Miscellaneous Questions

Why do you do this page - don't you worry that you're making more competition for yourself?

No. I'm my own competition. If I can write better books, I'll sell better. If I can help you write better books, you'll sell better. But the people who buy your books won't stop buying my books because of you. They'll buy both. I do this page because a couple of idealistic writers (one who has gone on to be phenomenally successful) took me under wing when I was a neophyte and told me how to do things right, and taught me how to avoid making the major mistakes they knew about (though I've still managed to make some pretty impressive mistakes on my own,) and because one of them told me, "This is the way my help works. You can't pay me back for what I've taught you, any more than I can pay back the mentors who taught me. You can only pay forward."

This is part of how I am keeping my promise to pay forward. If what I've done here has helped you, then you are the recipient of a chain of mentoring and altruism that extends from me back to Mercedes Lackey, and through her to C.J. Cherryh, and through her to, I think, Marion Zimmer Bradley. It probably goes back further than that.

If I've helped you, you can't pay me back. You can, however, pay forward. When you make it - and you can make it - pick up the torch and use it to help light the way for the young writer who is coming up behind you. That young writer is not your competition. He is the next good book you'll want to read, and the promise that books worth reading will continue to be written after you and I are dust.

Tell him what I'm telling you: Life is short. Love is eternal. All we have to offer to each other that amounts to anything is our love, our time, and our belief that individuals and their dreams matter. Dare to love. Dare to believe. And never give up on your dreams.

• Questions About The FORWARD MOTION Writers' Page

May I link my site to your web page?

Yes, with one exception. If your page has frames that will surround this page while the reader goes through it, please don't.

Will you link your site to my page?

I'll consider it. Here are my criteria for pages that I recommend to my readers.

You have either exhaustive links on a particular subject or intelligent original content of interest to writers;

You don't charge for page access or require membership for the use of more than fifty percent of your original content;

Your page isn't racist, sexist, or exclusionary (and this includes exclusion by race or sex. I won't recommend a page that is only for women, only for blacks, or only for any other special interest group, and that refuses access to all others); and,

I can look around the site and determine its suitability. I will not recommend anything I haven't seen. This last seems awfully obvious to me, and might to you, but I've had people ask me to recommend their sites or programs who would not let me see them.

If your site meets my preliminary criteria, e-mail me at [email protected] and I'll look around when I get the chance, and put up a link if I think my readers will enjoy it.

May I copy an article from your web site?

If you simply want to print off a single copy for yourself or a friend, go ahead. Enjoy.

If you would like to copy one of the articles for a newsletter that you mail for free to a limited membership, or to post to a newsgroup, e-mail me at [email protected] with details on the article you'd like to copy and I'll tell you what you need to include in order to avoid violating my copyright.

If you would like to copy an article for any print publication that has paid subscribers, e-mail me at [email protected] with the details on the article you'd like to print and we'll discuss the price for sale of reprint rights.

No portion of Forward Motion is available for copying to any other web site under any circumstances, except for segments complying to the copyright laws on fair usage for purposes of reviewing this site. I've spent thousands of hours designing the page and creating original content for it, and I wish to maintain exclusive web use of that content. If you believe your readers would find something useful, you are welcome to link to the article in question. Please check your links for validity from time to time - this page changes frequently and links may break.

• The BIG THREE Questions

And finally, here they are in order of popularity - the three questions that make up about a third of my mail from this page, twenty-five percent asking the first question alone. Please, please read the answers. (Addendum for this e-book. People apparently have read this section. I'd say that these questions now only make up about a tenth of my mail. So for everyone who has taken the time to read the FAQs before sending me one of these three question, thank you.)

Can you read something that I wrote?

No. The short answer is that I don't have the time and even if I did, my agent forbids it.

The long answer is that, first, society being what it is today, on Russ's advice I don't look at anything that hasn't already been sold to a publishing house. I have ideas for the next hundred years and have no interest in stealing anyone else's, but if I don't read anything that hasn't already been sold to a publisher, I'll never find myself in a situation where I have to prove that fact in court.

Second, this page has already generated thousands of letters. Roughly 25% of the people who write to me ask me if I'll read their novel, their short story, their poetry, or their background, and tell them how to fix it, and maybe put in a good word with my agent or my publisher for them - and this in spite of the fact that I've noted elsewhere that I don't read manuscripts. If I gave up writing, I could spend every minute of my time doing this, or I could keep writing and give up my family life, but I'm not interested in doing either. I like writing for a living and I love my family.

You don't need to have a writer read your manuscript in order for it to get published. You need to learn to read it with a critical eye, and be willing to change what you see that needs to be fixed. These are essential skills for any professional, and until you've learned them you won't be able to sell. And the only way you can learn them is to work at it. I know this is hard, and hearing it may be disappointing, but there is no easy way to succeed.

Can you hook me up with a publisher or editor or agent?

No. When you've written something publishable, start sending it around. While it's circulating, start work on the next thing. You will eventually find your agent and your editor and your publisher. But again, there's no easy way. You don't need an in - you just need patience and faith and to have written something good.

If I supply the idea, would you collaborate with me on a book?

No. But we can do it the other way if you'd like. Here's an idea. The hero is a guy who wakes up one morning to discover that his wife is gone and there's this little doll lying on her side of the bed. No note, no nothing - just the doll. No sign of a break in, no sign of anything missing except his wife, no sign of violence. He's scared, he can't figure out what has happened . . . and I'm not sure what happens after that.

You take that idea, and spend nine months or a year or whatever working it into a finished novel, and sell it, and when you're done, credit me with coauthor status because I came up with the idea and send me half of your advance and half of your royalties from now until the end of time. Also half of all subrights sales.

Or better yet, don't. You're welcome to the idea - if you use it and sell it, God bless you and I hope you enjoy the money. You don't owe me anything. But now I hope you can see why writers aren't thrilled when someone asks them this question.

Section 5: RECOMMENDED READING • Telling Lies for Fun and Profit

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