Sunday, August 29, 2010

Advice On Giving Advice

I believe that this alien romances blog was one of the first blogs of its kind, where a diverse group of authors focus on sharing unique, original advice and opinions about writing and our genre.

Now, there are scores of blogs of writers offering advice to writers. Setting oneself up as an expert is a savvy promo and marketing technique.

However... it's not always easy to think of something fresh, insightful, on topic etc to say, week after week, year after year. Problems are emerging (not here on this blog). Here's what I think would-be experts ought to know.

1. If you don't have something new to say, recycle great advice you yourself gave in the past.

The gist of this tip was shared with me by Penny Sansevieri when I asked her how she managed to sustain her free and totally brilliant newsletter, and also to Tweet pertinent advice in 120 characters three or more times a day. Her secret is to repackage tried and true good advice, over and over again. She does that so well, I never notice, and always appreciate a reminder of all the things I meant to do, and never got around to doing!

2. As long as you have the original authors permission, and as long as you quote accurately with full and proper attribution, share other experts' advice that you have found valuable.

3. If you wish to blog about a topic, and need help... ask. Usually, people are delighted to share what they know in exchange for the courtesy of kudos where kudos is due.

4. There's nothing wrong with the old adage, "If you've nothing good to say, stay silent."

The problem that is beginning to rear its head among bloggers is that of plagiarism and copyright infringement on advice blogs. In some cases --and as is their right-- some original authors are beginning to take action.

It is not okay to cut and paste someone else's expert post on a topic, replace every sixth word with a synonym, and pass it off as one's own.

What is more, there is software that can detect that sort of cheating. Also, in the absence of an agreement, the injured blogger is entitled to send an invoice for whatever he or she deems a reasonable fee for use of his or her work.

Advice blogs that I like include

Newsletters that I appreciate include 

Article about a small blog

Please leave a comment with your own recommendations for me to add to this post!

Rowena Cherry

1 comment:

  1. I'd expect that the most penetrating advice you might find on blogs would be a writer saying "I read this blog HERE (link), and did it, and SOLD MY FIRST STORY!!!"

    Then the person can legitimately give a recycled version of that advice that finally penetrated the mind-mists to produce a sale.

    Actually, almost everything in the "writing craft" posts I've done here is in that category - something I learned or was taught the hard way by famous writers or powerful editors, something I used to craft a piece that had the impact I had designed it to have.

    And that's what I'd like to see more of on the web.

    It is a dynamic process, and what works one year will not work the next. However, a distilled essence of storycraft has worked since time immemorial and will likely work until humanity itself changes drastically.

    So the blog circles should be "recycling" writing advice, but always with this "I did this and it worked the first time -- didn't work the second time -- so I modified it to this," angle.

    Jacqueline Lichtenberg