Well yesterday was certainly fun hanging around at Magical Words and answering questions. It was nice to have folks say that I did things “the right way,” but of course everyone’s mileage will vary with how they go about stuff.
One thing was brought up in comments that I’ll talk about here briefly. Someone asked if I’d had any friends who had self-published and not sold anything, and what I did when they asked me why. Basically asking – how do I handle it when a friend asks me to read something that’s crap or not ready to be sent out for submission or publication.
Well – here are a couple of answers.
First – I don’t know, because since I’ve started publishing I’ve only read stuff by three of my friends with an eye towards critique, and they all knew exactly where their work was with regards to its completion. The first friend knew that her book was in first draft format and needed a lot of love. This was some months ago, and we swapped critiques on her book and Knight Moves before I released it. She gave me some really helpful tips for my book’s third draft, and I hope that I helped her work out some plot points and get her book moving in the right direction for her second draft.
The second friend sent me a copy of her manuscript after I asked to see it, and it’s almost ready to go. It’s a good story, but there are a couple of spots in the beginning that I think need to be re-organized or tweaked somehow, but I think this one is a very publishable book and a darn fun story. And she knew when she sent it to me that it needed a little love, but was further along than Friend A’s book.
The third friend had a short story that had already been published, but she now had the rights back and wanted help with the mechanics of converting and uploading the story. It was polished and ready to go, and she didn’t need me to tell her that. :).
So I’ve been really lucky that I haven’t had any deluded buddies come up and tell me about their book that’s sure to be a bestseller once it gets out in the world. I have only looked over manuscripts from people who are serious about the craft of writing, have paid some dues in the writing biz, and have a good sense of where their book is in its development. I suppose I need to set a policy of reading unpublished work (or not), because that’s the kind of thing that can get somebody in trouble if they’re not careful. So I guess here it is – if you don’t know me well enough to call me on the phone, I probably won’t read your unpublished book and offer critique. It’s a litigious society out there and I have to protect myself.
What I find more often than anything is that my friends have delusions of mediocrity. I have some really good writers that I’m friends with, and some of you guys aren’t putting anything out there. Come on! Get the stories out, get some feedback, really get a sense of where you are along the continuum of writing talent and skill. I’ve developed a pretty good sense of where I am (happy to be a hack), and I don’t let it hold me back! So here’s my challenge for all of you writer-types out there – submit something in the month of October. I don’t care what it is, but you must submit. And I’ll go with you. I promise that in the month of October I’ll create a piece and submit it somewhere that I’ve never been published before. So I’ll find an anthology or magazine, and I’ll submit right alongside you. We can track our progress here together. I bet one of you gets a piece accepted before I do.