Textcetera series

Textcetera: Social media for writers

Social media can be a powerful tool for writers, helping you to find new audiences, promote your work, and network with other writers. But it can also be tricky to make the most of these platforms. The expectation for constant content and a need to find the right balance between professional and personal posts can be overwhelming for some writers.

Luckily, Janice Landry is here to help. Janice has published five books and is now working on her sixth manuscript. She was also an instructor in the Department of Communications Studies at Mount Saint Vincent University for nearly 17 years, teaching many students about public speaking, media relations, persuasive writing, and audiovisual communications. Below, Janice shares advice for writers looking to incorporate social media into their writing practice.

Learn how to engage

Each social media platform has unique audiences and functions, so it’s good to research your options before signing up. These days, Facebook tends to reach an older demographic, while TikTok users skew younger—something to keep in mind if you are a writer of young adult fiction, for example. Instagram is optimal for photos, and Twitter works best for very concise messaging.

“Unless an author who is new to social media understands each platform, I would urge them to keep it to one platform and learn, then spread their wings,” Janice advises. “It can be time-consuming to manage multiple accounts, and what works for one platform does not necessarily work for another. Each has its own flavour and requirements.”

If you don’t understand or enjoy a particular platform, this will likely come across in your posts. It’s always better to stick to a few accounts that you can meaningfully engage with than to try and fail to keep up with the ever-changing trends in the tech world.

Learn how often to engage

“Social media is a free avenue for authors to get the word out about their work,” Janice notes. “It helps the public know when and where events are happening and what each author’s focus and passion is, in real-time.” But after you’ve signed up for an account or two, don’t forget that “consistency is key to maintaining a following.” A writer who posts sporadically, only every couple of months or so, will quickly be forgotten and abandoned by their online audience.

Writers who are just starting out should consider stockpiling relevant content before launching an account, such as photos of favourite writing spaces, links to interviews, and articles about writing that are worth resharing. This content can then be posted at regular intervals, such as once a week, while still leaving space to share things organically.

Know when to step back

On the flipside, don’t let your writing practice take a backseat to social media. “The trick is balancing the delivery of information without inundating people,” says Janice. If your posts are popping up in someone’s feed five or six times a day, your over-engagement can actually have a negative effect, driving people away from your account. Consider, too, that your audience wants to engage with you, so make sure you post original content and not just words and images created by other people.

One final caution from Janice: “Social media never stops, and it can be overwhelming. Know when to walk away from your computer and when to put the phone down. (Easier said than done!) Remember, this is a contrived space where people show you what they want you to see. It’s never the total story. So do not compare yourself to others. You are good enough.”

Be thoughtful, be kind, and be yourself

The best way to build a following on social media is to be thoughtful and authentic in what you post. “Don’t vent and don’t engage with trolls (people who are determined to ‘get your goat’ on issues),” Janice suggests. “Discretion is strongly advised. Ask yourself whether something is appropriate content before posting.”

In Janice’s experience, displaying “genuine empathy” is what has gained her the most followers online. “Do not just post. Support and interact with others. We are a community. There is room in the creative pond for everyone. I appreciate all the people who support me, and I try to show that reciprocally every week.”

Those interested in Janice Landry‘s social media technique you can follow her Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.

Check out our Quick Guide to Social Media Platforms for Writers for a condensed review of eight platforms and their usefulness for writers.

textcetera is a blog series exploring the writer’s life beyond craft. “Social media for writers” was written by K.R. Byggdin.

Textcetera: Learning about literary festivals

When it comes to literary festivals, Nova Scotians are spoiled for choice! From the South Shore to Cape Breton to the Northumberland Strait, these events bring hundreds of writers and readers together each year. Below, organizers from Halifax-based AfterWords (which will run September 28 to October 3, 2021) and River John-based Read by the Sea (which ran July 2 to 9, 2021) talk about the various benefits that festivals offer to local literary communities.

