I went to a great talk this past weekend. Michael Larsen and Elizabeth Pomada (literary agents to be found here) came and spoke to our division of the California Writers Club. They were engaging speakers and they came to talk to us about what each of us needs to be a successful writer and why now is such a great time to be a writer.
Well, according to the talk to be a successful writer you need commitment, passion and focus. Obvious? Maybe. But I argue, not as obvious as you might think. I talk to a lot of people who want to be writers. I don’t talk to a lot of people who have written books. I don’t mean published books. I mean just lots of words on paper (or computer screen). So many people intend to write. So many people want to write. Not many people do write.
Hearing Mr. Larsen and Ms. Pomada speak was an inspiration not necessarily because they told me something I didn’t know, but because they confirmed what I did. And because, more importantly, they brought their own passion with them. This is a pair of people who love books. Who appreciate writers. Who want more books to be in the world. Who want every voice to be heard.
If you get an opportunity to hear them speak, take it.
And why is now the best time to be a writer? Well, for me, it’s a bit Dickensian. It is the best of times and the worst of times. As Larsen and Pomada pointed out, there are more resources available to writers to self-publish and self-promote. An eager audience is reading more than it has in years, though not necessarily in the ways it used to. However, big publishing houses are spending less time and energy on new writers and more on established writers.
Is it a great time to get rich on your writing? Oh, probably not. But there are so many ways now to get your voice heard.
You could blog, for instance.
Well, Ms. Pomada, whom I spoke to at the end of the talk, was kind and encouraging. She does not represent fantasy and so I was unable to make a pitch to her. If I had thought about it sensibly beforehand, I’d have gotten a pitch ready for my mystery novel. It’s a little short (55K words instead of 60K) and so I’ve been sitting on it.
Oh well, I’m going to shine it up for the conference I’m going to (in two weeks!).