So, You’ve Written a Book
First off, congratulations. It’s hard, right? You had to sacrifice a lot of things and make a lot of time, but you have a book now. It belongs to you, and you should be proud of yourself. There were a lot of times you could have given up, but you didn’t. Celebrate that.
Don’t jump at the first agent who says “yes.” I understand that this might be tempting. It’s really exciting to come across a professional who believes that your writing is worth taking a chance on. Take a week with it. Check them out. Find out who their clients are and when they last made a sale. But, more than that, what does your gut have to say about this person? Best case scenario, the agent-writer relationship should be a kind of love affair. Aside from your partner, mom, bestie, whoever, your agent is your first line of defense, and should be a person you can trust with all of your questions and innermost feelings, so don’t give that away unless you’re sure it’s the right situation.
Say “yes” to new opportunities as much as you possibly can. This is scary, right? Maybe you have kids and maybe you don’t have a lot of money and maybe, honestly, you’re terrified of being outside of your comfort zone. These are all valid concerns. But, if you’re asked to do a reading, or write an essay, or attend a convention, you should try your best to make it happen. Not just to please agents or editors or publicists, but because people who can say “yes” most of the time and stay positive are the happiest, most productive people. Get involved and have fun.
Mom and Dad were right: always remember to say “thank you.” You will find, in your travels with the book you’ve written, people will take chances on you. People will be kind. People who don’t have to support you, will support you. When this happens, you must go out of your way to express how much this meant to you. A little gift is great; a little thank you note- fantastic. Or by email, or in person, take a minute to say, “I recognize you didn’t have to do this and I am grateful.”
Lastly – and I cannot stress this enough – support other writers. What we do as writers – it doesn’t have to be a competition. It shouldn’t be a competition. It should be a community. If you know another writer, if you believe in their work, talk about them. Blog about them. Mention them in interviews. Tweet about them. Share their book with others. Ask them to read with you. I will say this with complete faith: It is more important to me to be a good friend than a good writer. The writer who can love the world, as it is, with all of its flaws and cruelty, who can see beauty in things and people, is a writer who writes the truth.
Nadine Darling‘s short fiction has appeared in Night Train, Edifice Wrecked, Eyeshot, SmokeLong Quarterly, and Per Contra. She lives in Boston with her family.