Do you ever feel lost with your stories, the creative process, or publishing in general? Are you unsure what to do next?
Some days, I worry I’ve taken up permanent residence in the Land of Uncertainty. We may write alone, but we flourish within the community of the right circle of writers.
Where do you seek advice on your plot, your next career move, or navigating social media? When need be….
Seek the counsel of more experienced writers or industry professionals.
Writers are everywhere — online at blogs, various social media groups. Or, in person at coffee shops, book signings, workshops, etc. Most love to discuss the craft, others are knowledgeable about the business and you can get many answers, at no charge.
* Other writers – Whether you have a weekly critique group to brainstorm book ideas, or one writer friend to state your intentions to out loud, there’s something powerful about the camaraderie we share with one another.
* Published authors – Many writers are open to answering a quick question presented in a short, well-written email. Seriously, the longer the email is, the less likely they are to read it, much less respond. And, the bigger the author is, the less free time they may have, but it’s worth a shot. Drop him a line to say how you enjoyed his book. If he replies, then ask a brief question.
* It’s about relationships, not transactions – This past year, I read and enjoyed three debut novels from three indie authors and left positive reviews for them all on Amazon and Goodreads (it’s the best way to help authors). I then emailed each one to say how much I liked their books.
I’ve become online friends with two and will occasionally email them questions. I do not bombard them 24/7, and send information I think they might find useful from our conversations. I’m developing friendships, not sucking them for information.
Be Open to a Paid Consultation
Hear me out first. Yes, I realize money doesn’t grow on trees, but do you visit the dentist for free? Do you get a salon haircut for free?
No. All these people are providing a service, one of value.
Writing is no different. Even though my critique group is priceless to me, I had specific niche questions about author websites, social media, etc. I needed an expert.
Many publishing professionals (authors, freelance editors, marketing gurus) offer consultations and post their rates on their websites. The money you spend today may save you cash from mistakes made tomorrow.
I made an appointment with for Writer’s Digest editor, Jane Friedman. The woman knows publishing and charges $150 hour for a 60-minute consultation (Yowza, but she prorates the cost to the actual time spent discussing writing).
It was worth every penny.
Through her questions, she gave me clarity that my fiction and nonfiction were aimed at two different audiences and conflicting with each other right now. She confirmed my passion was more toward my novels and how I should set my nonfiction book aside and put all my energy toward publishing the Pennies from Burger Heaven series.
Boom. Those 10 minutes alone were worth the investment, but she gave me even more.
Before our consultation, Jane also looked at my website, Facebook and Twitter pages and critiqued them all, with both praise and suggestions. I left both energized and organized with my To Do list. I also made another valuable contact in the industry.
Be sure research that person before you give them cash. Look at their website to see if their message resonates with you. Find testimonials, google their name, see what you can find out about them on social media for both praise and warnings. The internet is your friend.
You might conference via Skype (that’s what Jane and I did), Google Chat, or a good ol’-fashioned phone call.
When Seeking Advice
I know most writers are introverts and it’s scary talking to others, especially strangers, but the rewards outweigh the risks. Here are several reasons why:
* Knowledge is power — Learn directly from others the do’s and don’ts on writing and publishing.
* Focus — It’s hard to be objective with your own struggles. An unbiased outsider can help you identify problems and offer solutions.
* Game Plan —Walk away with a clearer strategy of what to do next.
*Enthusiasm — You can’t put a price tag on passion for your writing and your career.
You might have a spontaneous conversation with an editor between breaks at a seminar, but when possible, prepare ahead of time. Especially, for a paid consultation:
1. Have a list of questions ready to help you concentrate. You might be nervous with VIPs (I was).
2. If you can, have a pen and paper (or computer) ready to take notes as they talk.
3. Be pleasant, but look professional.
Of course, trust your instincts. Whether this person is a pro or a new acquaintance, if their advice or suggestions don’t sit well with your gut, do what you think is best. It’s your writing. You must live with the choices you make, on and off the page.
What’s ONE question you’d like to ask a more experienced writer or a publishing professional?
