Writers: The Best Advice I Was Given

The Penmen Review asked writers what the best advice they have been given was, particularly when they first started writing. Here is what three writers had to say:


Hertling2012_headshotWilliam Hertling is the author of “Avogadro Corp” and “A.I. Apocalypse,” as well as the upcoming “The Last Firewall.”

Keep Writing
When I had finished my first novel in 2010, I had the good fortune to meet David D. Levine, a successful science fiction writer. I asked him for advice, and he told me to “keep the pipeline full.” In other words, I should keep writing more novels, keep submitting to agents and publishers, and not get bogged down trying to sell my first novel. This wasn’t the advice I wanted to hear. I thought I was only ever going to write one book. Four books later, I realize this was the best advice I’d ever received. My books are now top-20 bestselling technothrillers on Amazon and I have a writing career.


John HedtkeJohn Hedtke is an author, consultant, contract writer and the publisher of Double Tall Press. Read his blog for authors here.

You’re Going to Get Screwed
The best advice I was given when I was about to sign my first book contract came from Grant Fjermedal, a local author I knew. What he said was this: Sometime in your first three books, you’re going to get screwed. You don’t know what, you don’t know how, you don’t know when, but you’re going to get screwed. Be on the lookout for it, be ready to do what you can, get over it, and move on. Grant was right. For me, it was on my second book, when the company I was publishing with absolutely butchered the book with a horrifically bad edit (Examples: when I finally tracked down the editor, she admitted that she had no idea who I was writing for. “Did you read any of the audience analysis in the proposal?” “No.” “Did you think of phoning me?” “No.” I said “I used to have a lot of first-level words, like “run,” “use,” and “does,” and you’ve changed these to “execute,” “utilize,” and “perform.” Why did you do that?” She said “You were using all these simple words, but your audience can read at a higher grade level than you’re writing for, so I stiffened it up for you.” Gosh, that was big of her!).

I wasn’t able to get the publisher to respond to any of my questions, so I finally said to them “I’m going to pull the book entirely unless you throw out this edit and we start again.” They finally paid attention to me. The book came out and was what I wanted it to be. I ended up doing two more editions of that book over the next seven years.

I’ve compared notes with other authors and this rule is very often true. It served me well and it’s served other people well, too.



Michelle Gamble-Risley is an author and publisher at 3L Publishing.

The best advice I was given and have heard over and over again when it comes to writing and getting published: persist! Don’t give up no matter what anyone says. Whether it’s writing that first article, book or screenplay, do the work and keep going to make it successful. Stay in the game and don’t give up. You can do anything no matter how daunting if you persist and work around the barriers.