I’ve seen the question of following agents and editors online–about whether or not it‘s a good idea. We have blogs, publisher websites, Twitter. Gone are the days when editors were bodiless entities somewhere out there in Publisher Land.
So, I’ll share. There is good and bad to consider. First, you better be ready to hear things you won’t like. Often, they give you an excellent idea of slush pile trends. Writing that new fairy book? I can almost guarantee one will say he is sick of seeing fairy books. Should that stop you? No. Your fairy book could be something completely new and fresh. Your voice could stand above and beyond the other fairy books on submission. If your heart is in that story, finish it.
I Google every list of editors my agent sends me. I look for interviews on blogs, books they’ve edited in the past (This is harder to find than you’d think!) and yes, I’ll see if they’re on Twitter or Facebook. I’ll browse that publisher’s books in the bookstore, pay attention to cover art. I really care about where my stories could end up. I’ve wanted this career a long time and am interested in all aspects of it.
Also, I want to be with an editor who will work with me to make the best possible book, one that is excited about us working together. So I pay attention to their personalities. This can be rough while you wait for the yes or no. In fact, there is one editor who ended up passing on my adult UF, but it took her some time to decide because she did like the book and my writing. After learning more about her, I REALLY wanted to work with her. I flat out liked her. I still keep up with her despite the pass because she had valid reasons and because I plan to write something she’ll like.
On the other side, it isn’t always healthy to follow every agent and editor out there. Most of the time, it’s great and you learn a lot of the behind the scenes information. But on those days you desperately want to hear news, it can be frustrating. You see how busy they are. But…and this is important…that’s also a good thing, too. Helps keep things in perspective. <G> You are one writer who sits alone with a highly active imagination. It’s all about you and your career at this point. An editor has a desk FULL of writing from people just like you. She is not thinking about your manuscript 24 hours a day. (But how cool would that be???) LOL! And it’s important to remember they’re human. They do have personal lives.
The hardest part about keeping up with Twitter and agent blogs is seeing the downside to the business. Some agents will list how many submissions they got that day. Blows. The. Mind. There are a lot of us fishing in the deep water, waiting for the bites. (Some days it feels like we’re swimming in it, though, right?) You could think you’ve written something new, cutting edge… and that agent will list how many similar books she’s seen.
(I swear, there’s a kind of collective consciousness out there–like the Borg in Star Trek TNG–a vast network of creative ideas and sometimes, we’re all swimming in the same school and hitting the same spots together.)
Wow, I’m hanging on to that swimming metaphor today, eh?
In the end, you can find a million things to worry about in this business. I’ve been there and done that. I will do it again and again. Every successful writer I know has a little OCD. Face it. Accept it. Remember, it’s one reason we FINISH the books. <g> But if there is one important thing I’ve learned in the years I’ve been at this, it’s this.
You must set that aside for the all important writing time.
It’s hard. Really hard. But you will only make it if you keep writing and to do that, your mind needs to be free of all that publishing brouhaha. At least for a specific amount of time daily. Remind yourself why you started writing in the first place. Have a date with your dreamy side–you know, the part of you who began fantasizing to begin with. Stay in touch with the You who loves to tell stories and gift her with her own time. It’s easy to get caught up and forget how important that is. 🙂