Thursday, July 05, 2007

The View from the Top

This is in answer to this blog:

I'm not going to post it there because it's obvious, in this case, that we will not agree and I don't see any reason to go through all that again. But I do have a very definite view on this one, so here you go!

Show me your credentials before I listen to anything you have to say. What? You haven't been published? Then you cannot possibly know anything of worth.

I guess critique groups, which usually don't have the luck of having someone who is published among them, are useless then. And advice, no matter how good it might be, should be ignored unless the person can prove it worked for them. Never mind if they got the advice from someone else, or even -- unthinkable! -- they happened upon something helpful all on their own. That, of course, has never happened to any of the already published authors.

I agree that published authors have better insight into a good many aspects of publishing that those who are not yet published do not. People should listen to them, and should weigh their advice above everyone else's. It drives me nuts to see them ignored and insulted -- which is usually done by the people who are desperate for attention.

Published people have been there. They know what they're talking about, and someone looking for answers should always listen to them if they're willing to offer help.

However, don't summarily dismiss anyone who hasn't reached publication. Let's look at how silly this is: Writer A comes to chat and suggests to someone looking for help that he should try doing 'this.' But Writer A isn't published, so the suggestion is bad and should be ignored. However, a week later Writer A has a major contract from a book company, so now what Writer A offers as advice is good -- even when it's the exact same thing.

Writer B is working on his first novel. He's found something that helps him chart out chapters. But he hasn't finished even one book let alone a couple dozen, so his advice is no good.

Advice has to be weighed for what it is, not from whom it comes. I've seen bad advice from published authors, especially at conventions, and I've had some good advice from people who rarely write at all. Your best bet, always, is to get advice from a number of different places. Check it out. See what works for you. Be willing to try different things, but be wise when it comes to the finished product.

Credentials? My own include small press publications, dozens of ebook publications, ezine and print magazine publications, hired as an assistant publisher for one of the larger ebook companies, took a year long class from Writer's Digest under Holly Lisle... Oh, and I've written over a hundred novels and nearly as many short stories. Guess what? I still listen to others when they give advice, no matter where they stand in the writing/publication path.

Listen to everyone. It doesn't hurt. Try different things. Be wise when you are getting advice from professionals and make certain that advice applies to you and your work, because not all of it will. Be even wiser when you listen to people who don't have the kind of credentials that make them an acknowledged 'expert' but don't dismiss them just because they haven't reached that spot yet.
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