Come to listen and learn

Stephanie Domet co-founded AfterWords Literary Festival with Ryan Turner in 2019. As writers themselves, the pair wanted to “create the kind of festival we very much wanted to attend.” Stephanie notes that emerging writers can get a lot out of these events as attendees. “Festivals offer an opportunity to be exposed to lots of writers you might not have heard of before, hear about their process, their struggles and triumphs, and hopefully see yourself reflected so that you can start to see your own path as a writer. Plus, the other folks in the audience will be, to some extent, your people—fellow readers and writers.”

Monica Graham and Lana MacEachern, who both serve on the organizing committee for Read by the Sea, also emphasize the learning opportunities to be found at these events. Festivals provide “a chance to meet writers in person,” Monica says, “to schmooze around in the literary scene, to find common points of interest with other book lovers and book creators, and to honour your own creative drive.” And, Lana adds, “to listen to authors read their work with all the right intonations they intended when they wrote their books—it offers tremendous insight into the literary mind.”

Come to volunteer and network

In addition to an audience, literary festivals need many volunteers to succeed. Helping out with a festival’s organization “will get you close up and personal” to the action, says Monica, and you may just put yourself on the radar of planning committees considering future festival lineups. Festivals will also often thank volunteers with free or reduced-cost access to their events.

Whether you’re an audience member or a volunteer, festivals provide an unparalleled occasion for turning the normally solitary act of writing into an encouraging networking opportunity with like-minded folks. When meeting fellow writers, Lana suggests that you “be ready with a question, an honest compliment about their work, or a comment about something in their work that resonates with you”—but also that you be respectful of everyone’s time. “If there is a great lineup waiting to have their books signed in 40 degrees of mid-July heat, don’t take up too much time” talking to the author. “Just establish yourself as interested—and interesting.”

For those nervous about putting themselves out there, Stephanie has some advice: “You don’t have to talk to everyone, and you don’t have to ‘achieve’ anything. Just be in community with other readers and writers. Bring your curiosity and your good heart.”

Come to share your own writing

If you’re lucky enough to be invited to share your own work at a literary festival, some prep time can ensure your reading or performance shines. “It is a good practice to think in advance about the kinds of questions you might encounter,” says Stephanie. “Spend some time thinking about why you write the way you do, what was driving you when you wrote what you wrote, what your own advice might be for other writers.”

For readings, Stephanie suggest that you “wear something you feel comfortable and awesome in, don’t read from notes, don’t be afraid to pause for a breath before you answer any question, and be sure to drink some water about fifteen minutes before your panel starts—it takes that amount of time for the hydration to reach your vocal folds.” Lana adds that you should keep your reading to no more than fifteen or twenty minutes and should “talk about your work between sections of your reading. This can include a little speech to set up the piece you read or a comment about how this book ties into your other books.”

If you encounter any awkward or off-topic questions from the audience, feel free to redirect the conversation. Just because your writing may delve into some personal topics doesn’t mean you have to share every detail with an audience. “It’s okay to say, ‘I’m sorry, I don’t like to discuss my family (or whatever) in public,’” Monica advises. “And if it’s just someone who won’t leave the mic and sit down, hopefully, there is a moderator who will jump up and say, ‘Next question?’”

The future of literary festivals

During the pandemic, some festivals have postponed their events while others have pivoted to online programming.

Stephanie admits it was a lot of work for AfterWords to offer virtual events. “We had to learn a whole new way to present events, figuring out technology and tickets and so on,” she says, but it also came with benefits. “Being online made our festival very accessible to audiences of all kinds right around the world. It also allowed us to invite Roxane Gay to be our headliner—we definitely would not have been able to bring her to an in-person event. And we were able to extend free tickets to lots of folks who might not otherwise have attended a literary festival.” Moving forward, Stephanie sees AfterWords continuing to offer some online events to help make the festival as broadly accessible to the public as possible.

As a festival programmer, she will also be engaging with diverse communities to ensure the festival represents the full range of writers and readers that exist. “I think programmers have a responsibility to continue to educate ourselves on how to decolonize our festivals in order to make them safe and welcoming to all kinds of folks,” she says. “Representation is great, but it’s unkind, at best, to invite folks into spaces simply in the name of diversity without doing everything we can to ensure that the space is anti-racist and truly accessible. I love the work the Festival of Literary Diversity is doing on this front.”

