I have received a tremendous amount of feedback about my ongoing series of posts on manuscript submission. Thank you, keep it coming, and I am heartened that many find the posts helpful.
Larry Tagg, whose book The Unpopular Mr. Lincoln: The Story of America's Most Reviled President will be published later this Spring by Savas Beatie (you can watch and listen to Larry talk about his completely unique approach to Lincoln here:), left a very perceptive comment a few hours ago I wanted to discuss briefly. Here is Larry's observation:
I used to run into the same problem with songwriters who sent me their work to critique. As soon as I offered a real criticism, they got huffy and recoiled. Sorry to say, it's the mark of someone who is destined to remain an amateur.
Larry knows of what he speaks. He was the "Tagg" of Bourgeois Tagg, the hit band of the late 1980s. This was probably their most timeless hit (and my favorite): I Don't Mind At All. Yes, THAT song.
A lesson I learned (sometimes the hard way) was that if I was going to excel at something, I would have to put my pride on the shelf, be it baseball (my love of the game exceeded my throwing arm), classical piano, practicing law, writing history, or publishing books. My mom encouraged me from a young age to find people who excelled at what I wanted to do, and learn what they did and how they did it. "But don't just listen to what they tell you," she continued, "HEAR what they tell you and welcome it."
This bit of universal truth aptly applies to writing (and getting published). Follow the rules, listen to what others who have carved out successful writing avocations or careers tell you, and learn from it. Heed it. Thank them. And be thankful.
Or, as the song goes . . . you will be "...destined to remain an amateur."