February 25th, 2007
I’m Giving a Talk

Next month I’m giving a talk to one of the local RWA chapters about ‘living on the edge’. You know that weird time when you’re on the cusp of being published, but you haven’t quite fallen over the cliff yet. *g*

They want to know if I have any hints to give to writers on the edge. They also want to know if there are any last lessons that I learned that got me out of the slush pile. And how to make your work stand out from the rest of the submissions. (You know, easy questions. *ggg*)

Needless to say, I need your help. Because although I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of months, I’m still not sure how to answer. So here’s your chance. What do you think gave you that last big push? Any advice for folks ‘living on the edge’?

16 comments to “I’m Giving a Talk”

  1. Oh, lord. As someone still living on the edge (and it feels like it’s been a loooong time now, though I know a lot of people who’ve put up with it a lot longer than I have!), I don’t know what ideas to offer besides the basic one–keep writing. Keep getting better at what you do. Keep learning. Drink alcohol when you need to self-medicate from the pain of continuing, seemingly reasonless rejection.

    Hmm, maybe leave that last one off. Everyone probably knows that one, anyway. 🙂

    I can’t wait for the talk. Maybe after you give it, you could post a little condensed version for us? Or something?

  2. I think it took me too long to figure out how to capitalize on my strengths and find a good fit to submit to, so I ended up spending more time on the edge than I needed to. But from the time I sat down and wrote a business plan, it did not take long to make that first sale.

  3. I closed my eyes and jumped LOL

    Seriously though, I think the main thing is to keep focused and keep writing, despite setbacks. Grit and determination go a long way. Make sure you actually submit work rather than getting trapped in the contest circuit. While contests are a good option, you still have to win to get your work in front of an editor.

    Also read. Read a lot and learn as much as you can about the market you’re targeting. Knowledge is power.

    Charli’s suggestion of a business plan is a good one. Know where you want to head rather than firing submissions in all directions and hoping something will stick.

    Have faith in yourself, write the book you’d like to read and surround yourself with positive people. (negativity sucks writers dry!!) Bolster your determination, grit your teeth and go for it.

  4. I think the thing that helped push me over – besides being totally and completely stubborn, was the rule of 10. I actually learned this trick from Brit Blaise, which is how she got published. You send out ten queries, partials, fulls etc at one time and as soon as you get a response back (rejection, request etc) then send back out that many more. In other words – you keep ten out there all the time. True, you build up rejections like TP, but you also have a bigger shot at getting your work in front of someone who will say yes.

    Good luck on your talk!

  5. I quit worrying about what I was doing right or doing wrong and just did it. I think we tend to overanalyze everything including our work. Did I puncuate that right? My synopsis isn’t long enough, short enough. For some it’s always something that puts doubt in their minds. Just finish it, polish it, and send it out. Let the chips fall where they may.

  6. If your writing attracts the eye, the most important item next is a ‘Jump The Shark’ moment. After reading all the entries in the Snark archives ‘Crapometer’, one recurring theme played out: if you don’t hit the agent on the head in the first couple pages, your journey out of the slush pile will be through quicksand. 🙂

    On the ‘Agent In The Middle’ blog, Lori Perkins wrote she now has a young electronic intern to filter much of her slush through. She admittedly doesn’t need new clients, but use your imagination to picture how you’d have to write to get through that filter. 🙂 It ain’t getting any easier out on the edge.

  7. As odd as this might seem, have fun. Because if you’re not having fun doing what you’re doing it’s going to show in your writing. Something that might get you noticed? Try coming at the tried and true from a fresh angle–in Hands On it’s the heroines that are blue collar not the heros and in Kink it’s the heroine who leads the way to the sexcapades while the hero’s a bit reluctant.
    And I definitely agree with Charli too–You’ve got to have a plan.

  8. Catherine, There won’t be a talk if I don’t come up with something fast. *ggg*

  9. Charli, Very good advice. Thanks. 🙂

  10. Shelley, That’s good advice too. Thanks!

  11. Interesting, Tina. I’d never heard that rule before. Sounds good though. I’ll definitely use it. Thanks!

  12. Vivi, Another good point. You have to know when to let go. 🙂

  13. Another good point, Bernard. You have to get in quick and attack. There’s no time to circle.

  14. Thanks Amie!!!Great suggestion.

  15. Jordan,

    That is a great topic. I’m living on the edge right now. My full ms has been with Avon since last August. And, although I haven’t been told “no”, I haven’t gotten that call yet either. (You’d think remotely checking your answering machine 450 times a day would make that call come faster. But, oddly, it doesn’t *BG*)

    Since I’ve recently watched “The Secret” and it makes soooooooo much sense to me, my advice is to *FEEL* like it’s already happened. Use that fabulous writer’s mind you’ve been granted and imagine what your published book will look like, smell like, feel like, when you are holding it in your hand. Believe it has already happened. Envision the end result rather than dwelling on the journey there.

    Also, I suggest marketing yourself early on. Get that blog going. Commission that website. Build a readership. Cause, if you’ve already got people interested in what you have to say, they might be some of the first people in line when you announce the release of your debut novel.

    Above all, write, write, write. Give your heart and soul to your work and it will return to you ten-fold.

    Wow! I’m just going on and on here. LOL. I’d say good luck to all of us living on the edge, but we don’t need it. Our time is here! Believe it!

    Sandy 🙂
    *March 31, 2007 at Sandra’s Goings On – Guest Blogger, Anna Campbell – Claiming the Courtesan

  16. Great advice, Sandy. 🙂 Thanks!