Monday, March 28, 2011


My mailbox is overflowing with questions about life. Today I thought I would share some of the advice I've given out over the past year. *

Q: Dear Sierra,
I have a blog and I post nothing but wise writing advice on it all the time. But my comment rate isn’t very high, especially compared to other people’s. What am I doing wrong? Is it me? Is it because I’m kind of snarky?
- Wise But Unread

A: Dear Wise But Unread,
It could be a lot of things, but here are some suggestions. First, you need to comment back on people’s blogs a lot. Then they will come return the favor, and over time they will catch on to your brilliance. You might not like the idea of having to comment to get comments because it feels so...manufactured, but that’s just the way it is.

Second, it could be your voice, who knows? Are you bitchy or complainy? Is your advice good advice or is it condescending?

Third, you could always try saying you scored an agent, and have a book deal. Your blog follower and comment rate is sure to skyrocket as a result, and it will be at least a little while before anyone Googles the fake agent name and calls you out for being a liar liar pants on fire.

Q: Dear Sierra,
On Twitter, I seem to get followed by a lot of fellow writers, including published authors. I always try to follow writers back, because that helps create a cool tweeting community. But sometimes these writers are super annoying and tweet crap like “Duh” and “I just pooped a camel.” I feel really bad unfollowing them, even though they deserve it for tweeting such things. What should I do?
- Annoyed on Twitter but Unsure

A: Dear Annoyed,
Unfollow them. They won’t even know it. But your tweet stream will be a lot less clogged with fecal matter, won’t it?

Q: Dear Sierra,
A friend of mine has a blog on which he frequently talks about the book he is working on. He said three agents emailed him, inviting him to query when ready. How do I get that? Do YOU get that?
-Wondering about Blog-trolling Agents

A: Dear Wondering,
I don’t get that, but I also don’t talk about the SUPER AWESOME AMAZING hook of my novel, which is women’s fiction, and which is both funny and well-written while still being commercial, nor do I mention that I am a professional who is happy to work closely with editors and agents to edit or change what doesn’t work. I also don’t say how very cool my opening chapter and inciting incident is--drama, in like a lion, and world-disturbing, to be sure. I mean, I could say these things, but I don't.

You could try talking about your book on your blog, but my feeling is: keep your amazing hook to yourself and just work on finishing the best book you can.

Alternatively, you might try posting in your blog’s sidebar that making chocolate candies is a hobby of yours, but alas you can only send them to agents who contact you. Mention that you stuff the chocolate $20 bills. Good luck!

Q: Dear Sierra,
I’ve been writing novels for six years. I’ve written four, but only queried two. Neither query experience resulted in success for me, although I have to admit that I got closer than ever before to finding representation with the last one before giving up and writing a new book. My question is this: how much longer do I have to wait? I mean, sheesh! I’m already on the downhill side of my 30s (36)! I was hoping to be a published author before I turn 40!
- Tired of Waiting

A: Dear Tired,
Thirty-six is hardly 40, although for rounding purposes I would certainly call you 40. But not to your face. And when you answer surveys, you’re still firmly in the 29-39 range, so all is not lost!

But to your real question: how long before you find success? Well, your track record should tell you that you’re doing something right: you’re learning with each novel you write, and you’re getting close. So you’re not a first-attempt, 22-year-old MFA wunderkind. I guess how long you have to wait is entirely dependent on your level of persistence and perseverance. Mine is level 100. What is yours?

*No one asked me these questions and I've given no advice. I mean, come on. I don't even get spam in my mailbox.

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