A friend has been working steadily away on his fantasy novel. When he finished, he called me up and asked me, “What do I do next?”
My advice was to write Book 2. While it might seem counter-intuitive to keep putting all your eggs into one basket, when it comes to fantasy you learn a lot more from getting to the end of your series than the end of the first volume. Also, you learn so much in writing Book 2 that you can then go back and look at Book 1 with new, jaded, experienced eyes, and rewrite accordingly.
But now he’s finished Book 2, and I feel like I should be able to give a more comprehensive answer.
Only… I’m not exactly an expert in getting published for the first time. None of us are, of course – there are many ways to get published for the first time, and most authors only experience ONE of those. In my case, though, it was a pretty atypical route (involving a competition that no longer exists) so giving advice on how to get to that point is a bit like… well, when friends ask for advice on coping with relationship breakups. (Um, I’ve never had one. Still on my first.) Possibly that is a bad example, because I am AWESOME at being a complete EXPERT on other people’s break ups.
But anyway. My point is that people often look to published authors for advice, and while we can often share really fabulous advice about working methods and business plans and all the stuff we actually do, I’m not sure that we’re always that useful when it comes to helping new writers figure out how to get started. Started was a long time ago for some of us… And while getting published isn’t necessarily easy for us, and certainly isn’t something to be taken for granted, it’s still a whole different game trying to sell a book as someone who has a track record.
I’d like to be able to offer my friend something a bit more substantial than “Query agents first, don’t send the whole books unless they ask for it, don’t pay ‘reading fees,’ yes they REALLY expect a synopsis to be a page or so…” And while I’d like to just send him away to listen to five years’ worth of Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing and Will Write for Wine podcasts, possibly he was hoping for a slightly more efficient answer.
So what I’m wondering is – where should I point my friend? What blog posts, what communities, what research hubs? Where are the nearly-published submitting-like-crazy writers hanging out in 2011?
If you had just finished your first fantasy novel, what would you do with it?