Monday, May 08, 2017

In Praise of the Educated Writer

While I've been in the publishing community many years, I continue to learn new information all the time. I'm committed to a life-time learning process. I've watched several of my writing friends who stop learning and figure they have reached their level in the market. 

From my experience, this attitude of arrival is self-fulfilling for them as I also watch the stall of their careers. Authors with this attitude only get to workshops when they are teaching and don't read how-to magazines or books. I encourage you not to fall into this attitude trap—no matter where you are on the spectrum of published authors.

There are many ways for writers to get educated and here's a few of them:

--online groups
--writer's groups
--critique groups
--one on one mentoring or coaching
--blogs and other online articles
--online courses like my Write A Book Proposal course

From my experience, I know a great deal of publishing is about being in the right place, at the right time, with the right material—timing is crucial. As someone who has reviewed thousands of manuscripts and book proposals, I can read a few paragraphs and know whether the writer is educated about the market and publishing.

The opposite is also true. I can tell whether the writer has sprayed their proposal far and wide without any thought about what our publishing house is producing. Recently an author mailed a self-published book to the Morgan James office in New York City. A little online research would tell you quickly that I work remote and live in Colorado. Our office forwarded the book to me and I opened it. First, I was amazed at the size (over 700 pages) then I looked at the title and the contents (targeted to the New Age market). While Morgan James publishes some Christian books (about 30 each year), they are not a “Christian” publisher yet this view is across the board in the published books (i.e. our fiction has no sex or curse words and the publisher would not publish a New Age book). While I admire the enthusiasm of this writer, he had not taken the few minutes to get educated and targeted with his submission. I read numerous books outside of what I do at Morgan James and often write book reviews. Yet this book would not be one that I would even read a few pages.

What steps are you taking to get educated as a writer? 

Literary agents and publishers receive thousands of submissions. The standout ones that get published come from thoughtful, educated writers.


Are your submissions targeted? How do you locate your right audience? Ideas are here.  (ClickToTweet)
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3 Comment:

At 6:32 AM, Blogger MaryAnn Diorio, PhD, MFA Left a note...

Terry, I’m so glad you’ve written about “continuing ed” in writing. When I worked as a college professor, I was required to attend conferences, subscribe to journals, and keep up-to-date in regard to my subject matter. My husband, a retired physician, was required to earn a specific number of continuing education credits in his field each year. Why do we writers think we are any different?

If we see ourselves as the professionals we are, we will put continuing education at the top of our goal list each year. As you mentioned, continuing education can take many forms. In this day of the Internet, there is no excuse for not getting the instruction we need to grow as writers. If we think we have arrived, we are in grave professional danger.

Thanks for your insightful post. As always, you are a treasure trove of valuable information.


MaryAnn Diorio

At 6:56 AM, Blogger Terry Whalin Left a note...


Thank you for this affirmation and comment. You are right as writers we have no excuse to get educated yet we must take action to get this instruction--and we must be careful to make sure we get it from seasoned and experienced sources. I'm often bothered with "instructors" who have written one or two books and only recently entered the publishing community. I understand as a teacher that I grow much more in the teaching process than my students--yet we still need to look carefully at the credentials and background of an instructor before we take all their teaching. Publishing is a journey and on-going learning experience. Even after over 20 years in this business, I'm learning new things every day.


At 6:58 AM, Blogger MaryAnn Diorio, PhD, MFA Left a note...

You are absolutely right, Terry! :)




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