Check self-entitlement at the door. Your novel is a fresh start.

Emmitt Smith

No matter where you are in your life or your writing the road to publication starts off at the same point for everyone: unknown debuts. It’s easy to carry things from your life into your writing–expectations of success, timelines, ideas about working relationships and more–but, you have to be easy on yourself, let go of comparison to other writers, and let go of any expectations you are projecting.

Remember: You’re starting at the beginning and for many, it’s the first time you’ve started from scratch in awhile.

How are you going to leave your perceptions about your writing behind and start on the road to publication?

Goal setting

Set realistic goals for your writing. How many words are you going to write per day? When do you want to have your book on submission? Envision your plan from the start and develop a sensible strategy to get there.


Just like when you studied in school, you need to train in your craft. Take a short story writing class. Do an online workshop. Buy a writing guide like Stephen King’s On Writing.  Make an effort to learn about the industry you want to be a part of. These are gifts only you can give yourself.

Evaluate your natural skill

Now’s the time to evaluate whether you’re cut out for the publishing business. This should be done early on. Do you have thick skin? Do you see books on the shelf and reasonably think that you can sit along side them? Are you working on a project that will catch the attention of agents and editors?

Write Continue reading Check self-entitlement at the door. Your novel is a fresh start.

Managing Expectations

It’s one thing to have a fantastic manuscript and big dreams, but it’s another to have unrealistic expectations about how the industry will unfold in front of you. Each manuscript has a different path to publication–if it’s destined to be there–but, there are certain realities that never change:

  1. Be prepared. Know how the industry works and the processes involved. Know that not all first-time novels make it to publication so how are you setting yourself up to succeed in the long term?
  2. Don’t quit your day job. It takes a long time to see money come in from a book. Advances are split into three parts and you only see royalty payments come in twice a year, provided you’ve earned out your advance.
  3. Always keep writing. Whether you book is currently being shopped by an agent or you already have a deal, keep working on the next project. You never know what will happen so in the meantime: write! Continue reading Managing Expectations

Should American Writers Submit to Canadian Agents?

A question that often circulates query forums and discussion pages is:

Should U.S. writers query Canadian agents?

Concerns include:

  • Do Canadian agents have editorial contacts in the U.S. like American agents?
  • Are there financial hoops to jump through when it comes time for money owing to the writer from a Canadian agent?
  • Do Canadian agents have the same literary interests as American agents?

These are great research questions for writers.

From an author’s perspective, it can be pretty seamless, as many Canadian agents treat the U.S. as a home territory.

The optimal skill set of agents is the same, no matter where they are located: good network, talent spotting, negotiation experience, industry knowledge, project management experience, and great communication skills. The idea that a ‘bad’ U.S. agent is better than a ‘good’ Canadian one is false. A good agent is a good agent whether they are Canadian or American. And, a good agent means that they have the optimal skill set as noted above, work in your genre, and have a network that encompasses the territory of your work. I.e. If you are an American writer who wrote a book about a mystery set in Florida, you want the book submitted to U.S. editors which Canadian or American agents can do.  Continue reading Should American Writers Submit to Canadian Agents?

Q: What can writers do to make agents’ lives easier?

Twitpic from 'Agenting Today' (via @kingvonelk)

Saturday afternoon I had the pleasure of co-hosting the BookCampTO ‘Agenting Today’ session at Ryerson University with my esteemed colleagues Sam Hiyate, The Rights Factory, and Chris Bucci, Anne McDermid & Associates. We fielded great questions from writers and industry professionals alike. Didn’t make it to BookCamp? Want to know what we discussed? Here’s one question that generated a lot of conversation:

What can writers do to make agents’ lives easier?

Here are 10 answers from the BookCamp session and debriefing afterwards:

  1. Don’t announce deals until they’re public knowledge.
  2. The agent and author relationship is a mutually beneficial relationship. Be honest with yourself and your agent if feelings ever change.
  3. If you are a writer wanting to be ‘found’ make sure you have clear and up-to-date contact information on your website, blog or Twitter bio. Continue reading Q: What can writers do to make agents’ lives easier?