5 Tips To Getting Published

 

EJBook

The advanced proof of my novel!

So, as most of you know, my novel, Emma Jean's Bad Behavior, debuts on February 12th.

 

The road to getting published was long.  Veeeeerrrrry long.  And I learned a few things along the way, like what it takes to get a book out into the world.  So today I look at 5 tips that allowed me to finally succeed at that. 

Here's the deal: you all know the basics of how to get published, right?  You research agents and publishing houses that might be a good fit for your book, write a stellar query letter, and then you send it out.  And send it out again.  And again.  That process hasn't changed, even with the advent of indie publishing (which is a whole different process), and it's not likely to any time soon. 

But what you might not know is what lies beneath the above process, the mindset that you need to develop in order to find success in the publishing marketplace. And that, my friends, is what this article is about.  This mindset is in some ways as important if not more important than anything else, because developing a strong underpinning to what you do as a writer will carry you through your career.

So, here's to a publishing mindset, which takes:

1.  Willingness.  You need to be willing to do the things you think you don't need to do–like establish an author's platform while you are writing the book.  You need to be willing to master social media, start a blog, begin connecting with your future audience.  Long gone are the days when all writers had to do was sit back, write and let their publishers do all the marketing.  You'll be expected to participate, and it's going to be a lot easier if you get a head start.  Agents and editors look at things like your blog, and your social media presence these days.

2.  Consistency.  There's nothing sadder than coming across a blog whose last post was six months ago.  Or a year ago.  Start your blog and be consistent with it.  Get on Twitter, and keep tweeting.  Polish your query, and keep sending it out, even after you've been rejected a gazillion times.  Work on your WIP regularly, as often as you possibly can. It's the writers who keep at it who eventually get the win.  I know, I'm one of them.

3.  Determination.  Are you going to quit the first time it gets hard to accomplish your daily quota of pages or word count?  Are you going to stop the second you get a rejection?  Are you going to give up when you can't figure out how to format your novel to indie publish it?  You better not, because both of those things will happen a lot.  To be a successful writer takes determination and perserverance in spades. If you don't force yourself to do whatever it takes to send the work out, your words will remain stashed in a drawer.

4. Creativity.  You can be the most lyrical writer in the world, but if you don't
find ways to plant yourself in front of the computer, the words won't
get written.  It all begins and ends with the writing and if you put the writing first, everything else will take care of itself.  Master techniques to get your butt planted in that chair.

5.  Craziness.  To commit yourself to a writing-centered life and vow to get published takes a bit of craziness.  It just does.  It's ever so much easier to be content at a 9-to-5 job, come home, eat dinner and turn on the TV.  Not you, because you come home, eat dinner, and turn on the computer to write, with no guarantee that anyone will ever see those words.  That's crazy, isn't it?  So be it.  I happen to believe it's also the most important thing you can do, crazy or not.

How about it?  What do you think is the most important mindset a writer needs to have?

**If you're interested in learning more about publishing, I'll cover what I've learned in the bonus session of my Get Your Novel Written Now class.  Registration is now open, with early-bird pricing in effect until the end of the month.  Register now.

Interview with Author Pamela Jeanne

I'm pleased to present an interview with naturopath Dr. Pamela Jeanne.  She and I worked together on her just-released book, Healing Matters, and in this interview she opens a window into the self-publishing process.

HealingMattersCould you start by telling a bit about the book?

The main theme of the book is celebrating and honoring the value women bring to healing. My writing addresses the fact that medical historical information both past and current, of the contributions by women on all levels of health care, has been missing and/or undervalued throughout recorded time. Most medical books have been written by men, moreover, there have been important works by women in which full credit was not given and even worse some works were co-opted by male writers.

Where did the idea for the book come from?

My original inspiration came when my first year history professor in medical school failed to present in the course work any woman or her contributions to medical care. I remember becoming quite furious at the end of that school term! He is a really great guy but lacked the consciousness that women have made and still make tremendous contributions in medical care.

