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View Full Version : Things I've Learned in 3 months at AW...



SherryTex
10-22-2006, 09:47 PM
In the 3 months since I joined this website, I have written more and dared to submit more and had more published than I would have dreamed in a 12 week period. I hope others will add to this thread to share what AW has taught them. Everyday I find more I don't know.

1) everyone starts as a newbie.
2) Submit to places where you would like to see yourself published.
3) Do the research on the place you want to publish.
a)do they take submissions?
b) how often?
c) do they pay?

4) With pieces you think pop, save them for places that are special (this is hard).

5) Submit, submit submit (where) --that's the research part. Most papers have a collection called the slush pile (learned this in freelancer section of AW), you submit and they respond actually exceptionally fast. I have also learned that seasonal pieces should be sent two to three months in advance for newspaper slush piles. They usually do not pay to start. You have to get some credentials to get them to consider paying you --i.e. when people look forward to your writing in particular.

6) The learning curve for doing this is steep.

7) submitting for free gives you credentials to then submit to magazines and places that pay.

8) In the paying and the free lance there are tons of places to submit, most take 5- 10 weeks to make things happen.

9) At the same time, if you have a larger work (book), you should be searching for an agent (this is also work) and there are lots of hints in the beware section, in the ask the agent section, and just asking in the sections you are interested in learning about.

10) Don't get discouraged and write daily. Rewrite daily too. Get a thick skin and prepare to have your writing creations destroyed line by line in some cases, or even worse, the killing words, I didn't get it.

11) keep a journal with you for ideas.

12) Crit pieces you like of others and they'll return the favor, give rep points for advice you find useful, it helps to make friends and gain readership of your pieces in SYW.

KTC
10-22-2006, 11:21 PM
I learned that writers are one of the most mutually supportive groups in existence. I am always happy to see the people here supporting each other in their acceptances and rejections. There never seems to be a competitiveness here. Just mutual respect and support. I learned that in the real life within my writing circle...and it was confirmed here in the AW Cooler.

I think that by reading all the responses to questions in forums like the Novel Writing and Poetry ones, I learn something new every day. It's like I don't even know that I'm learning until one day you realize you know the answer to somebody's writing question and then you think, "How did I know that?" and it only takes me a second to say, "AHA! The AW Cooler!"

Freckles
10-23-2006, 12:21 AM
Wow, I've learned so much from AW since I joined in July. The learning experience has been invaluable.

A). You can't start your career without having the courage to submit
B). Rejections don't sting as bad after you've received A LOT of 'em
C). Your fellow writers want to help you!!

TeddyG
10-23-2006, 12:35 AM
1. I was never a newbie...I was born rejected
2. Kevin is crazier than I am (so there is hope for my future)
3. I am innocent always
4. I am the only truly sane person on AW (Kevin is close second) - No this does NOT contradict number 2. Sheesh....
5. I hate helping anyone. Let the rest of AW suffer in misery.
6. I want all the writers to disappear so that the publishing houses will only be able to look at one manuscript - MINE!
7. The HOL is populated by a bunch of freaks - and their conversations make me blush.
8. Jenna has no wrath to speak of.
9. Freckles is NOT her real name!
10. September really does smile most of the time.
11. Cath, is I am sad to say, really British.
12. I hate every single Cat avatar on AW.
13. Haggis has the best ava on AW
14. I really dislike making lists like this.
:D

(okay I know this is a serious thread!)

K1P1
10-23-2006, 01:57 AM
1. I was never a newbie...I was born rejected
2. Kevin is crazier than I am (so there is hope for my future)
3. I am innocent always
4. I am the only truly sane person on AW (Kevin is close second) - No this does NOT contradict number 2. Sheesh....
5. I hate helping anyone. Let the rest of AW suffer in misery.
6. I want all the writers to disappear so that the publishing houses will only be able to look at one manuscript - MINE!
7. The HOL is populated by a bunch of freaks - and their conversations make me blush.
8. Jenna has no wrath to speak of.
9. Freckles is NOT her real name!
10. September really does smile most of the time.
11. Cath, is I am sad to say, really British.
12. I hate every single Cat avatar on AW.
13. Haggis has the best ava on AW
14. I really dislike making lists like this.
:D

(okay I know this is a serious thread!)

