Miss Matisse: You are speaking like a true professional! Others don’t always realize just how much can go into writing stories. It takes some serious time, effort, and it isn’t always for everybody! What advice would you give up and coming writers who are interested in your field?

Digger Cartwright: Work hard and give your best. Writing isn’t easy. It’s a big commitment, and it’s very time consuming. Good work isn’t something that you can just throw together in a few days. Those manuscripts end up on the trash heap of history. You have to stay focused and give the best you’ve got. You’re competing with millions of new manuscripts that are produced each year. Poor quality work or marginal work isn’t going to be competitive.

Be disciplined. Allocate a certain amount of time each day or every other day or whatever schedule works for you to your writing and keep that schedule until you’re done. This is a very tough one. If you get started, you can’t walk away for any period of time. If you do, it may be months or years before you come back to it, if you ever do. Once you get out of your routine, it’s hard to get back into it. I know this is tough; I’ve had to struggle with it in the past and still struggle with it since I’m balancing work (running my businesses) with writing.

Decide if you’re going to seek the traditional means of publishing or if you will self-publish. This is tough for most people. They’ve been led to believe that you have to get an agent and that agent will get you published and you’ll be the next bestselling author. It’s tough to get an agent and then it’s tough for that agent to sell your work. Self-publishing was once poo-pooed upon, particularly by the agents and publishers, but the rise of the internet and on demand publishing has really taken the stigma away from self-publishing. Several bestselling authors started out by self-publishing. I chose the self-publishing route because it gives you control over your work and how it’s marketed and distributed. There are pros and cons to both, so make sure you research each option and decide what’s best for you.

Don’t get discouraged. If you go the traditional route, you’re going to get rejection letters and lots of them. If you go the self-published route, your sales may not be up to expectations. It’s going to be discouraging from time to time and it’s going to be frustrating, but you can’t let it get you down. If you’re serious about your work, you’ve got to go full speed ahead. Keep sending out letters. Keep marketing your book. Look for more and better ways to reach agents and readers. Too many writers get discouraged and give up. Let me be clear. Not everyone can be a bestselling author. It doesn’t work that way. I’m saying don’t get discouraged too early until you’ve given yourself a chance. If it doesn’t work out after you’ve put forth the effort, so be it. At least you will have given it your best shot.

Make sure you have a backup plan. There are millions of books that are published each year but only a few of them are commercially successful and enable the writer to earn a living. My advice is having a career first and write on the side until your writing takes off. Too many people put all their eggs in one basket and take a gamble on their writing careers only to get disappointed. Ever heard the term starving artist?

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