Advice to New Writers Part 12: “My Final Thoughts”


            We have reached that point my friends were I can no longer help you. Every writer has to cut their own way through the publishing landscape all I have done is help you sharpen your machete. There comes a point where you have to stop looking to others to show you what to do and just fucking do it. Get up off your ass and push through.

            I would like to leave you with a few closing thoughts. I have learned a few things along the way and I have tried to present them to you through theses series of essays now I want to hit you with these last bits.

            Don’t worry, this won’t take long.

You are never going to be Rich and Famous

            This is something you need to say to yourself all of the time. More importantly it is something you need to believe. If you got into this thinking that you are going to make a fat payday and retire on your talent I have some bad news for you.

            YOU ARE AN IDIOT.

            Sorry to have to be so harsh but it is true. When I first started writing I had visions of being the next Stephen King. I look back on that and laugh. Even if you discount his natural talent and ability to churn out quality product at an amazingly fast pace, the man is a product of a different time. Back then there was a smaller visible pool of authors and the realm of self publishing did not exist above the vanity press level. Now there are more writers with more access to worldwide publishing resources than Mr. King could have imagined in the 1970’s.

            That is not to say you CAN’T be rich and famous as a writer. I am just saying that it is a hell of a lot harder to attain that level than at any other time in history. But hey, if you are reading this you have probably been writing for free for the vast majority of your life. So while you would love to be rich and famous, hell we all would, as long as you are writing you will most likely be happy for the rest of your life.

            If not … well there are always jobs in the wonderful wild world of medical assisting.

You can get Paid

            Once you accept that you will never be rich and famous it will be easier for you to be happy with attainable goals. And there are realistic goals in the world of indie publishing that can knock your socks off.

            I have made a decent amount of money in the last year. I will never talk numbers with people but it has been enough to noticeably improve the life of my family.

            Is it enough to quit my day job and write full time?

            Sadly no, this has not been the case … yet.

            Is it enough for me to take the family on vacation this summer to Gen Con and get my car fixed?

            Hell yeah!

            I write a lot and that is the key, in my opinion, to the growing sales I have experienced. While I have only produced three novels in the last year I have released dozens of short stories, essays, and novellas to plug up the empty spaces. It is a lot of work but I really enjoy it and it has translated to a small but growing fan base who buys my stuff.

            I owe these people everything and I love them for their support. And that is almost better than money.

Don’t let it all go to your Head

            Odds are you may find an audience who will pay for your work. That’s great and you SHOULD be very proud of yourself. But please do not let your success, no matter how major or minor, go to your head. Just because you are making some money and getting awesome reviews does not mean your shit doesn’t stink or that you are just amazing.

            You are probably mediocre.

            I am mediocre.

            99% of all successful writers are just mediocre … and that is okay.

            A mediocre writer is a writer who produces good entertaining fiction in a timely manner. We have our fans and we have our haters. We are the bulk of the writer community. Not to some pretentious but being a middle of the road writer is a noble thing, we entertain people and that is a wonderful thing to do for a living.

            Not everyone is King, not everyone is Dickens.

            Poe died a sick and broken man. Lovecraft was long dead in the ground before his genius was finally appreciated.

            Just be happy writing and appreciate the people who like you.

Keep Writing

            Don’t take a long break.

            Don’t rest on your laurels.

            Don’t assume you can just start writing again whenever you want.

            I am not saying jump into another long project, although if you have an idea for another book just get to it. But you do need to work on something. I don’t care if it’s long or short, I don’t care what genre it is in. You have to keep writing.

            The creative center of the brain is like a muscle. If you stop using it the poor thing with atrophy and wither. The reason I started doing Free Story Friday was to keep my tools honed and polished. After I finished the Shores of the Dead series I stopped writing for almost six months and when I finally pulled my rusted implements out of storage it was hard to get back in the groove. I have three broken novels that broke 20,000 works during that period to prove my point.

            You need to stay in practice. You need to keep in metaphorical shape.

            And that is it. We have come to the parting of the ways. You are now on your own, if you have questions I will try to answer them in the future but as of right now you know everything that I have to teach you. But before we part allow me to give you one last bulleted list of things I hope you take away from all of this.


The idea is key

Trust your instincts and write what you want

Use an editor, NEVER be your own FINAL editor

If you can’t afford an editor use beta readers you trust

Try going it alone before signing away your rights

Learn to hear criticism

Don’t engage the haters

Take reviews with a grain (or a pound) of salt

Use your social media legs

Engage the fans

Keep writing

ALL ROUGH DRAFTS SUCK! (told you I’d bring that up again)

            And with that we are done.


- Josh

1 Comment

Josh Hilden

When I was born on August 3, 1976 in the great state of Michigan the hills shook and the sky was swept with fire. These were portents of the greatness for my future that was written in the stars ... I'm still waiting for that greatness. My name is Josh Hilden and I am many things. I am a husband, a father, a son, a friend. These are all important things but at my core I am an artist and the medium that I work in is words. I am a writer of Horror, Science Fiction, Drama, and Role Playing Games. I worked for Palladium Books ( and Third Eye Games ( before striking out on my own and founding a small press publishing company Gorillas with Scissors Press ( I also work for Fat Goblin Games ( In the everyday world I can be found spending time with my family and friends. I have been married to my lovely wife Karen since 1996 and we have six amazing children. We tend to be a family of unabashed geeks and gamers who were geek before geek was chic. If you are really interested in me I am very active online with a personal and a writing blog along with a plethora of social media outlets. If you have any questions or just want to chat hit me up!