Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Could you take a look at my stuff?

Unfortunately, we can't do more than intros at the moment. The Word Smashes alone take us an hour or more, and we're both students and Victoria's also working full time. We recommend, if you're looking for critique, that you invest in finding yourself a beta reader.

What's a beta reader? Check out this link on WriteWorld. Also look into writing forums such as Absolute Write. Remember that if you want your stuff read, you'll have to read stuff from other writers. Build on reciprocal relationships, because editing and critiquing takes a lot of time and energy, but teaching is also a good way to learn how to write better as well.

Also, don't mass-query the writing community of tumblr without personalizing your request or explaining why you chose that person in particular. It's frowned upon when you query agents, and finding the right critique partner(s) is just as necessary a step toward publication, so make sure you give your search the time and care your work should have. It's more respectful of yourself and others.

Can I send in multiple revisions of my intro for Word Smash?

Please do. Send it in as many times until you're satisfied with the final version.

Are either of you published?

No, and not for lack of effort, of course. First of all, we're not short story writers, so magazine publication hasn't applied to or interested us. Sarah has endeavored manuscript publication several times since the age of seventeen, and because of this, she has personal knowledge as to how the whole publication process works. It's not easy, and nowadays, it's evolving and growing so quickly that what was fact five years ago is relic now. A very well-known author once told her that it only took thirteen queries before she found her agent. While thirteen is still possible, many writers are looking at numbers into the hundreds. Again, it's not for lack of effort, and it's certainly not for lack of a good story or good writing -- it all simply depends on the market.

If you're looking for information about how to achieve publication, then let us know and perhaps we'll make a post about it!

How can your writing advice help me if you're not actually published?

Publication credentials do not determine the legitimacy of a writer. Some great work is unpublished and some terrible, horrible, awful work sits on the list of best sellers for inexplicable reasons.

What you ought to do is take the advice we give, apply it to your writing, and see if it helps. No one says you have to. But, if it does, then now you know not to judge a writer by their contracts!

You're wrong about this thing you said over here...

Probably. The awesome thing about writing advice is that it's all extremely subjective. For example, we're great at critiquing work like ours or similar to ours, but with literary and modern a-typical styles, we throw our hands up and don't comment because it's not our place. Writing is art. Not all people understand all art, and not all artists understand all art. Trying to critique something we don't understand or can't relate to doesn't help anyone at all.

So, in essence, you're probably right. If the advice is wrong to you, then it's probably wrong to others as well. But, if the advice is right for someone else and it works for them, then it's also right. We never comment on anything that we don't have experience in or personal knowledge of, and we try to differentiate from or label when we're expressing our own opinions because we understand that opinions are not substitutes for facts.

What's your opinion on self-publishing?

It's stigmatized a lot more than it should be. First of all, if you've had the heck critiqued out of your manuscript, and you've done all the revisions you can, and you've written the best query you can and also gotten critiques on that and done proper revisions, and you've queried the agent community up and down, and you've gotten requests and it feels like you were doing something right, except the agents decline for various reasons (and you've done your revising and resubmitting if applicable), and you've really tried the hardest you could to sell your book to agents, then I say look into it.

But by golly do your research. Self-publishing should be your last resort, only after months and months (perhaps years) of trying to get your book published. Don't sell yourself short and jump before you should. Self-publishing is a lot of hard work and it'll be up to you to do your own marketing, unless you've got lots of money and you can hire people to do it for you, which is rarely the case. You'll also need a cover design, and if you're not too keen with Photoshop, you'll have to spend a few hundred for a really good, sellable cover. Don't sell yourself short there, either.

A lot of vanity presses offer e-pub options to sell your book on Amazon and Barnes and Noble as well, but if you're not very good with formatting, then you might have to pay someone to do that too, or learn how.

There's a lot of serious work involved with self-publishing. Everything that you'd have a team for at a publishing house, that would be your job. Your line editing, your copy editing, your design team, your marketing team, finding people to review your book, everything. Only do this if you're out of options and you have the time and funds to spare.

If you do, and you're active and serious and your book's good and commercial, then you could end up like many authors who pursued this route as well. It's not impossible, but it's not easy. And, if you managed to sell a considerable amount of your books (upwards of thousands), then you can go back and query for an agent again. They're likely to pay more attention then.

Have a question? We like questions. Please send us your question at this address:

keyboardsmashwriters (at) gmail (dot) com

Per the usual protocol, replace the @ and period accordingly. Try to sum up your email in the subject line so we're not surprised, and please refrain from offering Viagra or Cyalis. There's not much we can do with that except stare at it in wonder.

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