I’ve been wading through a lot of information about writing on the Internet lately. Most of it is stuff to keep me motivated, to pick up a pen keep moving forward. Some of it is ‘how to’ and some of it is building a platform, marketing, and interacting with current/future readers.
It being the Internet, there is an overwhelming amount of advice, clinics, workshops, seminars, and services available to writers. I can’t claim to have seen it all, but I have seen enough to ascertain there is a wide range of quality in the information being shared.
The advice I have today is this: Be wary of the advice/assistance you are considering taking advantage of.
There is a large percentage of information that looks to be out of date, especially on the websites of established writers. I’m not talking about the ‘how to write characters’ or ‘build a plot’ kind of stuff, or the ‘interacting with your readers’ sort of thing. That information is going to be relevant for ages to come. What caught my eye on a couple of them was the ‘state of the business’ or ‘getting published’ advice. Frequently, that information was posted 5, 10, or more years ago. I don’t claim to know anything about getting published, but from what I’ve read in the newspapers in last few years the industry is in a state of flux and it has been for as long as I can remember. I don’t think that what was sound advice at the dawn of the Millennium is necessarily the best advice for today.
Something else I’m wary of is anything that you ‘need’ to pay for as a new writer, especially to get read or get your manuscript in the hands of ‘top agents’ or ‘the best publishers’ or whatever. Being by nature a Cheap Bastard and generally unwilling to part with my cash for any reason I don’t have to, I’m leery of any deal that sounds too good to be true.
I provide this caveat: I haven’t been to any workshops of any kind in nearly 15 years (and those were free) and I have no experience with self-publishing at all. I have seen and heard things both good and bad about others’ experiences with both.
Be careful that what you are looking at is the best/most up-to-date advice/information available. Business models change. Formats (seem to) change. Make sure that you are going about a project in the right (ie, current) way. It’s easier to start off on the right foot than have to go back and fix something format-wise later, or even worse, have something rejected because you didn’t follow the right format.
Finally, when it comes down to parting ways with your hard-earned money, that is the one time to definitely put your BS Detector setting on 11. Check, double-check, triple-check what you’re signing up for. Track down ratings/reviews for whatever it is, whether a conference, contest, retreat, or self-publishing plan before you drop a check in the mail.
We’ve all spent a lot of time (sometimes years) putting our heart and souls into our work. What can it hurt to take a few more minutes to do some due diligence?