It was not so long ago that I could lose an afternoon writing a 2000-word blog post about a video game I was playing. Another 1400 words on why a TV show annoyed me. (Yes, Game of Thrones I am looking at you.) 2500 words about a musical group that feels like family to me (Paul McCartney and Dave Matthews never show up though or call me). A blog post with writing advice (I did a lot of those). And how about one about a strange thing that happened to me, or something that made me the person I am today.
That was my life for years! And for a while, I was averaging a few blog posts a week. It was a fun time with likes and shares and comments and followers. But now something has shifted and nothing feels the same.
The thing that shifted is not just about me, it’s about the world. I think we as a collective consciousness decided to all move away from blogging together. An itch was scratched, we all sighed, and then forgot about it. (How many of you just scratched your arm because I wrote “itch”? Weird, huh? Mind control!)
I have some theories and thoughts on what has happened to the artform of blogging (and, yes, I used the word “artform”). It’s not a graveyard scenario yet. We are not pouring wine or throwing a rose on a casket while Boyz II Men plays on a stereo, but it is definitely a major hospital visit and there is a machine that makes a “ping” noise every time its heart beats. But remember what the nurse said when we entered the room- talk to the patient. Even though the patient doesn’t respond, it does make a difference.
“Hi blog, it’s us the writers. We just wanted to stop by and see how you’re doing. Are you feeling okay? Do you want to wake up now?”
One thing a writer can not avoid is someone asking their opinion about writing or their advice for trying to make it in the field. Here, I must admit that I used to ask the same question all of the time to my writing professors or writers I would meet. It is like there is a great secret we all want in on, and the trick is finding someone that will teach you the magic handshake.
The truth of the matter is there is no magic handshake. Yet, there is a mountain of books that claim to know— everything from how to put a pen on the paper to how to get that elusive publishing deal. Personally, I’ve always found these how-to sections at bookstores overwhelming. A person could drown in those murky waters, struggling to find the right voice and advice that works for them.
Yet, when I am confronted by new writers who ask me about writing, my advice usually falls into the following ten points; they are ideas, suggestions, lessons, or hot air, in many ways whatever you want them to be or what works best for you. Continue reading →
I’ve written quite a bit on the site already about the many pitfalls in being a writer in today’s world.
The fact is literary agents (and managers) are, in many ways, the gatekeepers for the publishing houses, with many of the bigger publishing houses declaring that they only will look at material that is represented. And, honestly, agents want to sell your book, because that is how they make their money; and the more successful deal, the better for them as well. Who wouldn’t want that in their book’s court?
With today’s over congestion of writers—newbies, recent writing graduates, struggling older writers,etc.—your work needs all of the help it can get to be noticed, and an agent can be that for you. Here are five things to consider when looking for a literary agent for your masterpiece.Continue reading →
I always seem to be overtaken by a feeling of apprehension whenever I begin to consider the idea of contacting agents and publishers again. To begin with, it’s not like I feel like I am “selling out” myself or my books, but I am definitely doing something that makes me feel a little dirty.
See, when you are writing a book you have all of the best intentions. You want to tell a great story, maybe do something groundbreaking or new in your artform; but when you start to contact agents and publishers you have to forget all of that. The best intentions are fine for writing tables; agents and publishers, typically, want to know the bottom line.
Could this book sell?
More established authors have their name to help sell a new work, but when you are unknown you are a member of the ever-growing faceless mass. And by that I mean, the daily struggling army of want-to-be authors that fight in query letters and e-mails for attention for their work. And that army is growing each year as more and more people graduate from English programs and writing programs, or simply decide they want to write a book… growing and growing… Continue reading →
Whenever a newbie writer has had the misfortune (if that is the right word) to ask for my advice, I will always say the same two things:
1. Enter as many writing contests as possible. It will build up your resume, give you free opinion from someone who isn’t family or a friend if you are actually good or not, and you never know who a judge might be (For example, my radio series, The Dante Experience, was produced and directed by a judge of a radio script competition I entered).
2. Try to get an agent. An agent’s job is to find you a publisher and help you succeed. They have contacts you don’t have. You need them.
The problem is with number 2; while it is right to say it, it does always leave a little bad taste in my mouth since my experience with working with agents has been lackluster at best. So far I’ve had four agents. Continue reading →