Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Don't be bitter, congratulate

This is a real tough one but honestly, it is one of the best ways to learn your craft and get closer to being published.

When your critique partner or friend "gets the call" don't spend the time whining and complaining, or finding a reason why she got called and you didn't - you need to celebrate.

I have said this over and over again, but the publishing business is just a weird place. It is about being in the right place and the right time. It is about having your manuscript in the hands of the person when they are in the mood to read it. There is simply so much of a subjective element to it that even for the best, predicting what is about to happen is tough.

So, when that friend of yours gets a contract, enjoy it with them.

Now, what do you get out of it? No, don't go getting the idea they will grease the wheels for you into the editors office. That is not always going to happen. But this person can really become an inside person for you and allow you an insight into the side of publishing many don't see. This person can tell you what people are looking for. This person can guide.

Consider this... Have you ever noticed that the RWA Chapters with the most successful published authors continue to produce? On the same level, those that have no successful authors tend to remain that way? It is all a matter of the education that is being passed on.

The key in this business is information, and sometimes, your best friend may be the source.



  1. Writing groups must be based on RESPECT.

    Here's the definition for RESPECT:

    "esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability"

    For the last four years, I've belonged to a writers' group of mostly published authors. As a matter of fact, I am of the few who has yet to get the call. Each writer in our group of 12 writes something different. Everything from fantasy to literary to erotica to narrative non-fiction is represented.

    Now this might seem like an unfocused and non-productive thing for me, right? WRONG.

    I only write romance and women's fiction. What could I learn from a story that takes place on another planet? METRIC TONS.

    And what does all this have to do with RESPECT?

    I RESPECT their talent and dedication. These authors give me so many priceless things---insider tips, the voice of experience, the encouragement to keep writing. Each one of our members, even the ones that are yet to be published, has taught me something---not the least of which is a lot about the business side of things. And I have found something I could use in my genre from each of the others--realism from the narrative non-fiction writer, sensuality from the erotica writer. I still don't do these things as well as they do, but I'm learning. In our group, the only things we require from each other are committment to the craft and complete honesty, no matter how much it stings. Some sessions are more painful than a kidney stone, but I learn from each one. And hopefully become a better writer in the process.

    I RESPECT their honesty. In a productive writers' group, no one will lie to you. If your story stinks, they will say so. If it lacks direction, they tell you that, too. You have to take the hits. You have to realize that it's not about you---they may or may not like you as a person---it's about the material. And if you want to get serious about getting published, you have to listen. Don't join a writers' group that only tells you how *great* and *super-fantastic* your writing is. Because if they only say good things, they're not telling you the WHOLE TRUTH. And you need the WHOLE TRUTH to become a better writer.

    There is no room for jealously or pettiness in a successful writers group. The essential ingredients are RESPECT and honesty. And if you truly RESPECT the people in your group you will be thrilled when they accomplish something. And in turn, they will be thrilled for you.

    I also RESPECT their professionalism. Professionalism is key. You should never ask a colleage to accost their agent or editor and demand this person read your stuff. If you have successful friends, they might offer such an opportunity to you. But let them offer first. No one in our group would ever think of taking advantage of someone else's hard-earned success. That's why we've stayed together longer than some marriages.

    There is no golden ticket in this business. Excellent wrting is what it takes and who better to learn that from than people who are excellent writers, who may also end up as your dear friends?

    BTW: Upcoming Popcorn Party at my house for one of our members whose book is being made into a TV-Movie, almost five years after it was published. And we are ALL excited! She deserves this--she's a great writer--and with a little luck, it won't be long until the next party. In a group where everyone is succeeding you get to have lots of parties. And who in their right mind is going to let a little envy get in the way of a great time? LET'S CELEBRATE. Who's in?

  2. Scott, what a timely post! My CP just got "the call" last week and I couldn't be happier for her! She truly deserved it! And, we are meeting this upcoming week to celebrate together!

  3. Amen to that, group. I have been astounded at the number of so-called writer's websites that seem to consist of the most vicious attacks on writers and their books, generally, it seems , by the as-yet unpublished.
    What is the point here? I can understand the "what was she thinking?" stuff. with which we all have a lot of fun, but a lot of this stuff leaves me feeling rather sicl to my stomach.
    Every writer writes the best book that he can, at that time. How does gutting them like a fish possibly improve their ability to write better?
    Much more to the point, how does wasting time attacking another wtriter possinly improve one's own writing?
    I first saw this here when Jacqueline Mitchard had written the No. 1 book in the country.
    Some of the reviews of later books seemed motivated by nothing other than the ugliest kind of envy. There's always a reason why a book was chosen for publication, often a lot of them. Making a list of them, might actually improve one's own book. I doubt vicious comments ever made much of a difference. Can we not treat each other better in this department?