Answers to 8 Questions Writers Should Ask, syndicated from @stephonavich

The following is syndicated from and is posted here with permission.

PictureI read a post from Roxane Gay and thought...I want to answer these questions for my own sake. So here are questions in black (from Roxane) and answers in green (from me~Stephanie McKibben, Head Troll of Troll River Publications):

1. “Are you a good literary citizen?”

According to Roxane, literary citizenship is “the importance of remembering that no one is alone in the writing world. Conduct yourself as such.”

Don’t burn bridges. Get out of constant self-promo mode. Join a community — and help out.

Well, I contribute here which I consider a community where people can take or leave as they like. I also belong to a few communities in which I post when I can. So, I say yes.

2. “Are you more invested in the business of publishing than the practice of writing?”

Concentrate on writing first. Publishing, and all the gossip and who’s-who that it involves, should never distract you from producing the best work possible.

Well...I am a publisher but, I avoid gossip at all cost because it's disruptive and destructive. But I work on publishing everyday whether it's writing, putting a book on a platform, marketing, interacting with fans, etc. I tell all my authors to write what they want to write because they are story-tellers, not genre writers. 
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Okay, some want to be genre writers, and there is nothing wrong with that, but I don't want them to feel boxed into writing what they don't want to write. I publish it all. I believe in their writing skill not their genre skill.3. “Is your writing ready to be submitted? Will you stand behind your work not only today, but well into the future?”

Many writers are embarrassed by their early work.

Don’t be in a rush to publish. Wait a while before submitting your newest piece. Revise the thing until it’s something you’re proud of.

Uhhhh...yes, it does have to be something your proud of...but I have writers that love the book they wrote this week and then hate it tomorrow.

If I followed this advice my authors might never want to give me their MS. No, we aren't in a rush but you'll be a better writer tomorrow--are ya gonna wait 20 years to publish that book until your Hemingway ready?

How about put out the best book you can today. You can pull it from the platforms tomorrow. 

4. “Are you willing to be critiqued and/or edited?”

Good readers can often see your work more clearly than you do. You’re too close to it and need some outside perspective. Open yourself up to the sometimes-painful process of critique. Listen.

I'm very open as a writer on critique. I have wonderful word-bashing critiqer's. They rip it apart and put it back together again with me. I have enough confidence to understand that some of my experiments are not going to work. Some of my author's are sensitive souls, but they also get the importance of critique. 

5. “How will you deal with failure?”

You will be rejected. Don’t take it too personally. Just get smart about your submissions, send your best work, and hope for good results.

I deal with "failure" by writing another story or editing a story. In truth, failure just means it didn't turn out the way I thought it would and the outcome was undesirable. The word "failure" isn't used around here much.
6. “Are you reading diversely?”

Read “beyond your comfort zone,” as Roxane says — both in terms of aesthetics and demographics.

The wider your reading, the more empathetic your writing.

Have you seen my catalog? Let's see...From Unconditional Love, toEtiquette and back to Sugar Kink Ink...I'm pretty diverse.7. “Are you taking risks?”

Experiment. Take some real chances. If you fail, no one has to read it! As poets are fond of saying, “no surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.”

Does starting a business in a recession count? How about the time I released The Demon Inside Me...that is rather...risky I'd say. And I published it. Author Patricia A. Knight would tell you I took a risk publishing her books. 
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She'd been turned down for Hers To Command and was convinced it was crap. It's the book that created her following. I'd say we are taking risks. No box for us. Even the company name "Troll River" invites risk. What would you say?8. “Do you believe in your writing?”

As Roxane says, “if you don’t think you’re producing writing worth reading, why are you publishing?”

Doubt might serve you well when writing and revising, but self-deprecation is the last thing you want to bring to an encounter with an agent, editor, publisher, or group of readers. You don’t have to be a braggart, but present your work with confidence.

It's right there in our motto: "We BELIEVE in our authors...We Love our readers." I think that proves enough.

Thanks Roxane!!

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