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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far: Kami Kinard

Categories: 7 Things I've Learned So Far, Chuck Sambuchino's Guide to Literary Agents Blog, What's New.

This is a recurring column I’m calling “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,” where writers (this installment written by Kami Kinard, author of THE BOY PROJECT) at any stage of their career can talk about writing advice and instruction as well as how they possibly got their book agent — by sharing seven things they’ve learned along their writing journey that they wish they knew at the beginning.

GIVEAWAY: Kami is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Update: Ardent Muse won.)

 

 

 

   

Kami Kinard is the author of THE BOY PROJECT: NOTES AND
OBSERVATIONS OF KARA MCALLISTER (Scholastic, Jan. 2012).
Her poetry, stories, articles, and essays have appeared in periodicals
for children and adults. Kami also works as a teaching artist for SC
schools, and teaches writing courses for continuing education programs.
She lives with her family in balmy, buggy, and beautiful Beaufort, SC.
Connect with her through her blog, Facebook, Twitter, or see her book trailer here.

1. Recognize that you have a lot to learn. There is a stage in every writer’s life when they think everything they write is great. There is a name for this stage: beginner. Often when we start writing we are so excited about what we produce that we fail to see how much we have to learn. My writing improved dramatically after I realized that it needed to do just that.

2. Get feedback on your work. The only way to see things clearly is through lenses other than your own. I learned so much when I finally joined a critique group. Specifically, I learned how to improve my craft. When not actively involved in a group, I have a writing partner who reads everything I write. If a critique group doesn’t appeal to you, you can pay for critiques at conferences, or hire a freelance editor. Others will be able to see problems you are blind to. Trust me.

(How to collaborate with a freelance editor.)

3. Invest in your career. If you chose to be a doctor, a lawyer, or an architect, you wouldn’t be able to open shop without an education. While no one requires this of authors, if your career is important to you, make an investment in it. Travel to conferences where writers you admire will be speaking or teaching. Take classes and go to workshops. If you are willing to keep improving and keep learning, you will eventually get an agent and a publisher. I spent the first few years of my career “saving money” by not attending events. That was a very expensive mistake.

4. You need an agent, even if you think you don’t. It is still possible to sell a book without an agent, but what happens next? Contracts are complicated these days with audio rights, e-book rights, and foreign rights and more. Unless you have experience with contract negotiations, allow an agent to help you. You will most likely get a better advance, and an agent will be able act as a liaison between you and your publisher if anything goes wrong. I have sold books with and without an agent, so I speak from experience. Which of my books do you see in bookstores across the country today? The one my agent sold.

5. Don’t be afraid to outsource. You’ve heard the phrase “life happens,” right? Sometimes life happens in ways that can impede our careers. Four months before my book debuted, I ended up spending most of my time in a hospital room with a family member. I needed to be planning for my book’s release, but I didn’t have a minute. My self-designed website needed upgrading. A book trailer needed to be produced. A blog tour needed to be scheduled. I finally realized that if I wanted these things done, I was going to have to pay someone else to do them. A friend found a web designer for me, my editor gave met the name of a film student who made trailers, and I found another writer willing to research the market and target blogs for a potential tour. I also asked her to find out what other things I should be doing to promote my book. She named a price. I paid her twice that. It was worth every penny.

(Do agents Google writers after reading a query?)

 6. There is strength in numbers… join a group. I am a member of The Apocalypsies, a group of 2012 debut children’s authors. Because we are a large group, bloggers and other book lovers contact us as a unit.  I’ve had many more opportunities to promote my book through the Apocalypsies than I would have had on my own. I didn’t know about this type of group until the writer I hired to do research found it for me. I was one of the last members to join. I love being part of it! But I missed a number of opportunities because I joined late.

7. Make friends. A lot of people will tell you to go to conferences to make connections, but friends I’ve made through these events are far more valuable.  It is wonderful to have friends who have similar career goals and who understand the challenges authors face. I am thankful to have shared my journey as an author with awesome friends!

