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Asking for critiques or mentorship from published author members

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We've recently learned that some of our newer members are approaching some of our published members with requests for critique and/or mentorship.

Here's the deal:  We are a friendly, inclusive community here at Verla's, with a place for everyone from experienced professionals to the newest of newbies, and we welcome everybody.  Our more experienced members hang out here because they want to.  They like it for the same reasons all our members do--for the camaraderie, for a bit of a break from work, for shop talk.  Our published members are willing to "pay it forward."  They know that they were once unpublished, too, and they're willing to answer questions here on the boards, and furthermore, my guess is that if you were to run into someone at a conference and offer a greeting  of "Hi, I'm so-and-so from Verla's" that it would elicit a huge smile, a hearty handshake or even a hug from these folks.

However, the truth is that the leap from "willing to answer questions on a message board" to "willing to do extensive critiquing/offer personal advice/provide mentorship" is awfully big.  If you're asking someone you don't really know for this kind of help, you're probably saying to yourself that the worst they can say is no; that there's truth to that old saying "nothing ventured, nothing gained"; that it's worth a shot. 

However, I'm asking you to consider that putting an author on the spot with such a request is very likely to backfire.  At the very least, it puts the author in a situation where they have to say no, which can be awkward and stressful.  A more unpleasant consequence for all of us would be if our published authors feel pestered to the point where they decide that participation on the boards is no longer worth their time.  Then we all lose, because we've lost some of our greatest resources.

Bottom line:  If you need critique, find a writing buddy or a good critique group.  If you don't have a group or buddy yet, advertise or ask for help in our Critique Group thread.  If you need or want a professional critique, find a reputable service--there are a good number of them, and their fees are generally reasonable.  Please don't take advantage of our camaraderie here on the boards by alienating the published author members who offer so much to us all.

Thanks,

Anne Marie
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#1 - June 22, 2006, 11:49 AM
BUSY-EYED DAY (Beach Lane Books, 2018)
GROUNDHUG DAY (Disney-Hyperion, 2017)
VAMPIRINA AT THE BEACH (Disney-Hyperion, 2017)
among others

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Addendum:

After I posted the above message, I heard from one of our agented authors, who reported that some of our newer members are reading the agent threads to find out who is represented by whom, and then asking the agented authors for referrals.

Referrals aren't something you ask for; they're something an author may occasionally (if ever) offer to someone whose work she has read and thinks her agent might like.  Like critique and mentorship requests, asking for a referral is inappropriate. 

Please be respectful of our agented authors and go through normal channels in your agent search.  It's terribly generous of our agented authors to give as much information as they do in our response times thread (in fact, many authors won't give out the names of their agents at all, let alone share the kind of detail that our friends here do).

Thanks,

AM
#2 - June 22, 2006, 12:53 PM
« Last Edit: June 22, 2006, 07:48 PM by Anne Marie »
BUSY-EYED DAY (Beach Lane Books, 2018)
GROUNDHUG DAY (Disney-Hyperion, 2017)
VAMPIRINA AT THE BEACH (Disney-Hyperion, 2017)
among others

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Thanks for letting everyone know about both of these issues, Anne Marie. These are VERY IMPORTANT things for writers to know -- and until someone tells you, most newer writers don't know them.  They aren't "written in stone" rules, but they ARE the accepted way to behave towards published people. 

For those of you who aren't yet published, please put yourself in the shoes of someone who IS published. We get asked for "favors" like this, sometimes on a daily basis. If most writers are like me, they HATE to say, "No," to people... but if we did all the critiques that were requested of us, we wouldn't have time to write our own stories.  Also, if we started flooding our agents (and editors) with manuscripts from people whose work we hadn't read and absolutely LOVED (which would mean reading even MORE manuscripts...) then our editors and agents would start getting very irritated with us, and we'd lose the wonderful relationships we have with them.  Editor/Agent/Author relationships are like a marriage -- and they have to be handled with tender loving care and be respected by both parties.

Soon after I sold my first book, I found people were approaching my editor (and then later when I had one, my agent) with their work saying they "knew" me. My editors and agent all know now that unless I have personally emailed or called them to tell them I've referred someone to them, anyone who approaches them using my name has done so without my permission.  It's how I protect my good relationships with them -- relationships which are VERY important to me and to my future success in this business.

