What is Literary Citizenship?

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Advice to an Aspiring Author on How to Publish Your Book

by Shannon Cain

1.) Write well. Pursue this goal for about 10 or 20 years.

2.) Tend to your literary citizenship:

  • Read. A lot.
  • Subscribe to literary magazines.
  • Buy books. Review them, and publish the reviews.
  • Teach.
  • Celebrate the achievements of your colleagues. Champion their work.
  • Share your power.
  • Donate to small presses. Volunteer. Join a governing board.
  • Practice humility.
  • In workshop, be patient and kind and truthful.
  • Attend talks and conferences. Listen hard.
  • Mentor a new writer. Be mentored.
  • Be a good friend to other writers. Keep generosity in your heart.

3.) Realize that literary citizenship makes you a better writer. Know that the more you give, the more you get back. Forget about publishing. Just write. And give.

Shannon Cain’s story collection, The Necessity of Certain Behaviors, won the 2011 Drue Heinz Literature Prize. She is a manuscript consultant and teaches fiction in the MFA program at Bennington College. This advice appeared in the newsletter for Kore Press. Leslie Pietryzk noticed how awesome it was and blogged about it at Work-in-Progress.  

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