Too much information.
I'm aware that this is nothing new, but it's still a major problem.
Eighteen months ago I started actively pursuing publication of my YA novel Trendy Poseurs Go Home, building an online platform, and sifting through the glut of information about how to get it done. And I have yet to figure out how to get published.
Where's the manual? I mean, if you want to be a doctor, there's a procedure, right? Get good grades, get into med school, pass your courses, and you're a doctor. My brother-in-law is trying to become a police officer, and he's going step by step through the process the police department sets up: tests, interviews, background checks, more tests, more interviews. In order to become a teacher, I had to get a degree, take courses in education, follow the application procedures for each school district. The procedures are different for every district, of course, but at least they have procedures.
I know these analogies aren't perfect. That "writer" as a profession doesn't easily fit a mold. There's no human resources office you can visit and ask for an application. Instead, you have to rely on the experience of others in order to figure out the way to get a foothold in the business. And every one of those "others" has his or her own experience that doesn't follow any kind of manual.
As a practical person who can usually do a pretty good job at something once someone shows me how it's done, not having a definitive rule book is one of the most frustrating aspects of writing. There are too many voices out there. Too much advice. Too many ways to get published.
So what's the best way? I know there isn't one. That you have to find your own. The problem is you can't know that you've found what works for you until you've followed some advice, taken a path, and seen where it leads you. And you can't know anything, which is my frustration, for the entire time it takes for the process to run its course. And where's the finish line, anyway? Agent? Publication? Bestseller? Movie rights? And now your book is taught in Honors Literature courses in schools across the globe because of its brilliance. How long did that take?
Or none of that happens after years of work. That's depressing.
I've decided to stick to a basic few websites. See what use they can be to me. In a few years, if I'm still in the same place I am today, I'll have to take stock and reconfigure my own process.
I've joined QueryTracker.net, hoping it can keep me organized. A bazillion other sites could help me with querying, but I can't deal with more than one. I'll go with this one, and maybe I'll actually send some queries.
The site Chiseled in Rock is the official blog of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, the only "society" of writers I pay dues to belong to. I like the down-to-earth discussions they have, and since I've actually met some of these writers in person, getting published doesn't seem so outlandish when I hear them tell about it.
For writing tips, The Bookshelf Muse never fails to give practical suggestions. I use their subject thesaurus almost as much as I use a word thesaurus.
Please don't misunderstand. I love the community of writers and still read other writing blogs, engage in conversation about writing, gain and give support and encouragement. Plus, I'm still searching for that manual, that application, that silver bullet, that pot o' gold, that holy grail.
Be sure to let me know if you've found it.
The Insecure Writer's Support Group is the brainchild of Sci-Fi writer Alex J. Cavanaugh. Check out his site for more insecure writers.