At last a kindred spirit, a writer blogging about the process

Not that I’m looking everywhere but I have been surprised at how difficult it is to find writers blogging about the whole process — not just the writing but the platform-building, agent-soliciting, self-doubt overcoming, rewriting, betaing, etc.

Enter what appears to be a new blog from Kate Dancey, The Writer Writes. Actually she found me and tagged The Naive Optimist to her blog, so this is shameless payback. Thanks Kate.

If you’re interested in how to get started in the writing/getting published business, check her out, and keep an eye on her. I suspect she’ll take us all on her journey and that can only be worth the ride, wherever she goes.

First unpublished writer steps from stupid: find out about these sites

I guess naive can = stupid for an unpublished author.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I suppose no more naive or stupid than most starting-out unpublished authors.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:

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Beta readers: Who are you? Where are you?

I have a confession to make. All of you agents to whom I’ve already sent queries, please turn the other way for a moment. I’ll tell you when you can begin reading again.

I haven’t beta-tested my manuscripts yet. It flat-out didn’t occur to me. I’m naive, remember? And I’m not really sure how to find good beta readers, or whom they should be. Or what to ask of them. I somehow overlooked all the cautions from many agents that they want the manuscript beta tested before the query arrives. I’ve had a couple of family members alpha test it — that is, read a chapter here or there while I was actually writing, and give me feedback.

But no one’s gotten the whole manuscript with the instructions, read it, tell me what you think, be brutally honest, please. It seems to me that’s a lot to ask of someone, and I just didn’t bother.

OK agents with my queries in hand, you may resume reading again here. Thanks.

There’s a lot of advice out there on finding good beta readers, and what they are, but there doesn’t seem to be a consensus.

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How many queries does it take to land an agent?

One, right?

(Not including all the flawed queries, or those unfortunately sent to all the wrong agents.)

This is a burning question that pains all of us unpublished authors: What will it take to land an agent? How many hooks should we bait to catch that one big… (no, I’m not going to call an agent a fish. Not me!) … angel of the written word?

The agents tell us, and appropriately so, that a million isn’t enough if the book just isn’t good enough; if it’s not finished and thoroughly rewritten and edited; if the query letter isn’t clear, distinctive, professional and alluring; if we haven’t done our homework before selecting agents; or if we haven’t done enough networking. Or whatever.

Fair enough. But none of that tells us how long we keep going on faith before we should take the hint. Or better, until our line goes taut and our reel starts spinning.

This seems to be the consensus answer: 50-100.

At least, that’s what I find, based on what I can find. Continue reading