Helping Writers with Life-Changing Decisions
By E. A. Aymar
ITW offers a wealth of opportunities and resources for both aspiring and debut writers, but what about writers at a turning point in their careers? Likely, you’ve been there yourself—pondering some sort of dramatic change in regards to your representation, publisher, genre, series, etc. To that end, ITW has launched Career Pursuit, a new program dedicated to providing resources and support for writers facing those life-changing decisions.
Chantelle Aimee Osman (Publisher, Agora Books) will be heading the program, and ITW will provide author interviews, webinars, Q&A sessions, and more. So what can you expect from Career Pursuit and Chantelle’s vision for the program? She explains in the interview below:
Career Pursuit is targeted to published writers who are interested in some sort of career change—either switching to a new genre, new series, changing agents and/or publishers, etc. Have you seen writers successfully make that kind of transition, and can you provide an example?
From my own experience, the first three books in the Agora line are definitely cross-genre, and in our winter line, we have the first crime novel from Silvia Moreno-Garcia, who is known for writing literary fantasy. It’s increasingly proving to be a myth that an author has to be pigeonholed into one series or genre. Another example is Jay Stringer, mostly known for his noir crime novels, recently released the first book in a new action series with a female Indiana Jones-esque protagonist to great acclaim.
This industry is notable for the sheer number of paths to success. There’s not just one story or any one right way. I know people who have had the same agent (or publisher) for 20+ years, and I know just as many who worked with an initial agent before moving up and cementing their career. Even more important than changing agents or genres, it’s important for the author to educate themselves about the business—know what the options are, what the market is, and most of all, know what type of career they want to have. Hopefully, this new program will help with that.
Do you worry about writers and experts you bring to this program giving poor advice? Are you ready to be sued?
There’s a lot of bad advice out there, people who skew the facts to make their career seem better, or yours worse. It’s important to know who you’re listening to and why you should listen to them. That’s why we’re committed to vetting the people and content in Career Pursuit before we endorse it.
How does a writer know when a situation in their career isn’t working out and requires a dramatic change, versus an obstacle that every writer faces and pushes through?
Really, it goes back to educating yourself. You don’t know what you don’t know until it becomes obvious you don’t know it.
Getting as much information before going into a situation to begin with is key. Know how the industry works—it’s pretty straightforward, but people treat it like an unknowable secret, even though it’s a business like any other. Then you’ll know if your concern is just insecurity, or if it’s something that needs a massive, immediate change. Agents also help you figure that out, but again, you have to have a good one. The agent/author relationship is one of the most important out there. Everyone thinks writing is solitary, but you’re, in fact, building a team, and your agent may be the most important person on it. This person will be your representative out there in the world, both of you and your words. It’s good to have that person be someone you can be honest with, and will be honest with you.
You’re the managing editor of a shiny new publishing house (Agora Books, an imprint of Polis), you constantly travel to conferences in the service of either promoting your authors or educating writers on craft/publishing, and you’re an active freelance editor and writer. How do you possibly have enough time to run the Career Pursuit initiative? Is this going to be completely abandoned, and end up a tumbleweed blowing through ITW?
I’ve already forgotten what the program is, but the name sounds good!
Also, “in the service of” makes me sound so much more altruistic than I really am.
And a lot more James Bond.
I’m good with that.