Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Straight-Talking Bloggers

I wrote a few entries recently about blogging - blog identity, blog bios, blog pictures . . . and I wrote about how, when I started this blog in earnest so I could give my two cents on the Harlequin Horizons debacle, I decided to be honest. I would admit that sometimes, the combination of full-time day job, social life and home commitments means I don't get to write for a week. I would admit that I have been known to book dental appointments to get away from editing.

For a newbie writer, unpublished, unagented and frankly not even querying, this wasn't a huge decision. I did consider what it would be like if an agent spotted my blog and thought I was a waster. But in the end, I decided to be honest about my writing life, because everyone has difficult patches and I'd rather an agent knew that I was committed even through the difficult bits.

Then there is Natalie Whipple. Natalie is agented and has been on submission for a long time. She has watched people get agents and book deals in the time she has been on submission. And she writes openly, honestly and helpfully about how much this has sucked for her.

Writers at my stage need to believe in the fairy tales. We read about the six-figure deals, the massive ebook profits, the awards, because it's what we need. That's what makes us sit down in front of the computer after a long day at work. It makes us edit a book that a part of us believes no one will ever see. It makes it easier to switch off the phone and forget that our friends are out having fun without us while we're taking dictation from the voices in our heads.

But we need to know the truth too. We need to know six-figure deals are rare. We need to know that a celebratory drink with friends when you get an agent is fine, but it's worth keeping it low-key because an agent doesn't equal a deal, and you don't want to deal with everyone you know constantly asking when your unsold book is coming out.

So thanks to all professional, agented, published and contracted authors out there who have the guts to tell it like it is. You're making the road easier for everyone who follows you.

6 comments:

  1. I don't think I write for the dream of six figure deals (although fantasy never hurt).
    I write because If I didn't I am sure the voices would keep hassling anyway.
    I think sincerity in a blog (or a book for that matter) makes for a much better product.
    I suspect that unless you deliberately set out to target individuals in the publishing industry your approach is more likely to attract positive attention than not.

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  2. I guess everyone has different motivations - I know if someone told me in the morning I would never get published, I'd cry for a bit and then keep writing, because I love it.

    But there are times when it is hard to pull myself away from real life to do it, or when it just feels difficult, or when real life is difficult, and that's when I like to read about other writers' successes as imagination fuel.

    I agree that sincere blogs get more positive attention - I certainly enjoy them more! I think that if you're blogging to make agents like you, no one else will be very interested. Agents probably won't either, as I have heard repeated rumours that many of them are humans too :)

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  3. There's a significant difference between honestly discussing how it feels to suffer delays and setbacks and just playing the blame game. I think many agents and publishers know that.

    You're right, though. It's important for aspiring writers to understand the challenges in getting published, as well as keeping the dream in sight so they have something to aim for.

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  4. Yeah, I think if Natalie was posting about how everyone was crap and failing her horribly, she would have - well, probably far more followers, actually, but they wouldn't be very nice. . . :)

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  5. I am also all for honesty. I refuse to change who I am/seem to be just for the sake of a hypothetical person that might just not even care.

    Even for us unagented ones, it's important to share the sucky parts as much as the good parts. That way, others can learn from our experiences.

    :-)

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  6. The road to conventional publishing is never easy. I've been there fourteen times, and though I had it better than most, it was no bed of roses.

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