The dude that pretty much knows agents like the back of his hand, is an editor for Writer's Digest Books (and other annual resource books) and has his own non-fiction book coming out in September entitled: How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack?
Anyway, he came to Cleveland for a SCWBI workshop on Saturday morn, entitled "What Editors Want: Good Writing Practices and More" and "Everything You Need to Know About Getting an Agent".
I already knew a lot of what he presented, just from being through the query trenches long enough.
But he threw out some pearls of wisdom and had a wicked sense of humor, which made him a great speaker.
1.SUCCESS BREEDS SUCCESS.
What Chuck meant was, write for other publications while you are waiting for your big break. Publications that are small, local, or new. For example, local newspapers (like the one I work for) or magazines that will pay.
Need ideas for articles? He said, STEAL them (love it). He meant: from national headlines (and bring the topic local), or from local headlines (and take the topic national), or do a follow-up to a news story you saw, or look at what local mags are doing and create your own version (for example, a top ten list of the best ice cream stands or oldest libraries, etc.).
He also said you should steal from yourself. What he meant was, use different versions of something you've already written and pitch it. It worked for Chuck. In fact, his pitch for one magazine led to another magazine, then to a chance meeting, then to his non-fiction book.
See? Success Breeds Success.
What he meant was, while querying one novel, start writing the next. It'll help lessen the sting of rejections. Plus, if you keep writing your chance of success increases. So don't be a one book wonder.
2.DON'T PUT ALL OF YOUR EGGS IN ONE BASKET.
3.YOU'LL WRITE SOME THINGS FOR LOVE AND SOME THINGS FOR MONEY.
And both are okay. Actually, that was really validating for me. Because some weeks I struggle with my freelance writing gig, because I am dying to get back to my manuscript. And it all works out. I get paid and I still get to write my young adult books.
Good stuff, right?
If you don't follow Chuck's blog already, get over there!