On the internet, there is no shortage of publishing advice. You can often find this advice from people who work in the publishing industry (authors, agents, publishers) as well as from people who don’t (fans, readers, reviewers and some marketers or booksellers). While I do sometimes give publishing advice, I try to put that advice into context based on my experiences because when it comes to this industry – I believe that everyone’s experiences may be different.
Regardless of how the advice is given, there is often a reason why the advice is being offered in the first place. Many people try to establish themselves as an “expert” for some reason or another; others, like in my case, provide advice to either “pay it forward” or to help their blog readers get to know them. Regardless of the reason why the advice is being offered, the content of that article or blog post may (or may not) be accurate. By “accurate” I mean that the advice could be outdated, colored by personal experience or stretched a bit for some reason or another. That’s not to say that “all” advice is bad; nor am I saying that people knowingly give crappy advice. In many ways, people provide advice as a means of helping themselves reach their goal just like you are reading the advice to (hopefully) reach yours.
As I mentioned earlier, my goal for providing advice to you – my readers – is to help you think critically about your choices. I don’t expect you to take every word I say verbatim, nor do I believe that you’ll agree with everything I say. It may “seem” otherwise (especially when I’ve had too much caffeine) but I really and truly believe that everyone has their own path.
However, no matter how much advice you read online there is one thing that you’re missing – and that is the 100s of conversations that happen offline. Those are the conversations that, if you’re interested in writing within the publishing industry, you need to be involved with, listen to and watch for. Why? Well, just like you have an online reputation to manage, foster and protect – so does everyone else. As a result, there is a lot about the publishing industry that is not revealed on the internet. From the inside skinny on what publishers are really looking for to understanding which agents not to query, there are a lot of business-facing conversations that happen offline.
I’m sure by now you’re wondering how these offline conversations happen. Well? I can tell you that those conversations don’t happen overnight because often they require a level of trust after you’ve developed a rapport with other people in the industry. While that trust does not come easily, the publishing industry is really no different from any other business. In order to be a part of it, you need to network and approach it like a business (Which means keep writing!). Where can you meet people in publishing? Book clubs, conventions, author signings and critique groups in your area might be a few places to start.
Regardless of where you get your information, I strongly encourage you to take all advice with a grain of salt and be sure to follow up and research thoroughly.