Sunday, May 14, 2006

So what if I'm not published!

So what if I’m not published! I still have something to contribute!

Of course, you’re wondering what in the world am I hollering about? Well, at a conference not too long ago, I overheard an attendee say she wondered if a workshop presenter was a published author. Asked why, she said, "If she’s published, she’ll know what she’s talking about."

Geez, didn’t that shoot down a lot of the advice I’ve received over the past, hmm, four years if not longer? A lot of the advice I’ve been given was from not-yet-published writers. Sure, I’ve received just as much advice from published authors, but I don’t remember one contradicting the other - except from pantsers and plotters, and that’s understandable.

Considering a lot of that advice, since becoming involved with Southern Magic, has been from non-published authors that are recently published, I believe that advice is very viable.

When it comes to me, my faults are many. Nevertheless, I can tear down a story and show you how to word your pitch or query letter and make it interesting, even exciting. Thanks, Kelley St. John, for the lessons and advice. And, hello! that was given when she WASN’T published. I've included the cover of her second book - we at Southern Magic are very proud of her. (Side note: Love this book! I just know she was thinking of me when she wrote it. Ain't that right, girlfriend? Yeah, right!)

I’m a firm believer that not everyone is made out to be a teacher as everyone doesn’t have the tenacity to be a published writer.

What do you look for in a workshop presenter or speaker? Do you feel different about advice from a prepublished author versus a long standing published author? Is one advice more important than another? And what was the best advice you received and who gave it?


Kelley St. John said...

Thanks for the kind comments, Carla! And I love this topic, by the way. I do think you can learn from writers at all stages of the game. Different people have different talents, and just because a writer hasn't made the leap from pre-pubbed to pubbed doesn't mean that writer couldn't teach a fellow pre-pubbed author, or pubbed authors, how to perfect a certain aspect of the craft.

Case in point -- the phenomenally talented team of Laura Baker and Robin Perini. Laura is published; Robin is pre-published. The two of them worked together to develop a method for plotting books known as Discovering Story Magic ( and teach it at workshops throughout the nation. I've attended three of their workshops and will attend again if opportunity allows. For me, their method works and has given me a structure for setting up my books and looking at the game plan from the very first page. Did I think less of Robin's comments because she's pre-pubbed? No way. The lady has talent in writing and in plotting, and is an excellent teacher to boot. (However, I totally expect to hear that she got THE CALL soon; she's one talented woman.)

The thing is, Robin and Laura are experts at plotting, and they use that talent to help both pre-pubbed and pubbed authors. Thank goodness! My plotting has improved tremendously since I learned how to use the Discovering Story Magic plot board.

As far as your advice question in the original post, the best pieces of advice I received in this business came from an author and an editor. 1) "Don't settle for less than your dream." (NYT Bestseller and fellow Southern Magic member Linda Howard) and 2) "Don't hold back; let your characters go where they want." (Harlequin Senior Editor Brenda Chin). Both ladies are phenomenal -- and both of their tips are right on the money. Go for the dream...and never hold back!


Betty said...

Many wanna-be romance writers have written in and/or been published in other genres and are just looking for a change. So they have experience and talent to share no matter whether they've been published in romance or not. The best advice I've received was to write the story then worry about what line or whether it's single title or category, from Linda Howard and Beverly Barton. That freed me up to not write to a word count, page count, or other expectation imposed from outside guidelines.

Kathy said...

Personal experience goes a long way when it comes to reaching out to others in any field. If I happen to be an un-pubbed writer seeking advice, I will humbly accept it from whoever gives it. We all bring to the table different perspectives, hopes, dreams, achievements, etc... Who am I to discount someone just because they're not published?

The reality is this...if we put to use all the advice we're given, all that we learn, we will be successful, not because the advice or teaching came from an un-pubbed or pubbed writer, but because we put forth the effort and believed that we could do it.

Write with heart. Listen, oh humble ear. In all things, keep your vision clear.

Deborah Matthews said...

I've learned alot from prepublished authors. I'll say what no one else has said. I've also heard pubs give advice that ain't worth ****! So, being published doesn't magically make your advice better.

Carla Swafford said...

Debbie, you're so poetic. LOL! And so right!

Deborah Matthews said...

Well, I wasn't trying to be poetic. I didn't ryhme or anything. (g) Just telling it like it is.

jennifer echols said...

I overheard an attendee say she wondered if a workshop presenter was a published author. Asked why, she said, "If she’s published, she’ll know what she’s talking about."

LOL! I learn a lot from prepublished writers, too. Plus, I'm published, and I can tell you for a fact that I don't know what I'm talking about! I do my best, but this is a tough business to learn.