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marthawells

Martha Wells

My Flying Lizard Circus


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marthawells

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thanate asked: Do you have any favorite resources or pieces of advice for people who write but haven't yet gotten up the courage to tackle the publishing industry?

My big piece of advice is don't tackle the publishing industry unless you really really want to, and feel compelled to. (It's not a career where you make a lot of money (unless you just hit it lucky) and there's no real job security.) There's nothing wrong with writing just for fun, for your own enjoyment and fulfillment.

(We were talking about this in the comments of an earlier post, wondering when the idea showed up that writing is somehow a no-no unless you are writing for publication. People have been writing stories, poetry, memoirs, travelogues, etc, just for themselves or to share with a small group of friends or family, in every culture that has a written language, since written language was invented, and the ones who can't write their words down tell stories. Now somehow you have to be planning to make a profit at it or it's a bad thing. I tend to think this is something that crept in with the idea of bestsellers, where all writers are seen as rich celebrities like Joan Collins? I don't know. The fact that most writers who write for publication either still have other jobs or are barely scraping by, and that there are a much larger number of writers who don't write for professional publication at all, seems to be almost absent from popular culture.)

But if you really really want to try for publication, I've been putting together a list of basic information links on my web site here, though I'm still adding to that. I'd also say one of the best things you can do to get a feel for the professional publishing world is to read agent blogs, like arcaedia (Jennifer Jackson), Bookends, LLC, Nathan Bransford, Pub Rants, onyxhawke (Mike Kabongo). Their blogs also have links to other agent blogs.

***

ArmadilloCon is this weekend in Austin! With Scott Lynch and Joan D. Vinge.

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I put together a filtered blog list of publishers and agents and related blogs, both livejournals and RSS feeds from other blog systems. Just click here to get all your publishing blogs in one long, chronological list:

http://storm-grant.livejournal.com/friends/agents&pubbers


(It does not include info on publishing children's books nor inspirationals.)


I agree with your thoughts about how preoccupied with writing for publication people get. I get frustrated when, say, my writers group gets caught up in the "does it have a good hook" sort of critique, or obsess about what the agent blogs are saying is sellable. I'd like to see more emphasis on writing as a form of self-expression, and improving your craft so you can tell a better story, not so you can sell your work.

Somehow, as a culture, we've come to accept nothing short of publication as a measure of time-well-spent when it comes to writing. I think it's because other artistic hobbies are easier to prove your time expenditure is worthwhile. A painting or photograph you can hang on your wall for everyone to admire, but when you're done with a story or book all you have is a stack of paper.

Yeah, obsessing about current trends is particularly useless, because you never know when the trend will end abruptly because the market's been glutted.

We were talking about this in the comments of an earlier post, wondering when the idea showed up that writing is somehow a no-no unless you are writing for publication.

I missed this discussion, or surely I'd have chimed in! Years ago I wrote fanfic and published hard-copy zines. When my relatives found out about it, I'd invariably be asked if I planned on writing for publication one day. When told "no", they'd wonder aloud why I bothered, making it clear that they thought it was a huge waste of my time. I would then point out that there was no reason for any of them to watch sports on television, as none of them would ever play for a team, announce a game, or manage a team, and they'd *sort of* start to get where I was coming from.

In January, I bought some beads and started designing and making necklaces. In July, when I showed up at a family party wearing a necklace I'd made, the first words out of my many relatives' mouths was this: "Are you going to sell these on eBay?" EVERY SINGLE TIME I MENTIONED TO YET ANOTHER PERSON THAT I'D MADE THE NECKLACE. So it's not just writing that seems to be expected to turn a buck. Whatever happened to "Oh, that's pretty!" as a compliment?

Yeah, I think while some people mean "you could sell that!" as a compliment, it can still be an incredibly frustrating compliment.

Thank you!

At least for myself, I've never thought there was anything wrong with just writing for my entertainment or a small audience, but there's something terribly alluring about possibility of sending stories out where they can live on other people's bookshelves rather than just on my harddrive (and various back-ups.) It's more of a sharing thing than a monetary one, in the hopes that the mythical "someone like me" might have a chance to enjoy reading my work.

That's a great way to look at it!

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