As Monica and Lana recount, Read by the Sea was “started in 2000 by four women who wanted to bring a few of Canada’s finest writers to a small coastal village with a largely resource-based economy and—thanks to a good library and a variety of school programs—a growing interest in literary arts.” This grassroots approach has allowed them to expand the festival in ways that appeal to their audience, with children’s programming and events that have helped with fostering a burgeoning local writing scene year-round. As all three organizers demonstrate, there’s a bright future in Nova Scotia for literary festivals that connect meaningfully with their communities.

Stay in the loop & discover new lit fests by checking out our public database of Nova Scotia Literary Festivals.

textcetera is a blog series exploring the writer’s life beyond craft. “Learning about literary festivals” was written by K.R. Byggdin.

Textcetera: Promoting your book with a small press

At smaller presses across the country, it’s not uncommon for authors to play some role in the promotion of their book alongside their publisher, says Liz Fuller, Promotions & Publicity Specialist at Formac Publishing in Halifax. “I work closely with our authors to develop and execute a promotional plan with the goal of generating interest, conversation, and book sales,” she explains. “Each promotional plan and campaign is different—one of the things I really enjoy about my job!”

Below, Liz gives writers a sense of what they can expect from the promotion process with a small press in Canada.

The publisher’s plan

While a cross-country tour is not in the budget for most authors these days, Liz notes that the Nova Scotia government offers arts grants to help fund local tours, and publishers can apply to these grants on behalf of their writers.

“COVID restrictions put in-person book promotion on hold and forced us to refocus our efforts on being creative in our use of digital marketing and promotion such as Zoom readings,” Liz explains. “Once limits on indoor gatherings decrease, we will organize signings or small events at local bookstores if the opportunity arises.”

Beyond in-person events, however, Liz says that “there are other methods of promoting a book that are more cost effective and can reach more people at one time.” For example, “traditional media platforms such as TV shows, radio shows, newspapers and book reviews are still a great way to promote a new title. In comparison to an in-store book signing, a TV or radio show can reach hundreds if not thousands of people at one time and allow the author and book to be endorsed by the news source.”

“In addition to traditional media, we also rely on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter ads to reach suitable audiences for each book. Of course, a personal, live interview with an author is much more memorable than scrolling past a Facebook ad on your news feed, but keep in mind that those ads can reach thousands of potential readers.”

The author’s role

Most presses are likely to be marketing multiple titles at the same time. That’s why it’s crucial for authors to take stock of their existing networks and consider how they can help their publisher promote the book.

“Since I am not a full-time publicist for any one author, it’s very helpful for authors to do some promotional work on their own,” explains Liz. “For example, if they have a friend who is a news anchor, they don’t need me to reach out. If they are associated with a company with 10,000 followers on Instagram or Facebook, they don’t need me to arrange a post there. And all of that is very beneficial. My biggest piece of advice for authors is to take advantage of their connections, both personal and professional. Colleagues from school, gym buddies, family connections, university alumni reviews, local newspapers or specialists that they know from the field they study. It is much easier for an author to get an interview or book review done by someone that they know personally versus a faceless email or phone call. Connections don’t have to be best friends, but anyone with a platform, big or small. Those connections can expand into new connections, and networking will drive promotion even further.”

Set goals together, and ask questions

When it comes to collaboration on a marketing plan, Liz recommends that authors “be very direct right from the start about what their promotion goals are.” For example, “if an author is uncomfortable being on live TV, there’s no point in scheduling that.”

Work with your strengths, and be honest about your weaknesses. No one expects to take a cookie cutter approach to marketing your book. As Liz points out, “some authors want to be very hands-on in the promotion process of their new book, others want to take more of a backseat approach—and neither is right or wrong! In my first meeting with every author, it’s best to define the goals we both have, find the similarities and differences, and work to create a promotion plan that combines the two.”

Liz strives to “create an environment of mutual respect and honesty” between herself and the authors she works with. “I want every author to feel like they can approach me with any questions or concerns they may have,” she says, “whether that be on content they are being asked to speak on, types of media they may not be comfortable with, or asking for clarification when I provide them with media coaching feedback. At the end of the day, if an author is not comfortable with the marketing plan in place for them, it will show in their media appearances. This makes it absolutely essential to have a positive and open working relationship right from the start.”

