Sunday, 29 August 2010

Who's Giving the Advice?

There's that old saying, those who can, do, those who can't, teach.  I obviously don't think that's true - I LOVE teaching, but I also write successfully - but I do worry sometimes about exactly who is doing the teaching.  

Recently I came across someone who is offering book doctoring services.  This person has never had a novel published, nor have they worked in publishing.  Their only qualifications are that they like doing it, and have worked on friends' novels to the point where they decided to charge for it.  

They may be brilliant - I hope they are.  When I was on my MA course I cheerfully handed out what I felt were incredibly insightful comments to fellow students.  With hindsight, I don't think the comments were that bad.  However, I recognise it was only later that I was able to offer anything truly useful as feedback, when I'd had enough experience of looking at manuscripts and working out feedback as well as writing my own novels and short stories.  

We all have to start somewhere.  But how can someone expect to offer something worth being paid for when their experience is so limited?  What really agitates me is that they're working for a well known literary consultancy which charges serious fees to would-be writers.  The answer has to be, if you're thinking of using a literary consultancy ask who is going to be giving the critique.  


Lara said...

I've been following your blog for sometime. I admire you for your honesty, oh, your writing too!

badas2010 said...

I've recently had a bad experience of that with comments from a so called expert who clearly had missed the whole idea of the story. It's put me right off and from now on I'M going to be my most important critic!

Sarah Duncan said...

Hi Lara, thanks for the nice comments - tho being told people admire me for my honesty always makes me feel a bit nervous, as if I should really be more circumspect.

The wrong comments at the wrong time can be hugely destructive. I've been there - chucked out a half written novel earlier this year - so sympathise if you've been put off.

Having said that, I'm sure I've put people off in the past (and probably will again in the future), for which I can only apologise. Sometimes your judgement misfires.