Friday, March 4, 2011

Is Your Writer-Bone Connected?

My editor, Stephen Roxburgh, posted this soul-crushing, ahem, I mean honest advice to writers on his blog recently: Slush is dead.  I wish I had a good argument but, unfortunately, I think he is 100% correct.  

While it's true that writing, writing, more writing and actually finishing a book (or 2,3,4 or 5) is going to be the most important thing you can do as a writer, the fact remains that the next most important thing is to get your book seen by someone who can, and wants to, publish it.  But that is becoming increasingly difficult as publishers are going under, editors are being "let go", imprints are getting downsized and consolidated.  There just aren't as many eyes out there with THE POWER as there once were.  

Even agented submissions are taking months to turn-around.  Agents have their own mountainous slush-piles.  How's a writer ever supposed to break in?  Huh?  HUH?! 

All this doom and gloom can really be demoralizing for writers, I know, but don't give up.  As Stephen said, "Connections who are connected can connect you".  It's never too early nor too late to become a part of the writing community. Here are some simple ways to get involved: 

Join the SCBWI.  This international organization is divided into chapters by region and is one of the best ways to meet local writers, make friends and give or gain support.  Most regions have an email list of some kind so even if you're in some far-flung area you can still connect to your closest compatriots, and maybe even organize an in-person critique group at a central location.    But don't stop there--get involved --volunteer!  Offer to host a pot-luck gathering or stuff envelopes or pass out nametags and introduce yourself to everyone.  Take an active part and be sure to participate in conferences where you can have your work seen by agents and editors.  You never know who or what might help you take the next step.  My book, for example, was requested by my editor after an  SCBWI open mic.  

Still, there is the fact that the SCBWI involves a fee, so what options do you have if you can't afford it?   Mingle online!

The forums at Absolute Write  are a spectacular place to meet other writers.  They are divided into sub-forums by genre, so it's easy to meet people who have the same interests you do.  There are areas where you can post excerpts from your work to receive feedback  and even find query letter help (if you dare).  Most importantly, there are writers able and willing to answer questions and commiserate with you in your hopes and struggles.  It's a true community.   Support and be supported--you can't go wrong making connections there.

Twitter is also great way to connect.  Search the hashtags #amwriting or #WW (writer Wednesday) to find people to follow.  Or, scan through posts in your favorite part of Absolute Write or in your email messages for links to the Twitter accounts of people you already know.  Be friendly. Comment on posts you find interesting.  If you find someone isn't responsive after several polite attempts at conversation, move on.  There are plenty of people to build friendships with.  Let it be a place that builds up your confidence, but also be willing to give more than you get.

Because that's really the nature of making connections, isn't it?  You can't just say: "Hey!  You're a published writer--will you help me?"  That  isn't  a connection.  A connection is a relationship.  You do your part to be supportive and involved with the writing community and you'll  inevitably learn from others further along in the process, grow more quickly as a writer, and meet the people you need to meet to get your book where it needs to be to be seen. 

I really believe that.  And I wish all writers out there the best of luck!


  1. I belong to the Indiana chapter but haven't gotten too involved yet because of lack of confidence. Hoping to gain more of that this year although a bad critique and a rejection this week always sends me two steps back. Good to meet you and I love the site.


  2. Great post!
    So you're on AW? Maybe I've seen you there and I didn't know it was you! :D

  3. Terri, thanks for commenting! I'm sure everyone can relate to struggles with confidence. But children's writers might be about the easiest group to work through those with. We're generally the nicest most understanding group around, wouldn't you say? :) If you can pull your confidence up by its bootstraps and get out there, not only will you build confidence but you'll have a support group to turn to when those inevitable rejections and bad critiques come your way. We've all been there. :) Will you be at the April event? If so I'll look forward to seeing you there!

    I am, Monica! Not often these days, but I still drop by sometimes. I'm "Lunawriter" over there. :)


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