Monday, December 01, 2008

Help Me Get Published!

Q) I know most authors got published because they knew someone, but I don't know anyone in publishing and I don't live near New York. Can you help me get published?


Lynne Griffin
I've never won the lottery, or got a job because I knew the boss, and I didn't know a single person in publishing when I landed my first agent back in 2001. And of all the people I've met in my journey so far, not one landed their deal without doing so the old fashioned way. They did their homework. They networked like mad. And above all, they wrote a great story.

No one can help you get published, but you! Plain and simple there is no easy way to do it. Now certainly networking by attending conferences, author signings, and taking classes can help in innumerable ways (This equals doing your homework, learning about the industry) but at the end of the day, this process is not a linear one. In fact the journey requires you to travel through the narrow gate.

Amy MacKinnon
I know lots and lots of people in the publishing business, everyone from authors to agents to editors. When I completed my manuscript, a few authors offered to refer me to their agents and a few agents offered to read a full. Maybe it's the Aries in me, but I wanted to do it on my own without ever having to wonder if the work was good enough. Of course knowing someone is no guarantee your work will get published, still I didn't want to argue with "that doubt" the rest of my life.

I went it alone, through the slush piles and was fortunate enough to receive several offers from agents. I chose the one who best got what I was aiming for; turns out I chose well. She put my manuscript before the perfect editors and there was an auction involving -- if memory serves me well -- eight publishers. Bottom line, you don't need connections, you need to write an excellent book, do your research, persevere, and then work harder than you imagined every step of the way.

Lisa Marnell
Going it alone is exciting. It's like that first time you borrow your mom's car and drive to a friend's house. Will you make it there? Who knows, but it's all up to you. Write well (as Miss Snark says) and you'll find an agent who falls in love with your work. BTW, there will be agents who pass you by; it's not for them. Stick to it and surprise yourself!

Hannah Roveto
One word: persistence. Or many words: Finish your manuscript, make it the best it can be. Find an agent who believes in you. Keep yourself positive and excited about what may happen, what you will make happen. The business is a hard one; go into it with eyes wide open and a readiness to handle what comes your way and still find every drop of joy. No joy, don't bother. Network, and keep networking. The first contacts you make may not be the right ones. Do your research, and know whom you are approaching and why you are approaching them. Don't assume any open door will stay open, or even that you may want it to do so, or that any closed door will stay closed. Keep sending letters. Every journey is unique. Take classes and more classes, and listen to new thoughts on your manuscript, as long as you are faithful to its core and know how it might be made better. The world can be your oyster; you need to know it and explore it for it to open wide.


Ello - Ellen Oh said...

You know that email strikes me as coming from someone who just hasn't really read alot about the publishing world and how it operates. Yeah there are some people who "know" people. There will always be some people who have an easy way in. But for the rest of us, trying to get published is a long, arduous, difficult, emotional, frustrating, depressing, challenging, elating and nauseating road. Welcome to the real world.

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

I was (and still am--except for the "single" part) a middle-aged single mom from the midwest. I knew no one in publishing or even in NYC. I had no publishing credits. I wrote a novel. Then I rewrote it. Several times. I went to conferences and met writers and agents and editors. Over the course of 5 years I collected over 300 (yes, you read that right) rejection letters from agents. I kept at it.

Finally, the novel was where it needed to be and I connected with the right agent for me.

It took seven years from first draft to publication.

There are no shortcuts.

Anonymous said...

Great post. This blog is such a great reminder to just keep the butt in the chair and write every day. Thank you for that!


Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

As I drove around today, a song came on the radio, something about how only you can breathe for yourself and nobody else can do it for you. True enough. You keep breathing, no matter how hard some days, or you die. You keep reaching, no matter how hard some days, or the dream dies. Then what is the point, yes?


Anonymous said...

As visions of revisions dance in my head, this post (and the comments) inspires me to keep at it. To give myself the gift of writing time, even in this crazy holiday season. Thank you Lisa, Amy, Lynn and Hannah. Your words are very motivating in what can often be a lonely craft.

Anonymous said...

Writing, and good writing. And then something that Amy has always said to me: Perseverance.
I am indebted to Amy amongst other kindnesses, instilling this word in me: perseverance. As I query this week...I'll find out if the rejections help me become stronger and persevere and keep writing.

sexy said...


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