Guest Column: Seven Things I've Learned So Far, In the Middle of My Journey, by Nancy Parish

This is a new recurring column I’m calling “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,” where writers at any stage of their career can talk about seven things they’ve learned along their writing journey that they wish they knew at the beginning. This installment is from writer Nancy Parish. 1. A finished manuscript isn’t necessarily a publishable manuscript. There are manuscripts I’ve written that are simply dreadful and I’m a bit embarrassed to have submitted them back in the day. Each manuscript gets better than the last. I’ve learned a lot just going through the process.
Author:
Publish date:

This is a recurring column I’m calling “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,”where writers (this installment written by Nancy Parish) 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.

If you follow the blog, you probably know that I've just finished my first middle grade novel. I'm revising it now. One thing you wouldn't know is that at least once a week, I wander over to the desk of Nancy Parish, a co-worker who also writes middle grade. Nancy is querying agents for her first book, and thick into writing her second. Since she's been querying agents for a while, I asked her to write up a small column on what she's learned thus far, being thick in the agent querying process. She agreed.

Image placeholder title

In lieu of a headshot, Nancy
sent this picture of her
beloved cat, Lucky.

-----------------

7 Things I’ve Learned So Far

by Nancy Parish

1. A finished manuscript isn’t necessarily a publishable manuscript. There are manuscripts I’ve written that are simply dreadful and I’m a bit embarrassed to have submitted them back in the day. Each manuscript gets better than the last. I’ve learned a lot just going through the process.

2. Revise, Revise, Revise. Then let the manuscript sit and revise it again.

3. Writing is a solitary endeavor, but trying to get published doesn’t have to be. When there wasn’t an active local chapter of SCBWI in my area, I posted to a SCBWI listserv and started one. That was six years ago and we’re still going strong. Writing groups like this are a great way to network with other writers and get feedback on query letters, manuscripts etc. Just recently I swapped novels with two other writers in the group for a critique.

4. Don’t treat Guide to Literary Agents and Writer’s Market like they are phone books. The market guides are a great starting point to determine which literary agencies accept submissions in certain genres but the research shouldn’t end there. I learned to use sites like Google to find more information about agents I wanted to submit to. I now look for interviews the agent has done and try to find examples of books they’ve sold to determine if my manuscript is a good fit. Often times, I crossed the agent off my list because of what I learned in my research.

5. Sell the Sizzle and the Steak. Once the manuscript is the best I can make it, then I focus on the query letter. I’ve learned that for my queries to be effective, shorter is better. I try to write the pitch like it’s the jacket copy of a book.

6. Finding an agent, is like dating. Some agents “Just aren’t that into you”. I’ve found that even if an agent asks for a full manuscript, it doesn’t necessarily mean they will provide feedback. Some won’t even respond - move on!

7. Rejection sucks but keep going. Randy Pausch in The Last Lecture said it best: “The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”

2014-writers-market

The Writer's Market details thousands of publishing 
opportunities for writers, including listings for book publishers, 
consumer and trade magazines, contests and awards,
literary agents and more. At the WD Shop, you can find
the most recent updated edition for a discount.

Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:

Image placeholder title

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.

incite_vs_insight_grammar_rules_robert_lee_brewer

Incite vs. Insight (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use incite vs. insight with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

Cleland_1:17

Jane K. Cleland: On Writing the Successful Long-Running Series

Award-winning mystery author Jane K. Cleland describes what it's like to write a long-running book series and offers expert advice for the genre writer.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: #StartWrite, Virtual Conference, and New Courses

This week, we’re excited to announce free resources to start your writing year off well, our Novel Writing Virtual Conference, and more!

20_most_popular_writing_posts_of_2020_robert_lee_brewer

20 Most Popular Writing Posts of 2020

We share a lot of writing-related posts throughout the year on the Writer's Digest website. In this post, we've collected the 20 most popular writing posts of 2020.

Malden_1:16

Carla Malden: Writing With Optimism and Innocence

Screenwriter and author Carla Malden explains why young adult fiction and the '60s go hand-in-hand and how she connected with her main character's voice.

writing_mistakes_writers_make_talking_about_the_work_in_progress_robert_lee_brewer

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Talking About the Work-in-Progress

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake writers make is talking about the work-in-progress.

Kelly_1:15

Greta K. Kelly: Publishing Is a Marathon

Debut author Greta K. Kelly reveals how the idea for her novel sparked and the biggest surprise of her publication journey.

Poetic Forms

Mistress Bradstreet Stanza: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the Mistress Bradstreet stanza, an invented form of John Berryman.

capital_vs_capitol_grammar_rules_robert_lee_brewer

Capital vs. Capitol (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use capital vs. capitol with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.