Lots of new writers have the same questions: How do I get published? Do I need an agent? How can I find an editor? Last week, I shared some of my answers with a friendly and eager audience at Cafe Des Artistes, in Fallbrook, CA.
I’m lucky. My path to publication was short compared to some. I met my publisher, Karen Syed of Echelon Press, at the Southern California Writers Conference in 2009, six months after I finished my first manuscript. Karen read 20 pages of my work in a one-on-one critique and requested the full manuscript. Great, I thought, but it wasn’t that easy. I learned I had a good story, but it needed work, and Echelon rejected me.
I’d paid over $1,700 for a professional edit prior to this point, so I was a little miffed. However; Karen knows more about publishing than I do, so I asked for her advice. What did I need to do to fix it? Not all publishers give writers the courtesy of a 2nd chance. Karen did. I listened to what she said, made the corrections, and wrote as though I didn’t care. The result was a tighter, clipped thriller that moved at a fast pace…good enough for Karen to sign me up.
I told the writers at Cafe Des Artistes how hard it is to get published. You must have a knock-out query letter to even get an agent/publisher to glance at your work. So many talented writers want representation. I heard fantastic pieces read at Cafe Des Artistes. My advice to them was as follows:
Network with other authors and learn more about your craft.
Define your genre and approach agents/publishers interested in only those areas. Read and adhere to their submission guidelines.
Use social media effectively and not just to promote yourself. That’s boring and annoying. Offer useful advice, share information and add to conversations.
Get out from behind your computer and attend at least one event or conference a year. Face to face time with agents/editors/publishers is invaluable.
Find a good editor for your manuscript. I’ve heard fantastic things about Jodie Renner Editing. If you write fiction and are not yet published, make sure your manuscript is complete when you submit queries.
Develop a 10 second tag line ready to tell anyone who asks about your book. Any more than 10 seconds and watch their eyes glaze over.