First unpublished writer steps from stupid: find out about these sites

I guess naive can = stupid for an unpublished author.

How naive was I, say 60 days ago?

I suppose no more naive or stupid than most starting-out unpublished authors. At least I like to think so, but then I’m naive.

I had no idea how much ePubishing was affecting the publishing dynamic, or how seriously everyone was talking about “platforms.” I knew little or nothing about Goodreads, Backspace, TheCreativePenn, QueryTracker, Janet ReidWritersCafe, ShawGuides, Rachelle Gardner or the various on-line resources available through

I still know nothing about the who-knows-how-many must-know people and sites talking affectively about what it takes to get published.

But there seems to be places to start, and I’m assuming and counting on this handful to be as good a set as any. I’ve stumbled upon some and tracked down some others through links and resources like Writer’s Digest’s “101 Best Websites for Writers.” I’m having mixed reactions to some but will seek to get through them. Here are some notable ones:

Goodreads, of course, is the social network where we declare our preferences and post reader critiques and reviews on the millions of books already out there. I’ve entered this gathering cautiously, slowly, almost politically. Do I really want to be bluntly honest about my feelings on, say, Dan Brown’s writing style? Does that have the potential to piss off the wrong person or sink my own (currently-nonexistent) reputation? I’ll get there. Courage will win out.

Backspace seems to be one of the elite writers’ on-line communities around, with some fascinating tweets, great conferences and workshops, and undoubtedly some interesting chats. But they charge $40 to join and I haven’t overcome my cheapness enough to try yet.

QueryTracker has created a marvelous user-fueled database of agents and publishers, providing listings and background data on how every agent is responding to writers’ queries. Writers volunteer information about their experiences, in a handy-fill-out-the-data format, and QueryTracker compiles it over thousands of entries. I’m a data guy, so I recognize the possibilities here and look forward to exploring further

I’ve already mentioned Rachelle Gardner, Joanna Penn’s TheCreativePenn and Janet Reid, who’ve all got terrific blogs about writing, the writer-agent relationship and getting published looks like a terrific forum and I’lI look forward to spending lots of time there. Same thing with

ShawsGuide is another matter. I look forward to examining this in a future blog post. This guide gives solid, up-to-date write-ups on scores of writer conferences around the country. If a writer wants to go to one, I’d probably start here

But where do I start?

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