The Golden Ticket: Are You Buying What They’re Selling?

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Have I got a deal for you! Sign up for my class on (email lists/newsletters/Amazon ads/Facebook ads/FILL IN YOUR OWN ANSWER) and you will be on the way to financial success. Or maybe the promise that someone is making you is that their system will land your dream agent in a matter of weeks. Or that you will break into top markets in six months. Or shave months or years off the writing process. 

Maybe it's because my grandfather was a salesman, but I'm always suspicious when people start with these kinds of sales pitches. It makes me suspicious of both their motivations and their product. My grandfather would have been muttering about snake oil and empty, conflated promises. 

The reality is that writing is a lot of work. You have to research and plan. You have to draft and revise. There's waiting and rejection. 

It sounds harsh but there are no shortcuts. If you are going to be a published writer, you have a lot to learn. Learning it takes time. I can't tell you how long it will take you because this varies by person and by circumstance. It depends on how much time and energy someone they have to put into it. It depends on where they are when they start. It also depends on what the market is hungry for at the moment a project or idea is ready to submit. 

All of this means that someone can have success early in the process. There are people whose first query is accepted. They jump in and don't look back. Good for them. They are ready for the writing world as it is right this moment. 

There are also people who slog along for years. It can be uncomfortable and discouraging. 

I just saw a Tweet from a friend who is considering quitting. She'd entered several contests lately with disappointing results. She felt like a fraud. Fortunately, she is part of the Twitter writing community. Despite the negative things you may hear about Twitter, this is a rock-solid community and people stepped up with encouraging words. Don't quit! We've all been where you are! Your work is so good. 

And that's the rub. Excellent work doesn't always sell. Mediocre work sometimes sells very quickly. I can't tell you exactly why. I can't promise to shave time off your learning curve. I'm not telling you not to sign up for classes. If it is something that you want to learn, sign up. 

I love taking classes! But I sign up to learn the skill that they are teaching. I don't sign up expecting dancing dollar signs in my future. Of course, the class that I'm eying right now is on sashiko embroidery. Isn't hand work pretty hot right now? Maybe this is my key to making millions. 


Sue Bradford Edwards' is the author of over 35 books for young readers.  To find out more about her writing, visit her site and blog, One Writer's Journey.

The next session of her new course, Pitching, Querying and Submitting Your Work will begin on April 3, 2023).  Coping with rejection is one of the topics she will cover in this course.

Sue is also the instructor for  Research: Prepping to Write Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (next session begins April 3, 2023) and Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (next session begins April 3, 2023).


Renee Roberson said...

I love this very practical and pragmatic sales pitch! It also gives the reader a good idea of the tone and personality of the instructor. I too have a healthy dose of skepticism when I see e-mails and social media posts using the kind of language your grandfather would call "snake oil." You are right that writers have all different types of journeys. While I wish I was already a published novelist, I know I needed to practice numerous drafts of my own, grow my skills as a journalist, and explore interesting topics to write about first. I'm glad your writer friend has chosen not to give up!

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Such a relief that she's not stepping away from her keyboard. I saw another article today about "no draft is a wasted draft." We really do disregard the learning curve at our own peril.

Cathy C. Hall said...

Such great words of wisdom, Sue. There are SO many factors that go into whether a manuscript sells or not. (And there are definitely more sure ways of making money!)

I'm with you: buyer beware when it comes to classes. It's always great to do a little homework before the class. There are excellent instructors like you and there are some who'll promise the moon and the stars. But yes, take a class because you want to learn--and know that every bit of knowledge gained is never wasted.

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

My dad was a teacher. He always said that he could offer information but he couldn't force anyone to learn or earn. Fortunately, WOW! is a super supportive community.

Angela Mackintosh said...

You are so right about mediocre work selling quickly compared to excellent work. I don't read bestsellers anymore, only small press because I relate so much more to those books and voices.

I believe every class can be worth it, BUT it depends on how much you put into it. That's the key. I personally only take workshops when I have the time and money to devote to them, and in between, I find other things to inspire me. But I never go into a class expecting anything like getting an agent or finding a publisher - it's all about self-growth. Realistic expectations are the key. I'm so glad your friend didn't quit. That proves she's a writer. :) We've all been there!

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Hi Ang,
I agree. Whether is a class or a workshop, there is always something to gain. It is the unrealistic promises that bother me. Some people will say anything to make that sale. Self growth and gathering knowledge are usually my goals.

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