Hi SEers! Denise here to talk about things every writer should know.

After the story is written and you are ready to present it to the world, what’s next?

I admit to blindly jumping into self-publishing. I did not know how to publish, find an editor or other writers, or what social media was—I knew nothing! That was probably a good thing, or I might still be researching how to become a self-published author. I learned many lessons from a wonderful writing community, though.

Some truths apply to our profession, whether you are a new or a seasoned writer.

Twelve Things Every Writer Should Know:

  • What you put out there needs to be your very best. Make sure it’s edited and formatted, with an intriguing blurb and cover if you will self-publish. If you plan to find a publisher or agent, this idea also applies to your communication with them and your work. You need to make that first good impression and only get one chance to do it. Once you lose a reader or publisher, you won’t get them back.
  • If you want to write, you should be reading. I talked about this in my last post. You learn so much doing this and are entertained. This is how you support not only yourself but others. Don’t forget to write reviews!
  • Everyone won’t fall in love with your story. Your friends and family loved it and insisted you were the next big thing. While it’s good to have support, what we like when we read is a matter of taste. Some will love it, and others will not.
  • You need a social presence. If no one knows who you are, how will they find your fantastic story in an endless sea of books? Do you have a website or blog? It’s a great place for people to find and learn more about you. What about Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Bookbub, Goodreads, or Pinterest? Where would you be most comfortable?
  • You must market yourself. This one is the toughest for me since I was brought up to be humble. Don’t talk about myself. As a writer, you have to. No one else is going to do it for you. This includes blog tours, interviews/podcasts, networking with other authors, reviews, advertising, contests, newsletters, giveaways, and book signings!
  • Learn your craft. You need to know how to put the words together and where to add punctuation.  It’s vital to conquer the grammar monster. No editor or reader wants to wade through a wave of unnecessary adverbs, commas, or repeat information. Maybe you have the grammar perfect, but the story is full of plot holes, or you tell instead of show. You need to be skilled at storytelling and how it’s told.
  • It can be a slow process to become a seasoned author. You didn’t learn everything when you started kindergarten. You learned things at the level you were at and then added to them. Maybe you started with learning how to write a story. Then, what to do with a first draft or self-edit? You can learn from your fellow writing students or beta or critique groups. If you want to conquer publishing yourself or find the perfect publisher while making good friends along the way, it takes time. No hurry. We all go at our own pace.
  • We are all different, and we shouldn’t compare our writing journey to another person. Some writers outline while others are pansters. One needs to write it down using pen and paper, while others use specialty writing programs. I edit when I finish getting the story down. Some can edit as they go along. One person can write a book in a few months, others might take years to complete it.
  • Each person has their voice, no one is the same. Only you can show us the world through your eyes. No one else has the experiences you have. Here is where we need to like what we are doing so we can share it in our unique way.
  • Be kind to yourself and your fellow writer. Make sure you take breaks, exercise, eat well, and get enough sleep. Be patient with your limits and the limits of others. Celebrate your success and learn from your mistakes. Plus, be the sounding board for a buddy writer if they need it. Cheer them on! Don’t forget to let others do that for you, too.
  • What is the theme of your story? It is just as important as your plot, the characters, the conflict, and a realistic setting. It can include family dynamics, love, good vs. evil, hate, coming of age, second chances, a quest, survival, war, or forgiveness. There are many themes to pick from, but it needs to be woven into the story.
  • What are your goals? Have you ever asked yourself what you want out of writing? Is it to entertain, become a best-selling author, or enjoy the process? Then there is the more day-to-day side of it. Do you want to write every day, on weekends, or at nighttime? How many words each session, or does it matter? Do you set dates to be done writing and when you want to publish it? Are these dates set for you, and are you trying to work around them? Do you work on more than one project or let one story have your full focus?

What about you? Do you have any advice or words of wisdom to share that helped you and might help others?


  1. Love the advice, Denise! Thanks for taking the time to put the post together. When you talk about social presence, do you find that there’s a platform or two that works best for you? Or do you find it better to just kind of be everywhere?


