Which writer is a pro, and which one never will be?

guts over fear
Photo courtesy of NordWood Themes

As you discover how the book business works, you’ll notice that many, if not most, other writers sit around fantasizing about success without doing much to achieve it. You’ll see how assiduously they avoid certain aspects of the business of writing, because they don’t want to confront their weaknesses. At some point it will become obvious to you which writer is a professional and which one never will be. You might eventually forget what it was like to be unaware of the difference.

No one will ever demand that you do what you need to do to be a successful author. People simply will give up on you and invest in someone who’s more prepared. You’re expected to recognize the opportunities and carry out the work because you understand the nature of the competition. There’s no shortage of useful information for writers who are motivated to learn about the book business, and the learning never stops.

If you’re waiting for someone to tell you what to do, then you’re a person who makes excuses. You’re not fooling anyone.

Procrastination comes off as a lack of enthusiasm or, worse, learned helplessness. If you’re in a rut, get out of it! Waiting for guidance instead of researching and developing your own professional strategies is self-defeating. You are empowered to make of your writing career what you want it to be.

Agents and acquiring editors, for example, can’t assume there will be improvement in your online presence and your ability to help with book promotion. All they see when making their decisions is what’s discoverable at the precise moment they consider your manuscript.

If your goal is to be a book author whose books actually sell, then begin by identifying other creators who are good at self-promotion and whose results are worthy of your admiration. Learn from everyone. Some musicians and journalists are great at leveraging social media. You’ll find role models in many industries other than book publishing.

Your best results will come from innovating, because you’re more noticeable when you’re out in front of the crowd.

Get out there.

Still looking for a journalism or book publishing internship?

coffeebar
Photo courtesy of Tim Gouw

Listed below are a few places to look for journalism or book publishing internship opportunities. These should prompt you to think of other possibilities. Don’t limit yourself. A simple online search using the term “publishing internships” will return pages and pages of search results for internships at individual publishing houses.

Some of these sites and some publishers’ websites will permit you to set up email alerts notifying you of new postings in your specific areas of interest.

BookJobs.com

Creative Hotlist

Ed2010

Editor & Publisher Jobs

InternJobs.com

JournalismJobs.com (Look in the menu under “Job Type” for “Intern.”)

Media Jobs Connection

Mediabistro

PEN America

Publishers Lunch Job Board

Publishers Weekly Job Zone

Publishing Interns

I once landed an unadvertised internship by immediately following a kind-hearted literary agent’s advice to contact a specific young editor at a publishing house. Out of nowhere, I appeared on the editor’s radar at precisely the moment a new project had been approved and several assistants were needed. It was uncanny luck, and the people who made the connections were generous. More commonly, you’ll submit scores of applications to find one internship. Keep an open mind. Don’t pin all your hopes on just one company.

On your campus or at your local library, you’ll find a textbook with sample internship cover letters. Monster and other sites provide examples online, too. More companies are starting to use online fill-in forms.

Arranging reverse interviews can help, if you find your letters are not getting the responses you want. It goes without saying, but you’ll get points for making a good impression.

Consider volunteering. You can make professional connections while donating your time to local chapters of organizations such as 826® or First Book.

Now, go! Summer break is just around the corner.