How long did you work on it from start to finish?

I’d say about 3 years from actually sitting down to begin the writing process to the actual ‘birth’ of this baby. Many of my ideas, however have been percolating for more than 25 years!

What was the writing process for you? PamelaJeanne

It has come to me that writing is an art form, a process and a tremendous opportunity for growth. My prior belief was that I could not write, but I stayed with my clear intention and was able to attract into this project, all the best people to help me. I call them my angels as each appeared at the right time when I needed extra coaching or help to complete this dream. Charlotte Dixon was one of those angels. (Editorial comment:  thank you!)

What was the process of publication for you? Can you speak a bit about self publishing?

Again, as I progressed deeper and deeper into my writing, and could see a shape appearing, the next person would appear. Mostly it was effortless. I was led to a publishing company, through my women’s network, who specialized in helping women authors to self publish. Wyatt-MacKenzie Publisher is owned by Nancy Cleary and I have only praise for her support, responsiveness and clarity. There was no groping around looking for answers in a very complex publishing industry; Nancy led the way to help with a successful self-publishing event. Early on in my book project, I felt I needed to find a publisher, but later decided that self publishing was best for me. I was ready to self promote and did not want a company to own my work and then decide to stop printing if sales were not up to their quota. This is a good route for first time writers.

How will you do future books–the same? Different?

I would do the same for future books because it went so well. Yes, there were a few glitches, but Wyatt-MacKenzie has been very responsive to the problems that came up. This is a service I really appreciate.

Anything else you'd like to add?

Here is what I have learned still continues to teach me: Publishing a book is a tremendous accomplishment. At first whole task seems daunting, but my intention remained firm and clear. I did not waver because of the message I wanted to get out to the world via the book. So if you have something that is burning inside of you, get clear what that is, set your intention, be open for what comes up, then don’t waver from the outcome you’d like to see. Also it helps to have a few cheerleaders on the sidelines. My partner was that for me; she did not waver either!

Thanks so much for your insight into your publishing process, Pamela Jeanne!  For more information on Dr. Jeanne and her work, please visit her website.

What about you–have you considered self publishing?  Feel free to comment.

Photos courtesy of the author.

Lessons Learned Along the Way

 

Annabench-shakespeare-paris-1147326-h

So by now everyone in the North American hemisphere knows that I've gotten an offer to have my novel published.  (If they haven't, I'll do my best to make sure they do over the next couple of days.)  On Monday, I wrote an initial post about the news.  Yesterday, I wrote a bit more.  And today, I'm writing about lessons learned along the way.  Because, there have been many of them, starting with….

Determination.  First of all, let me explain.  I finished this book two years ago, maybe longer.  And I've been marketing it off and on since then, mostly to agents.  As a matter of fact, the publishing house that accepted me is the first publisher I sent it to. I've lost count of how many agents I've sent it to, probably at least fifty.  Yes, fifty.  I love this novel and I've been determined to have it see the light of day. So there you go, first on my list is determination. Never underestimate its power.

Clarity.  Last fall, I parted ways with a coaching program I had contracted with.  It wasn't working for me, and I had some chronic pain issues that made it difficult to keep up with the program.  This led to deep soul searching on my part.  Why hadn't the program worked for me when it was so very successful for others?  Which led me to the answer: because I was trying to be something I wasn't. So that made me think long and hard about what I was and what I wanted to be.  What did I love doing, above all else?  The answer was writing books and blogging.  From that moment on, I redoubled my efforts in both areas.  The results have been gratifying, with more traffic to this blog, and now, my novel about to be published.  Let me just tell you, clarity rocks.  Rocks, baby.

Discernment.  Along the same lines as above, I've had to gently learn the fine art of discernment.  This, not that.  That, not this.  Resist the latest bright shiny thing that is not exactly allied with my areas of interest and stay the course.  This means, to me, not buying the latest glitzy course in how to run some area of my business.  Instead, I'll put time into either my blog or my book.  (Or my coaching.  I do love coaching and teaching, too.)