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  3. All good advice here in my opinion. A once published author suddenly without a new deal (my fault not the publisher) I too, jumped into self-publishing and made a complete hash of it. Lol I had the page sizing all wrong and the cover was a disaster, badly self-edited and thrown together.
    What was a great novel (IMO) sold fewer than a hundred copies (lol and my mother bought most of those). But the wonderful thing is that you can start again. That same book ignored by readers the first time around (for good reason) was eventually published after several rewrites by a new publisher (to me) and sold well. I think the one real problem with self-publishing is that…. you can…. at any time…publish. Where in the publishing world everything takes an eternity, self-publishing is instant, but it shouldn’t be. there is a reason editing, reworking, improving must be done and I notice now that some self-published authors do all the things that publishers would suggest and the industry gains credibility from the efforts of those truly dedicated to taking time and doing it right. Unlike me.

    Liked by 1 person

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  6. All sage advice, Denise! I’ve learned so much through trial and error and also the support, knowledge, and help of other writers. When I look back to 2012—what a long way I’ve come! Because the industry is constantly changing, we’re constantly in a learning loop. I expect I’ll never be done with the process, but it’s comforting to know I’m not in it alone!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is amazing to look back and embrace all we’ve learned on our own and through others. It is an industry that encourages and allows constant growth. Yes, it is reassuring it is a journey we don’t have to do alone, Mae 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi, Denise!

    Even when I’m logged into my wordpress account, the Story Empire site won’t let me comment. Here’s what I said:

    << Hi, Denise! I can relate to every point you’ve made. I doubt I’ll ever stop learning and striving to do things better, especially where it comes to marketing. What a helpful checklist! Thanks for this informative post! >>

    I love that checklist!

    Blessings, Patty

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry you are having issues, Patty! WordPress does some strange things and its different on my phone compared to computer. Thank you for taking the time to figure out a way around it. Yes, I am the same way aleays striving to be better in all and especially marketing. Hugs


  8. Thank you, Jan 🙂 Self publishing was such a different avenue than what I had been exploring in the past with traditional publishing. Plus, I expanded from children’s stories to adult. There was a lot to learn and still learn. Self publishing gives insight into traditional publishing too. It has been an experience and I am glad to have made that first step on the path years ago. Then I kept moving forward enjoying this journey.


  9. This is such a great checklist and guide, Denise. Like you, I knew absolutely zero about self-publishing. My sister, who was a traditionally published author, could do little to help me. It was definitely a “learn as you go” experience for me. But you’ve covered all the main points here for any author, new or seasoned. Great post!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I loved this post! You made great points. I mostly write because writing makes me happy. I’d love to sell tons of books, but just the act of writing itself makes my life richer. I even enjoy most of the marketing. I’m just not good at it:)

    Liked by 3 people

  11. I still consider myself a newbie, but I’ve learned that I must go at my own pace. It’s a little bit like the tortoise and the hare, and I’m more the slow-moving reptile. As someone who doesn’t have a writing background and is attempting to master the craft and art of writing later in life, I’ve learned to respect the process. (I try to follow this same mindset in most areas of life besides writing.)

    The one mistake I see a lot of inexperienced writers make is, in their excitement, publishing before a story is ready. As you stated well in this post, that rush is exhibited in various ways, including basic grammar errors and enormous plot holes.

    Liked by 3 people

    • It’s wonderful when we find our pace that works in all areas, Pete. There is a lot to learn and a community full of experience to share. I agree the excitement and inexperience to get the work out too before its ready. Either not using an editor or finding the wrong one can have the same results unfortunately.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I don’t write to get rich, although it would be nice, I write to make others escape from their world. We can all use a little escape from our everyday lives and writing gives me that and I hope it gives something to those who read my writing.

    I tend to write shorter these days, my world is hectic (whose isn’t), but when it settles down, I hope to write more.

    I tend to have several project going at the same time, and never seem to finish one. Poor planning on my part, but just think what my catalogue will be when I finish all my WIPs.

    This was a great list, Denise. Each of us work differently, have different rhythms, different genres. Helping others is something that we all should be willing to do, as we were once in their shoes.

