Being Part of the Writing Community
I’ve said a few times on Twitter that one of the worst things I see in queries is this line:
“I’ve just finished my novel…” or “I’ve recently completed writing…”
But why? You may ask. Those lines are so innocuous. Such a strange thing to hate.
But here’s what these lines aren’t telling me:
“I’ve been workshopping my book with three other writers.”
“I have a bunch of beta readers, and they’re not just my mom and dad, who think this book is great.”
“I’ve been through about 8 drafts of this book and I think it’s ready to share with you and go to an editor, who can make it better.”
This missing information seems like all I’m interested in is avoiding wasting my time with a first draft that is too raw to sell. And that’s true. But what I’m also looking for is your immersion in your craft, and your involvement with the writing community.
Publishing isn’t a solitary endeavor, as much as one might think, and neither is writing. Each city, town, and online community is full of authors and writers. People who will give you feedback, workshop your ideas, and help you shape your voice. They will give you support when you’re down, and do everything they can to see you as a success.
The writing community, in all its forms, is a powerful tool. If you take advantage of it, in social media and in critique groups, it tells me that you’re a team player, and you’re committed to your success.
Your author friends will buy your book and spread the word when you get a publishing deal. They will help teach you your craft, and give you opportunities to become an expert as well.
If you’re an active member of SCBWI or run contests or participate in a bunch of organizations and pitch groups, it tells me that you’ll be able to take critique, that you understand the way the business works, and that you have a good sales platform that can easily be built up.
And if I’m considering two books, and the quality of the writing and stories are equal, the writer who has relationships with other authors—both published and unpublished—will win out every time. That’s the kind of author I want to work with.