Saturday, March 1, 2014

How to become published

For the millionth time, I don’t agree with the idea of reading fiction to become a good writer. Basically, that results in mimicking the masters with little understanding of what made their writing great. (Driving a car doesn’t make me a mechanic.)

To become successfully published a writer needs to have a knack for storytelling; interesting stories. For the most part, that doesn’t include therapeutic writing to get over something in one’s past. Put that in a journal and don’t subject the rest of us to it.
Armed with a natural storytelling ability, which includes an awareness of the audience, the best thing an aspiring writer can do is study writing. Take accredited courses at a local college or university. Read books about writing, about character development, about plot, and so on. Put some effort in learning to write well. Join writing groups. If one is interested in a specific genre, then join writing organizations and [professional] associations that are specific to that genre. Become a writer.

Learn about the industry. It is complex. There are support people like literary agents and specialists for hire, such as editors. Keep in mind that not all are created equally. Make sure the Lit agent has a track record in selling the genre you write. Check to see if they are members of their professional association. It doesn’t mean they are a fraud if they aren’t members, but aim to start with accredited people. Learn the ins and outs of the industry. You don’t need a lit agent to query a small publisher. You shouldn’t pay them anything, they work on commission. Postage is a business expense. If they can’t afford postage, then need to find something else to do.
The industry is quite interesting, learn about how it works inside the large publishing houses; what are editorial meetings, what happens to an ms from query to published book.

Finally, if your mom, girlfriend, or high school English teacher says that your ms is the next Great American Novel, but all your query letters are getting rejections, then go back to basics and learn to write better. Hiring a book doctor, editor, proofreader or whatever else you find on the internet is not the solution. If you want a publisher to spend money on your book, then make it worth their investment. And please, don’t write “fiction novel” in your query letter. Novels, by definition, are fiction.
Okay, go write better. Write right.