#WDC11 Through Tweets

I’ve been watching the Writer’s Digest 2011 conference tweets. Some have been extremely helpful. I’m going to post a few of the comments that came through the twitter stream. Meredtih Barnes, @Mer_Barnes on twitter, was very busy yesterday, so I’ll post quite a few of her “tweets.”

Someone apparently asked in a panel if they should hire a ghost editor prior to submitting. I assume this means an editor who is working behind the scenes, not a dead editor who feels his mission on earth is still unfulfilled.

Janet Reid, bless her heart, responded. ” Should I hire a ghosteditor? @Janet_Reid: BULLSHIT! You want to be a writer, you’ve got to write your own book. #askagent #wdc11 #lovemyboss

I cannot tell you how glad I was to hear her state that up front, in no uncertain terms. I’ve blogged about this before, having had this discussion with a freelance editor who has come to dominate a writing chat on Twitter. She harps long and loud that you aren’t serious about writing if you won’t do without, make your family do without and sacrifice whatever it takes to hire someone like her. I used to attend these chats simply to try and learn something new. When it turned into a non-stop spam commercial for said editor and new writers eating up her drivel, I stopped.

I’m on my second agent requested revision. Here’s the problem. Having revised extensively before the manuscript went out to the agent, I know every detail of every character. It’s not in the manuscript, but it’s there. As one intern correctly surmised, there are pages and pages of world-building that didn’t make it into the final manuscript. If I had turned it over to an editor and they had made changes, I would not have grown this familiar with the characters and their stories because I wouldn’t have really thought about why they do things.

Second, if the editor had made changes and cleaned up the manuscript, I wouldn’t have learned how to do it and why to do it.

Third, when the first revision request came in, I would have scrambled for money to pay the editor to do his or her magic again and there simply isn’t an extra dime in this house. The agent probably would have wondered why the tone or voice was different in places.

Fourth, when the revision letter comes in, two emotions hit. You’re relieved you weren’t rejected completely. Despair because you have no idea how to accomplish what they asked. Despair eventually gives way to some brainstorming, preferably with your trusted writers’ pack. The ideas tossed out may or may not work, but eventually, something sticks and the light bulb goes on.

You’re not going to get this from a paid editor. They simply don’t have the time to sit down and toss around ideas. If they do, it’s because you’ve got more money than sense and that may change at any moment.

In the end, it’s your book. You need to write it and you need to learn how to edit it and revise it. Only you know how to pull out an entire subplot and reweave it to keep the salient points so no one ever notices the new threads in the tapestry. You need beta readers, but you have to write your book.

A question about literary fiction: Literary fiction: should I bother? Don Maas and @Janet_Reid chorus: OF COURSE YOU SHOULD BOTHER! #applause #wdc11 #askagent

“Quiet” literary fiction can do BIG things! It’s about how “dramatically and passionately” you write about your subject. #askagent #wdc11

How do you know when your ms is ready? If ur getting comments that resonate as something you *need* to revise…keep revising. #askagent

Once you’re getting “microadjustments,” like you’d get from a line editor, you’re ready to sub! #askagent #wdc11 #pubtip

The following tweet was probably some of the best advice I saw in the #wd11 stream.

If you’re getting rejections, look at your novel and query. Don’t exhaust all queriable agents before you rework things! #askagent #wdc11

Finally: Every rule is made to be broken. Just break it beautifully! (thx for the great sign-off, Don Maas!) #askagent #wdc11

I’ll post more about this soon, because there was a lot of good information passed along. However, I wanted to touch a bit on the social media workshop. Now, think about this for a moment. I’m able to talk a bit about what happened in New York this weekend even though I wasn’t there. That’s the joy of social media. There are also some downsides, and I’m sure my downsides are not shared by everyone.

@JaneFriedman: Your job is to get your name out there. That’s how you become successful as an author. @PatriciaVDavis #wdc11

Remember the discussion I had with an epub editor a few weeks ago? The one who said my only job was to create a platform and stop worrying about writing well? The one who thought Snooki was a prime example of how to do it right because if enough people know you, you can hire someone to write your novel?

Yeah, that discussion.

I understand what Ms. Friedman is saying, but I still contend, for most of us, writing a compelling story readers can’t put down is our priority. After we do that, we do need to find ways to reach out to readers. We need to be active in our marketing of not only our books, but ourselves. The days of the prima dona writers who were unpleasant, hard to deal with and unapproachable are largely over. You need to adopt an attitude of willingness and open approachability. That person who went out of their way to say hello to you can tell 100’s of people how much fun you were or how rude you were and they will never read another of your books. That, as Ms. Friedman says, is how you become a successful author.