    Liked by 3 people

    • No, we wouldn’t be sharing our love of the written word to get rich. I agree it would be a nice bonus though. Although I run into people often who are convinced money flows easily to writers. I stopped explaining and share my love of it. Fiction does offer that escape from our problems or a new place to explore. I find shorter stories a nice option in a busy world. It is good to have a few options to choice from. At some point it clicks. Its taken me decades to finish a story but when the right words and ideas come along it flows. We are all where we are supposed to be and I agree we should share and help where we can, Michele 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Excellent post, Denise. Writing is a journey and we should strive to continually learn and become better with each book we publish. I can think of one piece of advice to add. “Write what you want to write.” In my early days, someone tried to talk me into writing magazine articles because I would make more money that way. I tried writing non-fiction, but I wasn’t happy until I began writing fiction. I’ll never get rich doing it, but there are many other rewards besides money.

    Liked by 3 people

    • That is a good piece of advice! I have heard the very same thing to write articles, which I have but my heart wasn’t there even with my first payment. Like you, I love fiction too. I put all my energy learning that craft and sharing the journey. Thank you, Joan 🙂

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  14. What a great list of “should knows,” Denise. When I started, I was just as clueless as you, and this vocation requires us to be life-long learners. My favorite line: “You didn’t learn everything when you started kindergarten.” That is so true and the best writers, I think, are often those who are eagerly sucking up new tips and information whenever and wherever they find it. Excellent post.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Diana 🙂 Looking back it did seem like I was starting kindergarden compared to all I’ve learned along the way. Yes, those who are open to learning, will never stop growing and improving in their craft.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. This is a good time to thank the community here at this blog. Writing was easy compared to publishing, but you guys made it much easier. Thanks to all of you for that. As for your twelve things, Denise, talking about myself is the hardest thing. I’m still working on that one. I still tend to think I’m intruding.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you, Dan. I feel beyond lucky to be a part of this and our entire writing community. I have learned so much and put that into my writing life. Yes, I have the same issue of feeling like I am intruding too. I have to remind myself that readers want to find a book and if they don’t know about it they can’t read it. I am grateful for all those so willing to help.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I’m lucky my writing career survived the self publishing of my first book, lols 😂! I had such a HUGE learning curve after that. Your advice about being kind and not comparing ourselves to other writers is invaluable. Like you, I was taught not to boast or self-promote, so the whole self-marketing thing is hard for me. Great post, Denise. Thanks for sharing 💕🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  17. Great post, Denise! You’ve touched on many issues we face. Staying true to my voice is important to me. Many years ago, a quotes from Nora Roberts inspired me “Courage comes in different forms. There’s strength–that’s the muscle. But love’s the heart. When you put them together, you can do anything.” xo

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Jill 🙂 Yes, very important to stay true to our voice. What a great quote about courage using strength and love combined. I am so glad you shared that! Xo

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Well said, Denise! The triad of write, publish, and promote has so many facets — a lifetime of discovery. Learning the craft feels like drinking from a firehose, but after a few gulps, I was hooked. I’m so glad for writers who helped me get past my initial fears. Thanks to you and the many writers who share. It makes a difference!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Grant 🙂 It does feel like it is a lifetime of discovery with all there is to learn and discover. Yes, after those first few gulps of writing it does hook you. I’m grateful for all the support I’ve found too. Even though we may write alone we still need each other to support, encourage, and learn 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Excellent post, Denise. To you point about being kind, there are about 3 million books published each year. Each of those writers have a story to tell. When I pick up a book to read, I follow the story, but I look for the author as I turn the pages. I want to meet him or her, and inevitably, when I do, my world grows larger. ❤️

    Liked by 5 people

    • Thank you, Gwen 🙂 We are similar in the journey as readers to find the author. There are so many stories to be told and each one comes through personal life experiences. Xo

      Liked by 1 person

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  22. You’re right on all counts, especially the one that talks of self promotion. Writing a book is the first step, the bigger battle is getting people to read it and having public presence. Thanks for the post, it’s informative and helpful.

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  23. HI Denise, like you, I knew nothing at all about publishing and marketing when my first book was published in 2016. TSL Publications did all the admin so I was spared that part and have been on a journey to learn more ever since. I have recently published my first two children’s books directly on KDP, The Christmas Bird and Sir Chocolate and the Missing Christmas Harp, and I am pleased with the results. The Sir Choc book was a bit of a challenge but I am happy now. I did have to unpublish and republish it but that was part of the learning. I much prefer my own ebooks to the ones my publisher designed so I’ll be following this route going forward.

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