I’m part of a panel of mystery writers that’s teaching a writing course next weekend. I usually don’t have any trouble talking about my assigned topic, but whenever I’m asked for advice on approaching the publishing world, I’m hesitant. There are so many different approaches and no real ‘right way’ to find a publisher.
The topics that I’m usually asked about (and my takes on them) are:
Agents: I was fortunate enough to obtain a nice publishing deal on my own, but that wasn’t for lack of trying to get an agent. Now I’ve got a great agent (Ellen Pepus with Signature Literary Agency) and feel that she’s been a tremendous help to me with my next project.
Conferences: They’re expensive. They’re a great place to network, but there are other, cheaper ways to network with people in the industry (Twitter, blog commenting, etc.)
Queries: I emailed them unless I was told not to in the agent’s/publisher’s guidelines. I never attached a query unless the guidelines said it was okay (lots of folks are worried about viruses.) I simultaneously submitted and mentioned it in the query…the process is just so slow.
Critique groups: Mixed bag. I think it’s like playing tennis: you don’t want a regular partner that blows you off the court with their skills and you don’t want to be the far-better one, either. I always enjoyed the folks in my groups, but had mixed success with them. I no longer belong to any critique groups.
But… everyone should have different opinions on these topics, based on their own personal experiences. Other thoughts?