HEY! Remember I am SLOWLY via blog entries that I was sposed to do once a week (HEH) building an FAQ that will eventually be a WHOLE PAGE unto itself? Me neither. But this morning I suddenly did remember, so here is another chunk of it.
This is some more of the FAQ for WRITERS. There will also be one for readers. I will continue to POST AS I GO and when I am done it will all MAGICALLY appear in the drop down menu. Right Scott? RIGHT!
Also I think when TGWSS launches in PAPERBACK I will add another weekly feature for 6 weeks with GIVEAWAYS every Monday. IF I REMEMBER. Remind me because I have a BUCKET of cool prizes on the shelf beside me that I keep forgetting exist. HEH.
I WROTE A BOOK AND I SHOPPED IT AND IT DIDNâ€™T SELL AND I AM COINSIDERING GOING TO LIVE IUNDER THE BED UNTIL I DIE. CAN YOU OFFER ME SOME ADVICE?
If you want to be a writer, you have already succeeded. You finished a novel---congratulations. It's a huge accomplishment. Writing and publishing are NOT THE SAME THING. Get that tattooed on your body.
Now, if you want to PUBLISH, which is not the same thing at writing, remember? From your tattoo? Then my advice is "write another one." My first two novels are moldering away peacefully under the bed in lieu of my own personal sorrowful rejected corpse. They are likely to remain there. I think you have to write a novel or two or ten to learn how to write the dern things. The other route is, write the same one over and over for ten years...I am too impatient for that, but it worked for Donna Tart and both her novels make me want to die of love for her.
Also, get a writing group. I LOVE my writing group (or join a workshop at a local college or library or institute). It's fun, and a good set of peers will make you a better writer. A good set of peers is by definition keen eyed, supportive, honest, and made up of people whose work blows your mind --- people you suspect daily of being better writers than you are. They'll make you better, too.
If you are the best writer in your groupâ€¦you are in the wrong group. Working with people who you KNOW make mistakes you are beyond wonâ€™t help you grow. It will just make you feel comfortable and superior and you wonâ€™t have to PUSH yourself to impress them. Get with folks that you have to PANT to keep up with. If they sometimes find themselves panting as they strive to keep up with you, they will want to be with you right back. These are your peers. This is your pack. You will grow and succeed as a group, most likely.
SAY I ACCEPT THAT WRITERS ARE SECRETLY PACK ANIMALS THAT NEED TO SNUFF AT THE MUSKS OF THEIIR PEERS IN ORDER TO ADVANCE. SO OKAY! I WILL GET A WRITING GROUP! SHUT UP ALREADY!
BUT WHAT ABOUT WRITERâ€™S CONFERENCES? SHOULD I GO?
If you can afford it, go. Go for three reasons. First, to hang with writers who have made it in the industry, and ask them craft questions and be open to the answers. Also, to learn about how the publishing industry works for agents and editors, who will ALSO be at those conferences. Also, to meet peers who will make you grow as a writer.
When talking to agents and editors, remember that Writing is a maddening and delightful craft, and you can pursue it in your pajamas. Publishing sometimes requires a hairbrush and a big bucket in which to hide The Crazy while you front like Mental Health is your long time lover instead of a guy you saw on the bus one day and he looked kinda scared of you. Conferences help you practice the Fine Art of Not Looking Squirrelly.
When talking to published writers, talk 80% writing, 20% publishing, at most. Every writer I know that teaches at conferences has said, at one point or another, a variation on â€œHOLY COW! THAT WOMAN IN THE THIRD ROW! ASKED ME A QUESTION! ABOUTâ€¦.WRITING!!!! And we say it withy starry eyes and we are impressed with that woman in the third row. Because she gets it. Publishing is a business, and yes itâ€™s fun to drink a big cocktail and trade war stories and tell the drama of HOWIGOTANAGENT. But writers care about the WORK---the story â€“ getting it out of the head and onto the page.
When with your peers, the focus is writing. Listen to crits without being defensive. Take what resonates with you, thank them for the rest and use it or not. You dontl;have to explain to them why they are wrong. Glean what you can get and make the book better. Fighting about whether or not they GET you wastes your crit time. When your work is ready to shop, there are a thousand books out there about how to get an agent. Donâ€™t waste valuable workshop time on that crap. Get the work as good as you can make it.
When I was ready to shop, I used the Writers Market books (and website) to learn to write queries and such---you don't need connections, but once again, conferences where you meet agents and editors are fun and can be useful, both for finding a writing group or selling a piece.