Still upset about that rejection, eh?

K1P1
10-23-2006, 02:00 AM
And now a serious response:

In 2 months I've learned:
1) how to find an agent
2) how to tell if it's a good agent
3) how to query an agent
4) how to query an agent successfully
5) what to watch out for in an agent's contract
6) what to watch out for in a publisher's contract
7) ways to fight writer's block (haven't had to do that yet, but I'm ready)
8) that I can still write poetry, at least some of the time
9) that I'm *already* a successful writer (I came here feeling like an imposter)

I'm sure there are more...

ETA: Yeah, there was more.
10) what a platform is
11) how to craft a non-fiction proposal
12) how sales really work in publishing

jbal
10-23-2006, 02:25 AM
Anything I know about writing I've learned since joining here. Well, not exactly. Before I joined I lurked in the novels forum for about four months and read the majority of the threads there. I can't even make a list because it's too much, so I will list the things I did know before I came here, which is a much shorter list.
1)How to turn on my computer, and type things into the word processor.
2)A reasonable idea of how character and story arcs work.
Hmm... that's about it. Anything about how to get published would have been a mystery to me without the plethora of help I've received here.

KTC
10-23-2006, 03:59 AM
2. Kevin is crazier than I am (so there is hope for my future)

See, my shrink once told me it's impossible to quantify your own craziness. That's why we hire the big guns. They compare us to other crazies and tell us where we stand. ie...there is always a sadder case than yourself. Sorry to say, Tedster...but my shrink used you in the comparison. He actually said, "Look at it this way, my boy. At least you're not as crazy as that flutter nutter in Jerusalem. Teddy's his name. He's Grossly insane so you have nothing to worry about." (Of course I am paraphrasing...but I'm sure I got the gist.)

CBeasy
10-23-2006, 07:35 AM
Well, I've only been here a couple of weeks, but if nothing else, this place has definately inspired me to continue my writing.

triceretops
10-23-2006, 07:51 AM
I've been here just under two years. I thought I had all the answers.
Not.
Aside from my massive database filled with potential agents to submit to, I actually found my agent in one these threads, who I might never have found had it not been for someone dropping their name.

I also got great critique advice on my synopsis, queries, and numberous story ideas, from really gifted and insightful individuals. My revised query led to my acceptance.

I'm always sure to find the latest dope on the newest publishers out there. I feel I get the advantageous jump on my competition.

AW has nearly 11,000 members. That's quite a collective brain.

The Weekend Progess Report has inspired and driven me to write five complete books in under 18-months. A phenomenal (sp?) feat if ever there was one.

Now, if I can just stay outa here!

Tri

MajorDrums
10-23-2006, 04:43 PM
in the three months i've been on AW, i've submitted my non-fiction work to a legitimate publisher for the first time, an article to my local newspaper (it was rejected; i'm going to send them another one, different idea) and i'm actually setting goals that now seem realistic, which sometimes feels scarier than when i just had my head in the clouds.

Roger J Carlson
10-24-2006, 07:33 PM
I learned that Copyrighting your novel before it's published is a waste of time, and the Poor Man's Copyright is a waste of postage.

ChunkyC
10-25-2006, 01:23 AM
Upon coming here, I learned about the author's big mistake, about the importance of adhering to submission guidelines, and about writing for your readers and not just for yourself.

And that was just on the first day. :)

MidnightMuse
10-25-2006, 01:28 AM
I've learned that I stand a better chance of being hit by a toilet that has fallen off the International Space Station, then I do of getting an agent, then a publisher.

But, there was that one time the Mir fell . . .

Carrie in PA
10-25-2006, 01:53 AM
More than I could list. :D

Kate Thornton
10-25-2006, 02:54 AM
I have learned that I can write more and better now that I know you are all out there too.

K1P1
10-25-2006, 05:11 AM
Upon coming here, I learned about the author's big mistake, about the importance of adhering to submission guidelines, and about writing for your readers and not just for yourself.

Uh--what's "the author's big mistake"?

SeanDSchaffer
10-25-2006, 07:41 AM
Since I joined in March of 2005, I think the biggest thing I have learned at AW is to 1.) Take my writing and the submission process very seriously, and 2.) to not take myself quite so seriously.

