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Learning What I Didn't Know

The literary conference in Austin was four weeks ago and I've been so busy since then I neglected my blogs. A fascinating weekend mingling with fellow writers, ones pushing to be published, others fresh off their first publication and happy to share the journey that took years to accomplish.

I learned things from agents I didn't even know that I didn't know. Those are the most precious and the most eye-opening. Five big take-aways for the want-to-be writers:

a) It takes two years from the time you find an agent, to the day your book will appear on a bookstore's shelf.

b) Read books published in the last two years. Get to know what was accepted for publication, understand the prose and why it worked for today's market. Don't be so concerned about the plot, what is wanted today may not be wanted in the two years it will take from finding an agent to being published.

c) Agents often get upwards of five hundred unsolicited queries each month! And from those they may take on six new authors for a debut novel in a year. You can do the math!

d) It is extremely difficult to get a debut novel accepted that is over 120,000 words. It costs more to print the book and they do not want to add to the risk they are already taking.

e) Buy your books from independent bookstores. Yes they will cost more money and take longer to reach your door. But these independent bookstores are the lifeblood of the writer, and we must nurture them so they can nurture us.

So I've been busy. Reading novels, chopping my first novel into two, rewriting the prose based on what I'm learning from the recent novels. So far I've read: Olympus Texas by Stacy Swann, Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi, and Forged in Fire and Stars by Andrea Robertson. And I'm currently reading: The Unwilling by Kelly Braffet and Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead.

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