Whether you are reading blogs or attending a conference, writing advice flows fast and free. The problem is that not all of it is especially good. How do you decide which advice to listen to and which to ignore?
- Act Like a Professional. First and foremost, if you are trying to make a place for yourself in the publishing community, treat it like business. Act like a professional. If acting on this advice would cast you in an unprofessional light, than don’t.
- Be Honest. This is, in my loud and not-humble opinion, a must if you are acting like a professional. If someone tells you to shop for a new agent before leaving the one you have, consider if this seems honest. If someone says that its okay to simultaneously submit without revealing this fact, ask yourself the same question. Editors and agents talk. You don’t want to develop that kind of reputation.
- Consider the Source. As in research, look at the source. An unagented writer who wants to tell you how to approach an agent has less credibility than an agented author. A novelist may or may not know what works in a picture book topic and what doesn’t. If you have two contradictory pieces of advice, take the advice from the pro. Unfortunately, inexperienced people are often very forceful in sharing their unproven ideas.
- Go for a Good Fit. Last but not least, consider whether or not this advice fits where you are in your writing career.
For more on this last item, check out my blog post tomorrow at the Muffin.