Author Dean Wesley Smith has written a book concerning Heinlein’s Rules based on his long career as a professional writer and how these five Business Rules written seven decades ago are still pertinent today as they had been when Robert Heinlein first wrote about them in 1946. While most people know of these five simple rules, they do not understand them. Therefore, they have difficulty in following them or explaining them to other writers. In his book, he explains how embracing them and following them changed his writing for so-so to professional writer with over one hundred books in print.
Heinlein Rules say nothing about typing fast. Nor do they say nothing about speed or anything associated with being prolific. Heinlein’s Rules are business rules, not rules on writing.
Rule #1 – You must write. Nine out of ten people can’t find the time to write, even though they say that they want to. Writers are people who write. Promotion of your last book is not writing. He did not say you must research; research is not writing. Talking to friends and others about your future book is not writing. Outlining your book is not writing
Rule #2 – You must finish what you write. It is estimated that half of the people who sit down to write will not finish what they write. Why? Two major areas are Fear of Failure and Fear of moving on to something new. Finishing something risks what you finished will fail. Also, if they finish this project, they fear that they will find another project to work on. If you are rewriting, you are not finishing.
Rule #3 – You must refrain from Rewriting unless to Editorial Order. There are three parts to this rule. Part one is “You must refrain” and means exactly that. Don’t think about a second draft. Get it right the first time. Part two is Rewriting. Rewriting is not fixing errors, fixing typos or fixing wrong details. Part three is “Unless to editorial Order.” Agents are not editors. Some scam book doctors you pay are not editors. If you pay someone, they are not an editor since they cannot write you a check. Copywriting is not rewriting. Harland Ellison added a corollary to Rule Three – “Only if you agree with it”
Rule #4 – You must put it on the Market. Sending a book to an agent is not putting it on the market. The readers are the market: sending it to editors or publishing the book on the web where readers can find it meets the definition of this rule.
Rule #5 – You must keep it on the market until sold. The ‘it’ refers to your story or novel. Agents are not the market. Don’t rewrite the story or novel because some reviewer said something.
Caveat: these rules will do you no good if you don’t continue to learn how to be a better storyteller is critical to making these rules work for you. Learning never stops. Ever. You must keep up with the business side of the industry. You need to make it a habit to understand the new world of publishing and follow the changes.
I highly recommend that you purchase his book on Amazon. It is well worth the money as he gives examples from his own career on how they work.
Heinlein’s Rules: Five Simple Business Rules for Writing (WMG Writer’s Guides Book 12} by Dean Wesley Smith