Do you have any general advice for an aspiring fantasy writer, things I should be doing to try to--
Yeah. So, coming to WorldCon's a good start. I don't know if you found them, but going to any panels that editors are sitting on. Often, there's a panel that will be like, "What's new from Tor.com" or "What's new--" That's just a good place to watch what the editors are excited about and learn from them. Maybe if you see them at a party or something later on, you can ask them about the things that they're releasing, and stuff like that.
The number one thing that makes a great writer is a mediocre writer who's willing to practice. Try not to put too much investment into any one piece. You wanna put your whole heart into it, but don't base your whole career whether on that piece turns out right. I'm not explaining this well, but idea is that the purpose of your writing time is to train yourself to be a better writer. And hopefully the product is this awesome book that you're passionate about, but if it goes haywire, that's gonna teach you, sometimes, a lot more than anything else. So just stick at it. Practice. Be willing to do it regularly and consistently. And if you can teach yourself to be consistent, that's your number one goal.
I was asking my agent the other night, just last night actually, I'm like, "So what breaks someone in these days?" 'Cause the market's so different. He said, "It's the same thing that always broke someone in: they write a great book." He says, "I've never picked up a book by an author as an agent that I have been passionate about and thought was great that didn't sell." So it says that a good book still sells, in his opinion. Breaking through that agent veil can be really tough, and self-publishing is a totally valid method of going these days.
I have a series of YouTube lectures, which are my university course that I just recorded. So go give those a watch. We talk a whole bunch about writing and the business and things like that.