Agents Conference Keynote Address: Cal Morgan’s Top Ten for Writers

Photo by Deanna Roy

1. Find time to write and WRITE!
2. Find the OFF button on your TV. There are some great shows out there, but every hour spent watching is one less spent writing.
3. Find your way to a good bookstore. Get to know the people who work there.
4. Find a writer who is new to you and who inspires you and read their work. We all have our favorite authors, but go outside of your comfort zone and try something new. See what inspires you.
5. Constantly study those writers who inspire you.
6. Find an unbiased reader for your work who will be honest with you. (No, mom doesn’t count!)
7. Find a community and cultivate it. Online or off. Compare notes, get feedback, and support others.
8. Find an agent who is right for you, not just an agent who is willing to represent you.
9. Find an editor who understands you. Look past the advance and consider the editors who are bidding on your project, not just the money or the name of the publishing house.
10. Always be patient with yourself and others.

The 2010 WLT Agents Conference keynote speaker was Calvert Morgan, vice president and editorial director of Harper Perennial, Harper paperbacks, and It Books, imprints of HarperCollins Publishers. He is also an executive editor at the Harper hardcover imprint, where he edits a wide variety of fiction and nonfiction. Among his authors are the novelists Jess Walter, Tom Piazza, Ben Greenman, Christopher Miller, and Blake Butler. Cal also runs the website Fifty-Two Stories (www.fiftytwostories.com), where he publishes new short fiction every week by authors as diverse as Louise Erdrich, Mary Gaitskill, Ray Bradbury, Laura Lippmann, Dennis Cooper, and Simon Van Booy. A graduate of Yale University, he worked for eleven years at St. Martin’s Press before joining HarperCollins in 1999.

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