Other things I have learned include, but are not limited to:

1. Not all publishers are honest.
2. Paying to publish is not a good thing.
3. Money flows toward the writer (attributed to Uncle Jim).
4. Writers are very supportive of one another, and the writing community really is a community that I enjoy being a part of.
5. Writers do not write only books.
6. AW is very addictive.
7. Writing with a typewriter is not as archaic as I once thought it was.
8. Underwood typewriters, though they have not been made in more than half a century, are still heavily in demand.
9. Floppy diskettes are not all that reliable.
10. Whatever works for the individual writer, is right (Again, attributed to Uncle Jim).
11. I know a lot of famous people and am not fawning over them like a crazed idiot.
12. Copyright belongs to the author the moment they write a work.
13. Copyright registration should be done after a book has been accepted by a company.
14. Newbie authors, as well as seasoned authors, should aim high in their aspirations (yet another thing I learned from Uncle Jim).
15. A writer always has room for improvement, no matter how good they are at the Craft.
16. This list is getting pretty darned long.
17. I've learned the basic format that most agents and editors prefer.
18. Always, always, ALWAYS follow the submission requirements to the letter.
19. This list has almost 20 entries, at least two of which are irrelevant to this thread.
20. This list has at least 20 entries...
21. I like my coffee percolated.
22. Music is great when writing.
23. Writing on a computer is a difficult thing to do, because of automatic formatting and the constant temptation of the Internet.
24. Popping your knuckles becomes a very noisy and bad habit; if you don't stop while you're ahead, you won't be able to farther down the road.
25. I love my Craft more than I ever did, even though my imagination is not what it used to be.
26. There is life after PA.
27. My words are not golden.
28. My record needs to be turned over.
29. My record player is on Side 2 now and I feel much better.
30. Writing so much that my hands hurt is not a good thing.
31. Same as Point #30, with 'wrists' replacing 'hands'.

And there is a bunch more that I have learned. I think the wealth of information at AbsoluteWrite is an outstanding resource for writers of all genres and formats. Naturally, one cannot put almost two years' worth of information into one post, but the above points should give some idea some of the wondrous things I have learned while I've been a member of AW.

Bartholomew
10-25-2006, 07:54 AM
Things I've learned:

1) Don't just give a crit in SYW ; PM the author and ask for the latest copy and crit THAT.

2) If the writer is afraid of me, they probably won't insult me after I give them a crit.

3) Crit via e-mail so that I can block them afterwords if they get arguementative.
3.1) This way I don't associate their name on here with what they said to me, and the forums are a happier place.

4) Sherry Fine really wants to be my agent.

5) Publish America would love to be my publisher.

6) Hell is Exothermic.
6.1) Being exothermic, Hell would freeze over before 4 and 5 ever come to fruition.

7) I can't get along with everyone on here.
7.1) I don't have to try.
7.2) But I still have to respect people here, even if I hate them, their writing, and everything they stand for.
7.3) This is a good thing.

8) Sock poppets are fun. : )

9) A lot of people here like 1984; they say so in my rep box.

10) No one here actually wants to discuss my love life. Tch!

Hehehe.

ATP
10-25-2006, 07:57 AM
Sean,

Good, comprehensive review.:)

SherryTex
10-26-2006, 11:45 PM
Also learned to be unafraid of crits and to be unafraid to not use what you get in crits as well.

If you get stuck writing something do one of four things...
1) read
2) write anyway
3) table and write something else for a while
4) repeat 1-3 as necessary

SherryTex
11-04-2006, 08:39 AM
Aim to be an Eagle
and you won't wind up eating Crow.

JennaGlatzer
11-04-2006, 10:05 AM
Maggie, the Author's Big Mistake is responding defensively to people who give you bad reviews or criticize your work. Classic example: Anne Rice in the Amazon reviews of Blood Canticle. If I got the link right, you can see it about halfway down on this page: http://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member-reviews/AB4F6UHL20U95/102-1904832-8764149?ie=UTF8&display=public&page=4 .

SherryTex
11-04-2006, 08:00 PM
Having read that Jenna, I have to laugh.

