Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Pitching Fast-Talking Balls of Advice

Looks around. Oh, right. Today's my turn to post.

Except I'm not really up to it. Had something in mind about advice writers receive and whether or not it's good or bad, depending on one's particular situation.

But since I'm here, why not go for that? Over the past year, I've thought about all the advice coming hard and fast at me and other writers as if from an out-of-control pitching machine. Either swing, miss, dodge, or get hit.

"Write what you know." We hear this one a lot. Isn't that what research is for? It's not that our experiences can't make for a story but why limit our ability to learn something new? For example, I knew nothing about steamboats when I plotted my NaNo project this year. At some point, I'd like to combine this research with river life on the Ohio River and write a book about river pirates.

"First books don't get reviewed." Aside from a few Amazon & Goodreads reviews, Death Sword has garnered only one from a book review site. And none are from sites the review coordinator submitted to. That said, I also have a review scheduled for March and am waiting to hear from another after the holidays. I decided to start looking for reviews rather than wait for them. And why shouldn't a first book get reviews? Is it any less important than the second or third book? I worked hard on this story and if anyone thinks I'm going to toss it aside, well... Yeah, right.

"You need a backlist." Okay, I tend to agree with this. But I've also heard you shouldn't promote your first book and it'll take two, three, maybe even four books before you find your readership. Duly noted. However, I'm going to promote my lonely debut while I work on other stories. Again, it's simply a matter of not abandoning the first book, even if it's not perfect. Hell, we all have to start somewhere.

You have to look at your needs and situation when considering another's advice. What might work for someone else may not work for you. It's not the advice is wrong or right. Okay, there is bad advice out there. Definitely ignore that. You know, like if someone says you should submit your manuscript written in tomato sauce on a pizza. Bad idea.

That's about enough of that. But a shout out to Creativity Cauldron for coming through with a beta for the angel UF.


Sonya Clark said...

IMO, people are painfully literal when it comes to the "write what you know" bit of advice. Which is always surprising, seeing as how we're talking about writers who should know a thing or two about metaphor. If this advice is to be taken literally, we'd all be writing about writers (cough Stephen King cough). I think it's more about coming from an honest emotional place, not so much only writing about what jobs we've had or what places we've visited. Just my two cents.

River pirates sounds awesome. I don't know about the Ohio but I know the Mississippi had plenty of pirates back in the day. That would make a great story.

PamelaTurner said...

I heard about coming from the emotional place too, but I couldn't remember exactly what it was. Thanks for posting this and refreshing my memory.