Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Aspiring Writers: Do Not Sell Your Soul for Publication

Author Stacy-Deanne offers up some great advice for up and cominga author's she was kind enough to let me post it here. Check out what she has to say.

Stacy-Deanne is an awarding-winning novelist of mysteries and thrillers. She's been in the writing industry for twelve years. Her latest novels are published by Simon and Schuster. Stacy was featured in 2006's "Literary Divas: The Top 100+ Most Admired African-American Women in Writing". She was born, raised and resides in Houston, Texas.

I decided to write this article because there is a slight trend that has started to annoy me. I felt it my duty to warn newbies about certain practices and to remind them to use their best judgement. New writers have high hopes and dreams that are easily preyed upon by those with more power or knowledge. This has left many writers heartbroken, depressed and contemplating just how much they should continue their path to publication.

The answer is you should never give up despite any setbacks. I’ve had setbacks, every published author has. Every new writer will. Some things we cannot control but there is a lot that we can. I’ve written this article to remind writers that you have value and you are just as important as anyone else is. I hope this inspires confidence and you take my words as you see fit.

On your journey to publication your eyes will be open to many things. What I’ve listed below are some you might have never thought of but should pay attention to. Be smart, cautious and responsible in all of your choices. You might find yourself in some of the situations I am about to outline below. In case you do, I’ve offered some heartfelt advice.

Never Be or Act Desperate

The main problem with aspiring writers is that they are so desperate to be noticed. This is a very bad thing to be. You never want to be desperate. You should always work hard and create the best book you can, but you shouldn’t ever be desperate for anything. Desperation leads to horrible choices that you’re most likely to regret. Hold onto your confidence, believe in your work and you’ll see you’re good enough to resist desperation.

Be Careful of Agents and Publishers Who Ask for Extensive Revisions Before Offering You A Deal

Be careful of agents and editors who make you jump through hoops before giving you a contract. A lot of newbies are revising their work to the point of no return because of the suggestion of an agent. I’ve known some that have worked with agents and pubs for as long as a year, thinking they were "in the door". At the end they were rejected and to me this is the cruelest kind of rejection there is. It’s fine if an agent or editor gives you tips along with a rejection. But it’s much different when someone makes you believe you will soon be a client or an author on their roster and months later you’re not.

This is a big thing newbies need to recognize and signal out while searching for agents and publishers. Personally, I wouldn’t ever sign with someone who asks me to "change" my entire book before they offer me a contract. That means that they didn’t like my work in the first place. If an agent or editor really likes your work they are going to offer you a contract based on what you’ve sent them period. It’s common to do revisions after you’ve signed a contract but chopping up your work on hope is not smart and is another sign of desperation.

If you find yourself in this situation, you should openly communicate with the agent or editor and make sure they are seriously considering taking you on and get all the details. You need to value your work and if you do not agree with something you should speak up. Do not be afraid that you’ll risk possible agent representation if you don’t act on someone’s suggestions. If an agent really wants to sign you, most likely they would have offered a contract before tying you to obligations. Why would you want to work with someone who led you on for months then dumped you in the end? That’s a sign of how they do business and you might not need that type of agent as your own.

Go For The Best From The Beginning

While searching for agents or editors, don’t be afraid to query the big guys. In fact you should. I also suggest querying the big publishers even if you don’t have an agent. Yes, we all know big pubs don’t want unsolicited manuscripts but believe me, they won’t reject an author if they see talent. If you’ve exhausted your search for agents and want to start querying pubs, go for the best first. Most publishers say "no unsolicited" materials to cut down on traffic. If they find a jewel in their slush pile they aren’t going to ignore it. Sometimes rules can be broken. If you are thinking of doing this, it’s best to find out the name of a specific editor before sending your work. It never hurts to try right? Remember that a lot of big pubs have imprints that do not require agents. Even if you decide to try the publishers on your own do not give up on agents for they can help you build a solid career.

You should have the same mindset when searching for agents. Go for the best and don’t shortchange yourself. Resist that mouthwatering temptation to take "the first offer". Make sure you really want to work with an agent or editor who is offering you a contract. Too many newbies sign up with the first agent who’s interested without any hesitation. Just because they have offered it doesn’t mean they are the one for you. This is why agents call writers before offering them representation. They want to see if you’re a good fit for them. You should do the same. Always remember you have a choice.

You Deserve Respect

If you treat others with respect then you deserve it back. Do not let anyone make you feel afraid to communicate with them or make you feel you need to suck up. Agents and editors are people just like writers with different personalities and emotions. If you are afraid of someone then that is a big sign that you don’t need to begin working with them. You should only work with those who make you feel comfortable and not intimidated.

Publication isn’t owed or rewarded. It’s deserved if you’ve put in the hard work. The same thing goes with respect, kindness and dignity. Do not sell your soul to the devil for publication. Nothing in the world is worth that. You have the right to make a choice. You can say no if you don’t agree with someone or something. You’re a human being just like everyone else. You deserve to get back whatever you give.

You can visit her sites to learn more about her and her books.

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