Conflicting Advice

What’s a writer to do?

Until you’re published, you’re at the mercy of the plethora of advice you receive from writer’s groups, critique partners, workshops, conferences and “experts”. I don’t think I could be more confused if I tried.

Here are some examples:

1) Genres. Two weeks ago, Deidre Knight, while answering questions on Charlotte Dillon’s RWC Loop, said Paranormals are HOT, selling really well. Historicals are cold, hard sells, if you write Historicals it has to be fresh, new and exciting. This week, Judy Jackson on the AskAnAuthorAll RWA Loop said Paranormals are on the way out. That what’s being published now were bought 1-2 years ago. Don’t add in a paranormal element if you think that will help you sell. It won’t. Historicals are making a come-back.

Confused yet?

2) Queries. Linda had an agent send her an e-response to a query today. In it, the agent said she shouldn’t mention how many manuscripts she’s written. The agent said it leaves her guessing why the other manuscripts aren’t sold. Authors (pub’d and unpub’d) on several loops I’m on, have all said to mention a manuscript isn’t a first work – that some agents won’t even look at first work, assuming you haven’t put in your dues or haven’t developed your skills. So should you mention it’s a 2nd work? Or 3rd work? Just not a 4th or 5th work???

I’m confused.

3) Agents. According to Judy Jackson (again), “. . .beginning agents take about to break in authors. Mid-career agents take brilliant newbies and established authors. Pinnacle agents take brilliant newbies and established authors about to break big. In short, THEY ALL take brilliant newbies.”

So how do I know if I’m brilliant? Do I assume I am and query top agents, or shoot lower and target begining and mid-career agents?

Even more confused.