Last week, I was fortunate enough to attend a Writing Day Workshop hosted in Kansas City. Here’s my top-ten gratitude thought list (that’s a thing, right? You think something and you’re like, “Hey, I’m glad I just thought that.”).
- Hooray for a one-day workshop in the Midwest! These are hard to come by, folks! Just having the opportunity to network and learn doesn’t happen much, especially for adult writers, so this was great.
- Take a second look at self-publishing. I had only known about traditional and self-publishing options, but Marisa Corvisiero of Corvisiero Literary Agency described hybrid publishing, which is a combination of the two. Jane Friedman offers one definition of hybrid publishers, but Corvisiero’s focus was on authors self-publishing some work and traditionally publishing other work. The self-published book provides income and learning while building your platform for the traditionally published and agented book. In fact, hybrid authors are making the most money right now. I’ve been dismissive of self-publishing in the past, wanting the editorial relationships and promotional support available via traditional publishing, but perhaps this is the best of both worlds.
- Your synopsis doesn’t have to be like the Sahara Desert. Most of the time, I’ve heard the synopsis is supposed to be “just the facts” about the plot of your book, without all the blurby goodness of the query. While Corvisiero admitted not all agents will be wild for this, she and Friedman are in agreement that the novel’s emotional landscape should be present in the synopsis.
- “Interview” agents by doing your research. You’ll do an actual interview if you get an offer, but when constructing your short-list, do a little stalking. It seems obvious to check their reputation, experience, and success as an agent, but Corvisiero dropped this little nugget: watch how an agent is online. Are they promoting the work of their authors? Do they seem excited and involved with their work? Is their vibe on your level? You don’t just have to take any ol’ person who offers to rep you. You deserve the best person for you.
- Agents read a lot of first pages. I already felt pretty good about writing first pages, but I liked a couple of things I heard. The first page is a combination of what’s typical and what’s new. The main character needs to be happening, not just getting happened to. The question at the central of the conflict should be right there on page one.
- I have a brand. In fact, we all do. And actually, we all market our brands, because we live them. When thinking about the illustrious “social media platform,” you’re curating your life for the world to experience. This thought is helpful to me, because I don’t have to worry about “creating” or “discovering” my brand. I exist, therefore I have a brand.
- Quit freaking out about your brand and just make friends on the Internet. Be nice to them. Thank them. Celebrate their achievements. Make them laugh.
- There’s no substitute for listening to an expert like Marisa Corvisiero.
- If you’re thinking about publishing, then you’re thinking about writing as a career. If it’s my career, I need to treat it that way. Gotta write. Gotta stay current. Gotta build relationships.
- Writing may seem solitary, but it’s better with friends. Thanks, Sara, for accompanying me to KC! I had a blast with you–from prepping our first pages to hitting up the gas station for some late-night wine. Let’s write some books!