Personal advice from a Pro

Back at the beginning of this year when I was finishing the rough draft of the manuscript and feeling very optimistic about finishing my first novel, I sent off an email to best-selling author Brandon Sanderson.  For those who don’t frequent the fantasy book section often, Brandon, in addition to writing many of his own fantastic books, has been asked to finish the Wheel of Time Series by Robert Jordan.  Out of all the authors out there I chose him because we are very similar; we’re about the same age, went to the same college, both have young families, both write fantasy, and both live up here in Northern Utah.

To my surprise this week I received a fantastic reply filled with advice and support.  I’ll share the best bits with you.

  • Brandon wrote more than a dozen novels before Elantris was published and it took over eight years.  Don’t give up, if you like writing keep at it. Persistence does pay off in the long run.
  • Finding agents is a good route to take; he strongly urges writers to find one.  He also suggests contacting editors as well.  Editors have relationships with publishing companies and can bring your work to their attention.
  • Seeking out a good editor or agent is the most direct way of getting the attention of a publisher. To find one check out “The Writer’s Market,” an international forum created to help writers, agents and publishers connect.
  • You can also look to books that are most similar to the one you are writing and research who was involved in creating it.  Most of the time the editor will be listed in the publication information – if not, it’s not too hard to get that information from Mr. Internet.
  • When seeking representation, having a strong query letter is vital.  There are several books and articles available that can help you create one.
  • If possible, attend a writers convention – particularly World Con or Fantasy Con.  These conventions bring writers, readers, and fans together with publishers, editors, agents, authors and other artists.  Great for networking.
  • Brandon also does a regular podcast called Writing Excuses that discusses all the ins and outs of creating a scifi/fantasy novel.  The site has all the podcasts on file and are a great resource.

Needless to say, I’m elated to have received personal correspondence from one of my writing heros.  If you have an author you look up to go ahead and send them an email.  They might just write something fabulous back!

Brandon’s blog feeds:

Main blog:



About Jodi

Jodi L. Milner is a writer, mandala enthusiast, and educator. Her epic fantasy novel, Stonebearer’s Betrayal, was published in November 2018 and rereleased in Jan 2020. She has been published in several anthologies. When not writing, she can be found folding children and feeding the laundry, occasionally in that order.
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10 Responses to Personal advice from a Pro

  1. aardvarkian says:

    Very helpful. Thank you.

  2. It is always good to hear back from a writer… and I am always amazed when they do take the time. Feels good.

    Thanks for posting this.

  3. CASSIM says:

    congrats on the reply that you received from brandon. keep going.

  4. Agatha82 says:

    Ah, that is just so cool. Really happy for you and thank you for sharing the experience with us. A friend of mine recommended The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, I was so gobsmacked by it because it is such an awesome book that I wrote him an email, and got a reply so I know how nice it is when someone takes the time to acknowledge you. Thanks for all the useful tips as well.

  5. Lua says:

    That is so nice of him! And those are some great advice Jodi- thank you for sharing 🙂 I’ll go check out his blog.

  6. oldancestor says:

    Not a bad way to get your name out there. There’s nothing to lose and everything (potentially) to gain.

  7. nrhatch says:

    How fun!

    Thanks for sharing his thoughts with us.

  8. Heather says:

    That would be very encouraging–to have such professional support. Thanks for passing on the encouragement–it’s ALWAYS good to read ‘don’t give up!.’ 🙂

  9. mlknudsen66 says:

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. Yours is right up my alley so I’ll be checking in often. I remember emailing Brandon Sanderson shortly after Elantris was released to tell him how much I liked it. He replied to me twice with very friendly, interested responses and encouragement. That he would still do something like that for you even after he’s “made it big” is outstanding. I admire his work ethic and desire to give back.

  10. Pingback: Brandon Sanderson: A True Professional « CHEERFUL VISTA DRIVE

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