At the Conference I attended October 2009 (The Novelist Boot Camp one) Todd Stone remarked that the writing world was one of the only professions where people competed against each other, but also were willing to help each other. (You can get some of the information/materials about the workshop from my previous posts. Click here, here, here and here).
So, in the spirit of helping each other, I thought I'd outline some of the materials and sites that have helped me thus far:
When I was in my early twenties I found out about The Writers Digest School. I took a course on Short Story & Novel Writing, working closely with a published writer. I would read the material, do the assignments and mail the assignments to my instructor. I learned a lot and it helped me begin to understand how to shape my writing better.
To check out Writer's Digest Magazine click here.
Another magazine that I read was highly recommended is Publisher's Weekly Magazine.
After that, I did a lot of reading and worked on finding my "niche". I figured out what my niche was, and then it was time to write from that niche...hence, Surreal was born.
Well...I still needed direction...so I did more searching...
I found The Complete Idiot's Guide To Getting Published The Fourth Edition by Sheree Bykofsky and Jennifer Basye Sander, not that they think the people reading the book are really idiots, it's just the series. Very helpful with lists of lots of books and websites in the indexes, terms step by step and broken down so people can understand them.
I did a lot of web browsing, too. I came across 2 sites that have proven very informative:
Writer Beware (Victoria Strauss's site in guiding writers around scams and such).
Preditors & Editors (just what it says...agents, editors, attorneys, and publishers...which ones are most recommended and least recommended).
But that's not all. There's agent blogs out there, too:
Nathan Bransford (published author who worked as a literary agent for Curtis Brown, LTD).
Bookends, LLC--A Literary Agency
Query Shark (you can send your queries in to Janet Reid for help and see if they're good or need improving, plus get feedback from other followers of the blog).
Just to name a few.
Also, you want to keep up with writers and find out what they know? Look up and see if they have blogs. I have a few listed on the margin of this blog.
The other thing I keep emphasizing is writers' groups. The one I joined is Romance Writers of America (RWA) and one of their local chapters. The RWA is highly respected and has several chapters available for a writer. There's ones online and all over the place. It's worth the money, believe me. I've already learned a lot.
There's also writers' conferences. The RWA has their National Conference coming up. Often times, local chapters will have conferences available, too.
RWA chapters often run contests for those seeking experience and want critical critique. I'm going to be helping out with a chapter's contest that starts taking entries March 1, 2010. This year's information isn't up, yet, but it should be, soon. The one who chairs the contest sent an email out saying she was working on the information and should have the updated info on the site, soon. Until then, here's the link for anyone who wants to take a peek.
Contests give you experience and sometimes and editor or an agent will request more from the winners. Who knows, your manuscript could be chosen.
I've heard Donald Maas's book, The Fire Within is pretty good. I also recommend the most updated version of Jeff Herman's Guide To Book Publishers, Editors, & Literary Agents (I have the 2009 version, it's got a lot of information in it).
In any case, this isn't the only information out there for you. Browse your bookstores, look at magazines, go to your local library. There's a wealth of information available.
Best wishes and don't be afraid to stop for directions.
Have A Terrific Thursday!