H is for Heart

Artwork by Tom Torre (@CopernicusNerd)

Artwork by Tom Torre (@CopernicusNerd)

By Laura Zats

Agents are lucky. We get to choose who we work with. It means we can surround ourselves with a whole group of like-minded, creative, and passionate people. Some are editors, some are agents. Some are great writers, and others are just figuring out the difference between that whole “show” versus “tell” thing people in publishing are always going on about.

It might surprise you that I often communicate with writers who aren’t quiiiiiite ready to jump in, get an agent, and get published. It might also surprise you that there are some writers who are very successful and very skilled at what they do who I have absolutely NO interest in getting to know, on either a professional or personal level.

Why is that? Because I can tell when you’re faking it.

That’s right, I’m Billy Crystal to your Meg Ryan, except I won’t be proven wrong in a diner and will instead call you on your BS.

You see, I love what I do. I’ve cried into my keyboard over a story more times than I can count, and I am the type of person who regularly works 14 hours a day on accident. I also spend my days gushing about things I’m working on, and thus, I pick up on other people who do the same thing. When I read a book, I can usually guess which scene  was the author’s favorite one to write, because that joy shines through the words.

Even if you’re not the best writer yet, it’s the passion for the job that makes you better. Of course, some people are naturally very skilled writers. And they sometimes make a career out of it. But their work is usually missing one thing. The thing that will allow me to recall the characters or the plot years later, or will make me cry or laugh over and over again: heart.

I can tell when authors love their story. When they’re in love with their characters. It’s these feelings that make a book amazing. And the absence of these things will make me walk away without a second glance.

So stop paying attention to what you “should” write or what you think will sell. Instead, put a piece of that heart of yours into a work-in-progress and give it the attention, love, and liveliness it deserves.

Write me a book that you love.

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