Dialogue is key. Ask lots of questions, be specific when explaining why a certain approach may not work for you, and try to offer potential solutions whenever you have concerns.

Use social media, but use it well

When it comes to promotion via social media, Liz says that platforms such as Facebook or Instagram “can be a great tool when it comes to the promotion process, but are not absolutely necessary. Certain books may lend themselves more easily to a target demographic that is heavily influenced by social media, but this is not always the case. Most of the time, it is still incredibly beneficial to focus on traditional media in the promotion process. I will say though, social media is a great option to give an audience a personal feel for the author, and in turn, for an author to build connections that make people want to read their book. While it does not replace an in-person event, scrolling through an author’s Twitter, Facebook or Instagram gives the audience a sense of the personality of the author and can influence the decision to buy or not buy the book.”

A publisher can often help create social media graphics, posts, and advertisements, Liz notes, “but authors are responsible for keeping their personal sites up-to-date.” Unlike a website, social media needs to be updated regularly to be effective, so consider how much time you have to devote to various platforms before signing up for them. Focus on reaching out to your audience in authentic ways that can be sustained. If you aren’t a fan of Twitter, then focus your efforts on developing an engaging newsletter or on meeting with local book clubs. There’s no one path to promotional perfection. Talk with your publisher, consider your strengths, and develop the marketing plan that’s right for you.

Looking for concrete ideas to bring to the promotional table? Check out Promoting Your Book with a Small Press (the extended PDF edition)!

textcetera is a blog series exploring the writer’s life beyond craft. “Promoting your book with a small press” was written by K.R. Byggdin.

Textcetera: Signing your first book deal

For the debut author, receiving your first publishing deal is a cause for celebration. But before you can sign on the dotted line, there may be some negotiating to do. Elaine McCluskey, who has published with small presses across the country, has gone through this process several times without an agent. “Even though some may be embarrassed talking money,” she says, “authors can navigate this on their own.” Below is Elaine’s to-do list for considering your first book deal with a traditional publisher.

Take some time

It’s perfectly reasonable to ask for a week or two to review a publishing contract (sometimes also called a ‘publication agreement’) before signing. As Elaine points out, “if this is your first book, you may be too excited to scrutinize the fine print” right away.

If your manuscript is a simultaneous submission, this will also give you time to update any other publishers who are currently considering your manuscript. Who knows? You may even end up with a competing offer or two!

Seek out resources

“It is always good to talk to writers who may have worked with the same publisher,” says Elaine. “They can tell you what the experience was like and whether you need to adjust your expectations. You might also ask a relative or a friend to read your contract—in the same way you might ask them to check your income tax return.”

Outside of your personal circle, the Writers’ Union of Canada offers contract-related resources on their website. You can also hire a lawyer to review the contract and provide you with detailed recommendations (although they may ask for the name of your publisher, to do a conflict-of-interest check, before agreeing). For writers on a budget, the Nova Scotia Artists’ Legal Information Society is another option. Though they can’t advise you on contract negotiations or changes, their volunteers can help explain any legal terminology that might be confusing or unclear. NSALIS also offers a free legal guide for writers.

The details do matter

As with all contracts, the fine print can make a big difference in your publishing deal. For example, “saying the book ‘may’ be released in 2023 is not the same as the book ‘shall’ be released in 2023. Some publishers also have a first-right-of-refusal clause, which means they get first dibs on your next book. Look for that. Do you want this?”

Those authors who have incorporated elements such as epigraphs, song lyrics, or photos in their work should consider that it is almost always the responsibility of the author to obtain official permission from the copyright holder and to pay any associated licensing fees. “Some photos can be acquired inexpensively—the Nova Scotia Archives has very reasonable rates—while others can be costly,” Elaine notes.

Elaine also suggests that authors “read the clause on royalties and the advance-on-royalties closely. When do you get the advance? Is it as soon as the manuscript is delivered or after the final edit? Is it split up?” As for the amount, “if your book is topical and has sales potential, you might ask for more than originally offered,” but be prepared to do some research and comparisons to back up any requests of this nature. Margins for most small presses across the country are extremely tight.