GIVEAWAY: Kami is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Update: Ardent Muse won.)

 

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21 Responses to 7 Things I’ve Learned So Far: Kami Kinard

  1. Ardent Muse says:

    Thanks for your comments & support, and thank you both, Chuck & Kami, for picking me to receive your book! I look forward to reading it. :)

  2. Cruz says:

    Your book looks interesting. I’ll look it up on amazon. Thanks for the info.

  3. kamikinard says:

    Thanks everyone for your comments. It is great to see that so many of you are already reaping the benefits of conferences and forming friendships with other writers. For those of you who live far from other writers, I feel your pain! Online groups can work very well! In my experience, it is best if you have a connection with at least one other writer in a forming group before you join. Maybe someone you know online or from message boards, or someone you met at a conference. I also think it is better to keep an online group fairly small so it remains manageable. Here’s to you all! I wish you much success!

  4. vbartles says:

    I totally agree! Conferences and workshops are worth SO much more than they cost – especially in the friendships and connections formed there!

  5. KHager says:

    Agree with the best part of conferences is meeting other writers. I’ve met so many great people that I’m lucky enough to now call friends who inspire me that I met at conferences.

  6. merrigoldj says:

    Good ideas. I live far from writiers’ groups and other authors. Thanks

  7. joannakcooke says:

    This is great advice! I’m excited to check out the Apocalypsies site!

  8. geoswager says:

    I like your advice about investing in your career. I’m a cheapskate and hate watching my checkbook dwindle. However, I agree that conferences and workshops are worth the investment. I’ve made a lot of new friends at these types of events and have learned so much. Plus, I always come home feeling more inspired to keep writing.

  9. the loopy librarian says:

    Great advice!

  10. burrowswrite says:

    I really like the tips you give!

  11. conlombardo says:

    I love your list and agree with it all, Kami! Starting a critique group especially, it’s been one of the most important things I’ve done for my writing. I also agree with the importance of an agent- and am submitting to agents right now. I’d love to win your book; it looks very fun and perfect for my 9 year old daughter. Thanks!

  12. Bird by Bird says:

    Great advice, Kami! I’ve found great writers and great friends at conferences.

  13. schapman says:

    Love the tips! I have tried to find a writing group in my area, and it’s been difficult. I guess I just have to stick with the internet.

  14. vatrask says:

    Great tips, thank you very much!

  15. Maia Marie says:

    I really appreciate your insight. I AM a beginning writer (sort of, lol) so your “7 Things” are meaningful. Thank you!

  16. Kassiah says:

    Great tips! I especially love your advice about friends and investing in your craft.

  17. FalconLux says:

    I liked the first one. I’ve totally been there! :)

  18. MamaJamie says:

    After reading this, I’m very inspired to do some work!

  19. Ardent Muse says:

    Yes.. I agree with connecting with like-minded people… other writers, one of which, is a good friend of mine in the UK who inspires me, and one whom I inspire ~ Our writing styles are distinctly different, but we’re energized by some of the same things and highly creative in our individual ways – we can understand, encourage, and inspire eachother that way, AND share the same trait of being quite comfortable spending long hours alone to write ~ just takes that kind of person to write …

    I appreciate your suggestion about Apacalypsies and will investigate it. My main focus IS Childrens’ stories, then Screenplay/Sitcoms for TV, then lyrics, blogs & memoirs. I’m also an Artist and hope I can draw the pictures that go along with my stories.

    Thanks for the tips!

  20. Kathryn says:

    I agree that the best part of conference is the life-long connections you make with other writers, which will continually help you with more critiquing and learning down the road. Plus, I found my agent at a writers conference through a pitch session, so that was invaluable!

  21. Lina Moder says:

    Great tips! Especially about finding great writing friends:)

    Love the cover:)

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