Friday, 15 April 2011
My Advice To You Is...
Many moons ago when I first lost my soul to the Internet I lapped up all the tips and advice so liberally available. Want to know about how to write a synopsis? - here's my recipe for cracking it. Don't know which agents to approach? Just try this site to put you straight.
All was hunky dory until I faced an unusual quandary regarding a submission I'd made to a well known and respected agency. I posted a query about it on a couple of boards and confidently waited for my new writer friends to wade in with some solid gold advice on how to proceed. What I got back opened my eyes for all time about the quality of advice on offer on the internet, and since then it's made me very careful about taking anyone's word for anything.
The trouble is that, wonderful resource though it is, the internet is full of people who for one reason or another don't know what they're talking about. I'd say the majority of message board posters don't know any more than you do, but rather than say so they have to chuck in their tuppence worth without a thought about the impact their advice might have. Then there are those further up the publishing ladder; surely they know a thing or two? Well, yes. But they probably don't know everything - and I'd hazard a guess they know a lot less than they pretend. One published author told me "This never happens" when it had happened to me, therefore it must happen.
And that's assuming everyone who offers you help online is a kind, well-meaning friendly person. Not all are, and you should be aware of that. There are many embittered and jealous individuals on these sites who have their own agenda. Don't believe everything you read. For a long time I comforted myself with the thought that people would sue if the things said about them were untrue, but that's not always the case. Not everyone has the wherewithal to go to law, and those who do often don't want the bad publicity it would attract.
So the lesson is, take online advice with a large pinch of salt and learn to exercise your own judgment rather than rely on others to lead the way.
But, having said that, here are some great query tips (of the tongue-in-cheek variety). They made me smile.