Friday 14th April 2017

Today has been a fun day.
I spent the morning doing some admin.  I got The Climb scheduled (a minor victory in itself) and wrote  over 1000 words on book 2.
By this time friends had started to arrive at Eastercon so I went downstairs to catch up with them.  Cameron and Rob are friends who  told me to submit Black as Knight after I moaned at them (2 years ago) that they had to submit their novels to agents.  Had it not been for them calling me out as a hypocrite, I would have never submitted my novel.  The only reason I submitted to the world’s best was because I thought it would keep them off my back.
I got to return the favour last year when I found out Cameron had submitted to my friend, Amanda, who is now an agent.  I spoke to her, mainly to plan a small wind up on Cameron, such that she spent time chatting to him afterwards, read his manuscript and then picked him up.
I see a lot of people complain that publishing is about who you know and on one level that can be true, but not in the way people think.  It’s not about having to know the decision makers in person, it’s about getting to know people such that they introduce you.  In that respect, publishing isn’t a closed shop.
As Cameron and I discussed today, being a nice person goes a LONG way.  We had plnety of discussion today about who are nice people inside the industry and who are nightmares.  That’s something as an aspiring writer that you can control.  It’s never going to overide the quality of the work, but if you are in the position where your story is perfectly servicable but just gets turned down because it’s one of a number of similar stories, that advantage can count for a lot.
And best of all, it doesn’t take anything other than time.  There are plenty of authors that are nice to their fans and a pain for publishing people to work with.   If you’re a decent person, then you’re not even going to have to try at it… eventually it will win out.
This is why I get annoyed when people do start moaning that publishing is who you know, because the big writers, agents and editors of five years time are just turning up at their first conventions now and are looking to make friends.  And the people who’ve been going for years will happily talk to anyone.  I get that it can sometimes be difficult to speak to pros.  They are often going to panels or engaged in conversations you don’t feel you can inject yourself into.  But that doesn’t mean their inaccessible.
The Pros I hang around with now, are the people I knew on twitter years ago.  The first time we met up was at an Eastercon where we clumped together as we didn’t know anyone else.  I didn’t know that a lot of those people would go on to be published authors, agents and editors.  Having a friend who becomes an agent isn’t going to get you representation, but you can be sure that Amanda was a great source of advice when I was looking for representation
That doesn’t mean you can ignore your craft.  Talent will trump everything.  Rob is still looking for an agent.  As I’ve told him, he needs to be working on something new while he’s submitting his novel because maybe that novel isn’t the one.  The old stuff is never wasted.  In 5, or 10 or 20 years he can always come back to it, update it and sell it based on his growth as an author in that time.  But if he enjoys the process and just churns out novel after novel, eventually one of the books will see him picked up.
I’ve seen people renege on this concept of working hard without guarantees, but I ask, is it any different to sport?  If you are a top football player, do you expect an agent to automatically pick you up or do you keep working at improving your skill knowing there’s no guarantees.
This is why I think Rob will ultimately make it.  Because he’ll keep working, which will mean he’ll keep growing and as a result, he’ll eventually get picked up.  So long as you have a baseline of a little talent, anything above and beyond that is just based on hard work.
I’ll be glad when he gets picked up as the level of banter between us has been a lot of fun and downright cruel.  Our other friend, Stephen Aryan popped over and we had a lot of laughs.  My old friend and Cameron’s agent, Amanda, took a photo many years ago of Steve and I sitting on a bench not far from this hotel where we discussed our dreams as authors.  Now look at us.  He’s had three books out, I’ve had one.  Amanda wasn’t even an editor back then, now she’s an agent.  Just goes to show that the nobodies of today might be the somebodies of tomorrow.
What’s very validating to me is the fact that all of us share similar views.  Stephen, Rob and Cameron might not being trying social media but they understand why I am.  I didn’t feel myself having to explain it, like I have had to to other people.  I think back to that photo Amanda took of us five or so years back and think where we will all be in five more years.
I remember when I told Steve to keep faith after his novel got rejected and the Four Realms got picked up.  Now he has 3 books out with a 4th coming out this year.  Cameron got signed up last year after Fantasycon, and is about the same stage as me.  We’re likely to go on submission at the same time the way things are working out.
So today was about congratulating Steve about his recent award, taking the piss out of all our careers and sharing our unique insights based on our own individual progress and accomplishments.
Of course, this all happened over a load of beer but I think the validation for all of us is that we are on the right path no matter how far we are along.  We’ve got to the stage where we can comfortably take the piss out of each other because there’s no worry that we might be picking on someone who’s never going to make it.
And how did we get here?  Hard work and being nice to people whatever their status.  That person who is just a fan might be a major editor in 5 years time.
There was of course a downside to today.  I’d wanted to do some vlogging but the idea of setting up the camera and recording us as we ripped the piss out of each other felt somehow wrong.  It’s fine to privately joke at each other, but none of us want to undermine the progress someone has made to their career.
So there never felt a nautral time to get the camera out.  This is the thing I find the most difficult about vlogging.  However, I know that to grow whether that be as a writer or as a vlogger, you need to step outside your comfort zone.  I don’t look at my day in terms of a story.  I’m not analysing the threads of the day until I sit down to write up The Climb at the end of the day.
And there’s also the question of how I give video it’s own unique voice.  I’ve mentioned before that I don’t want to do The Climb – video edition… but how do I do it so the the video adds different value to that which The Climb does.
I need to start thinking like a videographer and get over my awkwardness of holding out a camera before me.  It’s certainly a challenge and one I need to work on, but just like my future as a writer I will get there eventually.
If you want to follow more of my journey, then be sure to check me on my social channels.  Likewise, if you’d like me to expand on any point mentioned above, please say so in the comments.

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