Last post, we discussed the idea of author branding. Most writers are more concerned with just getting published.
Writing Tip for Today: What are some ways newer writers can achieve publication?
Practice and Feedback
Although I didn’t love the first few years of writing for publication, I now understand how vital all that practice writing was. I get how frustrated and impatient writers become as they churn out pages which never see the light of day. One way to head off this impatience is to think of writing as brain surgery.
You wouldn’t want a first-year medical student operating on your brain. You demand a seasoned veteran who understands brains better than most people. In writing, we often fall for the myth that it’s all about talent. Yes, talent helps—and there are examples of “natural writers”—but for most of us, learning to write for publication is a steep hill we climb.
One of the best ways to get through your practice apprenticeship is to find a few writers to join with in giving feedback. Critique groups sometimes get a bad rap—they tend to be either full of noobs who are a mutual admiration society or a closed-off circle of writers with more experience. Yet if you can find (on or off line) a few willing writers who will give you honest feedback, your writing will likely improve faster.
Another way to make progress toward publication is to submit your work for consideration. Get your toe in the pool! Start with contests or periodicals. Try your hand at Chicken Soup type anthologies. Find a way to steel your ego for the disappointments of rejection.
No one likes rejection, but by submitting your work, you’re learning about the business side of writing. You’ll understand guidelines, word count and deadlines. Submission gives you a great education on the protocol of approaching editors and agents. And if an editor rejects your piece but offers written feedback, you’ll be able to celebrate.
Writers who submit short pieces while they finish or polish their book are more likely to publish. By wading into the pub process while you write that novel, you’ll be better prepared to tackle querying and all the other processes of finding your book a home. You’ll have some actual writing credits to put into your query.
As you go through your practice phase, you’ll encounter a lot of advice about publishing. Some writers think traditional advance-paying publishers are the only way to go, while others urge us to self-publish our work and cut out the middleman. Still others tout hybrid publishers—sort of a one stop shop for getting your book self-published but the hybrid will do all the work. For a fee.
These days, the choices seem to multiply by the year. Info that was key last year might be ineffective now. Anyone remember Klout scores? Yeah, me neither. Social media changes faster than many writers care to monitor. All of it can confuse newer writers and keep them from getting that word count in.
Stay informed by being active in the writing community. Writing blogs, videos and periodicals abound to keep you up to date on the latest trends and the current writing etiquette. Yes, you’ll probably feel overwhelmed by the scope of what’s required. But take heart. We all had to start someplace. Write, write and write some more. Submit your work and seek out good feedback to grow that thick skin. Read widely. But don’t give up. If you do, that’s all you get. And who knows, you might be the next J.K. Rowling or Stephen King. They too had to practice writing before they were household names.