What One Small Step Made a Big Impact on Your Writing Career?

Career Changing Move

The biggest career-changing moves I ever made were a combination of:

  • Signing up for Twitter in 2008 & starting the Best Tweets for Writers series (story here)
  • Buying my own domain name—long before I ever started using it—in 2005, then actually launching this site in December 2009

What have your career-changing moves been? Writer’s Digest is asking writers to share the small steps they took or decisions they made that at the time maybe didn’t seem that significant, but have made a substantial and positive impact on their writing/publishing careers.  

For more details—and to possibly end up making a contribution to the magazine—visit this Writer’s Digest post. 

Posted in Creativity + Inspiration.

Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the co-founder and editor of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors.

In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), received a starred review from Library Journal.

Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.

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Joanna PennMarquita HeraldEleanor Van NattaPaul Dinas, book editorDave Malone Recent comment authors

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Esther Aspling

Starting my blog, and pushing through even when it felt like no one was reading. This journey seems like one leap to the next though, and I know I’m no where done walking!



Going to a Creativity Workshop – exactly the nudge I needed.

stacey graham

Submitting a tiny humorous story for a zombie romance-themed anthology. I’d never written anything zombie-like before but it lead to an agent, a popular zombie tarot deck, two books (ghost-themed), and short stories in other anthologies. Just hit send, my friends!

Michele Arduengo

Sent a “cold” email to the editor of our university news publication for alumni, offering to write profiles of scientists when I was in graduate school. She took me up on my offer. And so began my science writing career.


I’ve been putting down words since they appeared on wide-lined tablet paper. But to do so in hopes of publishing? No clue. Then I joined SCBWI (Society of Childrens Book Writers and Illustrators). My local writers’ group, conferances, retreats, and national events put me in touch with people who knew what to do and how to do it; and they taught me. It’s networking, sure, but so much more. It’s stretching, growing, learning, sharing, and meeting–in short, many small steps that together pave a path that leads my now-virtual words to a publishing home.


I can’t think of any small steps. They’ve all been HUGE decisions and scary. Like returning from a cruise and deciding I’d had enough of crazy bosses and proceeding to quit my job and start my own publishing company.

Dave Malone

These are great, Jane. How could you have known, right?, how valuable, interesting, and supportive Twiter would end up? I am so glad you have gathered such a Twitter following and that your succint tweets lead us to amazing articles, wisdom, and experience. It’s fun to hear all these stories. I often go back to that one letter of inquiry I made in 2003 to the Mary Anderson Center for the Arts–which led to a residency, which led to an escape plan from my J-O-B, which led to the rich, creative life I live now. : )

Paul Dinas, book editor
Paul Dinas, book editor

Somebody please say it was the right encouragement from a friendly and supportive editor!

Eleanor Van Natta

I was scratching around aimlessly like a fluffy chicken until I hired an editor who said I had a compelling story that needed to be told. She has forced me to go deep, deep, deeper than I ever would have by myself. Its been a bootcamp the last several months – but after much gritty work, and even tears, I now have a book that is coming together. I highly recommend hiring an editor!

Marquita Herald
Marquita Herald

This is an easy one for me – my blog. Like many others, I’ve been writing my whole life – more often than not for free for employers who eagerly took advantage of the opportunity. But it wasn’t until I started my blog that I began writing for myself. It helped me work on my writing skills, and learn what I wanted to write about – not to mention learning how to grow a blog and everything that goes with it. That was 3 years ago and I’m about to publish my 6th book. I believe it would have taken… Read more »

Joanna Penn

Definitely my blog, The Creative Penn and my podcast – which has enabled me to meet a lot of amazing people – which in turn has led to opportunities that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. For me, the point of platform is all about personal connection