Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Looking Up, Reaching Back, Knowing the Difference

We're told to look up - aspire for bigger and better - never look back - keep moving forward.

So when we attend writing groups, critique sessions, conferences and chats, we hunt those who know more than we do, who've made all this advice work, who are closer to what we deem as "successful." We don't seek advice from those less experienced because...well...they have less experience. We want to learn, grow, become connected, not backslide and repeat our mistakes...or stumble through new ones we could have stepped around.

So, why do we obtain blurbs, testimonials, and sometimes reading feedback from those who are in the same boat as we are, or even behind us, in this journey? Whether we admit or not, we are craving easy positive reinforcement. Sort of like submitting to content mills to say we've published.

Yes, any writer who's dealt with hard knocks and been kicked around, wants to warn others who haven't. It's proper manners and common courtesy to reach back and assist those on the lower rungs of the ladder. However, when it comes to book blurbs and serious critiques, you fare better listening to those with more scars than you.

Critique groups are difficult to manage in this regard, in my opinion. Some members are more talented than you, and others are less. Accept suggestions from all, but go home and choose what to follow. Yes, you'll glean a few nuggets from newbies, just because they have a fresh eye and haven't been brainwashed with 25 how-to-write books. But you'll find more pertinent advice from those you aspire to emulate.

But when it comes to sending your book out for review, and you only have 25 copies, you send them to those bloggers and reviewers with the biggest punch, the most readers, the best connections. When it comes to posting blurbs on your book, keep in mind the size of the following of those names singing your praises. Does anyone know them? Do they have 100 or 1,000,000 Twitter followers? Have they published...and sold 50,000 copies? If not, you are positioning yourself at the level of those recommending you...demonstrating the level of respect you have for your work...yourself.

There are times you look up and strive for the clouds and new heights. Then there are times you turn around and take the hand of those struggling. But the smart and savvy way you do each one dictates the speed and height of your success.


Sioux Roslawski said...

I'm glad you didn't speak of times when one should strive for the clouds and other times, one should...dig around in the compost. (ha)

I've been in groups that eventually became "mutual admiration" societies (not helpful at all--a waste of time in my opinion) and others where the critique was spot-on and constructive.

I appreciate the advice of choosing bloggers and reviewers carefully, when it comes to sending out your book. It certainly makes sense to try and get the biggest bang for your buck.

Linda O'Connell said...

Excellent advice!

Vicki Rocho said...

Fantastic advice!

My son has been watching Meet the Robinsons this week so he's been saying 'keep moving forward' a lot.

Chris said...

Hope, It's blogs like yours that inspire me to think of developing my own talents and to do so in a way that lifts and inspires others. I believe it is not good enough to simply follow one's dreams. I believe one also has to try one's best to lead others to their dreams also. I really need to follow your blog more. Thanks for your wisdom.