This month, I’ve been gearing up for NaNoWriMo, and since I’m ML of my region, it means that I’m trying to get a hold of other writing groups and find those who would be interested in writing a novel in one month. The town I live in is almost half students. When they’re off track, it’s like a ghost town, which means that the largest potential candidates for NaNoWriMo are students.
My Co-ML and I have been attending the school’s different classes, seminars and clubs, looking for writers. I’ve also been listening and participating in each club and seminar, because I want to know what writing students are being taught in college.
I haven’t been super impressed.
The advice that astounded me the most came from a student leader in the Writer’s Critique group. She started out the meeting by teaching all of the writers about publishing. She premised by stating that she didn’t know very much about publishing, but since they asked, she got the information from her teachers. She taught them about how to find small press publishing, to find publishers who are willing to take unsolicited queries.
She taught them that it was the only way to get published. One of the girls asked what to do if she wants to be published by one of the big five. She had no idea. She told them that it would be impossible to be published by one of the big five without an agent and it’s harder to get an agent than to be published by a small press. She said that an agent wouldn’t even look at someone who hasn’t published.
I was stunned. Basically, writing students were being taught to not even try. It’s too hard, so take the easy way out. Everyone says that it’s better.
I’m so grateful that I’ve learned about querying, and about publishing from those who’ve actually experienced it. In different online communities, I’ve met those who have published without using small-publishers. Those who spent years of querying before actually succeeding. With an agent who landed them the big five. Those who decided to self-publish and have already sold an entire series on their own, no publishers needed. I’ve even read stories of those who have already published with small press, but don’t have enough sales and actually have hurt their chances in the future to publish with bigger press.
What about you? What kind of advice would you give the girl who wanted to publish with one of the big five? What kind of experiences have you had with publishing?