Wednesday, November 18, 2015

80% is Showing Up...Are You?

My wife is always stressing that saying that we have always heard: 80% of life is showing up. I was thinking about that comment last night and how it really relates to publishing today.

I do think, in the past, conferences, professional organizations, critique groups and so forth were really an integral part of writing process. These were chances for writers to get together and not just celebrate successes over a couple of drinks, but a chance to network and learn about writing and the business of writing. Unfortunately, I do believe that has changed a lot, and frankly, I think that is part of the reason we are in such a situation as we are now. Here is what I see as an agent.

In the past, as I read submissions, I used to request a lot of partials and full manuscripts. No, this did not mean that I signed more authors, but the writing was good enough to want to see more. I actually got to the point of thinking "maybe there is something in this story" or "maybe I can do something with this." Today, however, I am seeing far more projects and submissions that I would never want to do anything with. The writing is poor, The professionalism is just not there... The list goes on and on.

When I do look at these projects and determine what is going on with the submissions, I am finding a lot of common trends. Many of these authors have been simply "doing this on their own." There are comments in the query letters that note they "just got up one morning and wrote the story" or "they finally got the kids out of the door and now figured they would start a career." I am also seeing a lot of authors who, in those same queries are noting all of the work (and in some cases it is only one book) with their self-publishing. Very few are talking about being part of organizations and learning the craft.

These networks get writers a lot more than simply a contest to enter and "great hotel food." You get a chance to actually learn about what it takes to be a real writer. It is here that you learn it is not just about writing a good story. You learn the business.

Now I know a lot of you believe that you can get that information off of blog posts such as this one, or those discussion groups you visit. Yes, that will get you SOME information, but what you are missing out on is the actual real interaction with other authors. You miss out on talking to the professionals one-on-one over coffee in the hotel lobby.

I know that many of you are also going to bring up the cost factor. These groups charge a lot of money. The conferences are expensive. Yes! Yes it does cost money. But that cost does pay for itself in the long run. You will get far more with these networks than you will sitting by yourself, behind your computer, writing your "Great American Novel." You will learn what it takes to be a WRITER!

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