beating the system.

| Saturday, March 13, 2010
Today's Tune: You Are What You Love

We aspiring writers are always looking for a way in - a way to beat the system. The good news is we're on the right path. The fact that you're here means that you're making an effort to extend your knowledge of writing and publishing, and to network.

Er, by "here" I mean the writing/publishing blogosphere and social network, not my blog in particular. Although I am pretty rad.

Learning about the industry we want to be a part of and how best to appear professional and like we "get it" is a big step in our journey. Unfortunately, the bad news is there's no easy in. There's no "beating" this system. We just have to play, give it our best game, and hope it's enough.

We ask a lot of questions. Which POV do agents hate the most? When's the best time to query? What will make me stand out? How do I make my writing more marketable? How do I get an editor to give me the time of day? Are adverbs always forbidden? Will dialogue tags mark me as an amateur?

And we get answers to all these questions. Answers that vary, because opinions on all these topics vary, and no rules of art are set in stone. Certain things are a given - obviously spelling, grammar, and punctuation can make or break a writer. But when we get to the more abstract, everyone-has-a-different-opinion stuff, it's up in the air.

We all want the easy answer. We want the answer that's going to tell us, straight-up, do this and you WILL be published. This is how you break in. It's guaranteed if you do it this way.

But no matter how hard we search, we will never find that answer. It doesn't exist. If there were a formula to landing an agent, or a book deal, or a bestseller, or a million-dollar franchise, we'd all have one. All we can do is take the myriad advice that's available to us, decide what we feel is most applicable to our own style and skill set, and put ourselves on the line.

You might be able to "cheat" your way into this system, but it's highly unlikely. Unless you're Hilary Duff or know someone in publishing with enough sway to get your book in the door no matter what. As for the rest of us, we're not going to make it without work. Hard work. And even then there's no guarantee.

Speaking of which, I should really get off this blog :)

Butt in chair. Write. Query. Get rejected. Write more. Query more. Repeat.


{ KarenG } at: March 13, 2010 at 1:35 PM said...

I loved this post. I get so tired of these constant questions about genre, POV, -ly words, query letters, etc etc etc, like there's some kind of magic formula that if we follow will lead to success. I got published by breaking every rule--maybe I'll post about it soon. Way to go-- hey maybe you are a genius!

{ Christi Goddard } at: March 13, 2010 at 7:24 PM said...

"Butt in chair. Write. Query. Get rejected. Write more. Query more. Repeat."

This is literally my day for the last five weeks. Are you stalking me???

{ Shelley Sly } at: March 14, 2010 at 8:20 AM said...

This post is full of truth. There are always exceptions to the "agent rules" or "publisher rules". I queried pretty widely for my first book, and I noticed all kinds of contradicting expectations. One agent stressed the importance rich vocabulary; the other wanted a story told plain and simply -- both representing the same genre. It all depends.

{ jason evans } at: March 15, 2010 at 5:03 AM said...

Not sure there is much left to get into.

And yet, for some bizarre reason, I keep trying.

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