Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The place where divergent advice crashes together.

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This is a link to a very short discussion about strategies for getting ones book published. It is representative of a common kind of thinking in the publishing industry right now. You might ask, "Brandon, what  exactly are you basing this observation on." To which I might respond, "No need to be snotty about it. But, good point. I am as much of a publishing industry outsider as you might find. But, there is a frantic industry of publishers, agents, editors and writers that are all giving advice about how to write and market ones book. I have read and listened to a great deal of it over the past few years. Take a listen to the podcast. It's short. Then I will tell you why I am not taking the good advice it offers.  

Here is another example. As I was nearing the end of the manuscript for my novel, I saw a posting for a conference hosted by a writer who has had many nationally best selling books. The conference was free and was supposed to focus on how to find an agent, but the conference was far away. So I decided to send an email to the writer and express my desire to attend, but my regret that I wouldn't be able to. 

Within a few hours she responded and we began a fairly involved correspondence. The summary of the generous advice she gave me was this (and it is similar to the advice in the podcast posted above), "You can't depend on friends or yourself to edit your book prior to sending it to an agent. You must hire a professional, a book doctor, a hired gun, an industry insider." This is a paraphrase. The writer was not nearly as redundant. She also sent me the names of a few likely editors to contact; which I did.

However, this whole concept bothered me. Making work, receiving a peer critique, making changes and then putting my creation in front of an audience has been a part of my process for two decades now. The idea of handing over a big chunk of my process to someone I don't even know simply felt wrong, and perhaps like a scam. So I reached out to another novelist I know. 

She said something like, "You are a good writer with good instincts. You take criticism well and understand how to filter feedback into good edits. Trust yourself." 

And that is why I am bucking the current industry wisdom and feel good about it. 

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