A friend of mine on Facebook found out that our book is soon to be published. Like many, she too has a manuscript just waiting for her to take the next step. She asked for advice on getting published. What started out as a brief response turned into something a little more lengthy. To you all, my words of advice.
First, you have to have a really solid manuscript. Have people read it, people that you trust to be honest with you, critical if they need to be, but supportive of your work. Product is everything, and you cannot hope to sell anything so-so. Read books about the craft, go to workshops, do what you have to do to make sure that your work is unique, well-written, and polished.
Once it’s in tip-top shape, start researching agents and publishers. Most of the time, you can’t get published without an agent, and as long as you get a good one, they can be an invaluable advocate for your manuscript. So research agents that work in your genre, who have sold books that you think are comparable to yours. Make a list, and be sure to pay attention to their submission requirements, as all of them are different. Most want a query letter, a lot also want a synopsis, or a couple of sample chapters, etc. Then start querying. Be prepared for rejection, because you’ll get a lot of it before anything good ever happens.
I’d also encourage getting involved with a writing community–mine’s Twitter. I follow writers, publishers, agents, editors, people who are talking and blogging about the industry and what’s going on right now. I read their blogs so I am up to date on what’s going on. You don’t have to use Twitter, but find what works for you so you can be in the loop with publishing, because it’s a CRAZY world.
Mostly…keep writing. Don’t ever stop. If you’re serious about writing, you have to be a WRITER, not just somebody who writes. That means you write every day, no matter what mood you’re in, no matter whether you have two hours or ten minutes. Set time aside, and make yourself write. That’s how you really improve, with that constant application. This book was a huge leap even from the last one, which was a step above the one before that. I’ve improved even in the last month, working on really tough revisions with this book, by forcing myself to work the craft every day.
I just have to say, this has been SO much harder than I ever anticipated. I’ve had to really toughen my skin to criticism, and I’ve had to work HARD to see this through. It’s a job, truly it is. But I am over the moon excited to see this book come out. And it’s not just about this one book–it’s about the next book, and the one after that.
Believe in yourself, be tough, and WRITE.