This is a recurring column I’m calling “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,”where writers (this installment written by Alan Orloff, author of DIAMONDS OF THE DEAD) at any stage of their career can talk about writing advice and instruction as well as how they possibly got their book agent -- by sharing seven things they’ve learned along their writing journey that they wish they knew at the beginning.
1. Things move slowly in the publishing world. Be prepared to wait. A lot. For your critique group to get through your manuscript. For your queries to be answered (if you're lucky). For your partials and fulls to be read. For editors to weigh your submissions. For your book to wend its way through the production process as it heads toward the bookstore shelf. Best advice: Have some other projects to work on while you wait!
2. Getting help really helps. Critique groups can help you with your writing. An agent can help polish your submission and will know where to send it. An editor can help massage your manuscript into its optimal form. Ignore these "helpers" at your own peril. Getting published really is a village effort (so make sure you have plenty of food on hand).
3. You need a thick skin. Rejections are the norm—don't let them "spin you out." Otherwise, you'll never get any writing done. Persistence and perseverance are key.
4. Your book doesn't "belong" to only you anymore. While you were writing your manuscript, it was your baby. You could feed it what you wanted, dress it how you wanted, play with it whenever you wanted. Now, you have to share and listen to other people's "baby-raising" advice. Once you sign a contract, your book gets slotted into a release date and tossed onto the production conveyor belt. Flap copy, cover design, titles, internal and external sales pitches, copyediting, publicity, sales. It all gets done on schedule, without emotion and (mostly) without you. Get used to it.
5. Online promotion takes a lot more time than you think. Website, blog, Google Reader, Facebook, Twitter, listservs, Yahoo groups, nings, and a kajillion other social sites lure you in and won't let go. These connections are valuable, but you need to exercise discipline or you'll look up and four hours will have elapsed with nothing to show for your "writing" time except a few Mafia War hits.
6. Other writers are extremely generous. I've found other writers (published, unpublished, bloggers, Twitterers, etc.) to be very helpful with their advice, comments, and time. The sense of community among writers is unbelievably amazing!
7. Take time to enjoy every bumpy, thrilling, uncertain, joyous, nail-biting, wonderful, anxious minute. No sense getting stressed about stuff you can't control (and that encompasses a lot!). Getting your first book published is a very exciting time—be sure to stop and smell the ARCs!
Don't let your submission be rejected for
improper formatting. The third edition of
Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript
has more than 100 examples of queries,
synopses, proposals, book text, and more.
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Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:
- New Literary Agent Seeking Clients: Rachel Hecht of Foundry Media.
- A Literary Agent True or False Quiz.
- See How a Literary Fiction Debut Gets Published: An Interview With Author John Kenney.
- Sell More Books by Building Your Writer Platform.
- Follow Chuck Sambuchino on Twitter or find him on Facebook. Learn all about his writing guides on how to get published, how to find a literary agent, and how to write a query letter.
Want to build your visibility and sell more books?
Create Your Writer Platform shows you how to
promote yourself and your books through social
media, public speaking, article writing, branding,
and more. Order the book from WD at a discount.