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A letter to Baby Author Me

Two covers

On her blog, novelist Ally Carter wrote a letter she wished she could send to herself back when she was just starting out. I thought it was funny and interesting enough that I stole the idea. Being me, this particular letter might not have the wide applicability that Ms. Carter’s does but I’ll share it anyway: a letter to myself in 2008.

First of all, old self, today isn’t the day your agent sent your first book on submission. That was back in mid-January some time. So yeah, this is late. Then again, you’re the guy who received a birthday card that his sister had bought for his birthday the year before then never got around to sending. You’re a Connolly; you’re used to it.

Second of all, Twenty Palaces was not rejected because of the story. It was the writing. You haven’t realized this yet, but you’d be better off not sending it to your agent or editor. The truth is, you made a big leap in your understanding of the language while you were revising Harvest of Fire, and you haven’t realized yet how rough that earlier book is. Seriously. Keep it to yourself until after you have a chance to revise it.

Third, don’t bother scrounging for reviews. Interviews are great. Definitely do that Big Idea piece for John Scalzi. Guest blogging is also cool (in fact, ask around if anyone would like you to guest blog).

But that thing where you spend hours and hours looking for reviewers, working out what sort of books they review, try to judge their readership, contact them and mail off books? Just don’t even bother. You’d be better off spending that time working on new books or being funny online.

In fact, being funny and/or interesting online is really the best marketing you can do. Have fun with that and skip the reviewers. The ones that find and review your work on their own will be good enough, but beyond that it’s too big a time sink.

Fourth, you aren’t really going to find yourself joining a new community of writers and genre fans, the way so many others seem to. Don’t worry about it.

Fifth, and last, I’m not going to spill the beans about how well your books are going to do, but I will say this: Write the books the way you think they should be written, and don’t agonize about it too much. Whether you succeed or fail, you’ll at least be doing it on your own terms.

Okay, that wasn’t the last. Here’s the last: You’ve worked pretty hard to get to this spot, but you’re going to have to work even harder to stay there.

Mirrored from Twenty Palaces. You can comment here or there.

Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
msagara
Jul. 15th, 2012 05:16 am (UTC)
Fourth, you aren’t really going to find yourself joining a new community of writers and genre fans, the way so many others seem to. Don’t worry about it.

I don't think is entirely true, though. Unless you mean IRL.

But: I love the idea of this letter, and I might steal it from you when my sister goes back to LA.
burger_eater
Jul. 15th, 2012 05:26 am (UTC)
I do mean IRL. I've been interacting with writers online since I first went onto the internet. Now I'm a pro and it's the same online talk, except now I get occasional messages from people who like my books.

But in my real life I feel pretty isolated, which bothers me very rarely. It's a very quiet life.
beth_bernobich
Jul. 15th, 2012 12:28 pm (UTC)
You’ve worked pretty hard to get to this spot, but you’re going to have to work even harder to stay there.

This. This is a message every writer needs to send back to their younger writer.
burger_eater
Jul. 15th, 2012 02:24 pm (UTC)
I used to describe becoming a professional writer as though it was a rescue from a lonely desert island, only to be placed in a huge, anonymous work camp, but no one seemed to think it was funny.
beth_bernobich
Jul. 15th, 2012 02:54 pm (UTC)
Haha! Oh, that's perfect. And very funny--painfully so.
geniusofevil
Jul. 16th, 2012 04:39 pm (UTC)
people in anonymous work camps have zero sense of humor
burger_eater
Jul. 16th, 2012 04:41 pm (UTC)
At least they get to be outside on a sunny day.
geniusofevil
Jul. 16th, 2012 04:48 pm (UTC)
bah
geniusofevil
Jul. 16th, 2012 04:38 pm (UTC)
I think you are always better off spending your time being funny on the internet. Or writing. I mean, if there's nothing else to do or clean ...
burger_eater
Jul. 16th, 2012 04:42 pm (UTC)
I agree.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )