Write First, Sell Later

Before I ever started working in online marketing, I was a writer. I’ve always been surrounded by words and music, so the creative side to me has always been there. The thing of it is, I didn’t realize that writing professionally meant thinking of it as a “job” until much later — even though I did go to school “to be a writer.” So, there’s a voice in my head that is always trying to figure out what market a short story I’m writing may fit into or whether or not I’ll reach the “right” agent for “Argentum.” While this is a necessary process for an professional to go through, no amount of researching, marketing or selling your work can replace your polished words on the page. In other words, unless you’re writing a pitch, don’t worry about selling a story until it’s finished.

If you follow my blog, you know that Argentum will be my first, full-length novel but not my first published work by any means. Many of my fellow authors have reminded me that I should focus on polishing a finished novel instead of worrying whether or not it will sell in the past, few months. Admittedly, it’s taken a while to sink in this time. Why? Even though I absolutely love to write fiction, it doesn’t pay my bills or keep a roof over my head. I am not a full-time novelist, so my perspectives may be different than someone who writes books for a living. At the heart of my issue, is a question: Am I wasting my professional time by writing a novel that may (or may not) be sold?

That question is part of the reason why I am so concerned about selling my work, because I have to make do with the time I have available to me. Writing a full-length novel that may (or may not) get sold does take a considerable amount of time and energy. In other words, that’s time I could be spending writing for projects that I know have a better chance of getting published. Do I feel the experience is worth it? Absolutely. Would I change my decision? No way! Still, I’ve realized that by worrying about the novel’s “possibilities” I’ve actually wasted more time because I wasn’t spending my time working on the novel.

My story may not be your story, but I believe that the moral of it is still the same. Just like I can’t sell a novel I haven’t finished revising yet, don’t try to sell a story you haven’t written or worse — in your excitement try to oversell your work by declaring how “good” of a writer you are. (Believe me, that will only earn you an eye roll rather than a contract.)

My advice for today is this: please remember to finish and polish whatever you’re working on before you try to sell it. You’ll end up looking less like an amateur and more like a professional.

3 Responses to Write First, Sell Later

Monica Valentinelli is a writer, editor, and game developer. Her portfolio includes stories, games, comics, essays, and pop culture books.

In addition to her own worlds, she has worked on a number of different properties including Firefly, Vampire: the Masquerade, Shadowrun, Hunter: the Vigil, Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn, and Robert E. Howard’s Conan.

Looking for Monica’s books and games that are still in print? Visit Monica Valentinelli on Amazon’s Author Central or a bookstore and game store near you.

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Would you like to hire me? Because my projects and manuscripts are in flux, I am always open to discussing new opportunities with publishers and studios. As a full-time writer, I spend a portion of my time seeking new gigs–so don’t be afraid to reach out. If you’re interested, please e-mail me via my Contact Page. I typically reply to work-related e-mails within one-to-two business days.

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