Back in 2005 Jennifer Crusie wrote an essay each month that gave advice to writers on editors, agents, publishing, and the writer’s life for the ROMANCE WRITER’S REPORT (the magazine for the Romance Writers of America). Her advice was blunt and pithy, and it has stayed fresh in my mind. She’s posted those terrific essays, as well as others, on her website under For Writers.
Under the Publishing subcategory of For Writers, you will find her advice on planning your career, and finding an editor or agent. Make sure to read her essay IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU before STALKING THE WILD EDITOR: HOW TO GET PUBLISHED, MAYBE or THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM: HOW TO FIND YOUR PERFECT AGENT. Let me provide an excerpt from IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU that explains why you need know yourself:
A good agent will look at your work and love it for what it is and foster your vision by making suggestions that enhance the story you need to tell. A bad agent will look at your work and make suggestions that fit the trends of the time. The only way you’ll know the difference is if you know what your story is.
But knowing your story, yourself as writer, is not enough because once you sell a story, you take on a second career, this one in publishing. Writing and publishing are two entirely separate things, and you need to know who you are in both.
If you have the time, read all of the essays in the Publishing subcategory. Plan to set aside thirty minutes a day for a week or two to sit quietly with a notepad and Crusie’s essays, writing down answers to the questions Crusie asks you consider before you approach editors or agents.
Also, hidden away at the bottom of the For Writers page is a great essay on dealing with jealousy, GREEN IS NOT YOUR COLOR.