This week in my 405 class (Literary Citizenship), we’re discussing the world of editing and publishing. I’ve had several classes discuss this now, but there are five new things I’ve learned this week that stood out to me.
1) Patience, it really is a virtue.
One of the articles we read, “Start Here: How to Get Your Book Published” by Jane Friedman, really hit this home. I’ve always thought of writing as a slow process of creation, and publishing as a fast paced process of getting the work to a publisher.
No matter what stage you are, writing, rejection, or revision, Friedman emphasizes being patient. This is especially true when it comes to rejection, when, if we’re too impatient, we will give up under the mountain of “No, Thankyou’s.” If we give up too soon, no matter which stage we’re at, we may never get that thing that wants to be written that’s inside of us out.
2) Publishing is constantly evolving.
This is something I’ve talked about in other classes, but never really put much thought toward. In our large batch of readings, we had a section of Carolyn See’s book, Making a Literary Life: Advice for Writers and Other Dreamers, and an interview from the Huff Post Books section with Richard Nash.
See’s book was published in 2002, and the interview with Nash in 2012. See spends much time discussing traditional publishing through large publishing houses in New York, and Nash covers the huge rise in Indie Publishing. The two together serve as a side-by-side example of a massive change in publishing in just ten years. They show us that what may be the norm one year or decade, could very well no longer be so the next.
3) Be flexible (or keep learning).
Because publishing is constantly evolving, we as writers should be flexible to evolve with it. It’s important to have a particular style and aesthetic, but we should be flexible enough to learn new skills to help us get out into the world.
What kinds of skills?
Social media, web design, website building, content developing, etc.—The list goes on and on.
No one, particular reading seemed to really cover this specifically, but overall there was a sense that publishing is going to places it’s never been before, and most of those places exist in a digital environment. If we are to go with publishing, we need to have different skillsets than in the past, and the flexibility/willingness to learn any new ones in the future.
4) Keep learning by finding your community.
It seems like the best way to keep track of what’s going on in publishing is by finding, and participating, in a community. In fact, everything I read for my class this week was an example of this (check it out yourself, over at literarycitizenship.com). Every time you read or comment on an article, blog post, forum thread, etc., you are participating in a community.
Besides keeping up on publishing current events, finding a community that fits you also finds connections (for lack of a better term). It helps you find writers, editors, agents, and publishers who share your style and point of view. These are people essential to the moral and physical support of any writer. Finding a group of people who support you by critiquing your work, sharing your ideas, and offering you opportunities is invaluable.
5) Maybe this goes without saying, but be a good citizen.
Maybe this seems like it doesn’t have much to do with publishing, but I really think it does.
When you want to get something published, you, and not just your work, is up for being published. Who you are matters as much as what you write. And in this new world of online interactions, everything (and I mean everything) is visible to others. So…
Really, it’s as simple as that.
- Be courteous when meeting others
- Be interested in what others are doing
- Be respectful when commenting on or critiquing work by others
- And always, always say thank you