Here are a few ways that a writer can learn more and follow the trends.
Read Authors’, Editors’, and Agents’ Blogs
Blogs are a good way to see what authors, editors and agents are talking about. Many now blog regularly about their latest projects or offer tips and information on industry trends. Google “literary agents blog” to find several excellent agent’s blogs, including those written by Janet Reid, Rachelle Gardner, and Chip MacGregor.
Look up favourite authors; chances are they have a blog and are sharing information. For example, Susan May Warren, a best-selling Christian fiction author, publishes tips and advice on her blog My Book Therapy. Bonnie Grove, author of Your Best You, blogs about writing along with six other writers at Novel Matters.
Budget time reading blogs wisely. Determine how much time is appropriate to spend researching and which blogs provide the best information. A writer just starting a novel may spend more time reading blogs that give tips on plotting and characterization, while a writer finishing a novel will be more interested in blogs on how to find an agent and write a book proposal. Follow a blog for a week or two to see if the information helps; if it does, bookmark it and if not, find another blog to follow.
Subscribe to Writing E-Newsletters
Many writers’ websites offer e-newsletters for free or for a small price. For example, writers may subscribe Hope Clark’s e-newsletter FundsForWriters for free. Writing for Dollars, Worldwide Freelance, and Coffee House for Writers also provide free e-newsletters, as do many other writer’s websites.
These newsletters usually include an informative article, market listings, information on writing contests and grants, and advertisements for writers. Some newsletters come out weekly while others come out once or twice a month.
As with following blogs, don’t overdue reading e-newsletters. If a newsletter isn’t providing the information expected, unsubscribe (there’s usually a link to do so at the end of the newsletter). Remember that a writer is supposed to be writing; research should be aiding writing, not getting in the way of writing.
Read Books and eBooks about Writing
Books and eBooks about nearly every aspect of writing are also available. Look for recent titles of published books and remember that information changes quickly, especially market information. A five-year-old print book with market information is probably out of date. Ebooks can be updated by their writers or publishers and usually have more current information.
Take a bit of time every week to do some research, because as Masterson explains, “Refusal to learn about current trends, ignorance of changing requirements and a lack of regard for the advice from already-successful authors will mark you as an amateur. Refreshing information you already know is not learning—but it is almost as important. It serves to strengthen the knowledge you already have. A true writer never stops seeking new knowledge.”
~ © Bonnie Way