My goal for this series of blog posts is for writers to save themselves a lot of time and frustration. This series is meant to get you on the path toward publication, provided you put in the work of writing and revising. Don't worry if you don't follow all these recommendations--who could? I'll be the first to admit that even I'm guilty of sometimes not using my time wisely--look for my tip on social media! But overall this series contains hard-won truths on how to make writing a bigger part of your life. I hope it clarifies the publishing guidelines, professional etiquette, and protocols you may have been unsure about in the past. More than anything, I hope it puts you on track toward opportunities you may not have imagined.
Being a good literary citizen, at its core, means being engaged and giving back to the literary publishing world. I'm sure you've heard the stories about how book publishing is changing dramatically. People have different opinions about whether publishing is "in trouble" or not. Some people see the rise of e-books and electronic media as a good thing--less paper and cheaper content, right? While others see the rise of e-publishing as a bad thing--cheaper content means writers aren't getting paid as much. Either way you see it, it just makes sense to support the writing that you admire. Here are ten ways you can add a little goodwill (dare I say positivity?) to literary publishing.
- Review books (you can write a lengthy review, if you want, but taking the time to write a short review for a site like Goodreads or Amazon is nice, too.)
- Congratulate fellow writers on their successes.
- Host a literary reading, open mic night, or similar event in your town.
- Buy books!
- Subscribe to a handful of journals and magazines.
- Offer to give a reading at a local school or university.
- Mentor another writer.
- Begin a creative writing group in your town. Meet weekly to share new work and hold each other accountable.
- Volunteer your time at a local literary conference or festival.
- When you read a book you love, spread the word.
This is by no means a comprehensive list! Think of these actions as a way of giving back and also as a way to learn more about the literary world. It's likely you'll meet others with interests similar to yours. Work to strengthen the arts community in your own town.
Tasha Cotter, @TashCotter, is a poet and fiction writer based in Lexington, Kentucky. She is the author of two chapbooks of poetry and the full-length collection, Some Churches (Gold Wake Press, 2013). You can find her online at www.tashacotter.com.