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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tip Thursday: Advice: Sorting the wheat from the chaff

Normally I'm all about providing you with tips that helped me on my journey to get published (even if I'm not quite there yet), then I stumbled across a blog today that got my hackles up.  I won't post a link to the blog, or give specifics, but here was this person, spreading his "advice" like it was gospel around the interwebs and from my experience at least three-quarters of it was wrong.

Then it got me thinking, don't I spew advice every week and isn't my experience different from everyone else's.  Who's to say my advice is better than any one else's.  And to honestly answer that question, I'd have to say no, it's not.  But, and this is the theme for today's writing, I only post advice that has worked for me, or other (smarter than me) people have said.

So, since the Internet is so large and any monkey with a keyboard (including myself.  :) ) can blog, how do we determine what's good advice and what isn't in regards to publishing?  Here are my "rules" to what advice I take and what I don't.

1.  Money flows TO the author:  If a blog or person suggests anything that will COST you money (beside postage or paper or something), then you need to tread with caution.  For instance, the blog I ran into actually suggested hiring a freelance editor before sending your work to agents/publishers.  While not necessarily a to-don't it's definetely not a hard and fast rule that you have to or even that you should.  In fact, in my opinion,   while an editor can be helpful, it's necessary to know how to edit your own work. Agent,  Rachel Gardner, says:
Many agents and editors are uncomfortable with writers having too much outside editorial help prior to being contracted, because it can mask a writer's true abilities. I'd hate to get you a 3-book contract with a publisher based on that stellar first book, only to find out that you had a ton of help with it and are not able to deliver that quality of book a second time.
2.  Always check credentials:  Take in mind who and where that person is in publishing.  Advice from an editor at one of the big 5 is going to be different than a free lance editor who edits for aspiring authors.  Agent advice is going to be different than an author.  And a veteran author's advice is going to be different than a newbie.  While each of these people can have great advice, personally I'd listen to those "in the know" before someone who doesn't have the experience yet.  (And yes, I'm including myself in this.  If you read an article by say my agent, disagreeing with everything I'm saying, than please, feel free to ignore me.  :)  However, most of my advice comes from hearing it over and over again from those professionals, so I'm pretty sure I'm safe in saying she won't disagree with me.  :D  Which brings me to my next point. )

3.  Where have I heard this before?  How many times have you heard/seen this advice?  If you've never heard it before, chances are you can disregard it if you disagree.  If you've heard it a LOT, then you probably want to do some more research on why they've said it, then chose at that point to disregard or not.  Who the advice giver is important here because sometimes you have herd mentality, where one person says something and a lot of yes men will agree. It doesn't mean it's the truth.

4.  Beware the agenda.  Be sure to read between the lines and see why a person is saying a particular thing.  If a person is saying all aspiring authors should hire a freelance editor and they're a freelance editor, then you might want to check in a few other places to make sure.

5.  What time is it anyway?  Make sure to check when something was said.  For such a slow industry, the rules change quickly.  Something said ten years ago may not be relevant today.

And lastly because this post could really go on forever, beware anyone tells you to "lower your expectations."  Publishing is hard enough to keep your motivation up without someone telling you that.  Granted you need to make sure your expectations are realistic, not everyone is like Stephenie Meyer.  (See my post here.)  But there's no reason not to shoot for the stars.  Publishing is one of those quirky businesses where anything is possible.

 Anyway, there's a ton more things, but if you take all advice with a grain of salt and use common sense,  you should be all right.