On What Surprised Them About Their Career Path – Writer Edition

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Since I often ask similar questions of people I interview, I wanted to collect some of their responses here, under the umbrella of that particular topic. That way, if you’re looking for quick advice or inspiration on a particular subject, you can browse these posts to see what a variety of very talented writers and other professionals say.

Here, I’ve collected together responses to the question: What is something that surprised you about your career path?

I’ve linked to each full blog post below–and if you click the link, you can also scroll down to find the ways you can follow or connect with these authors.


“It was easier to get published for the first time than I had expected but it was also much harder to *continue* to be published than I had ever imagined it would be.”

Alex Bell


“That my first novel published won all sorts of awards. Here are some: http://carolplumucci.com/about-carol/ I was not expecting anything except finally getting to see my name on the cover with some cool artwork. However, there was this other stat running around New York: If you write fiction, you will publish on your fifth. It WAS my fifth. I encourage writers, if they really love fiction and it’s really what they want to do, to keep going, no matter how many declines they get on their first works. Because you improve, like with any other skill. And also, once you publish, the publisher will ‘change his or her mind’ about those first ones. With some edits to get rid of first-time-novel syndrome, you’ve got three sales instead of one.”

Carol Plum-Ucci


“That it’s very non-linear. Getting a book deal is only one tiny step. After that there are so many things to learn: how to handle an auditorium of 500 high-schoolers, how to handle a book-signing where 3 people show up, how to scrap half a book and start over, how to deal with attention, success, and failure. Also the fact that every book is different to write. Sometimes the writing process feels a lot like luck, too, and everything just clicks, and sometimes it’s like pulling teeth, and the book fights you every step of the way.”

Stefan Bachmann


“That my debut experience was so different from my later books. My first series didn’t get much publisher support, but when I switched to another publisher, my career path changed for the better. My new publisher is invested in me and my books. I thought my debut experience would set the tone for the rest of my career, but it didn’t— luckily!”

Kara Thomas


“I had to write 3 novels–and lock them in a drawer–before I was able to write Girl in Snow. I didn’t realize how much trial and error it would take, between scrapping those other novels, and revising this one, to get the end of a finished, publishable book.”

Danya Kukafka


“A) That it took so long to break in. B) that I became an “overnight sensation” :-)”

Wendelin van Draanen


“That it’s a roller coaster, with downs as well as ups. Basically, most of us have to reinvent ourselves over and over. Some even change their names.”

Sherwood Smith


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