Beware the Self-Titled “Expert”

When I first started this blog, almost a year ago, I wanted to add my voice to a community of writers and hope that one day there will be this magical exchange of ideas where we all sit down and treat each other like adults. Almost every post that I write I try to take the attitude that even though this is my perspective on what has (or hasn’t) worked for me, maybe this same thing works for someone else. Most writers will tell you that in order to be truly successful in the field you have to be in the right place at the right time and be open to criticism. I feel I’ve achieved moderate success based on milestones that I’ve set out for myself: this year I’ll have two publishing credits for novellas. But–and this is a big “but”–I’ve never published a novel before, never dealt with an agent before. Maybe someday I will; maybe I won’t. Since I haven’t been there and it’s not on my radar, I haven’t posted about it yet because I’m doing the research to provide relevant and useful information from whaddaya know–actual agents.

For the most part, I’ve had really great responses because I’ve learned to put the caveat on what I say: I am asking this question because… or I am asking for your opinion. You’d be amazed by how quickly attitudes and egos get out of whack when you either post directly about anything or postulate a vague-ish question to generate some interest or camaraderie.

Everything is True…On the Internet, Right?

We now live in a world where we’ve somehow convinced ourselves that everything is true on the internet because it’s been posted. Well, that may work for some, but it doesn’t work for me. I come from that world where you were taught to back up everything you say with examples, references, resources and interviews. Can’t tell you how many blogs I’ve read where that is most certainly not the case and frankly, I’m not about to tell someone else how to blog.

For all of these reasons and many, many more I hope that I never claim to be an “expert” on any topic. Yeah, it’s easy to “know” things because we’re all saturated with information. It’s harder to “verify” facts or admit that someone else may experience what you’ve been through differently–yet the internet is rampant with self-titled “experts” who know everything, and no field has more experts in it than the field of freelancing.

Freelancer Beware

If you’re new to freelancing, I highly recommend Matt Forbeck’s podcast about Life of a Career Gaming Freelancer or author Holly Lisle’s article How to Quit Your Day Job to Write Full Time. I view both to be filled with facts and a touch of humor. Here’s a quote from Holly’s article:

First things first. If you are wedded to the idea of security and you like knowing that you’re going to be able to pay your bills on time every month, kiss the idea of full-time writing a permanent goodbye.–Quote from Holly Lisle’s article, How to Quit Your Day Job to Write Full Time

If you’re not new to freelancing, then you know why this field is so attractive to so many people. The lure of freedom, setting your own hours, being your own boss–all of these things are pretty exciting as long as there is work available. Which is why there are online books after online books that promise fame, riches, and fortune through the business of freelancing. In a sugary stupor, I once applied for a book that listed free grants. What I got? After spending $35 I received a stapled copy of listings that I could have gotten online if only I had done my own research. Now if I do pay for a product (and there are a lot of really great eBooks out there to check out)–I really try to review it or mention it on my blog. Haven’t done a lot lately due to time constraints, but you better believe that it’s on my radar if it comes up.

The point folks that I’m trying to make here, is that it’s really important to trust yourself. If you’re reading blogs, websites, and other writers remember that everyone’s experiences may be different. You have the intelligence and the know-how to keep a level head. The promise of fame and fortune for writers really makes the idea of writing exciting, but the romance is only one small part of it. With hard work and determination, you can get to wherever you want to be–just remember that advice is free. It’s up to you to apply it.

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Monica Valentinelli is a writer, editor, and game developer. Her portfolio includes stories, games, comics, essays, and pop culture books.

In addition to her own worlds, she has worked on a number of different properties including Firefly, Vampire: the Masquerade, Shadowrun, Hunter: the Vigil, Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn, and Robert E. Howard’s Conan.

Looking for Monica’s books and games that are still in print? Visit Monica Valentinelli on Amazon’s Author Central or a bookstore and game store near you.

Want to Interview or Hire Me? Send Fan Mail?

Would you like to hire me? Because my projects and manuscripts are in flux, I am always open to discussing new opportunities with publishers and studios. As a full-time writer, I spend a portion of my time seeking new gigs–so don’t be afraid to reach out. If you’re interested, please e-mail me via my Contact Page. I typically reply to work-related e-mails within one-to-two business days.

Want an interview? If you’d like to interview me or request a guest blog post, please connect with me via the contact page, too. Due to time constraints and other communicative concerns, I typically don’t follow up on requests via social media.

Keen on sending fan mail? I am also happy to engage with readers and fans. Please note that I am unable to reply satisfactorily to certain types of queries related to the companies I work for due to the agreements I typically sign. If you have a question about a TV show or a line of books, the best way to get your answer is to contact the studio or publisher directly.

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