Following advice, not following advice, and giving advice guilty side-eye whilst ignoring it.

There is an overabundance of ‘how to get published’ advice out there. This is a fairly stupid thing to say, some would advise, given that this very blog could be seen as ‘how to get published’ advice.

advice - sarcastic comment

Except that CLEARLY this is not ‘how to get published’ advice. At best, this is ‘how to sort-of, sometimes cope with NOT being published, and only occasionally embarrass yourself’ advice. On which I occasionally implore you not to follow my really quite questionable advice.

But that’s mostly because I – as an unpublished person – shouldn’t really know the first thing about getting published. And you should never follow advice from someone who has not actually achieved whatever it is they’re advising you about. Except that, actually, I do know quite a lot about how to get published. I kind of know how to decide which way I should pursue publication, I know what resources are most helpful, I know how difficult it is and why that is, I know how long the odds are, I know how valuable determination is, I know – more to the point – how valuable actual writing talent is (as much as anyone can). I’d actually be willing to bet I know as much about getting published as some people who are published. I have the theory nailed, I’m just having…issues with the practical.

And as someone who has re-taken the practical as many times as I have – somehow getting ever closer to success without actually moving – I have been thoroughly and persistently bombarded with advice. Now much of this I have actually sought out, and most of it has been immensely valuable: I only gained whatever knowledge I have by pilfering it from other sources. BUT, it has to be said that occasionally there are moments when it’s actually worth ignoring the advice.

Here have been a few of these moments from my perspective:

  • When told that I shouldn’t send off a submission a day, but craft individual submissions carefully and individually, wait for the response to each one and incorporate any (unlikely) feedback into my manuscript before carefully crafting the next submission. Didn’t follow because:

I ain't got time for that

  • It’s universally accepted that you should not continue to email an agency (or frankly, anyone at all) who has rejected you. And whilst in 99.9% of cases I think this is spot on, I have recently – and just the once – ignored it. Because shy bairns get nowt, and sometimes desperation wins out (it hasn’t).
  • Don’t submit to agencies who aren’t advertising for submission. Well I’ve done this twice, once with initially positive results that then went south, and the other with no result at all – but if the worst that can happen is being ignored (which is what happens with many agencies who are open for submission), then I don’t see the harm in it, even if it’s more than likely a total waste of time.
  • Don’t get too downhearted about rejection. Pretty much every rejection I’ve received contains this advice, and whilst it is stellar, it’s also near impossible to follow. Plus, as my boyfriend recently pointed out to me during a more recent meltdown, the extent to which you are upset about something is directly proportionate to how much you care about it. And, you know, caring is A++.

So yes, I reckon the trick is to listen to all advice, take it usually but ignore it when you have reason to. For life generally, really, but – you know, as is relevant – for publishing. There is so much advice out there that you can’t possibly follow all of it, and nor should you – and that’s worth bearing in mind.

Though, to round this off, I’m going to leave you with Matt Haig’s Some Fucking Writing Tips – for some advice that is useful, interesting and – most importantly – hilarious.

Next Post: To be quite honest it’s getting harder and harder to think of posts that seem relevant when often what I want to write is ‘Yep. Still being rejected. Still not JK Rowling.’ So I think I’m going to do what I often do in such creative block situations, and fall back on other people – I’m going to have a dig around a few of my favourite contemporary authors sites and see what they have to say about trying to get published. And then, in all likelihood when I read that they just got published no problem and that’s why they’re successful, duh, throw myself a little Pity Party. All invited.

Submissions Last Week

None, but a guilt-free none this time, as I’m waiting for another full MS response.

Current Rejection Tally: 11



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