Thursday, February 01, 2007

All The Answers

Admittedly, my motivations for starting this blog were selfish. I had something to say and I wanted people to hear it. I had views on publishing, on writing, that I wanted to put out there, and hey, exposure never hurt anyone. But the more blogs I read, the more I wonder about people's motivations. To sell books? To vent?

This past year, I have spent a lot of time talking with people about writing. So many people from high school, from work, have come up to me and said, "I want to be a writer. How do I get started?" I obviously laugh and tell them that I'm just as clueless as everyone else, but I tell them about my experience and what I have learned. But I remind them that it is simply that: my experience. Someone else could have an entirely different take. So I guess this is what this blog is becoming: a documentation of my experiences and what I've learned about the writing field.

Unfortunately, all blogs are not this way. Too many of them claim that this is the way it is, that they have all the answers and anyone who disagrees is clearly mistaken. Given, many of these blogs are written by published authors, and in order to be published in this market you have to be doing something right, but if I've learned anything it's that there is no one way to do things. There are certain things that are universal and hopefully common sense, like meet your deadlines and make sure to spell the person's name correctly on your query letter. (Note: I misspelled an agent's name on one of my query's and he still made me an offer, but I don't recommend doing the same.) But other than that, it's a shot in the dark. Do you need an agent to sell your book? Not necessarily. Do you need to attend conferences in order to promote your work? It's probably a good idea, but not going to conferences doesn't automatically make your book a failure. I've been told over and over that there are two things you can't kill in your book: animals and babies. Do I advise it? No, but that doesn't mean that it hasn't been done in some very successful books.

There are no hard and fast rules in this industry, and be wary of anyone who tells you that there are. All I can share is what I learned from my experiences and my education, and that doesn't mean that how I do things is the be all end all. I'm not the first person to give writing advice as I am still an aspiring novelist, but I'm certainly not the last. You can read blog after blog, books on how to write, attend panels at conferences, but the most valued lessons you'll learn will come from your own experiences. And who knows, you may disprove my theories and all the advice that you've read over the years. Because anything written about the publishing industry is simply that: a theory, an opinion, not a stone-written rule.

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