Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Dear Younger Me: 5 Bits of Social Advice for the Budding Author

I'm sorely tempted to say, "Ditto!" to James & Jeffe's posts and leave it at that. However, I'd be a total slacker. So in addition to their sage advice, here are a few things about the social side of writing I probably should have known when embarking in the writing game.

1. Find Your Tribes -- Plural
IRL & Online. Locally, Nationally, Internationally. Yes, you want to surround yourself with readers and writers, but grow beyond the closed-loop reader/writer circles. Connect beyond your genre. Connect beyond your skill set. Cut ties with the crazies fast. Nurture the ties that give as much as they take.

2. Sometimes the Authorverse is Just Like High School
Good, bad, and often as evil as it is uplifting, you're still being judged on how you look, who you hang out with, and whether you're the smartest kid in class. The cliques abound. You Do You.

3. Pitch Sessions at the Cons -- Skip 'Em
Go to the local and national conferences, skip the speed-dating pitch sessions. You're better off heading to the bar with a game of Jenga or a deck of cards. The point of the Con is to seed relationships, not to offer yourself (or your story) up for approval. If someone asks you what your story is about, have something ready to tell them, but it should be as natural a response as, "These shoes? Got 'em on eBay."

4. Critique Partners -- Invest the Effort in Finding the Right Ones
This is the hardest part of your writing career. It's not the rejections. It's not the shitty reviews. It's not the beloved book that doesn't sell. It's finding the right CPs. You need the ones who will read the story--word for word, line by line. Skip the skimmers. Find a partner who cares more about helping you deliver a quality story than hurting your feelings. Find the ones who can articulate why something isn't working as well as why something is. Find the ones who enjoy your genre. Find the ones who respect your voice, who won't try to rewrite your story in their image.  Remember, it's a partnership, not a duel. When you give your critiques, highlight the positives. Be mindful of how sharp your editing pen is.

5. "You are not a goddamn beggar at the banquet of publishing." -- Janet Reid, Literary Agent
This. This and always this. You will remind yourself of this so many times during the fits and shits of  your career.


  1. All good points! I love that Janet Reid quote, too. That was a terrific post.

    1. One of the agents for whom I have a lot of respect. :)