One of the questions I tend to ask authors when they pitch is whether or not they have a team of qualified writers helping them accomplish their goals. I believe it is nearly impossible to craft a great story, fiction or non-fiction, on your own. I think sometimes new writers believe this. The first ever writer’s conference I attended, years before I was an agent, I believed that some writers had to be geniuses. I would snuggle into my bed at night, open up a book, and think the entire way through “How did they pull this off??!?!?!”

Before I knew better, I was extremely intimidated when I read other authors, and felt I would never be equipped to be as amazing as they were. I wasn’t alone in my thinking then and I know there are some of you raising your hand and nodding along right now.

I promise you.

Nobody writes anything of worth by themselves.

Once I started attending writers conferences, and I got to peer behind the curtain a bit, it changed everything for me. It changed the overwhelming feeling that other writers were automatically brilliant in their first draft. It changed the way I did business. I realized that even a career like writing, that appears to be a one-man sport, really isn’t one when you get right down to it. Every single one of my writer’s has a team. Once you get a contract, you also get a publishing team through the house you sell to. But even before we get that far, my writer’s have what I call their “prep teams.” These prep teams read bad first drafts, help fix plot holes, and timing, and conflict. These prep teams can be critique groups, beta readers, your agent (once you have one), paid developmental editors, and other writing mentors. These teams are all necessary. I have signed people knowing that they didn’t have access to these types of like-minded individuals on the front end. The first thing I do when that happens is start plugging them into a team.

I don’t think a healthy writing career is one wrought in solitude. You might write your first or even second manuscript like that, but once you’ve decided you are in this for the long haul, you need a team.

Before I was an agent, I owned a promotional products company. I would go in with a pen and paper, take orders, give event marketing ideas, show them products, and before they knew it, they were holding their finished product. To my customers, I was a one-woman operation. They had no clue how many companies and people their orders flowed through before they got to hold it in their hand. Behind the scenes, I was managing teams of people to run my company and fulfill their orders. I worked with several graphic artists to do artwork and re-size company logos, I worked with thousands of vendors to grab and match products with events, and I worked with drop-ship companies and printing companies as needed in between. It was still a team effort, even though it just looked like it was me, by myself, doing it all.

That is the writing life. You buy a book from Amazon and you dive in—and it’s perfect and ready and pretty. But, teams of people worked on that book to get it to your hands—both prep teams and publishing teams. If you will change the way you view the task of writing books, then you will free yourself from the unrealistic expectations you might have. These unrealistic beliefs about what writers do and don’t do will bankrupt your career before it even begins.

When people pitch, and they have a team, I know they have already aligned themselves for success. I know that they realize that publishing is a team effort, and your agent is simply a piece, although a crucial piece, to your writing team. When you accept this, it will be a game-changer for you. We aren’t meant to be alone, and you need a team of qualified, like-minded writers to help you accomplish your goals. When potential clients have this, I am more interested in signing them.




This series is part of the #Write31Days challenge. To read all the posts in this series click here.





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