Monday, March 05, 2012

The Rules Nobody Knows

Notice how rules are flexible in the publishing industry? For instance, when you ask how many books you need to sell to be considered a success, nobody wants to give a number. 5,000, 10,000 - depends on if it's fiction or nonfiction - depends on whether it's self-published or not - depends on whether you have a platform the publisher is willing to gamble on for book two. Depends . . .

Should you self-publish to draw attention to your writing? In hopes of landing a traditional contract? Depends . . .  Should you get an agent? Depends. . . Should you write in first person or third? How much telling versus showing is allowed? How much passive voice is acceptable? Everything depends.

Notice how nobody knows the exact rules but everyone can tell you when it's wrong. And no two interpretations of wrong are the same.

So what does that tell us?

We need to understand the issues, both sides, first hand. We need to study the pros and cons of any issue like those mentioned above, so when we make a decision, it's an informed one. 

Understand what an agent does, reading both pros and cons of contacting with one. Then decide if you need one.

Read writing that used telling more than usual, then read those that utilize showing exceptionally well. Be able to readily recognize the difference, so when you tell in a story, you do it with a purpose in mind.

All of the debated issues in our profession have multiple sides. Know all the debated rules, hearing all sides, then formulate your method of keeping the rule, breaking it, or finding a middle ground. However you do it, do it because you have your act together and have analyzed each and every option.

Taking credit for writing success means somewhere along the way taking responsibility for decisions made. The blessing and the curse of being a writer is that the results are on your shoulders. You can shirk responsibility or embrace it, but you can't deny that the results are yours to own.

Choose your own rules of engagement, but only after studying the battles that have gone before you. Only after you've gained education and experience do you have the savvy to choose wisely. Privates don't establish rules of engagement . . . generals do.


D.G. Hudson said...

Interesting insight on those unanswered questions we all have.

When does this blog cease its existence, Hope?

BTW - I signed up on your new page already.

Hope Clark said...

Haven't set a date yet - trying to give enough people a chance to change. There are still quite a few stubborn ones out there. I suspect another week.