Wow. Memo to self, never believe your own press releases, good or bad and always know, if this is the best there is, then man are we in trouble.

janetbellinger
11-04-2006, 08:17 PM
That if your work is good it will get published and if it isn't it won't.

SherryTex
11-22-2006, 02:06 AM
In Fourth month I learned: NEVER PESTER AN EDITOR! Eager beavers can tick them off and turn them off, it is rather like trout stream fishing. If you rush, you won't get any bites. If you don't cast, you won't get any fish. You might still not, but you guarantee you won't if you scare them away.

jenfreedom
11-22-2006, 09:53 AM
I've learned that I'm a one forum kind of gal. Used to spend my free time on my unschooling forum. Now when I have a typing break I check in here because the advice is so useful. I've all but forgotten my other forum because I don't get writing advice there. It's a little sad but I only have so much time to surf forums.

The best thing I learned was how to format sidebars in my article from a helpful member - which seems like a tiny thing but it made my editor happy enough to offer me more work. Sometimes it's the little things that count. :) Plus I've gotten helpful psych advice. When I got work after sending out less than a month (about, I think) worth of queries I freaked (a lot) because it felt too soon. Someone here said something like, "You wanted this so quit freaking and start writing." Which sounded sort of harsh to my freaked out mind but they were right. You can jump right into articles and be okay. You learn as you go - especially if you can hang out at AW.

Take care
~ Jennifer

SherryTex
02-15-2007, 08:45 PM
Fifth month,

If I get no hits on a story, it's a dud. If I get no hits on a story, it's because I'm not letting myself tell a story, I'm telling what happened.

My father advises me on writing, "Never let the truth ruin a good story." not because he wants his daughter to lie, but because he wants me to write and enjoys reading what I write.

I have learned to take reality as a diving board, a starting point for the story and to double back flip into the pool. When I get tepid, it gets boring.

Sean D. Schaffer
02-15-2007, 10:07 PM
In the last three months I've learned:

1. To treat my writing like a business.
2. To see when my works are fatally flawed and move on.
3. How to gain closure for old wounds in my literary career.
4. That pen names are not always desirable--I now prefer my real name again, and wish I had never un-registered myself; kicking myself now but won't go back because of promise I made to MacAllister. As I'm a man of my word, I don't go back on my promises.
5. To accept criticism of my works as not being attacks against me personally.
6. To look at my work objectively.
7. My words are not golden and never will be.
8. To write each piece with the highest standards of excellence I can give it.
9. To not be so afraid of submitting a work or receiving a rejection.
10. To get rid of things--such as my old television--that are distracting to my writing.
11. My self-worth is not based upon my achieving greatness in my writing career, but rather upon how I look at myself.
12. I am respected regardless of my finished projects, because of the kind of person I am. It took me a long time to realize this last point.

Those are things I've learned only in the last three months.

tjwriter
02-15-2007, 10:29 PM
There are so many things I've learned from AW since I arrived ages ago. But the most important thing to me is the incredible sense of community this place has. It's one of the strongest online communities I've seen, and it's the best.

So a big THANK YOU to all the people who work so hard to make the Water Cooler the great place that it is.

KellyG
02-15-2007, 10:34 PM
What about what's been learned in a week?

Many of the writers seem really nice, some of the staff seem odd and opinionated, though one nearly said something nice to me, that Stephen King is the acclaimed king of writing. (In the Stephen King thread anyway).

brianm
02-15-2007, 10:43 PM
What about what's been learned in a week?

Many of the writers seem really nice, some of the staff seem odd and opinionated, though one nearly said something nice to me, that Stephen King is the acclaimed king of writing. (In the Stephen King thread anyway).

Seems to me you have a wee chip on your shoulder. I take that from what I have read in this post and other ones you have posted.

The "staff" are all volunteers who give an incredible amount of time, energy and experience back to all of us. I am amazed at their generosity and thankful to have found AW. A great big thank you to all the mods! Bless you.

Little Red Barn
02-15-2007, 11:01 PM
What about what's been learned in a week?

Many of the writers seem really nice, some of the staff seem odd and opinionated, though one nearly said something nice to me, that Stephen King is the acclaimed king of writing. (In the Stephen King thread anyway).

