So 2013 was kind of a crazy year for me as a writer, and I really want to take a moment to reflect on everything I’ve learned so far.
I made the decision to pursue a career in writing and publishing.
At the tail end of 2012, I made my first official manuscript submission during Harper Voyager’s call for unagented subs. Neither that nor my sub to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel contest panned out, and I’m incredibly glad for that. I don’t think either would have gotten me where I wanted to go, and I didn’t even know where that was when I made those subs.
While those subs were impulsive and in retrospect poorly thought out, they were important because they represented my decision to be serious about getting published. My major 2013 goals were related to that decision, and I actually achieved a lot of them. I don’t have an agent for FROM UNDER THE MOUNTAIN yet, but I’m definitely getting closer. I did finish the first draft of another novel. I did write and submit more short fiction.
I began cultivating relationships with other writers and publishing professionals.
Rejoining Twitter was probably the best decision I made all year. I found people who know what I’m going through, people who have gone before, all of them comrades in a community fueled by love of the written word. I’ve had some great opportunities through Twitter, including going to my first-ever writer’s conference, being interviewed by and then leading a roundtable discussion for DiversifYA, running monthly critique giveaways for Bear and Black Dog Editing, and eventually even becoming a marauder/editor for Curiosity Quills Press.
It’s been amazing to just chat with writers, agents, and editors through Twitter and blogs. The support fellow writers give to each other is unbelievable. Being part of those conversations also really does a lot to validate writing and publishing as a career option.
It’s been an ongoing crash course on the publishing industry.
I took Bree Ogden’s LitReactor query course at the beginning of 2013 and I’m so glad I did–but it definitely was not the end of the learning process. My query has seen about a bajillion revisions since then, and I also learned a lot about etiquette in the publishing industry. Since professionalism is an incredibly valuable quality (particularly in a business that is so subjective), the blog posts of writers like Dahlia Adler and agents like Victoria Marini (and many others) are full of indispensable advice.
Really, in a lot of ways it comes down to not being an ass. Here’s how I do things:
- Think positively, because sneaky hate spirals are the worst.
- Allow for fallibility in yourself and others. No one’s perfect, and if you set the bar at a reasonable height it’ll help you avoid that sneaky hate spiral. Remember: you, agents, other writers, are all human.
- Give credit to others. Whether it be attributing a blog post or a quote or an idea, support others. I promise, they will support you in return.
- Be polite. Everyone communicates differently, so I don’t mean “don’t use curse words” or “don’t talk politics” or whatever. Just be fundamentally respectful even in touchy situations.
- Ask questions when you need to. The kind of people you want to be dealing with won’t be annoyed if you check first rather than make a mistake.
Looking toward 2014
Like I said, it’s been an ongoing crash course and I frankly don’t ever expect it to end. Publishing is dynamic. But now that I know more than I did a year ago, I have a better sense of what I want from my career and how to get it. I will either get an agent with FROM UNDER THE MOUNTAIN, or I will shelve it, finish the edits on the sci-fi and query that one. I will build my Twitter network. I will broaden my editing business. I will write another manuscript.
And I will know, deep down, always, that these things are all possible and that I can do them.