Monday, May 6, 2013

Guest Post: "Avoiding Career Mistakes" by Debra Webb

Avoiding Career Mistakes

There are lots of missteps or mistakes one can make in any career. Some are unavoidable and ultimately prove to be learning experiences that help to mold you as a writer and to provide landmarks along the path of your career. The motto I would urge you to embrace is: Experience is wisdom. Wisdom thrives on knowledge. Knowledge is power. As a writer you already possess the power of the pen, but, if you’re like most writers, your greatest desire is a strong, powerful, enduring career. Absolutely doable as long as you avoid the first and biggest mistake any writer can make: Giving up. Never, ever give up!

As you develop your writing voice and flex that storytelling muscle, there are a few things you should consider up front. What sort of stories do I enjoy writing? What do I write best? What type of stories do I want my name to evoke when mentioned by a reader or editor? Simply put, what’s your “brand?” I’m not suggesting that a writer can’t delve into more than one arena, but I am saying that the vast majority of your best known and most successful authors are associated with a specific type of story. Who wouldn’t think of horror when Stephen King is mentioned? Or John Grisham when talking legal thrillers? Or romance in a discussion about Nora Roberts? When you’ve mastered a genre to the point that your name is synonymous with that genre, then you can rest assured that you have built a sizeable audience. A sizeable audience equates to good sales. I would urge you to avoid the mistake of writing all over the place and FOCUS. Decide where your strengths lie (romance, suspense, mystery, whatever!) and focus. Create amazing characters immersed in a compelling story that shines with your distinct voice!

Avoid surrounding yourself with (perhaps well-meaning) folks who undermine your confidence. If your goal is to be a published author and to have a long prosperous career then you must treat your writing as a business. Love your friends and family but avoid allowing too much outside influence in your business, particularly if it undermines your confidence, frustrates you, or just plain old confuses you. Focus. Work hard and trust your instincts. Again, remember that knowledge is power so make knowing the market and the industry a part of your work. Amid other industry professionals is the best place to learn (conferences, chapter meetings). My younger daughter is a nurse and although she is licensed and employed she must take a certain number of classes each year to stay licensed. Just because you get that first contract doesn’t mean you’re done with learning. The industry and the market are evolving and changing, stay on top of those changes.

Once your book is on the shelves, don’t be afraid of the reviews or the reader feedback. Make note of any points you feel are useful and put the others behind you. Frustration is detrimental—avoid it! Every single reader is not going to love every single book you write. Even you won’t love each one equally. Each story is a unique creation with distinct characters who, like real people, are different. If you have difficulty dealing with bad reviews, avoid them.

Lastly, once your career has gotten off the ground and you have a few published books under your belt, I would urge you to avoid two major pitfalls we face every single day in this business by doing two things: 1) Never forget that this is business. As creative people we have a tendency to forget to put on our business hats when it’s time to talk contracts and the like. 2) Never stop growing as a storyteller. The day you think you can’t learn anything new in the course of writing a story is the day you stop putting your whole heart into your work.

DEBRA WEBB, born in Alabama, wrote her first story at age nine and her first romance at thirteen. It wasn’t until she spent three years working for the military behind the Iron Curtain—and a five-year stint with NASA—that she realized her true calling. A collision course between suspense and romance was set. Since then she has penned nearly 100 novels including her internationally bestselling Colby Agency series. Her debut romantic thriller series, the Faces of Evil, propelled Debra to the top of the bestselling charts for an unparalleled twenty-four weeks and garnered critical acclaim from reviewers and readers alike. Don’t miss a single installment of this fascinating and chilling twelve-book series!

Visit Debra at or at You can write to Debra at PO Box 12485, Huntsville, AL, 35815.

RAGE, the fourth installment of the Faces of Evil series is in stores now! 

Disturbing echoes of a Charles Manson massacre disrupt a quiet Birmingham suburb...a missing child is the only witness. Deputy Chief Jess Harris puts everything on the line when her key suspect is one of Birmingham's finest. With a killer now focused on her, she must find the missing witness and the truth before it's too late for them both.

And Deb has graciously agreed to hold a contest - giving away two copies of this awesome book (U.S. and Canada only).  Leave a comment to enter.

Thanks so much for stopping by The Guide today, Deb! 


  1. Great post!
    Knowing a bit about what you've overcome, your "Never, ever give up" advice is even more meaningful. I'm so glad you've been able to overcome your challenges and have continued to write.

  2. Good post =)

    I like your comments about "branding" as writers. I think some people focus too much on that, and not enough on their actual writing. On the opposite end, I think some focus too much on writing and not enough on branding. When I visit a website or a blog, I should know what sort of stories you write! Excellent advice!

    1. Thanks, Natalie! Balance is very important!

  3. Excellent article and it has paid off for you.

    There is a good reason that RT Magazine gave Rage 4 1/2 stars. The Faces of Evil series is excellent. If you like spectacular Romantic Suspense, this series is for you.
    One of the reasons that the series works so well is that Ms. Webb has managed to combine an action-packed plot with a character driven plot, not an easy feat.

    Jess and Dan are the main characters in all of the books. Given their past history, each book allows them to cautiously come to terms with their feelings for each other in a second chance at love while at the same time that they are dealing with murder and mayhem, including a serial killer.

    Jess is a kick-ass, independent heroine whose continual determination to do things her own way, even if they are outside Police protocol, drives Dan crazy. He is very protective of her and always has her back which is not easy since he is the Chief of Police.

    Another great aspect of the series is that Ms. Webb allows the reader to see the flaws of Jess and Dan as well as those other recurring characters. You feel invested in the characters with respect to their personal and professional lives.

    I highly recommend Rage and the other books in the series. I guarantee that if you read Rage first, you will go back and read the earlier books.

    Marijane Diodati

  4. Great advice for both published and unpublished writers (me) - thanks, Debra. Your point about choosing/knowing what stories to write (based on voice, love of genre, etc) reminds me of the many discussions my writer friends and I have had about branding. And your point of keeping those that undermine your confidence is particularly significant (and I can use that advice in more than just my writing life). Thanks again :)

  5. Thanks for this inspiring and interesting post which gives me insight into writing and what individuals must strive for. Best wishes and much happiness. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  6. I enjoyed your words of wisdom. Thanks for sharing. I just finished reading Impulse and can't wait to read the rest of the series! After years of being a devoted Colby follower I can't wait to see what's next!!

  7. Hi Deb! You're a new-to-me author and I'm always on the lookout for great romantic suspense authors and books. I can't wait to check out both your Colby Agency series and Faces of Eve series. Your advice on focusing spoke to me. A lot of writers I'm come into contact with lately seem to write, like you say, all over the place. I know what I want to write and what type of stories I want to focus on. Would love to hear your thoughts on the future of the romantic suspense genre?

    1. Hey Karyn, I think there will always be a place for good romantic suspense. If traditional publishers don't want to publish it, determined authors will publish it themselves!

  8. It's good to remember not to let well-meaning people bring you down. I like that bit of advice - I can apply that to many areas of my life. Thanks! :)

  9. Yesterday was a blur and I kept meaning to come back here to comment. Deb, I've been a "fangirl" of yours almost from the beginning. You've been a friend, mentor, and idol. Your advice here is perfect. As always. :) I'm so thrilled that FACES OF EVILS is making such a mark, and that all your hard work is paying off. When many would have surrendered, you rolled up your figurative sleeves and went to work. Good on you! :D


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