Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Some Writers Deserve To Starve

Have you seen this book by Elaura Niles? I just picked it up yesterday and have been skimming through it. It's full of common sense advice, types of writers/critique partners/agents to avoid and suggestions on networking (not that I need those-haha). The author really stresses the importance of getting to know people in the business as a way of getting your foot in the door.

It's an interesting book but it raised some questions for me. Are there writers out there with great ideas, a good grasp of their craft and the gift of storytelling that are never going to make it because they don't ever go to a conference and chat up an editor in the elevator?

Very few of us live in NYC, the home turf of many an agent and editor. We struggle to distinguish ourselves from the rest of our peers in the slush pile, hoping at times for nothing more than a personalized rejection instead of the preprinted form. Is there hope? Or are we disallusioned against the truth of our chances?

The answer? NO. There is hope. I'm living proof. Am I published yet? In poetry and short stories, yes but not in novel length fiction. I do feel like I'm on the verge and I bet a lot of you feel that way too.

What makes me feel that way? In the short time I've been seriously writing toward publication I have garnered numerous requests for partials from agents and editors and recently fulls (the requeseted full of my second book sits at two major NYC houses right now), I've cultivated friendships with some wonderfully people, many of them multi-pubbed authors, some of them agents, some of them major publishing house publicists. The rejections I get aren't form letters for the most part, they're personal notes, hand-signed, with compliments on my writing and interest in other projects.

Do I live in NYC? No. But I've managed to do some networking and I put my heart and soul into learning my craft. I've taken the advice of critique partners and honed my skills. I've read craft books, taken workshops, attended conferences, entered and judged contests. I'm even working on building my repertoire of workshops that I can give. None of these things require residency in Manhattan.

How about you? Are you a writer who deserves to starve or a writer on the verge? What makes you think you're on the verge if that's your answer? How have you gotten there?


  1. you are on the verge because you are one of the most talented women I have ever worked with. Networking helps, of course, but it still takes talent:)

  2. I think I'm on the verge, but it's all been such a shock. I've only submitted to an editor once and I had to have serendipity slap me a good one to get in front of an agent. I've been very fortunate, I suppose, because it sure hasn't been my schmoozing skills that got me here!

    That said, I do think that conferences and face-to-face meetings with people can only help a writer's career unless she's got the personality of a wolverine.

  3. Excellent post. I got my agent through a query!

  4. I'm not in NY. I don't go to conference. I did start getting personal rejections. I signed with an agent after my '05 GH final. Blah, blah, blah. Am I on the verge? I haven't a clue. The question is, how many are on the verge vs. how many actually "make it"? I'm sure there are lots and lots of writers like me. Agented. Award-winning. And still unpublished. I dunno, Kristen. I just take each day as it comes.


  5. Now that I've read a manscript from one of my crit partners, and I know her manuscript is sitting on a desk in NYC, when I see what that publisher is putting out I think they really need to contract my crit partner. She's much better! LOL. I haven't tried for NY yet, I'm very pleased with this route I've taken in epublishing. I will take the step to submit to NY publishers too.

  6. I guess I deserve to starve.