Finally, “make sure you know what type of publisher you are talking to. A traditional publisher gives you an advance and does not ask you to pay for anything, including distribution.” Self-publishing through a hybrid publisher “is great for some authors and can jump-start their careers, but requires authors to cover some costs.”

Talk to your publisher

Elaine’s last piece of advice? “I would recommend that the author not be afraid to ask questions during negotiations and production. Publishers are not offended when you give polite feedback or ask reasonable questions, such as what are your plans for this book? Where do you see it fitting into your publishing plans? What do you need from me?”

Whether meeting in person, virtually, or over the phone, these negotiations can be helpful to both sides. Treat this process as an opportunity for earnest dialogue about your work and a chance to establish a rapport with your publishing team. If you feel uncomfortable about anything, it never hurts to ask. The more you learn during your first book deal, the more confident you’ll feel the next time around.

Please note that this blog post is for informational purposes only. Writers seeking legal advice on their contracts should speak with a lawyer.

Not yet at the stage of signing a contract? Check out our new public resource—You’ve Written a Book—Now What?, prepared by author and publishing professional Sal Sawler—for a crash course in how publishing in Canada works.

textcetera is a blog series exploring the writer’s life beyond craft. “Signing your first book deal” was written by K.R. Byggdin.

Textcetera: Pitching to publishers

As the Acquisitions and Development Editor for Fernwood Publishing, Fazeela Jiwa is part of a team that reviews approximately 600 book pitches per year. Of those, Fernwood and its literary imprint, Roseway, publish around 30 titles. While these statistics are daunting, there are some ways you can ensure your submission stands out from the crowd. Below are some of Fazeela’s top tips for pitching your manuscript to publishers.

Do your research

Publishers include submission guidelines and contact pages on their websites for a reason. Read through these resources thoroughly before drafting your pitch. “For me,” says Fazeela, “following submission guidelines is one of the most important things for authors trying to stand out from others in the slush pile—because it shows that you know the publisher’s preferences and respect the editors’ time.”

When writing your query letter, don’t presume someone’s title or pronouns if that information is not readily available. As Fazeela notes, nothing’s more frustrating than receiving a lazy and outdated “Dear Sirs” pitch because a writer hasn’t done their research to address the proper person.

Don’t reuse the same pitch for different publishers

While simultaneous submissions are common these days, it’s important to take the time to individualize your pitches to the required specifications of each publisher. As Fazeela notes, while “it may seem annoying or time-consuming to have to reformat or repackage your book idea to suit what different publishers ask for, it’s because publishers all have different priorities and considerations.”

You may choose to emphasize different aspects of your manuscript in response to a publisher’s preferences and priorities. For example, “if I were submitting a proposal to a publisher with explicitly radical politics like Fernwood,” Fazeela says, “then I would play up that angle of my submission. If I were approaching a publisher known for their experimentation with literary genres, I’d emphasize that. The crucial underlying message here is to know the publisher you’re submitting to—read their website, check out their books, look at their socials. You can find out a lot about what they’re looking for in terms of tone, form, or content.”

Know the market for your manuscript

Publishers don’t expect your manuscript to appeal equally to all demographics, so it’s not necessary to pitch the project that way. “It’s important to be specific and honest about the book’s limitations,” Fazeela points out. With that said, don’t expect your publisher to know who your book’s target audience is if you don’t. When developing your query letter, Fazeela advises that you should “discuss as many specifics about your book as you can muster in short form and use all the keywords you imagine your book can relay. You don’t need to be super formal, but you should be provocative and interesting.”

If you’re having trouble boiling your book down into a simple synopsis, “you can try doing a reverse outline, where you write a summary of each paragraph and put them in order to see if there is any repetition or if something is missing or if the order needs to be changed. In doing this work, your themes will surface.” One of Fazeela’s colleagues also recommends that writers ask themselves “what is the one central question your book is trying to answer? And what is the answer?”

