When I attended my 15-year high school reunion recently, the number one question I was asked was, "How do you get published?" or "How do I get published?" Most of my classmates knew that I just had my first book released, Real Women Scrap: Create the Life and Layouts You've Always Wanted, (http://www.realwomenscrap.com) and wanted to know how they could get in on the action (meaning get published!). I heard about novel ideas, plot problems, short stories, nonfiction and more. But, for all their great ideas, they didn't know where to start.
I know that this is a common question because I heard it again this past weekend when I was speaking at a women’s retreat. So I'm going to give you the inside scoop on getting published (from my vantage point). I believe in sharing tips, tools and inside secrets so that everyone can pursue their dreams and live the life they love.
Here we go:
Be professional. Get business cards, letterhead, and a subscription to writersmarket.com.
Show up and be reliable. The people who make it are the ones who show up day after day, even when they don't feel like it. Figure out where and when you can write, put the date on your calendar and be consistent. Butt glue is a writer's best friend!
Read! Writers write, but they also MUST read. Read books in and out of your genre. Read writing books. Develop a love for the craft, a love of learning, and a humble attitude about your current ability. Many people want to write because they have a great idea or have been told they should, but don't let that cloud your ability to see the need for improving your talent.
Join online writer's groups or a critique group and participate. Accountability and feedback are key in your growth and development as a writer. They are also excellent places to build a network of up-and-coming authors.
Attend genre-specific writers conferences, i.e. science fiction writers, romance authors, Christian writers, etc. Take your business cards, dress appropriately for your genre, be friendly, but don't be a shark. Sharks run to editors and insist on a meeting, claiming their work is the next best thing. Be a friend, be respectful of others experience and expertise. Listen.
For fiction, you need to finish a book, novel, story, whatever before you start trying to get published. In fact, you may need to finish a few before you experience publication. The quote I heard yesterday was that the difference between a chump and an author is finishing the book. No chumps here, right?
If you're having a difficult time getting it done, try a new approach like Nanowrimo writing a book in a month. It's how I wrote my first novel.
The founder of National Novel Writing Month, Chris Baty, even has an inspiring book appropriately titled No Plot? No Problem!
For nonfiction, you need to write at least a few sample chapters and a proposal. Many books and online resources exist for advising you on creating a proposal. Follow their advice. Do not just write your notes on a napkin and send it in with hopes that you're the next J.K. Rowling.
Once your masterpiece or proposal is complete, submit it to the editors and agents you met at the conference you attended. Having the correct name, title and address is crucial to getting your idea read.
Once you've submitted, don't just sit back and wait. Continue writing.
Consider whether or not you can make your idea work for the magazine market.
If so, rework it and submit. Magazines are much easier to break into and it will help build your portfolio of published works.
Start small. Don't start with the premier publications, but look at lesser-known magazines, e-zines, and newsletters.
Never give up! If this is your dream, pursue it. Chip away at it every day, every week, whenever possible. Enlist others to encourage and uplift you. And always remember that a writer can't fail, they can only quit. Truly, if you will do the strategies listed above faithfully, you will get published. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but it will happen.
If you have any questions or suggestions for other tips to add to the list, leave a comment and I'll add them to the list! Happy writing!
Tasra Dawson lives in Northern California. Her book, Real Women Scrap, was released in September by Dare Dreamer Press. In honor of the new release, Dare Dreamer Press is hosting a huge contest with prizes over $600 for five semi-finalists. More details at http://www.daredreamerpress.com/contest