I could blog like the Pioneer Woman and post wonderful recipes on my blog with witty stories to go along with them and possibly publish a cookbook. The problem is, I’m writing epic fantasy. I don’t think someone is going to read my recipe for peanut butter pie and think, “Wow, I really want to read her fantasy.”

Before you start blog, think about who’ll send you traffic. Know community players, who you’ll build relationships with. @DanBlank #wdc11 |

There were several comments along this vein and I think it’s wise if you are serious about marketing yourself through social media.

The problem is, when I look at people through a “what can they do for me” glass, then I feel like I am prostituting myself. I follow interesting people on Facebook and Twitter. I follow them because they amuse, inform, or just interact with me in an intriguing fashion. If someone is prone to political rants, I find myself unfollowing them until the rants pass and then often I forget to go back and refollow. Even people I tend to agree with politically get unfollowed if they are just ranting with no basis in fact.

I follow the President of Russia, not because he can do anything for me, but because he occasionally posts some interesting things about the government there or pictures of beautiful places. That doesn’t mean I’m planning to defect to Russia any time soon or that I think he can help me.

I follow a lot of people in publishing because I’m interested in what they think professionally and I enjoy their patter. I follow several editors who will never, ever see my manuscript, but they are fun people and I enjoy bantering with them. Follow them. Follow other writers and develop relationships, but do it with the idea that you can also do something for them, not what they can do for you. Build your base on interaction. Be someone people want to follow.

When you follow people just because you think they can help you, in my opinion, you turn into that creepy stalker guy at a conference. I don’t want to ever be him. I follow @Adamsbaldwin on twitter and he has followed me back. Think about that. What can Adam do for me? He’s been phenomenal to repost requests for help for troops when I pass them to him and ask him if he can help. I’m sure he would block me if I did it very often, but I usually only ask when it’s something very important or an emergency with a wounded soldier or something. Sometimes, the request is just to introduce more people to a good cause for soldiers. What can I do for him? Absolutely nothing. However, we shoot the bull, pass jokes back and forth and chat about politics. That appears to be enough for him, thankfully. If there is a definition of a gracious, down to earth celebrity, he’s it.

He, I think, is how we all should be. Stop worrying about what people can do for you and concentrate on interacting with people.

Please follow @Mer_Barnes, @Janet_Reid and #wdc11 on twitter for a complete look at what happened this weekend through the eyes of the participants.


  1. Great post.

    I can’t remember where I first saw your name. I thought you were a published writer because your internet presence is so strong.

    A paid editor doesn’t know the characters and might not realize the importance of the scene. What if they delete a scene then the crystal bridge no longer exists?

  2. Hi Julie,

    Great discussion and recap of the event!

    Regarding some of the tweets I sent out, I thought I’d elaborate on the context.

    “Your job is to get your name out there …”
    This session from Patricia V. Davis started out with a 20-minute discussion of how important it is to edit your work, and hire a professional at some point to help you do it.

    So I agree that for FICTION writers (and usually memoirists), story is paramount. Patricia’s advice was given in the context of: Once your book is out, stop worrying about making money, and instead, focus on building readership. Build the audience you’ll need for the length of your career—for your second book and third, etc. Then the money will follow.

    “Before you start blog, think about who’ll send you traffic. Know community players, who you’ll build relationships with.”

    I also tweeted this. The spirit of Dan’s comment was not at all about taking advantage of others or prostituting yourself. It was, in fact, about recognizing or understanding the community you’re about to join and become a part of. No one should enter into blogging thinking they are an island—the only voice on their topic. That was his point (not that you should go shill to the important VIPs).

  3. Catherine,

    Indeed. The problem and the joy of FAR RIDER is the world building. So it is with most of my work. When one thing disappears, it usually affects something else and then I have to make sure all those threads get removed.

    I just sincerely think a person needs to learn to revise their own work. Beta readers are worth their weight in gold, but the author still has to write and rewrite.

  4. Ms. Friedman,

    Thanks for stopping by. I follow you on twitter because I always enjoy what you have to share with the world. So, yes, you’re on my interesting person list.

    I had intended to get another post up going into the social media aspect of the conference and got hung up on some other things. Who knew I would ever be interviewing people about cloning race horses? Not me.

    I completely agree that people must be an active part of building that following. The diva days are over for most writers, thankfully.

    I also agree with Dan’s view that a person is not an island. I think it was in the WDC11 thread, but it may have been elsewhere. Anyway, someone got a discussion going about what most turned them off about an author. Not surprisingly, it was authors who go on extreme political rants on blogs.

    Even before the author becomes known, they are establishing themself in the world. Agents, editors and readers look at those things they sent out into cyberspace and judge whether they want to have a relationship with that author.

    So, forgive me for not getting back sooner and expounding on this.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *