Until the last year or two, unless you were in my “inner circle,” chances are you probably had no idea I wrote anything other than Facebook posts. That has slowly changed as I’ve sought representation/publication and truly gotten serious about this writing thing. I’m tickled to say I’ve been met with more curiosity than skepticism, and have found that more than one of my long lost friends (and even a couple of family members) have manuscripts of their own sitting in some dark corner of their closet.
Well color me surprised!
I’m thrilled for each and every one of them. I know what it takes to hammer out a manuscript that you don’t think will ever see the light of day. I also know the courage it takes to step out and begin to ask questions about how to bring your little creation out of the shadows and into the light.
One friend messaged me just yesterday with questions and she said, “It’s terrifying.” And I agreed with her wholeheartedly. Yes, it absolutely is.
But I promise each and every one of you out there thinking about showing your work to the world or thinking of finishing a manuscript you’ve started – I can’t imagine turning around and writing in silence anymore. Next to the love of my family, this is the most exhilarating thing I’ve ever felt in my life. I’m not published, yet, but I’m loving every minute of it.
Do the rejections suck? Absolutely. But I expected them. Only recently have I been crossing my fingers for an offer. Until now I prayed for only one thing – feedback. Feedback that could help me make my writing better. Now, granted, direct feedback from agents is few and far between. But the writers in the writing community itself are among the most generous folks I’ve ever encountered. They’ll even give up their writing time to give you feedback and direction. And every now and then an agent or editor offers a bit of feedback, too!
So my first piece of encouragement to you is to get in your writing closet and finish/polish that manuscript. You can do it. If you get stuck, skip to another part of the book that’s more vivid in your imagination. I promise you that you won’t be stuck for long. Make them shine like the noonday sun!
To help get you started, here’s a list of websites and resources I’ve found helpful along the way. Your questions have encouraged me to do a series of blog posts about my own journey. Getting the courage to step out, polishing your manuscript, writing that first query letter (and promptly throwing it out in disgust), and reaching out to the writing community as a whole.
It’s terrifying, but such an amazing ride!
And please, whether it’s here or in a private message, don’t hesitate to ask questions.
Flogging the Quill – hosted by the fabulous Ray Rhamey. Can your first page stand up to his scrutiny? I love Ray’s professionalism and his edits. Scroll back through his blog and, when you’re feeling brave enough, let him post your first page. The feedback and encouragement I received there was invaluable.
Pub Rants by Kristin Nelson – Kristin Nelson is an uber agent who, unfortunately, no longer blogs. But she’s left the archives up for the world to see. I could spend my days in there and never, ever get bored. You just have to see it for yourself to believe it.
Brenda Drake – Known for her Twitter contests, Brenda Drake definitely gives back to the writing community. Her blog is loaded with encouragement and support for us newbies. Feeling like you’ve hit a wall? Just scroll through Brenda’s blog and you’ll be back to work in no time at all.
Writer Unboxed – Sufficient words for Writer Unboxed do not exist. It’s a collection of some of the greatest minds in the industry, sharing their most valuable insights, for free. FREE, y’all! You’ll find the previously mentioned Ray Rhamey on there, and this other guy – Donald Maass. Anything written by Donald Maass is GOLD. Read his posts on Writer Unboxed, follow him on Twitter, buy his books.
Elizabeth Spann Craig – Known for her “Twitterific Writing Links” this writer is another ginormous giver! Her original blog is over at http://mysterywritingismurder.blogspot.com/ and I’m listing it here because I haven’t poked around her new blog enough to know if she’s brought over all of her previous posts. If you’re ever in need of encouragement, direction, or just not sure what kind of help you need – you’re guaranteed to find something of value in those Twitter posts. They’re a goldmine!
DIY MFA – Do It Yourself Master of Fine Arts is another treasure trove. There are more tools and goodies here than I could ever cover in one paragraph. Just go there. Read. Enjoy. Thank me later.
Query Shark – Janet Reid, another uber agent, gives more than a little specific feedback to writers on her Query Shark blog. But whatever you do, read the archives before you submit or she’ll take a bite out of you for sure.
Agent Query Connect – Here’s another example of writers giving back to other writers. Find anything and everything including help getting your query letter right. My original query letter garnered four full requests, but that didn’t stop these folks from ripping my poor letter to shreds. What resulted though, was a letter that very well may land me an agent or a publishing deal – or both. And did I mention it’s free?
Query Tracker – It’s free to join Query Tracker and begin building your query list of possible agents and publishers. A paid membership, only $8 a quarter or $25 for the entire year, gives you access to data and reports out the wazoo. Using these tools a writer can usually tell, down to the week, when they should hear back from a query. That’s valuable intel, folks. And it will keep you from biting your nails until they bleed. Not ready to query yet? Join anyway. We all need to dream and it’ll be there when you’re ready to act.
Michelle4Laughs – I found Michelle Hauck’s blog while searching for agent interviews. I love hers. I don’t know why, I just do. So when I see her blog come up in a search for an interview for a specific agent, I always read hers first. Usually, I know by the time I finish reading if I want to keep researching an agent or move on to the next.
Slushpile Hell – This one’s just for fun. There’s some debate in the writing community about whether or not this site should even exist. And while my altruistic side agrees that it shouldn’t I also think that agents shouldn’t have to deal with these types of queries. There is simply too much information out there – for free – for people to still be writing garbage like this. So when you’re having a particularly bad day, go here, have a chuckle, and know that at the very least – your letter is better than theirs.
I’d love to hear questions, either publicly or privately, and definitely advice from experienced writers to those who are still writing in the closet. This is an amazing journey that I’m so thankful to be on and I hope to share the road with you.