Thursday, March 24, 2011

Things You Can Do To Help Get You Published

1. Practice writing for years. And yeah, I know there are many, many writers who started five minutes ago and want to be published tomorrow. But unless you're some sort of incredible Mozart-like prodigy, you're gonna find it tough. Don't get disheartened if you did start five minutes ago and still aren't published tomorrow, or even the next day. Or the next year. Everything you're doing is money in the bank. Every moment you spend writing is not a moment wasted. If you end up with ten unpublishable books, that's okay. That's your groundwork. I mean, I could cry about the "waste" of the ten million pieces of X-Files/Harry Potter/Smallville/Buffy/Vampire Diaries fanfic, and then the further three hundred half finished and in some cases completely finished horror/fantasy novels I wrote. But at the very least those folders and textbooks filled with rubbish meant I can now type 80 words a minute.

2. That thing over there...I think it's called the tinternetz? Use it. You know how writers got published as little as twenty years ago? By looking in a giant book for a random publisher, or seeing some submission guidelines in some magazine somewhere randomly by chance, or because they knew someone. That's about it. They didn't know anything. Twenty years ago, people were still sending in handwritten submissions because they had very little access to the knowledge that publishers wanted things typed.

But that doesn't have to happen anymore. Hell, we don't even have to pay seventeen quid for the Writer's And Artist's Handbook thingie. We can just go online and google "call for submissions". We can actually look up agents we think will represent us, and find their personal guidelines for submission. We can research them at places like Absolute Write, Romance Divas, Preditors and Editors and find out who's really running some kind of bizarre Mickey Mouse scheme whereby you pay them a million dollars and they send you a pamphlet they made out of your book.

We are so lucky to live in this age of information. Don't get caught out. Exploit that information.

3. This is really a separate point, but kind of the same as before: use the tinternetz to find out information about writing. Again, this is something we could never have done before. Not unless we paid £10 for R J Sherman's Guide To Writing Excellence or went on some bogus course that's really just a massively expensive holiday in France. But now, you can just google previously alien terms like show don't tell and it comes right up! Jezzuz Crist! Every rule on writing, every tiny little thing that any agent or editor could possibly be looking for is right there at your fingertips, to the point where you start doubting everything you've ever done, eventually go crazy, and wind up writing I Am A Fish eight thousand times even though you're sure you've just written the erotic masterpiece equivalent of War and Peace.

I know, because this has happened to me. It still happens to me, all the time. OH MY GODZ I USE THE WORD JUST ALL THE TIME I AM FOOKED etc etc.

But it's still better than fumbling in the dark like a monkey with its eyes poked out, not knowing what the word "subtext" means while being unsure of how to find the font button in Microsoft Word.

4. Don't write a blog post entitled "Things You Can do To Help Get You Published". You'll only piss people off. They'll all whisper about you behind your back: what the fook does she know, anyway? Or they won't, you'll just think they will because seriously, what do I know? I don't know anything. If there's a formula, I don't know it. I get rejected all the time. Being published once doesn't secure you against it. Nothing secures you against it - not even being LJ Smith. I mean, she should be on top of the world, right now. Her books have been made into a massively successful TV series. And yet what happens? HER PUBLISHER DROPS HER AND STARTS WRITING HER BOOKS WITHOUT HER. Holy shitballs, man - but hey, that's the real world. Do your best to keep going, no matter how much that last fact sucks. And it will suck and you will hurt and you're allowed to be hurt, but after a certain amount of time you pick yourself back up and you keep going.

Which is probably really the best advice I can give you. And know this, too: if you're out there, and you're not sure what the fook you're doing, and you can't find an answer on the thing you need and feel you've got nowhere else to turn, ask me. I'm right here. You can ask me. Demanding I send your manuscript to a publisher I don't have any connection to might piss me off, but asking me a question that I would have killed to have answered back when I was flailing in the darkness: yeah, I got your back for that one.

6 comments:

  1. YAY!!! The woman knows what she speaks, she is all mighty mentor. I've kicked ass and taken names ever since.

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  2. Will do, Charlotte, thank you.

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  3. Elise- awwww, thank you bb! You've put up with me waffling loads of the above often enough eh?

    Jo- any time, man, any time.

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  5. Charlotte, I love you.

    And you're in Red Velvet and Absinthe with me - Yippeee!!!

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  6. Well said Charlotte. I love your posts

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