The Writing Life: 4 Things I Learned in 2016
|Research means work, work, play.|
Getting 50 rejections in one year isn’t as easy as it sounds. One of the goals I set for 2016 was to earn 50 rejections. I was counting agent queries, editor queries, book markets and magazines, so I thought this would be do-able. But finding agents who represent picture book authors who don’t illustrate is tough. Because of this, I would find a suitable agent and submit to that one person so I didn’t send out nearly as much as I had planned. If I’m going to earn 50 rejections next year, I’m going to have to send out a lot more and that includes contacting 5 or 6 agents a month.
When you write for an overseas publisher, find their magic number. Right before Thanksgiving, I got a rewrite request from efuture, a South Korean ESL publisher. Before I submitted the manuscript the first time, I ran it by my critique buddies. One writer reminded me that I couldn’t build my story around the “power of three” unless I was sure that three was meaningful in Korean culture. What if they grouped things in four or six for maximum impact? Lucky for me, the “magic” number is still three but I’m glad she reminded me to check.
I thought of myself as a pantser but I am really a plotter. Because I don’t tend to outline my nonfiction, I thought of myself as a pantser, someone who writes without an outline. But most of my nonfiction has a natural order – the steps in a how-to, the order in which historic events happened, etc. When I tried NaNoWriMo without a solid outline, I discovered that I have to know where I am, where I’m going and the major landmarks in between. I am not a pantser.
Not every writer is flexible enough to write for a packager. The piece that really brought this home is the book I turned in yesterday, E-Sports! Game On which is about professional gamers. Yes, people who make money playing computer games. My son and his teen friends all “get” it. I didn’t understand how rare my love of gaming is in my “age bracket” until I noticed how my peers reacted when I told them what I was writing. They looked confused. Some actually got “triggered” (the word my son uses). While I wonder how many writers turned the assignment down, I’m glad I have diverse interests.
Those are the lessons that I’m taking with me into 2017. Keep learning and looking into new things (I hear Battlefield has a new game coming out). Maybe you could outline or pants a new type of writing. But most of all, keep submitting your work. There are editors and readers out there and it is up to us to help each other find them.
To find out more about Sue Bradford Edwards writing, visit her blog, One Writer's Journey.
Sue is also the instructor for Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults which starts again 2/6/2017.