Whether you are reading blogs like mine, articles in Writer’s Digest, or tweets about writing, there are people everywhere who are willing to tell you what to do – never this, always that, and the most important thing for you to know. In part because there is so much advice out there, it is vital that you learn to evaulate it before you put it into action.
There are two things you need to examine.
Who Is Giving the Advice
The first thing to consider is who is this person giving out advice? In my own experience, very often the most outspoken people know the least. There is the person with no sales who tells you how to find editors or the novelist who picks apart your picture book manuscript. Granted, some of the advice might be spot on but some of it might not.
The other problem is the person who really is a professional but not in this particular area. A friend of mine had a manuscript panned when it was critiqued by an agent. The problem was that the agent knew nothing about this specialized type of writing. Her advice? Give it up and do something else although my friend already had three books published in this particular field. Ten years later all are still in print and selling.
Not everyone is in the know where your topic is concerned. But that isn’t the only potential problem.
Not Right for You
Their advice may not be right for you. At one point, and I don’t remember the context, Jane Yolen said something about how she did things not working for other writers. She wasn’t telling people that they couldn’t succeed. She wasn’t even telling them that they couldn’t follow in her footsteps.
But she was telling them that what she did worked for her where she was at that point in time. Publishing has changed. What worked thirty years ago isn’t likely to work today. A writer with a page full of publications can get by with something when a brand new writer could not.
This might have worked for her and it might have worked then, but it might not be the right advice for you now. Publishing is tricky to navigate, but it is possible. Just be sure to look before you leap.