Don’t pester publishers

Once your manuscript has been submitted, you’ll need to have some patience. It won’t help your chances of getting published if you appear to be a high maintenance author right off the bat. As Fazeela notes, Fernwood and Roseway receive an average of 40 – 50 submissions each month, and it takes time to give each query thoughtful consideration.

If a publisher lists an average review time on their website of, say, six months, don’t follow up on your submission until that date has passed. If no timeline is given, Fazeela suggests waiting a minimum of “two or three months.” And all the better if you have a concrete update to the project when you check in, such as a prominent author who is willing to blurb the book or an offer from another publisher, both of which may spur faster evaluation of your manuscript and, perhaps, a competing offer.

If you choose to submit simultaneously, be sure to explicitly state in your query letter that you are sharing your manuscript with more than one publisher. “It does make a difference in our timeline if we love the submission,” Fazeela says.

Are your questions about querying still unquenched?

WFNS also maintains a list of Atlantic Publishers & Periodicals on our website that can help you find potential publishers.

textcetera is a blog series exploring the writer’s life beyond craft. “Pitching to publishers” was written by K.R. Byggdin.

Textcetera: Making the most of mentorship

Small words of encouragement can make a big difference in a burgeoning writer’s life. For author and journalist Evelyn C. White, one such moment came in high school. “I was encouraged by my honours English teacher to continue writing,” she recalls. “If memory serves, he was especially impressed with a paper I wrote on Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. I’m sure I pointed out the racist themes in the novel.”

Receiving advice from a trusted mentor can help emerging writers hone their voice and give them the confidence to pursue their own writing career. As Evelyn notes, “encouragement and support of ‘minority’ writers is especially important in a world where, quiet as it has been kept, most people are not white, are not male, and don’t speak English.” Recently, Evelyn had the opportunity to encourage and support Robert de la Chevotière as part of the 2021 Alistair MacLeod Mentorship Program. Below, Evelyn and Robert share some of their advice on how writers can make the most of a mentorship experience.

Find someone you click with

For Evelyn, “a good mentorship pairing is built on mutual respect. Following through on appointments. Being mindful of each other’s whole life re: family, work obligations, ‘down’ days, fatigue, rage against the state of the world, etc. Not sweating the small stuff and always keeping sight of the big picture.”

Robert also valued working with another Black writer who could better understand how his lived experiences influenced his creative work. “We clicked,” he says. “It was so easy talking, listening, laughing. I especially loved her support. She doesn’t just speak the words. She has such a way of conveying her sincerity that it resonates strongly with me. It was reassuring to hear that my voice was important, as was my story, its characters, setting, food, language, and the culture within it. It felt so good just ‘telling it as it is,’ not having to explain or justify the multicultural Blackness in the manuscript.”

“Robert and I were always on the same page regarding the impact that ‘cosmic forces’ (namely our African ancestors) can have on our writing,” Evelyn adds. “We both believe in honouring their sacrifices by digging deep to develop and present our best work.”

Check in regularly

With so many competing priorities, it is good for mentors and mentees to be intentional about checking in with each other, setting aside consistent times to do so. “Robert and I had regular, usually hour-long phone conversations at 4 pm on Saturdays,” Evelyn notes.

Other mentorship pairings in the Alistair MacLeod program have met for big-picture chats over coffee or shared manuscript feedback via email. There’s no right or wrong way to check in, so long as you find a rhythm that works for you both.

Set goals, but be flexible

While it can be helpful to set clear and achievable goals for your time together, it’s also important to recognize that your mentorship may sometimes need to take a back seat to daily life. If you’re not able to meet a deadline or attend a check in meeting here or there, that’s okay. Be sure to communicate your situation so everyone is on the same page and adjustments to the review schedule can be made.

For Robert, it helped that Evelyn made it clear that quality of writing, not quantity, was the goal. She helped him understand, first, “that I should not feel rushed to get it done as I am on no one’s clock, and second, that I should consider writing to the most intelligent reader, and to not short-change anyone of their reading experience. Also, I had to come to terms with not self-censoring myself or my experience to fit with Eurocentric value systems.”

