Welcome to another blast from the past! The Weekender series is here for another critical thought for your writerly minds. This week I want to talk about writing advice. Two weeks ago I was at I-Con 30 and took the opportunity to sit in on two writer panels: “Managing Your Writing Business” and “Breaking Into Print”.
The business writing panel was really about financials and managing your taxes. This is good information for those who are knee-deep in freelancing or working on their own but for this guy, I was out of my league. Luckily after 10-minutes my friend called that he had arrived and I had to quietly slip out to meet him & get his badge / ticket.
The “Breaking Into Print” panel was much more interesting and featured a number of authors, editors and others who deal with the ‘industry’. The information was nothing new: perseverance is key, keep writing, you’ll get a ton of rejections but if your work is good you’ll get an acceptance, follow submission guidelines to the letter, beware of people trying to scam you.
One interesting point that was made was a panel member stating that we should all be trying to network with each other and them as well. The opportunity to speak to people within the industry was there and we need to make the effort to speak to them. Everyone took the hint and at the end there was a big rush to the table to get some words in. I took the opportunity to thank some of the panelists for their time and advice and then focused on one writer who has been published. This is when things got strange.
I asked a question I’ve heard conflicting information about: ‘how many people should you query at a time?’ My question was met with a vague response on how it doesn’t matter and to simply query. He asked me what I write and when I said novel-length work I was told his company is only looking for short stories. He suggested I write some. I told him I really only write novels but I have a complete work that I’m looking to send out. His answer: You may think it’s complete but it’s probably not. This was said in a dismissive tone. At that time I accepted his business card, smiled and left the room.
I’m not sure where these were from or their intent but it felt condescending and gave the impression that I am incapable of writing a novel-length (80,000 word) book unless I’ve written short stories. Personally I think this is completely wrong and to pass on advice like that is guiding people in the wrong direction. Spirit Hackers is almost 73k because that’s how long it is. I intend for Loopback to surpass that word count.
So was this advice I was given out of line or do shorter works really contribute so heavily to novels that we’re doomed without dabbling in them first? Sound off and let me know what you think.
Enjoy your weekend.