At my last RWA meeting, we were blessed to have five guests, new faces that were potentially new members. Once stuck out to me and I am sad to say it wasn’t for a good reason. At one point during the meeting she raised her hand and asked, “I have a book finished, but I’m not sure what genre it is. How do I figure that out?”
Stunned silence met that question. How can someone pen a whole book and not know what they’re writing? That got me thinking about how prevalent situations like this are in the writing world. By that I mean, authors not taking the time to inform themselves of their craft and the industry.
Knowledge is power. That commercial jingle really did get it right when they touted that slogan around. It fits for everything in life and it most certainly fits into writing. You could have the best MS in the world, but you’re going to get anywhere if you are submitting to the wrong agents and editors. If I present my paranormal erotic book to an agent that only takes Inspirational all I’m going to do is waste my time and end up frustrating both of us. Not only that I’m going to get the reputation as someone who is not passionate about my career and no serious writer wants that.
So my advice to all writers is—do your homework. Not just on style, grammar and craft, but also on the industry itself. Don’t just rely on the words of others either. Take the time to search the web. Visit the websites of the various publishers and agents and see what they want and what kind of books they put out. Read industry magazines and publications. Make yourself an expert on all things writing and what makes this business tick.
Before I made my editor and agent appointments for National this year, I researched who I was going to pitch to. I looked at what authors they represented to make sure my work was a good fit. This is going to be one of the few times I ever get some face-to-face time with these individuals and I am not about to waste this opportunity. I can’t allow to, not if I want to make it.
Writing is a very competitive business and there is no learning curve. Those who don’t take the time to learn this will fall by the wayside. It may sound harsh, it may sound judgmental, but sadly it’s the truth. I’ve seen it happen time and time again.