact with editor . I want to become a writer but I am confused over trying to find an editor . Thx , Aretha Zhen, arethazhenAtRocketmailDotcom

  29. Hi Denise!
    I am VERY easily distracted by the Internet, and I still struggle to balance Internet and writing time. The Freedom program works for me. And yes, it is very hard to break the Internet habit!

    I'm glad you found my advice helpful. Thanks for stopping by!

  30. Hi Aretha!
    A positive Internet presence is one that stays away from complaining. One that takes setbacks in stride and focuses on working hard and improving and supporting fellow authors.

    As far as making contact with an editor, most publisher websites have contact pages or about us pages where they list their editors, what lines the work with, and how to contact them. You can also make contact with editors through entering writing contests run by organizations such as RWA - Romance Writers of America. (You have to be a member to enter.) Also, every year Harlequin and Mills and Boon run writing contests judged by editors.

    Good luck with your writing, and thanks for stopping by!

  31. Great post thanks Wendy for sharing!

  32. Hi Jen!
    You are most welcome. And thanks for stopping by!

  33. Hi All!
    So sorry for the delay in picking a winner. I got involved with my 30 year high school reunion festivities. What a weekend so far!

    And now for the winner:

    Congratulations Faith Thomas! You've won a copy of The Nurse's Not-So-Secret Scandal.

    Please e-mail me a wendy @ WendySMarcus . com (no spaces) with your mailing address, and I will mail a copy of the book out to you.

    Thank you to everyone who stopped by - those who commented and those who did not!