Monday, March 18, 2013

Dear literary writers...

I recently returned from my second AWP conference. The constant, dense snow provided a fitting back drop for this particular event. I took this picture of the CITGO sign while walking to a reading at a pub near Fenway.

Having arrived in the more literary than commercial world of AWP after spending many years in a more commercial than literary world, I'm still puzzling over some issues. This year, one of the things I spent time thinking about was the difference in being a literary author among other literary authors vs. being a commercial author among other commercial authors. I have a lot to say about that, but not today. Instead, I have this, some stuff somebody should tell you but doesn't.

1. When signing a book for a reader, the moment is about the reader not about you. Consider doing what you can to make the moment memorable for the reader. For example, write something specific and unique. The date? The city where you are? The name of the event? Or better yet, something about the reader. "The guy with the kick ass boots."

2. If another author tags both you and your book title on twitter, they're doing what they can to promote you, the author, and your book. The same applies to other social media. Consider doing the same in return.

3. It's fine to give someone your card. If you don't have a card, you should. Consider getting one and giving it to people.

4.  PublishersMarketplace. If you have a completed manuscript and its ready to go out, subscribe. Keep track of who is buying similar projects and consider sending it to them. You can subscribe before you're done with said manuscript, but it will be easy to become obsessed with all the things being sold by other writers and waste a bunch of time reading the daily reports and day dreaming when you should be writing.

5. Manuscripts sell. Consider ignoring any advice about how to sell a manuscript if the advice doesn't include: 1) writing the whole manuscript and 2) sending it out.

6. It isn't 'nearly impossible' to get an agent. Consider not listening when someone tells you that. Consider instead using PublishersMarketplace to find agents you think might be interested in your work and query them.

7. Writers write. They also hang out in pubs to drink beer and talk about writing. Then they go back to writing.