Today I’m excited to participate in the How I Found The Write Path blogfest, in which I write a note to my pre-published self with advice I’ve learned along the way. It’s to celebrate Carrie Butler’s third blogiversary (congrats Carrie!) She will compile everyone’s letters into a free ebook for writers just starting their journey to publication. Cool idea, right? (And yes, Carrie, you can use my entry in the ebook. J)
To sign up or see who else is participating in the blogfest, click here. Here’s my entry:
To my starry-eyed wannabe writer self,
So, you want to be published? Are you sure? I mean really really sure? Because it’s going to be stressful and hard, and there will be tears. Lots of tears. Basically you will feel all the emotions to the extreme in this journey. Which means there will be happy tears as well. But still. Make sure you want this more than anything because while I think it’s worth it, it will be quite the refiner’s fire.
You still want to go for it? Okay. Here are a few things that might be helpful to know:
· That first book you think is awesome really is wonderful…the publishing gods just don’t agree. That’s okay. Keep on writing. Write another book. Then another. Then another. Don’t give up. One day you’re going to write The One that will go all the way to bookstore shelves, but it doesn’t mean those first books will be for naught. You’ll learn so much from each one…things you otherwise couldn’t have. Keep going.
· Querying sucks. Getting rejections suck. But every writer has to do it. You are no exception. And I know you can get through it. Keep on querying, join online pitch contests, and have faith in your writing and story. One day you’ll get to handpick from more than one offer of representation. Oh happy day.
· Publishing is slooow. They should almost call it Professional Waiting. Waiting on critique partners, agents, editors, review boards, readers, you name it. Even friends and family will be asking you every week when your book is coming out even though it’s over a year away. You will experience the most patience you’ve ever had to endure. Hang in there.
· The writing community is amazing. Authors are so giving and supportive of each other, it will blow you away. Seek out other writers online. Read their blogs, respond to their posts. Exchange manuscripts. Lend a hand when needed. Some of your best friends will be writers online that you’ll never meet in real life.
· You will feel jealous at times. Friends will get agents before you, book deals before you, better book deals than you, super-gorgeous covers, high rankings. This industry is a very public one, where stats on almost every aspect are available by the click of a keyboard. It’s okay. This isn’t a race. Stop comparing. Just keep moving and do your best.
· Attend writing conferences. Take what you learn and apply it to your writing. Be humble and benefit from those with more experience. Your writing is going to improve quickly by remembering you have a lot to learn and making a sincere effort to learn it. The friendships you make with those at conferences will change your life forever, even beyond your writing life.
· People will hate your book. They will tell you you’re evil for writing it. They will tear apart your writing, your characters, your world. Brush it off, tell yourself it just wasn’t for them, and move on. Because you’ll get a lot more love than hate, and the readers who get it, who love your stories—they rock.
· Don’t forget there is more to life than writing. Sometimes the road to publication can be all-consuming. I know it’s hard to break away. But try to. Spend time with your family. Take a vacation. Get some sleep. The writing will be there when you return.
Most importantly, remember why you write. It’s not to impress anyone. It’s not for the money. It’s not for fame or respect or any other worldly reason. It’s because you love it. Because it makes you happy. You’ll forget that sometimes, but you’ll always come back to it, and that’s what matters.
Ilima Todd, YA author
My love will clothe your bones.
My love will clothe your bones.