Please leave a comment. I’d love to chat.
Pick up your FREE copy today of the mystery, The Moon Rises at Dawn (SkipJack Publishing). Read, enjoy, repeat.
Thanks, Marcy, great suggestions. I’m glad you’ve got the clarity you need!
Thanks, Anita. I’ve got my mojo back and if I can just get novel #2 written in my series, life will be grand! 🙂
Awesome suggestions, as usual. I love Jane’s blog…I didn’t realize she offered consults. That’s good to know! 🙂
In fact, you and I met through Jane’s blog. You commented on one of my comments…we struck up a conversation via email…I read your book and the rest is history! You’re one of the new friends I mentioned in my post, btw.
Click on Jane Friedman’s name in my post and it’ll take you to her consultation page. VERY worthwhile. Not cheap by any means, but worth when needed.
Thank you for this!! I truly need to speak with someone asap as I am becoming a circle of lost hope with no end in site! I would hate to find the wrong person and get some awful advice. I know you mentioned Jane Friedman from Writer’s Digest. But what if I need someone to focus on a variety of books; children and adult? Where are the best places to go for consultations and advice? Thank you in advance for your time!!
Great to hear from your, Heather. My suggestion would be to find authors who are publishing both genres. You want to emulate those blazing both trails. Read their books (if you haven’t already), then email the author to say how great their work is. If they don’t offer consultations, ask if you could PAY them for 30 minute? Be polished and professional so they see you’d be worth their time.
One author told me no when I asked her that, but said I was welcome to email her 3 questions and she answered them. It worked fine.
If that doesn’t work, I would just keep asking in various circles until you find some names. If nothing else, email Jane Friedman (jane@janefriedman) and tell her I suggested she contact you for resources. Good luck and keep me posted!
Thank you so much!!!! 🙂
My pleasure, Heather. Go get ’em!
LOVE LOVE LOVE. Missed you #HUGSSS
Thanks Ms. M 😉
Love and miss you, too, Kitto. Hope your writing is going well. Not your client work, but writing for YOU!
Right on point, Marcy.. I just had a one-hour session with the social-media guruess at my publisher as part of my contract. She had reviewed all of my sites and blew me away with both compliments and constructive suggestions. When I’m finished putting all of her suggestions in affect, i’ll have a top-of-the-line social media wheel from which to grow my business. Much of what I asked her came from our discussions. Thank you for giving me insight and inspiration to go forward… Be blessed. Rhonda
AWESOME, Rhonda! You’re a perfect example of what I’m talking about…isn’t it EMPOWERING to talk to someone who’s an expert on such matters? Now, you can move forward, confident in your steps because you had them affirmed by a pro. Good luck!
Thanks so much for the kind words, and so glad that our consultation was helpful. 🙂
My pleasure, Jane. Thanks for being so helpful and providing so many valuable resources to writers! 🙂
So glad everything is on track for you these days. It sounds like the consult with Jane Friedman was just the ticket and I will keep that in mind for the future.
It’s BETTER on track (I hit a snag in the first draft of novel #2), but at least I’m not spread so thin and have a game plan. It’s been great seeing more of your posts on Facebook. Good luck to us both! Take care.
Finding someone who you feel is knowledgeable, and worth the money is difficult. So many people can make websites appear authentic, but are not. your advice on doing extensive internet searches is a great idea. Thanks!
Exactly, Susan. Anyone can have a shiny website that appears legit, so we must do our homework to ensure we connect with their message, find reviews, etc. Due diligence is key. Thanks for your thoughts.
I’d love to ask when did they first see improvements and how did it happen. I’m hoping to one day publish but I know I’m not at that level yet. I’m not even comfortable enough with my writing to share it with others. Its very disheartening to have a picture in your head that looks no way like what you’ve written down. I went to a writing group today and learned that a lot of authors have this problem,but many of them write good content regardless. I think I veered off topic a bit…..but I’m just thankful for blogs like yours that help pick me up when I few like quitting.
