Author FAQ: On what I can realistically do for you

We’ve tackled writing, agenting, traditional publishing and self-publishing, and yet there are still a handful of frequently asked questions left, primarily surrounding the question of what I personally can do to help you, a potentially aspiring writer, in your career.

Yep, I’ve been asked all these questions, and it’s very flattering; by no means do I want to discourage anyone from asking me stuff. Hopefully, these answers will be a good place to start.

Ready? Of course you are.

Will you give me advice? 

These Author FAQ blog posts pretty much are my general advice to would-be authors. That said, I’m very willing to trade a couple e-mails or sit down for a few minutes with aspiring authors, because I like writer-folk and I believe in paying it forward. So go ahead and e-mail or Tweet at me. I might not get to it right away, but I’ll do my best.

Alternatively, you can come say hi when I’m doing a signing or at a con, which tends to work better in terms of quantity and quality of advice.

Will you critique my work?

Advice is free, with the caveat that you get what  you pay for. Critiquing, on the other hand, is a serious business, and time-consuming besides. A few years ago, I ran a contest on the blog and Twitter, with the prize being a full critique of someone’s novel. It was fun, and I just met the winner in person at DragonCon. I’ve also critiqued work for my beta readers, because there is an inherent quid-pro-quo to such things. Plus, it’s what friends do.

As for critiquing your work, well…now that I have books under contract and more ideas than I have time to write, chances are I’m quite disinclined to acquiesce to critiquing just because you asked. However, I offered up some critiques for the Worldbuilders charity last year and was pretty surprised to see how much folks were willing to donate for a critique from a published author. So given that I can raise hundreds of dollars to help some of the neediest people on Earth, I’m pretty much going to offer critiques that way from now on.

But I don’t have hundreds of dollars.

I hear you, really. But if my time and critiques are worth hundreds of dollars to a super-worthy charity, I’m totally going to run with it. And before you ask, I’m good on beta readers right now.

Will you introduce me to your agent or your publisher?

Yes, I’ve been asked that, often with the understanding that I can somehow provide a magical secret entrance to the publishing world that can help someone avoid querying or submissions.

Sorry, but that’s asking a lot. You’re basically asking me to put whatever professional credibility I have with my business partners on the line. Now, if I know you — i.e., we’ve developed a working relationship of some kind in which I’ve been able to judge the quality of your work, or we’re already really good friends — then I’d consider it. But otherwise, I just can’t do it.

I don’t mean to be discouraging with this Author FAQ entry. It’s really a simple equation of time and opportunity. I want writers to succeed. Heck, I want you to succeed. (Yes, you. Plus, that guy in Iowa reading this while eating Doritos, too. Clean your keyboard, BTW.) I’ll help when and where I can, but know that the when and where are, by necessity, pretty limited.

And with that, I’ve spilled my accumulated wisdom about writing and publishing out here for all to enjoy. Or at least I think I have. If you have further questions, that’s what the comment section is for. Go for it! (Though bear in mind that I’m traveling today, so I won’t be immediately responsive. That said, if there are enough queries, I’ll do a grab-bag FAQ later.)


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