:Hug2: Ohh, no Kelly, they are here to help. Settle in and you'll be fine...can't find any better--

hugs kimmi

aka eraser
02-15-2007, 11:15 PM
I am NOT odd and that's my opinion!

Roger J Carlson
02-15-2007, 11:21 PM
I am NOT odd...but will you get even?

aka eraser
02-15-2007, 11:25 PM
but will you get even?

Depends. What are the odds?

;)

brianm
02-15-2007, 11:26 PM
I thought odd was a requirement for a mod... or was it they had to have a bod? I get so confused.

Roger J Carlson
02-15-2007, 11:26 PM
Depends. What are the odds?

;)About even.

KellyG
02-15-2007, 11:27 PM
Seems to me you have a wee chip on your shoulder.

That's nice you've got a lot out of it. Don't mention chips, if there were any chips on my shoulder I'd eat them. Veinglory has already mentioned fish, and it's making me peckish.

I'm just chilling. You know how these forums can sound more serious than they are.

triceretops
02-15-2007, 11:45 PM
Welcome, Kelly. We wuv you. We wuv all writers. Never, ever take things too seriously in a writer's group. Just thief what you need and greedily hide in the dark.

Tri

brianm
02-15-2007, 11:51 PM
Kelly, I should have done a wee bit more research. I was wrong! It is not a chip. It is exuberant youth. Ah, to be 18 again.

PeeDee
02-16-2007, 12:26 AM
Whatever I've learned here has mostly been unconscious. Mostly, I've made friends, met cool people, and tried to be useful, which I think are wonderful things to do when you're a writer.

This thread's gonna get all sappy, just you wait.

SpookyWriter
02-16-2007, 12:40 AM
Whatever I've learned here has mostly been unconscious. Mostly, I've made friends, met cool people, and tried to be useful, which I think are wonderful things to do when you're a writer.

This thread's gonna get all sappy, just you wait.Just wait until I return from the maple tree. :D

PeeDee
02-16-2007, 12:43 AM
Just wait until I return from the maple tree. :D

Bring your walking stick, 'cause you're a little LAME today.

:D

SpookyWriter
02-16-2007, 12:50 AM
Bring your walking stick, 'cause you're a little LAME today.

:DWhat's new? :D

Ms.Write
02-16-2007, 12:54 AM
What I've learned from AW?

That the writing must absolutely shine to compete in the marketplace, that I shouldn't get so uptight about writing/not writing, just relax and have fun sometimes, that there are lots of other supportive writers here who enjoy sharing their experiences and thoughts...

... that I am not alone working with words and storylines.

Thanks to all the denizens of AW for being the great group you are!

triceretops
02-16-2007, 01:51 AM
I've learned that (for me) premise and heavy layering trumps all to sell a breakout. I've always concentrated on voice, showing off with humor, and trying to impress my readership, when in fact I pretty much had that nailed. What I failed to realize is that my idea or concept has to be astounding to compete with the top gun writers out there. I think a brilliant concept is what will up my odds as far as a full read and editor interest. Not to discount all the other aspects of writing, but this has certainly taken over in the priority department. Links to Miss Snark and Vater's blogs from AW has been paramount in my learing process in this area.

Also, I've learned that this industry is just as tough to break into nowadays as it was 18 years ago. I thought it would be easier.

I've been shocked to also find that today editors and agents have a disheartening habit of non-response. I've gotten much better at taking this practice on the chin, instead of losing my temper.

I've learned what POD is and what impact it is having on the industry, good and bad.

Tri

JeanneTGC
02-16-2007, 03:09 AM
I've been here about 4 months now. In that time my submissions output went up exponentially, I found markets and agents I never knew existed, I confirmed a tough decision about a poor agent (or two), I've actually made my blog something to read as opposed to something to do, I've made a lot of friends, and I've managed to keep on writing and editing at the same time, in part because of the Weekly Progress Report over in the Humor Writing forum (waves and throws kisses to all Humor folk here).

Most importantly, I've found a community where I actually fit in without having to pretend to be someone or something that I'm not.

Oh, second most importantly -- I finally got my first publishing credits, 2 humor pieces published by paying markets, and that is directly attributable to AW because I didn't know the markets existed before I got here.