As a writer, here are the questions most commonly asked me by friends and fans.
Q. How long have you been a writer?
A. Nearly all my life. I wrote–well, recited, anyway–a rhyming couplet when I was four about a butterfly.
Q. Do you have a philosophy about writing?
A. Yes, and basically it is that a true writer should be able to write anything: a poem, a novel, a history, a song, a screenplay, a TV commercial, an obituary.
Q. What is the most important trait a writer should have?
A. Actually, two related ones: discipline and patience. Discipline, as in, “If you write a page a day, by the time a year passes, you will have a draft of a book.” Patience comes from having to deal with publishers all the time.
Q. How do become a professional writer?
A. Find a niche that you like and know a lot about. Then learn more about it. Then refer to yourself is an expert in that field. Have a blog to enhance your credibility and build a platform of fans. Make appearances. Get on TV shows. Figure out a book about your niche that’s never been done before, and pitch it to agents until you find one. Ask other writers to recommend agents. I’ve had the same agent for more than 20 years, but I know several other agents as well who I occasionally recommend.
Q. How do you handle negative reviews?
A. I ignore them.
Q. What if you write a book and it tanks? How do you handle that?
A. I say, “You can’t hit a home run every time you step up to the plate. Sometimes, you strike out.”
Q. You’ve written more than 55 books and you’re older than 70. When are you going to retire?
A. When I’m cremated.