Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Learning from the Pro Writers without Stalking Them

by DiAnn Mills @DiAnnMills

You know who you are. It’s time to step up and be counted. You follow the award-winning, best-selling writers whose success make you drool. Their books are read and reread, often with highlights. Their blogs are ingested like candy, and whenever they speak, you’re there. At conferences, you sign-up for one-on-one appointments and sit at their tables at mealtimes. Their Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and whatever other social media is used capture our attention while we’re learning the craft.
That’s not a bad practice. In fact, emulating our favorite writers can establish professional habits, whether it be in the writing process or in marketing and promotion. Modeling our careers after successful writers is commendable. But stalking a writer through harassment and unwanted attention shoots the follower straight out of the unprofessional canon. What exactly do I mean?

9 Naughty Ways to Give Yourself Stalker Status
1. Multiple requests for the writer to read your work. Free of course.

2. Numerous comments on social media.

3. Pushing a piece of toilet tissue from one stall to another with a note of devotion. (I had this happen during a writer’s conference. I avoided the writer for the remainder of the time.)

4. Repeated emails of your fan status and how you’d do anything for him/her.

5. Sending an abundance of gifts.

6. Shoving a manuscript in his/her face before the first sip of coffee at a writer’s conference. (I had this done. I wanted to bite the writer’s hand.)

7. Planting your rear outside of the writer’s residence. (A good reason for a professional writer to use a post office box.)

8. Waiting outside the hotel door of a writer at conference.

9. Avoid plagiarism—it’s a crime.

So what can a writer do to increase agent, editor, and professional recognition without being a nuisance? The following are twelve ways to model your career after successful writers—the smart way.

12 Ways to Learn from the Pros
1. Approach your writing as a business. To make a business prosper, an investment of time, education, and money is a necessity.

2. Invest designated hours to learn the craft and write.

3. Invest in how-to books, time to read and reread. (note from Edie, you DO own DiAnn's writing book, THE DANCE OF CHARACTER AND PLOT, don't you?)

4. Invest in the novels from your genre and read them.

5. Invest in a writer’s conference that provides sound teaching and is well attended by agents, editors, and respected writers.

6. Involvement in a critique and/or writers’ group, via online or face-to-face.

7. Social Media is a must in today’s world of publishing. Learn it. Do it. That means a quality website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, blog regularly and/or guest blog. Practice the philosophy that social media is not about you but what you can offer to others.

8. Subscribe to blogs and newsletters from those within the industry who have a proven track record: agents, editors, publicists, marketing and promotion specialists.

9. Understand there is no easy road to publication.

10. Willingness to provide instruction to other serious writers.

11. Wisdom to discern what guideline work for you.

12. Never stop learning!

Did you note there are more smart items than naughty ones? A professional writer embarks upon a journey on the road to publication. It may take six months, a year, two years or more to reach your publication goals, but you can do it by incorporating the habits of a successful writer into your life! Join in the conversation. What have you learned that you can share about your writing career?


DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She currently has more than sixty books published. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers; the 2014 president of the Romance Writers of America’s Faith, Hope, & Love chapter; and a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and International Thriller Writers. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. DiAnn is also a craftsman mentor for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas. Visit her website at and connect with her on


  1. Love the 12 tips. The one that hit home the most is #1. Approach my writing as a business. If I can show up for my other job, then I need to show up for my writing too! I also see it more now as a responsibility to the Lord to do what He’s told me to in my writing. Of course all the 12 tips are great! Thank you.

  2. Hi Terri, Glad I could help! I think #1 is the hardest for the creative person.

  3. Great post, DiAnn! I think what I have learned most is to NEVER GIVE UP!!! God's timing is perfect and ours isn't. Sometimes it feels that we will never reach our goals, but God knows just the right moment for each step of the journey.