I'm a week out from my first writing seminar, and I've had time to digest and think. Time for a little wrap up!
Some of the most positive things I brought out were connections with other writers. Listening to people share their stories, some of which have been years in the writing, creates a certain intimacy. We found a common ground. I've been in touch with a few since the end of the conference, and it's been interesting to hear what they took away from Backspace.
As I wrote before, so much information was conflicting that it's hard to say what solid facts I gleaned. Even the agents themselves admitted that much. It was definitely clear that the world of publishing is in flux, and agents are reluctant to take too much risk on new writers. One agent intimated that they're selling far less these days than they did five years ago.
It was definitely a bit of a wake up call to many writers. Non-published authors tend to see the journey in steps:
1. Write the book.
2. Query agents.
3. Get an agent.
4. Get a publisher.
5. See book in bookstore with adoring fans buying up every copy. . .
We're not altogether wrong, but some writers don't understand that the leap between steps three and four is nearly as big as the leap between steps one and two. In other words, some of us are only looking as far as getting an agent, when we need to realize that the process of publishing can be much more involved.
And the 'bad' news is that there really isn't anything we can do to up the odds. Of course good writing is paramount, but sometimes even good writers don't get published. We can edit and polish and follow all the rules, but if our story doesn't fit the genre, or if that genre isn't selling, or a hundred other 'ifs'. . .well, that can keep a good book out of the bookstores.
It wasn't all doom and gloom. There were some really positive stories of authors who are about to launch their books, and some agents were very encouraging. It's possible. It's just a lot harder than some writers expected.
Next post: What are the genre rules and can they be broken?