Thursday, September 02, 2010

Be Confident: Let your writing do the talking

What are you?

Multipley published?
Award winning?
Cantankerously represented?


You're a writer. Even if your books have not been published. Or if they have. Or if there is more than one. You may have won an award (congrats!). You may be agented, not-agented, soon-to-be-separated from the agent from Hell.

But: you're a writer.

That's all you need to tell me, and you don't need to tell me even that. Let your writing show me you're a talented and amazing writer. Show me. Don't tell me.

I'm cantankerous, sardonic and perpetually annoyed enough at this stage of my career that I don't believe anything anyone tells me.

"I was nominated for an Edgar" means I look up the Edgar list for that year.

"I have been published before" means I look you up on Amazon.

"My agent slithers" means I call up Barbara Poelle and ask why she's letting you go.

All you need to do is tell me about a novel I want to read. And I'll read it. Have confidence enough to let your writing speak for itself. You're a writer. I'm a reader. That's all we know, and all we need to know (sorry Keats, couldn't resist.)


lexcade said...

Ms. Reid, I always look forward to your posts, especially these that make us pre-published writers feel a little bit better about ourselves. Thanks!

Maryannwrites said...

LOL. Always find your posts insightful and entertaining. Humor does help the message come across.

A3Writer said...

As one who pitched to the Shark who has no previous credentials, I can attest that she's eagerly looking for interesting stories. I didn't even get nibbled on. But then I didn't do anything to invoke her wrath (tip: read the Queryshark blog. All of it).

Creepy Query Girl said...

We'll do our best. said...

>>"I was nominated for an Edgar" means I look up the Edgar list for that year.>>

Would it be easier if we put the link in the query letter or just the year and category? Or is being nominated for an award a hundred years ago worth mentioning at all?

P.S. I'm the one from the group below you never heard of. :-)

1990 Edgar Award Best Paperback Original Mystery Novel Winner and Nominees
Winner: THE RAIN by Keith Peterson (Bantam)
A COLLECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHS by Deborah Valentine (Bantam)
HOT WIRE by Randy Russell (Bantam)
KING OF THE HUSTLERS by Eugene Izzi (Bantam)
MANHATTAN IS MY BEAT by Jeffery Wilds Deaver (Bantam)

MAGolla said...

DAMN! I so want you as my agent! Guess I better keep writing . . . maybe someday I'll find that perfect story for you.

Heather Spiva said...

Thanks for this great post. Really. Writer's block and inadequacy was gaining on me today ... until I read this.

Jessica Silva said...

B-But Janet! We to show off our awards! For once it's not Mommy who's telling us we're good writers--it's someone else!

Also, I like this post. It's to the point but somehow motivational. It makes me want to leave the office and write. I'm stuck here, though.

C.R. Evers said...

Awwwwww! I think you might be the most encouraging shark that I ever met. Thnx! :0D

Dr. Cheryl Carvajal said...

I do have a book through Amazon, and a bunch of my plays are making significant progress, yet I still have trouble identifying myself as a writer...

Why? No idea. Not false humility. Perhaps I just expect a writer to have accomplished more at my age.

Pathetic, I know.

adam.purple said...

I'm a writer. With nothing to my credit. You'll be hearing from me.

Marisa Birns said...

You are exactly what a writer wants: a reader. And yes, a writer should get out of the way and let the story do the talking.

One day...

Unknown said...

Hehehe. And that's why I like to read your posts. Good information in bullshit free packaging.

ryan field said...

"I'm cantankerous, sardonic and perpetually annoyed enough at this stage of my career that I don't believe anything anyone tells me."


ClothDragon said...

I heard prepublished the other day! I've been watching old mysteries through Netflix Instant and 1-800-Missing had a guy say it. That one's from 2005! I almost rewound (rewinded?) it to show Hubby but realized he wouldn't find it as amusing as I did.

And I'm on Amazon.
Two shorts with Crossed Genres and they let me have an author page. I still don't call myself an author. CG pays what is called token, not professional, rates. Maybe when I reach professional rates I'll be able to see myself as the other -- maybe not. I've read blogs by others whose books I enjoy who struggle with those words too. Still.

Kim Mullican said...

After reading your blog, I find myself disappointed that fantasy does not fit into your desired fiction category. Alas, I search for an agent as tenacious and witty as I.

Published, yes, if you call it that...

New manuscript, no agent, weary writer...heavy drinker? Nah...cheers!

Margaret Yang said...

I've noticed that most "winners" on the Query shark blog do not list credits. At all.

I watch. I learn.

Patty Blount said...

Janet, thank you for this post. I suffer horribly from lack-of-confidence and every time I say "I'm a writer" I always feel compelled to tack a "but I'm not agented or published" at the end of it.

Tell us, what should new writers put in a query when we have no writing credits? Do we even need a bio?

Unknown said...

Thanks for this. Have a great weekend.



And again, I say AMEN.

At least half the time a writer introduces herself to me at an RWA function or in an online group, she'll follow up by adding, "but I don't have a book deal or anything."

To which I want to reply, "big f**king deal." Neither did I eight months ago, and I was still the same damn writer with the same damn-skillset I had BEFORE the three book deal.

A contract or an agent or an award DOES NOT make you a writer. Your writing makes you a writer.


Amy Ashley said...

I hate query writing advice that tells one to put in "what qualifies you to write". Either your work is good or it isn't. Your qualifications don't stand for jack squat if the novel is crap.

Steve Stubbs said...

JetReid: "I'm cantankerous, sardonic and perpetually annoyed enough at this stage of my career that I don't believe anything anyone tells me."

I love your blog. I know from the above that you don't believe that, but Just Keep Writing the Damn Thing, Please.

You don't have to believe it. Just do it.

An Avid Fan

Anonymous said...

But, but, what about those of us who love to read about the publishing industry and very occasionally fantasize about writing, but haven't written a blessed thing?

(I do blog and Facebook and Twitter, but those aren't blessed things.)

laughingwolf said...

nuff said...

Whirlochre said...

May you be blessed with some random act of chocolate for this post.