June 15, 2016

Writing Advice and Twitter

Twitter is a huge, exciting yet scary place. I only signed up recently as an attempt to make a social platform for selling future books. Why? Because all the writers on the internet spouting out writing advice insist every writer needs a strong social platform. This can include a blog, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, SnapChat, etc.

With my fresh new Twitter account, I decided to partake in one of the popular pitch contests, #PitMad, and see what happened. The day before I posted a tweet for my three followers on the rules (Hi friends! I will be participating in #PitMad tomorrow. For my tweets with that tag, please don't retweet them or like. Wish me luck!) and edited my planned pitches one last time.

The day of the pitch contest, I tried to throw my pitches out there and ignore the computer for the rest of the day. That plan did not work. Soon, my pitches were getting responses and retweets, and by the middle of the day, I got my first like. Other writers started following me, and unsure what the appropriate Twitter etiquette was, I followed them back. By the end of the day, I had installed the Twitter app on my phone so I could obsessively check any updates with each pleasant bell ting of my phone's notifications.

With any new infatuation with social media, the honeymoon phase has quickly cooled, and I've been able to poke around the site. Instead of going to Google to get my dose of writing advice, I can now search the hashtag #AmWriting and find writers linking their blog posts about writing aimed at helping other writers with their writing. I took a deep breath, pinched my nose, and plunged down the rabbit hole.

I would certainly still consider myself a new writer. I'm currently shopping around my first novel, which honestly is my first novel, and not the seventh novel I've written but first worthy of publishing. I would in no way consider myself an authority in the world of writing. In that vein, I'm not ready to share blanket advice on writing marketable novels and getting published. But through Twitter, I've found so many blogs of new writers sharing advice on how to be a writer. I read all of these with a grain a salt.

Many writers suggest sending a query to at least a hundred agents. Some say start with a few agents, perfect your query, send to a few more, perfect the first five pages, then the first three chapters, then the entire manuscript as you keep getting rejections. Because rejection is part of a writers life. Write a book. Get rejected. Write a second book. Get rejected again.

I'm a math person. I'm a big believer in numbers. The advice to spew a query to all the agents and publishers out there is toxic. All we're doing is burying these hard working people in an enormous pile of crap. Finding the needle in the haystack is even harder when presented with a metric ton of hay. When sending a book proposal to a hundred people who read book proposals as a part of their job, and only two pick it up  and request to read further, what does that say about the chance of a reader picking up that book and deciding to spend a few dollars to add it to their collection?

I'm not going to advise other writers on how many or few agents and publishers to query if they decide to publish their manuscript through traditional channels. I'm new to this and not entirely sure what the right way is or should be. All I can say is that when I read blogs from other new writers, I want their personal experience and anecdotes, and not a list of the 10 tips for finding a publisher from someone who isn't published.

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