Defining ‘pro’ — again

I talked about various levels of defining a pro writer in my post On Being A Neopro, back toward the beginning of the year. I forgot to mention one definition then — someone who makes their living from writing. Yes, I’d like to get there, but I’m not there yet. For this post, I want to talk about behaviors, ways of acting professional, whatever external criteria one may or may not meet.

  • If you ask someone for feedback on something you’ve written, listen to it. Don’t just argue or do a knee-jerk, “Oh, you don’t understand what I was trying to do.” If, after thinking about it, you don’t agree with the comments, let it go. But think about it first.
  • If you don’t ask for feedback, but you find yourself receiving it — in the form of negative reviews, for example — don’t respond.
  • Be courteous to your readers but be firm about boundaries.
  • Know what you’re agreeing to when you sign a contract. Ask for changes if you don’t like something. If the other party doesn’t agree, know that signing means you’re agreeing to what it says on paper (or in the file, as the case may be).
  • Keep track of your expenses and income. Pay your taxes. File your paperwork. Conduct yourself as the business that the IRS (or governing body in your own country) will see you as.
  • Don’t bash other authors, either for what they’re writing or for the choices they’re making for publication.
  • Investigate all of your options.
  • Never assume you know everything. Learn. Learn more. Listen to others. Question. Think. And keep learning.
  • Try new things.
  • Improve your craft.
  • Write.
  • Learn the difference between a reason and an excuse.
  • Keep doing old things if you have an audience of appreciative readers.
  • Treat others with respect.
  • Oh, and if you’re at a con, shower and put on clean clothes each day. Seems obvious, I know.

In other words, act as if you expect to be taken seriously.

Today’s post was inspired by the topic “What ‘professional writer’ means to me”– October’s topic in the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour — an ongoing tour where you, the reader, travel around the world from author’s blog to author’s blog. We have all sorts of writers at all stages in their writing career, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy. The next post in the tour will be on the 4th, by D. M. Bonanno. Be sure to check it out.

If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers and find out their thoughts on crossing genre lines, check out the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. You can find links to all of the posts on the tour by checking out the group site. Read and enjoy!

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  1. I’m baffled about what to write for this post. I think you put together a good one. Thanks.

  2. Ever the professional, even in your explanation of what it means to be a pro writer. 🙂

  3. One thing that we writers do a great deal, but I don’t come across acknowledged all that often is, pay it forward. Ninety-eleven percent of us are right there giving other writers a hand up, because we wouldn’t be where we are if someone hadn’t given us one. So …

    Pros Pay It Forward.

  4. Shower and change clothes…ROFL! Yes, you’d think it would be obvious.
    It amazes me each time I see a writer bashing someone else’s work or arguing with a reviewer about their book. It’s like kids in a sandbox and a good way to ruin a reputation.

    • I think it’s usually fans more than authors who have that problem at cons, but a little reminder never hurts. 😉

      I’ve mostly stopped reading when I see links to “authors behaving badly.” Only so many train wrecks you can watch and remain sane.

  5. “Keep doing old things if you have an audience of appreciative readers.”
    This is good advice! Though it is always nice to see authors experimenting, I still love to take up books that remind me of the style I fell for them in the first place.

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