How to Get Published
What most people actually mean by the question “How can I get a publishing deal?” is: “How can I see my work in print?”
I totally get this. It is a buzz to see your book on sale at the bookstore (it’s a lot less of a buzz to see it in the sales bin!) My first novel was A Necklace of Souls and when it came out I spent a lot of time visiting bookstores and taking photos of it on the shelves!
Here’s a reprint of my article on Kura Carpenter’s blog last week. Thanks for the opportunity to share, Kura!
Here’s what worked for me…
- A ton of hard work. I wrote on and off for about ten years before I got an acceptance. Over that time I wrote one novella, one novel, and many, many short stories.
- Write for free. I edited a professional magazine, which gave me experience in working with deadlines, keeping to word counts, formatting documents.
- Join a writer’s association. I joined the New Zealand Society of Authors. Associations like the NZSA often have mentoring programmes for new writers and access to grants and competitions.
- Formal training. I completed a Certificate in Creative Writing at a local polytechnic, but there are other opportunities both on-line and in person. Just do be aware of cost if you’re doing this, as paid tuition at a university is not cheap.
- Develop networks. This sounds cheesy, but often in life it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. (And be POLITE. Apart from the fact it’s the right thing to do, the writing world is a really, really small place!)
- Submit to e-zines and small journals. My first paid acceptance was an e-zine which paid TEN DOLLARS! So exciting!!
- Enter competitions. Comps can be expensive, so now I only enter those with that offer the opportunity to get my script read by a publisher, or that provide direct feedback on my script. The Romance Writers of America has some good ones, and my lucky break was with Storylines.
- Keep writing. Evaluate critically. Write some more. When you feel it’s good enough – and only then – begin submitting to agents or publishers.
- And finally, and this isn’t something you can ever predict, you need to get lucky. Why was A Necklace of Souls accepted, when another person’s might have been equally as good? I don’t know. Maybe the commissioning editor liked fantasy. Maybe they were looking for a novel with a strong female protagonist. Maybe the stars had aligned.
Don’t expect overnight success. Actually, don’t expect to make a living wage from writing, period. Treat it like a passion and then anything’s a bonus.
Or, you could just be famous, notorious or both. Then landing a publishing deal is way, way easier.