Last week's post on the pessimistic side of writing these days (The glass half-empty) struck a chord with more than one writer. So all week I was trying to plan out a post that shone with optimism, and fell foul of my own cynical outlook! But luckily, Lucia Nardo came to the rescue over a coffee, and there turned out to be lots of good things promised, once we brainstormed them.
1. You really don't have to write for a market (in fiction, in particular) if you don't want to. Publishers mean it when they say they want "the next hot idea", so if you're experimental and daring, and like writing stuff that no one else in the mainstream does, you could be "hot"! So stop playing it safe and following trends. Create your own.
2. If you have had a lot of great feedback on your writing (from people with experience and objectivity, mind) then you always have the option to self-publish, and to do it inexpensively via Kindle. There are other options out there, too - POD, other e-book formats, all kinds of stuff. Gone are the days when you had to outlay thousands of dollars for books that sat in your garage. Educate yourself on how to make it work, and away you go.
3. Lots of people feel it's PC to condemn social media, but if you are someone who enjoys it and can see how to have fun AND promote your writing and your books, you are ahead of lots of other writers. In the "old days", the only way you met or connected with readers was at festivals and conferences or by mail. Now your readers can connect with you in any way you want - and you get to choose. Don't like Twitter? Have some fun on Facebook. Want to be more professional? Use LinkedIn. All these things are out there for you to use, and they're FREE!
4. Following on from #3, you can now start or contribute to interesting conversations about writing and/or publishing, get a heap of information about publishers that used to be like some kind of weird secret, and enjoy videos and podcasts of writers talking about their processes that once you only got at a writers' festival. Instant inspiration!
5. Following on from #4, there are lots of ways to take writing classes on the internet. There are online university and TAFE classes (paid or free), YouTube videos on all kinds of topics, and free training on all those things you are struggling with, such as Wordpress, Excel or how to make a book trailer.
6. Thanks to the internet (include here the self-published writers who have been discovered making publishers finally aware of what they were missing - as well as submissions via email instead of huge, weighty Post Office bag), many publishers who had closed to unsolicited submissions are now actively looking for them. Here in Australia, Penguin, Allen & Unwin and Pan Macmillan are all taking manuscripts at certain times of the month (this blog summarises). Now that's something I never thought I'd see!
7. Again, thanks to the internet, there are at least two good websites that assist you to query agents in the US, making sure you target the right ones in terms of genre and subject. AgentQuery is one, Querytracker is another. You can (and should) do further research, but that is a million times easier now, too.
8. While the economic crisis (and continuing panic by some bean counters in publishing) has seen a number of very good editors lose their jobs, the bonus for writers is that a lot of them have become agents, which means more agents who are willing and capable of helping you polish your manuscript to that highly professional standard now required.
So, have I cheered you up yet? I think I've even cheered myself up!