Thanks again for these GREAT informative comments, Anne Marie. 

P.S.  On a few occasions I have referred someone to my editor or agent but I've yet to have them accept any of my referrals!  Pfffth!
#3 - June 23, 2006, 05:58 AM
« Last Edit: June 23, 2006, 06:03 AM by Verla Kay »
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Pickles

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Hear, hear to everything said, and thanks to AM for bringing it up.

There are also a handful of frequent posters here who are writer/editors. Because someone is helpful to you on the board or has given you advice, does not give you some kind of a special "in" at their publisher. It is also not an invitation to bypass common courtesy and professional behavior.

I haven't had a problem here, but situtations have cropped up in other places. The result is, while many appreciate and want my help, I stop being active on boards because I don't want to leave myself so vulnerable. I think that's similar to the point AM is getting across approaching authors.

I think for the most part people are gracious and understanding, but it only takes one or two agressive people to make an author/agent/editor decide that maybe they shouldn't be on the boards so much. And then everyone loses out.

There are no shortcuts in this business. Most of it you have to figure out for yourself. However, there are plenty of friendly tour guides to point you in the right direction. But you need to do the driving - in your own car.



#4 - June 23, 2006, 07:21 AM

Jaina

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This post has become highly relevant again because the sheer number of new people on this board and the fact that some of them are apparently very new to writing/submitting on the whole.

Please don't approach others here asking for referrals to agents, editors, publishers, etc.  It just "isn't done."  If they want to give you a boost, they'll come to you.  Naturally, general questions about markets are fine.
#5 - December 28, 2007, 06:09 AM

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I am bumping this thread so everyone will see it. I'm also posting a very strong notice about this in the NEWS board, reminding everyone of this tabu via the board.

Please, people, DO NOT PRIVATELY CONTACT PUBLISHED PEOPLE AND ASK THEM TO MENTOR OR ASSIST YOU IN YOUR WRITING!

DO NOT privately ask a published illustrator to illustrate a book for you! Published illustrator take jobs on through PUBLISHERS, not through unpublished (or even published) writers.

It's important that everyone on this message board understands that they are not allowed to send unwanted PMs to any member of this message board asking for assistance. If someone PMs you and OFFERS assistance, then it's perfectly okay to talk about it with them and to accept their generous offer. But it's in very bad taste to request help from someone - especially if the person says, "No, I'm sorry. I can't do that," and you continue to ask them. This is totally unacceptable behavior for people on this message board. Don't do it, whether the person is published or not makes no difference. Just don't do it. Treat others the way you would want them to treat you if you were extremely busy with your work and your life - with consideration and sensitivity.

To send unwanted messages to others will result in loss of your private message (PM) privileges - without warning or recourse of ever getting them back.

 :banned  Verla Kay
#6 - July 01, 2010, 05:08 PM
« Last Edit: July 01, 2010, 07:16 PM by Verla Kay »
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I'm bumping up this extremely important news thread, since we want to make sure we keep the Blueboards a wonderful place to hang out.  I've met lots of incredible people here, and feel lucky that so many wonderful members share information, inspiration, encouragement, and cheers.

It's always okay to post a general request for a critique in the Queries & Critique Requests board...you can reply to an existing one and offer to swap critiques, or start your own.  It's great to let people know that you'd be happy to critique something in return (and you'll probably receive more offers to critique yours as well).

We hope you make many helpful critique connections through the Queries and Critiques Board...but please respect other members' privacy and make those connections on the board rather than sending messages privately, either via PM or email, to people you don't know well.
#7 - November 17, 2010, 10:25 AM

ancient amber

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I have a suggestion? Maybe the newbies out there could put their heads together and support each other and learn together, surely they will not only form friendships and learn from each other in an empowering way but some may become successful in the process and still mentor their friends.
#8 - October 26, 2013, 09:50 AM

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We have always encouraged that, Amber, and you are very astute to have discerned it on your own. :moose
#9 - October 26, 2013, 12:00 PM
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ancient amber

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 :eyeballs: Thank you.
#10 - October 27, 2013, 04:33 PM

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