Thursday, June 10, 2010

Spilling Ink, Day 10 (Blogger is on CRACK)

Though the date marked next to my last post says "Tuesday, June 8," I'm pretty sure I posted it today, Wednesday, June 10. It SHOULD have been posted yesterday, June 9th, but finals literally ate that day and now I'll never get it back.

I'm sitting in my barely lit dorm room, staring around at the mess that is my attempt to pack, and I'm typing these words like a madwoman. Not only do I have to write my final paper of my Junior year, I also have to pack up the past year of my life into neat boxes before I can go on with what will most likely be an amazing summer.

Metaphorical niceties aside, I have a lot to do.

So I'm going to shamelessly quote a great blog I read earlier this week by Sarah J Maas about 5 rules in the publishing world. They're really important rules, so pay attention:

5. Be patient. This is perhaps the hardest thing to do, but learning to Wait is an essential skill. The waiting never gets better, believe me. Whether you’re waiting for an agent to respond to your query, or for your editor to read your revised manuscript, it always sucks. But this isn’t a lightning-fast industry—things take time.

Your agent and editor are usually juggling multiple projects, all at different stages of publication. No news isn’t necessarily bad news—sometimes no news is just…no news. Learn to distract yourself—try to avoid staring at your inbox for hours on-end. Write another novel, watch TV (I became a Bravo addict while on subs), go to the gym. In short, force yourself to do anything other than refresh your inbox and stalk twitter feeds! Don’t drive yourself crazy while waiting.

4. Do your research. This isn’t just about researching before you query agents. You should try to keep abreast of what’s happening in the industry: recent sales, what’s hot (and what’s going out of fashion), recent scandals (yes, we have those), and who has drama (especially in the sense that you should learn to avoid such drama). This isn’t to say that you should become a gossip, because no one likes people with big mouths, but keep an eye on what’s happening in the industry. If anything, it gives you things to talk about when you meet other writers.

3. Be kind. And classy. You’d be surprised how far this gets you. In case Rule 4 didn’t convey this, word gets around. Even if you think no one knows who you are, odds are some people have heard of you. Don’t become notorious for starting drama or insulting other authors/agents/editors.

I knew a writer who really damaged their reputation by starting drama—and I was really shocked when I learned that people totally unconnected to that writer had heard of the drama and now thought negatively of said writer. So, be kind—be polite. Authors talk. Not just to each other, but to their agents and editors as well. You might not realize it now, but someday you might be sitting on a panel with the author whose book you slammed on Goodreads, or you might have your work on submission to that editor you whined about in your blog. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

2. Open as many doors as you can for others. This goes hand-in-hand with Rule 3. But I remember once explaining this to another writer, who balked at the idea of helping someone get ahead when she was having so much trouble doing it herself. She was afraid that if she helped out a fellow writer (just by reading/critiquing their query letter) that it would hurt her own chances of getting published and being successful. I found (and still find) that to be ridiculous. Someone once told me that lighting other candles doesn’t diminish the brightness of your own flame, and I couldn’t agree more.

Remembering to reach back is crucial—not because you want to gather a horde of people indebted to you, but because it’s a good thing to pay it forward. It’s good for your soul. I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in today if my fellow LTWF Contributor, Mandy Hubbard, hadn’t opened a door for me. Not only am I forever grateful for that kindness, but she inspired me to reach back to others, too. Please don’t become someone who shuts doors on people.

1. Don’t give up. Ever. This might seem pretty obvious, but this is the most important thing I’ve learned so far. The only thing/person standing in your way is YOU. Agents and editors might reject you left and right, but if you give up, the blame is on you. It only takes one person to say yes, and one phone call to change your life.

I know a writer who sent out 96 queries to agents. Her now-agent was number 95 on that list. She could have given up at 50 queries, or 60, or 94. But she kept querying, and the 95th agent was the one who said Yes. If getting published is your dream, then you’ll understand that it’s not how many times you get knocked down—it’s how many times you get back up. Keep getting back up.


So? What did you think? She's awesome, and you should go check out her blog. Like, right now! And keep a look out for her novel, QUEEN OF GLASS. A badass retelling of Cinderella. Sounds cool, no?

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