Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Insecure Writers Support Group (IWSG)

Happy Wednesday! We're back for another check in with a great supportive network of writers. Make sure to check out a few blogs posting today. The full list here.

When You Become the Writer Giving Advice

I haven't been doing this fiction writing thing for very long. Not so many years ago I attended a free, public library writers group with a friend and was completely intimidated to share my work with a table of twenty plus writers.

I didn't know how to critique.
I didn't know plot structure.
I didn't know character sheets.
I didn't know writers calculated word count vs. pages.
I didn't know market trends.

What I knew, was that I loved reading, I was okay at writing things like opinion articles, and blog posts, and diatribes on message forums. I started college as a journalism major. But I knew jack about fiction writing, and once I got a taste, I dove right in. Call me a sponge, because I soaked up everything.

The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published: How to Write It, Sell It, and Market It . . . Successfully
link: B&N
One of the best books I've read on the business of writing is The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published. The reason this book is so great is that it showed me I had no business reading about getting my book published when I didn't know how to write a book. Let alone a marketable one.

It's truly essential to have this pointed out. The book helped me see: OH, this whole book biz is complicated. When I showed up to the signing event for this book, which included a panel of publishing professionals, I 'd never seen my local indie that full. Everywhere, people practically exploding from the aisles, tightly wedged and muscling their way toward the front with hopes of pitching to the panel. (Because unknown to me, this was also a pitch event).

Yeah, a lot of people want to publish books.

So, I spent a few years learning the craft of writing. I did what the Essential Guide advised me to do: I signed up for Publisher's Weekly's free newsletter. I found links to blogs about writing, publishing, and author sites who support new writers. I followed authors on twitter. I found SCBWI and RWA. I attended local writing workshops and conferences. Every six months, I progressed, even surprising myself with what I could accomplish.

Fast forward to now, and it still feels strange to have writers come to me for advice. I'm no longer my agent's newest client. I started a critique group who look to me to organize our meetings (and an actual event!). I am mentoring a writer in Pitch Wars.

Every little bit I've learned I will pass on to those who want it. I have many more milestones ahead, and have so much more to learn from writers further along. But what I have now, I can share. And I'm loving that journey.

What milestones have you achieved in your own writing or reading life? 


  1. I am with you all the way! I remember not knowing much about writing--actual writing, like fiction writing. Now, people ask me all the time: what do you recommend? How do you get started? What should I read first? Hope it's going well for you in #PitchWars! I'm nervous. It's coming up fast. (I'm an alternate, but I think you knew that:)

    1. And similarly, I have writer friends I'm asking questions to who know far more than I do.

      My Pitch Wars mentee and alternate are very self-reliant; they make any part I play very easy. Good luck with the upcoming pitch round!

  2. Hi Stephanie! I'm definitely going to order the book you suggested in this helpful and funny post! Yes! I was laughing, and I've got so much to learn as I write my first book! Thanks for the encouragement, and good luck on your writing journey!

  3. I remember my first writing class, where I was so intimated by everyone else too. It's amazing how quickly that all changed. That's great that you're mentoring pitchwars. Good luck!

  4. It's good to give back; that's why I teach creative writing at my kid's school.

  5. I think we are always in position to give back, we learn ourselves so much by trying to help others. Thank you for the very help advice on voice on my IWSG post!


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