Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Quick! Act Like You Know What You're Doing!

If I had to give advice to writers who are trying to get 'out there' - be it face-to-face exposure or online networking, that would be the first thing I'd tell them. But there's a second. Study up, so you actually do know what you're doing!

Have you ever seen a writer who really didn't know what they were doing and it showed? If it was in person, they stammered, laughed nervously, or weren't able to describe their book very well when asked about it? If it was on a forum or blog, they bragged about being a writer, but seemed ignorant of terms they should know, insecure in the presence of other writers, or were blind to mistakes in their own work?

We all have to start somewhere, but imagine if that writer were on a book tour, or being interviewed. Pretty awful, right?

I think writers forget that when they publish a book, they're putting themselves in the public eye. Whether we're going indie or big six, traditional or e-book, when we take that first step into publishing, we're out there. People can see us and we have to make sure they like what they see.

When we're new writers we make big fat hairy mistakes - a lot. I broke a ton of rules when I queried for the first time. (if you want to know, I can refer you to the blog post where I confess them). And when friends of friends asked what my book was about I mumbled something about a Victorian girl and faeries. Since then, I've gotten a lot better with both, but I'm not published yet.

Right now, I'm studying up. I'm learning the business. I'm networking with writers, editors, agents (when I get the chance), and trying to absorb as much as I can. That's what I'd suggest to any budding novelist or potential author. Learn your trade, know what's out there, rub elbows with people who might be doing things a little differently. You'll definitely learn something.

It's alright to not know what you're doing at the beginning, but when you step out there, you better have your game face on. You better be able to smile and tell me what your book's about - not the one you wrote in junior high or the one you're working on now that you're super enthusiastic about. I want to know about the one right in front of me. The one you're trying to sell. (It should be easy after you try to sell it to agents and publishers with your query.)

If you can do that, and be genuine and gracious and charming even when you're not sure how to answer me, you'll definitely look like you know what you're doing! And even if you don't really know, I won't remember. I'll remember how nice you were, and how great your book sounds.


  1. Hi! You're right! When you want to do this writing thing for real (for a living) you'll have to take it seriously, and work hard to become a professional. (I am certainly not there yet, but I'm practicing on my poker face :-)..)


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