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With a publishing industry that is ever in flux, it can be hard for an aspiring author to figure out what information is relevant and what she needs to do to be successful. Recognizing this, literary agent Andrea Hurst and writer and blogger Katie Flanagan present a series of weekly interviews with publishing industry specialists. The AUTHORNOMICS Series features literary agents, editors, authors, marketing experts and more talking about their opinions on the publishing industry, writing, and what a writer needs to know.
How to Start the New Year Write with Andrea Hurst
President of Andrea Hurst Literary Management, Andrea works with both major and regional publishing houses, and her client list includes emerging new voices and New York Times best-selling authors. Andrea represents high profile adult nonfiction and well-crafted fiction. Her clients and their books have appeared on the Oprah Show, Ellen DeGeneres Show, Good Morning America, National Geographic network and in the New York Times.
In addition to working in the publishing field for over 25 years, Andrea is a published author, skilled development editor, keynote speaker, and educator. She is the founder of www.justwriteon.com, a site that offers expert instruction and resources for writers. She enjoys working with authors who have something meaningful to share and are driven by their enthusiasm and desire to create books that touch lives and make a difference. Author of The Lazy Dog’s Guide to Enlightenment and Everybody’s Natural Food Cookbook.
1. This New Year, what are some realistic resolutions writers can make to write more?
I saw a funny magnet at a writer’s store and it said, “Back away from the refrigerator. Good. Now go back to your desk and write!” That about sums it up. Where ever you need to put that sign to remind yourself to write, that is my suggestion.
2. What are the do’s and don’ts when setting writing goals?
I find that if I set my goals too high it is easy to get discouraged and use that as an excuse to stop writing. Often I underestimate how long a project will take to finish. So the best tip I can give is to be reasonable with your goals and no matter what keep going back.
3. What are some of your writing resolutions this year?
I will finally have the draft done for my first novel in a day or two. And I will celebrate! For me it is a struggle when I tend to put working on everyone else’s book before my own. My number one resolution this year is to make sure my own book gets edited and published. (Interesting thought, I may just take my book straight to Kindle and Nook format.) I am a much happier person when I put my work on the same priority list my authors I work with get.
4. What are realistic publishing goals for a writer to set this year?
Getting your book published is a whole new game these days. Anyone can do print on demand publishing or produce an eBook. I suggest really looking at your goals and ask yourself:
- Is my book written and edited to the best of my ability?
- How can I best reach my audience? What is my marketing plan?
- What is my time frame for getting my book out?
- How important is distribution?
- Should I go traditional or the Indie route?
If you decide to look for an agent, realistically this could take many months. The same goes for finding a publisher. If you book is picked up by a publisher, it usually will not come out to book stores for at least a year.
5. Where can a writer turn for advice and direction?
There are many excellent blogs for writers including Chuck’s Sambucino’s blog on finding an agent, Jane Friedman’s blog for writers, and Michael Larsen’s blog on publishing and writing. For fiction and memoir writer’s I also recommend The Writer’s Journey, Writing the Breakout Novel and Self Editing for Fiction Writers. Writer’s Digest offers wonderful classes and I will be teaching a webinar for them in March.
6. What are some tricks for getting over writer’s block?
Last week I asked this question at Just Write, my free writer’s drop-in group that meets on the pier every Wednesday in Coupeville, WA. There were many suggestions, but the one that has worked for me is to lay the project down you are working on and start another one. Going for a walk always helps too. Sometimes it is all the voices in our heads that tell us our work is not good enough, or we will never finish, or no one will ever buy the book, etc. I had to get to the point where I really did not care what anyone else thought of my writing, and just decide to write the book for the pleasure of it. All books have an audience and I know my book will find one too.
7. Let’s say a writer has just finished writing a manuscript. What is the first step in the revision process?
After you have done all of the self-editing you can, I highly suggest you have a professional editor that comes recommended review your work. Yes, your husband or your best friend may be good at grammar, but unless they are experienced book editors, they may not be the best choice. Always have your work copyedited before you send it out to agents, editors or the public.
8. How do you see the role of the literary agent changing in the coming years?
Many agents I know and work with are diversifying. Many agents are acting as consultants or working with clients who want to publish non-traditionally. At our agency, we offer separate author services through our consulting division for both authors seeking traditional and alternative ways of publishing their book. Everything is changing in publishing and agent’s roles will probably change as well. One thing that remains constant is that readers want a good story and a well-written book.
The winner of Laurie McLean’s three-chapter critique is Marcy Kate! Thank you for reading our blog!
Andrea Hurst has over 25 years experience as a published author, developmental editor for publishers, and skilled literary agent. She works with both major and regional publishing houses, and her client list includes emerging new voices and New York Times best-selling authors. Andrea represents high profile Adult Nonfiction and well crafted fiction. Her clients and their books have appeared on the Oprah Show, Ellen DeGeneres Show, Good Morning America, National Geographic network and in the New York Times.
Katie Flanagan is a fiction major at Northwestern University. She is currently an editor with Booktrope Publishing and Pink Fish Press. In the past, she has interned with Andrea Hurst Literary Management and the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts. Her favorite genre is women’s fiction, but she reads any fiction put in front of her. Check out her blog about the writing life at katieflanagan.wordpress.com and follow her on Twitter at @K_Flanagan.