(also. Hello! Long time no chat Marcy! I missed the blog. Glad to be back)
Hi there, Sarah. Wonderful to hear from you.
To me, the three components needed to succeed at writing are: time, patience, and practice. If you stick with it, that’s when you see improvements. I guess you notice it when others comment on your work: I got paid to write magazine articles and people said liked it, I entered a contest and won, landed a literary agent. I’m not as good of a writer as I hope to be, but I can tell I’m better than I was even a year ago. The trick is KEEP WRITING.
It’s OKAY that you’re note ready to share your work with others. Take small steps. If you stay with that writing group, maybe you’ll find someone you might want to share your work with, or enter a contest. Who knows? Keep writing, and the next step will reveal itself to you.
Being disappointed that your writing doesn’t match the picture in your head is common. I also think it’s a form of perfectionism and abusive. Just do the best you can, try to have fun with it and keep writing. I’m grateful for you comment. Take care….
Thank you for your down to earth, tell it like it is advice ?. I’m basically a “sponge” I absorb everything that authors suggest. It’s strange but yesterday and today it was as if I just kept downloading the best information needed for writing, getting an agent, and publishing. I felt so blessed today. My husband was thinking I was playing my online games, I told him I didn’t play one! I was being taught by the best! I think I loved what you said concerning enthusiasm, “you can’t put a price tag on your passion for writing and your career” I needed to hear that!
Last month I received 3rd place for a short story sponsored by Wordhaus & given to us by thewritepractice. It was a thriller called “Zoë’s Secrets and Lies” I was so happy, but as usual friends and family said, “what did you get?” I told them it was just great to have it published. I don’t think they understood, but I did! The amazing thing is, I am only writing my memoirs on my blog, but when you were writing non-fiction and a publisher suggested you try your hand at another genre and “Pennies from Burger Heaven..” happened it got my brain turning. Now I’m thinking of using my journals & memories into a novel, or short stories too. I feel like I’m changing my ways also.
Two months ago I decided to try my hand at copywriting, but I don’t like it. It could be that I worked in the advertising field in college and out of college, and I was never happy. I’m happy when I’m creative, either with my art or my writing. So I saved everything from copywriting but the amount of work you have to do is basically no life and no creativity.
Anyway I’m sorry I’m probably boring you and I got off track, but thank you for being true to your knowledge and advice. My dream is to write and readers will pay me for it, but be happy doing it also.
Have a great Saturday, and God Bless you in everything you do!
Congrats on your contest final, Donna! That’s impressive. Most non-writers in our lives mean well, but many don’t get it. NONE of it: the compulsion to write, the joy of being published being a big enough prize itself, etc.
You sound so ENERGIZED! That’s fantastic. You might want to write a letter praising yourself, so the next time you doubt yourself – you’ll have that as PROOF of your confidence.
Just to clarify about me: Jane Friedman didn’t suggest I try my hand at fiction, I’ve been doing that for over 20 years. She showed me how writing both Pennies, my nonfiction book for writers and blogging just left me spinning my wheels. I was getting nowhere, but burnt out. I set the NF book aside completely for now, blog way less and priority #1 is getting book #2 in the Pennies from Burger Heaven series complete so I can publish both in 2016.
My biggest issue is whether I’m marketing and promoting “correctly.” I recently paid for a service (a low cost for six-month contract) but the extent of their marketing is tweeting every day. The difference between them and me is they are more likely to get “hits,” but so far I haven’t seen any tangible ($$$) results!
Jack – when I get to that stage of marketing/promoting my books, I plan to follow the advice of Tim Grahl (http://timgrahl.com/). He used to build author platforms and at one time, had FIVE different books on the New York Times Bestsellers’ at once. Check him out. Of course, he has products you can pay for, but he has PLENTY of info for free. Good luck!
I get advice from Write to Done, The Write Practice, Positive Writer and most importantly,you at Marcy Mudpie. I also receive good advice from an online review group.
I’m flattered you include me in such esteemed company, Bill. I appreciate your confidence in me, and more importantly — your friendship. 🙂