Thursday, September 9, 2010

Corbin Lewars on Persistence

Yesterday, at Just Write on Whidbey Island, our guest speaker was Corbin Lewars, local writing mentor and author of Creating A Life.  It took Corbin five years to see her book published, after rewrites, a fired agent, and a lot of stress, she finally went the route of small publishing.  She shared one stress saving secret though: keep yourself busy.  Corbin started a zine before she was published, which shared common themes with her memoir and helped build a platform.  The zine, Reality Mom, is in its eighth year of publication.  It started small, she shopped it around to local bookstores, but slowly the demand grew.

Corbin shared a few other words of wisdom with us:

  • Don't follow the market.  By the time you finish a novel to suit the market, it will have moved on already.
  • Research each agent you are going to query and make sure you make her list.  Look up agents in your favorite books (acknowledgments page), and research them.  Corbin hired a friend great with researching to help with her agent list.
  • To get blurbs for your book start networking with local writing groups, other authors, and mentors.
  • Non-fiction, memoirs especially, tend to be only 60,000 words--this is due to publishing costs.
  • Make sure you can get out of your agent contract if you want to.  Don't let them trap you in for a year or two years if they aren't going to fulfill their end of the bargain.  If you negotiate a publishing contract agent-free, hire a publishing lawyer or freelance agent (they help negotiate contracts, contract free, for a small sum).
  • When you are out to find an agent, don't grab up the first one you come across simply because they want to represent you.  You are out to interview that agent as well.  If you can't get along with them professionally, working together isn't going to be a lot of fun.
When asked about her preference between small and large publishing houses, Corbin replied that she was glad she went with the small publishing house for her first book.  It afforded a lot more hand holding than the large ones would have.  The down side to small presses is that they have little to no budget for marketing, so you will be nearly solo on that.  However, in today's present economy, large publishing houses may give first time authors little to no budget anyways.  Either way, look forward to a lot of self marketing.

Check out Corbin's website here, and support authors by buying her book!  All in all, I greatly enjoyed meeting Corbin.  She is a down to earth woman, absolutely gorgeous, and a great speaker.  Her parting words of wisdom on how to stay motivated: get support through a writing group or mentor, make writing a priority, nurture yourself with a walk or a latte, and remember the key to being a writer is to keep writing.