Blogger: Rachel Zurakowski
Location: Books & Such Main Office, Santa Rosa, Calif.
The final author quality I’m going to cover this week is discernment. Discernment is, essentially, the ability to make wise choices. It’s being able to weigh multiple options and decide on the best one for your situation.
Here’s how discernment applies to the writing life:
A discerning writer would make appropriate choices in the other authors he or she formed relationships with. The author friends would have similar audiences. That way the authors could cross-promote their work, making the network for projects larger than if each author were working on his or her own. Also, pick authors to befriend who are going to encourage and strengthen you rather than drain your energy.
A discerning author would join a critique group whose members’ opinions are insightful. When you put your work out there for critique, you open yourself up for many opinions. It’s great when everyone comes back with the same feedback, but most of the time it’s not that pretty. A discerning author would be able to make the best decision on what changes to make when opposing critiques are presented.
A discerning author would make appropriate choices on building platform for his or her target audience. If you’re writing for teens and young adults, you’ll have a presence on Facebook. If you’re writing about life after retirement, you’ll need to spend time at Bingo night at your local fairgrounds. You might want to set up a book table in the back of the room. You could even donate one copy of your book for a Bingo prize!
A discerning author would make the best use of his or her time. If you need to be writing your book, don’t go on Facebook. Make the distractions go away. Focus on what needs to be done.
A discerning author would be careful whom he or she trusts. This applies to agents, critique partners, etc. You want to do the research on a person and get to know that person as best you can before you allow him or her to become a part of your writing career. Make sure each individual has the knowledge to back up the “talk.”
Stephenie Meyer, author of the popular Twilight series for teens, was working on book 5 of the series, (Midnight Sun) when one of her critique partners released the unfinished, contracted project on the internet. The chapters went viral. Stephenie trusted her reader, but that person turned out to be untrustworthy. If you’re interested in reading more about this story, Stephenie has posted a little blurb on her website HERE. (Sometimes we all are fooled by those around us, aren’t we?)
The flip side to the trust issue is that when you find someone deemed trustworthy, like your agent or editor, you really do need to trust them to help you. Believe that your agent and editor want what’s best for you until they prove that they are untrustworthy. (Hopefully it won’t ever come to that.)
A discerning author would make good choices about what he or she is going to write. You want to write to your strengths, but you also want to have a unique angle on your idea. If you are supermom, you need your book to stand out from the 100,000,000 other books on parenting. (I might be exaggerating on that number.)
Dawn Meehan, author of Because I Said So, did a fantastic job setting herself apart from other authors. She actually ended up getting a book contract because she wrote cute stories about being a mom to go along with items she auctioned off on eBay. To read more about Dawn and her book, click HERE. (If you’re trying to do well with managing your time DO NOT CLICK on the Mom’s Timeout link.)
As you’re picking ideas about what to write, remember to ask yourself: Will this idea work in the market today? Is this idea unique? What do I bring to the market that is unique? What audience is going to want to read this project?
Did I miss anything? Please share.
Thank you for spending this week with me! Still no word from Chick-fil-A. *sigh*