Thursday, November 3, 2011

How to be Industry Savvy

One of my readers asked me how to become industry-savvy, which is almost as important as knowing how to write. FYI, I love it when readers ask me questions because it gives me ideas for posts.
I’m just waiting for the day when someone calls me out on acting like I know everything when I don’t have any experience. I don’t claim to be the most knowledgeable, but here are the resources I use:
Reference Books
There are tons of books on this very topic. The best ones are written by agents and editors. Donald Maas is my reference hero: I highly recommend his books Become a Career Novelist and Writing the Breakout Novel. Writer’s Market should be your Bible.
Fiction Books
I can’t say this enough: know your genre! Reading books in your genre will help you see what the trends are, what’s acceptable, what isn’t, what agents look for, what people want to see. Try to read the most recent and the most popular books.
I follow a few historical fiction review blogs and I read the summaries of the books they mention, since I don’t have time to read every book that comes out. I also like to skim Goodreads lists to see what books everyone is talking about.
Whenever you read a book , look in the acknowledgments to see who their agent is and look at the spine to see the publisher. Keep those names in the back of your mind. You’ll notice patterns and you’ll see who’s prestigious and who fits your style.
This is my most-used reference because it’s easy and free. The internet is packed to the brim with advice you need. I recommend Janet Reid’s best twitter posts and there’s an amazing best blog posts of the week on a site with a name I don’t remember. It’s killing me that I don’t know what it’s called. Does anyone know? The blog focuses on children’s literature and it’s green.
Absolute Write Water Cooler lives up to its name; it has absolutely everything you need. Not only does it help with writing, but it talks about queries, agents, editors, self-publishing, freelancing, you name it. There’s an abundance of online writers willing to share their knowledge; take advantage of them.
Need I say more? Go to conferences. Take good notes.
Writer Friends
I have a friend who recently got an agent. I have learned so much just by following her journey and seeing how her experiences play out (which, incidentally, is the whole point of this blog). Make friends and learn from them.
Anyone want to add anything? Let me know if you have questions!


  1. You've addressed so much it's hard to even think of something more. I just want to re-emphasize your mention of the Writer's Market. Using that and places like Query tracker can really help to make sure you keep an eye on who's moved where and who's no longer agenting. With so much happening in the industry, things are always changing.

  2. This is an awesome post! Thank you so much!


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