Incorporate feedback that strengthens your own voice

It’s possible that creative differences may strain a mentorship pairing. In this case, Evelyn has some simple advice. “If the mentorship is not working, I’d suggest having an honest conversation, as soon as possible, about shutting it down and moving on. No harm, no foul. My mantra: ‘Save the drama for your Mama.’”

However, in Robert and Evelyn’s case, they connected so well from the beginning that it was easy to have meaningful conversations about Robert’s manuscript. Part of Evelyn’s guidance was to share with Robert “similar work (re: themes, style) by other authors,” piquing new thoughts and perspectives on his own book. Robert appreciated this holistic approach, which helped him examine his story within a broader context.

“Mentees should definitely consider any advice given,” encourages Robert, “especially in terms of the big picture of navigating the writing and publishing process.” That said, “mentorship is a partnership, and suggestions are lenses through which others view our work. We must have our own vision of what we want for our manuscript, and we should be able to discern what advice or suggestions to take and how best to apply those. I trusted the advice given to me by Evelyn and knew that she would not lead me astray. I also believe strongly in not being afraid to ‘kill my darlings.’ At the end of the day, it’s the writer’s manuscript and their name attached to it. And if any suggestion doesn’t make the writer happy, they shouldn’t take them. However, I would say, at least try it and see. For me, that has always been the better choice. Maybe it wasn’t about the change even, but the exploration of the rewriting. Rewriting is always better. As Evelyn reminds me, ‘The best writing is rewriting.’”

For a free, professional mentorship opportunity, consider applying to WFNS’s Alistair MacLeod Mentorship Program. (The 2021-2022 application deadline is October 8, 2021.) Interested writers can super-charge their application with our 5 Tips for Preparing an Application, which gleans advice from key behind-the-scenes Mentorship Program participants.

For more informal mentorship opportunities, Evelyn C. White suggests that folks contact a writer they admire (and whose writing is similar to their own) and politely “ask for recommendations of books, workshops, or organizations that might strengthen the work.”

WFNS also maintains free Writing Group Listings, which may help you find peer-to-peer feedback opportunities.

textcetera is a blog series exploring the writer’s life beyond craft. “Making the most of mentorship” was written by K.R. Byggdin.

Introducing Textcetera

WFNS is always looking for ways to expand the professional development (PD) resources we offer to members and to the general public. We know that many of you have questions about the business and community aspects of storytelling, and while live PD sessions are invaluable, they don’t always line up with your current career stage.

That’s why we’re excited to introduce textcetera, a limited-run blog series that explores the writer’s life beyond craft and provides PD advice on-demand!

In the coming weeks, textcetera will explore topics such as contract negotiations, book promotions, and social media, sharing insight from published authors and industry insiders as well as associated resources. WFNS members will also have access to deeper dives on several topics, available to view or download as PDFs. All textcetera posts can be browsed in our textcetera Archive.

We’ll continue to develop our free public PD resources and to offer virtual PD sessions (held each spring and fall) on these and other business and community topics.

If there’s a particular topic you’d like us to cover in a future textcetera run or a future PD session, please contact us at communications@writers.ns.ca.

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Recommended Experience Levels

The Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (WFNS) recommends that each workshop’s participants share a level or range of writing / publication experience. This is to ensure that each participant gets value from the workshop⁠ and is presented with information, strategies, and skills that suit their current writing priorities.

To this end, the “Recommended experience level” section of each workshop description refers to the following definitions developed by WFNS:

  • New writers: those with no professional publications (yet!) or a few short professional publications (i.e., poems, stories, or essays in literary magazines, journals, anthologies, or chapbooks).
  • Emerging writers: those with numerous professional publications and/or one book-length publication.
  • Established writers/authors: those with two book-length publications or the equivalent in book-length and short publications.
  • Professional authors: those with more than two book-length publications.

For “intensive” and “masterclass” creative writing workshops, which provide more opportunities for participant-to-participant feedback, the recommended experience level should be followed.

For all other workshops, the recommended experience level is just that—a recommendation—and we encourage potential participants to follow their own judgment when registering.

If you’re uncertain of your experience level with regard to any particular workshop, please feel free to contact us at communications@writers.ns.ca