"No matter what you do, someone will love what you do, and someone will hate what you do. Just do what you want and your allies will find you." -Ellie Raine
Ever wondered where my creative career started?
Want to know my path to publication? The things I learned along the way? The hard lessons I had to accept?
Give this exclusive interview a read on Voyage ATL's site!
Topics of discussion:
-How did you get to where you are today?
-has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
-Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
A few facts I discovered along my journey:
Fact #1: It’s a matter of opinion.
I once had two agents sit down with me to go over my pitch, and they ended up having a heated argument about whether to start the pitch with an info dump of the world and the magic, or start it with the character’s story and mention the magic later. It was extremely awkward. But it taught me that, no matter what you do, someone will love what you do, and someone will hate what you do. Just do what you want and your allies will find you.
Fact #2: There is a difference between true mentors and lecherous mentors.
I’ve only seen this in conferences and not conventions. There are people out there who won’t ask about your life before giving you advice on how to live it. Avoid these people. These types will treat you like you’re 16 (even though you’re clearly drinking a margarita) sit next to you at the bar and proceed to regale you with tips on how to finish your first book (even though you’re three books in, but it’s not like they were going to ask) and how to keep a relationship longer than a year (even though you’re wearing an engagement ring and have been with your fiancé for eight years). These people are presumptuous and don’t actually want to be part of a community. They typically just want to tell new writers how amazing and experienced they are, even though they themselves aren’t published either. If they don’t bother asking about you and your work, take their ‘advice’ with caution. Chances are, the way they treat you will affect how others see you, and you’ll forever be treated like the lost little lamb who doesn’t know what they’re doing unless their ‘mentors’ show them the way. Mentors are great, but you have to find mentors who care about you. Not how much you admire them.
Fact #3: There is apparently no place for mixed genres.
This was proven by the only responses I ever received from querying agents through email: “This is too paranormal, we’re only looking for epic fantasy” and “This is too epic fantasy, we’re only looking for paranormal”. Awesome.
Fact #4: I’m doing everything wrong.
I discovered majority of agents/editors see first-person as a sign of a new writer. Top that with my word-count being wildly too long for a debut author, and the fact that my story was first person that switches perspective through various characters my chances of getting an agent or editor were pretty much zero. But I kept going anyway because I’m insane.
Fact #5: To succeed, you’re told to break the rules. But don’t you dare break the rules.
The popular saying is: “You have to know the rules before breaking them”. Sure, but apparently you also have to somehow convince everyone you knew the rule when you broke it, which seems like a Catch 22. The only thing I’ve been able to discern is: “If you experiment, MAKE IT WORK”.
Fact #6: If an editor gives you his card and says “If you re-write this in 3rd person, send it to me”, IT’S A BIG DEAL.
Seriously! The first editor who critiqued the first chapter of my story said exactly this. I walked away from that conference thinking, “Hell YES I’ll re-write it in 3rd person for him!”. I went to work right away when I got home and did finish the whole thing in 3rd person… but I hated it. Hated it, hated it, hated it, HATED IT. By taking it out of first person, the story lost everything I loved about it. I was so ashamed that I ended up scrapping that edition and re-writing it again in first person and not contacting the editor after all. Looking back, I probably should have at least given it a shot, explaining that I tried it in 3rd but didn’t feel it was right, but my dumb self thought he wouldn’t even consider it if I didn’t give him what he specifically asked for. Man, I was stupid. Oh, well.
While most of the advice I received from these conferences were conflicting, I’m still glad I attended. It’s those very contradictions that give you a better understanding that this industry really is subjective, and you just do what you feel is right.