Serendipity.  I think its important to allow for the unexpected to happen.  After I submitted to this publishing house last fall, I didn't hear from them.  Then I assumed that I wouldn't hear from them.  But then I did.  Never underestimate the unseen forces that are working on your behalf in the background.  And finally,

My spiritual practice.  This may well be the most important lesson of all, because it underlies everything.  Since I returned to church last year, I've learned a whole new way of thinking that makes everything better and easier.  It is based on faith–faith in our ability to create our lives, our health and our prosperity.  Some may sneer and call it all positive thinking, but that's their issue.  I say it's a lot more pleasant to think positive thoughts than negative ones, no matter what the outcome.

So there you have it–the lessons I've learned along the way.

Create a successful, inspired writing life: Identify the life lessons that have guided you.  Because once you've identified them, you can more readily call upon them.  Inner knowing is half the battle.

Would you be willing to share your life lessons in the comments?  We'd love to hear them.  And if you liked this post, please tweet it or post it on other social media.  Thank you.

 

Photo by austinevan

How I Finally Opened the Publishing Door

Printing_press_Press_238280_l

The press that will print my book. Kidding.

On Monday, I told you that a small publishing house has agreed to publish my novel.  Today, I'm going to tell the story of how it came about.  (It feels a little weird to be writing so much about it, seeing as how all I know so far is that they have agreed to publish the book.  But I'm determined to share the entire process with you guys, so on I go.)

 Years ago, after I got my MFA, I returned to my alma mater, Spalding, to be a graduate assistant (also fondly known as a grad ass).  Part of my duties were to assist in the workshop.  I had the honor and pleasure of helping my dear former mentor Julie Brickman, but that's another story.   In that workshop I met a wonderful man named Dan, who lives in Key West.  He asked me to read his novel, Three Furies, which I did, and fell in love with.  I loved, loved, loved this novel and told him so repeatedly. (I'm not ignoring him by not linking to him, he doesn't yet have a website.)

Dan and I fell out of touch for a few years, but last Fall he wrote and told me the exciting news that Three Furies would be published by a small press.  He was excited.  I immediately looked up the press.  Turned out I loved what they said about publishing literary quality fiction and focusing on the "anti-heroine," as I previously noted.  I was pretty sure that fit my protagonist, Emma Jean, she who sleeps with handsome younger men, gets drunk on airplanes, and pretty much says whatever she pleases.  And so, on a whim, I submitted to them.

Now, the website information says they'll get back to you in six weeks.  Dan said he heard back from them in two weeks.  So when I didn't hear I pretty much forgot about it, figuring it was yet another no-go.  Until Saturday, when the cryptic email came saying that they want to put my novel on the list for 2013.

What's the lesson here?  Well, the obvious one is that who you know counts.  Please note here that I didn't ask Dan for a recommendation (though I've not hesitated to ask others in the past) and he didn't even know I was submitting to the same press.  But, I never would have known about this press if it weren't for Dan.  Networking is vital for sharing information.  Also, let me just say that I've had personal recommendations to agents that have put me on the top of their piles.  It all helps.

Tomorrow I'm going to publish my "lessons learned" post.  But another one that occurs to me as I write today is that patience is definitely a virtue.  I ofen joke that you could get married, have babies and die before hearing back from some of these folks in the publishing world and there's a ring of truth to it.  So don't enter this business if you're looking for instant gratification!

Create a successful, inspired writing life: Find a way to make some new writing friends.  Join a local writing group.  Start commenting on a forum online.  We're lucky to live in a time when it is easy to get connected.

Please comment.  How have you made connections in the writing world?  Also, if you liked this post, please feel free to Tweet it or share it on other social media.

 

Photo by rammag.

 

If I Can Do It, You Can Do It

As most of you know, I've written several novels and have been obsessively heavily marketing the most recent one, Emma Jean's Bad Behavior.

Rose_passion_novel_244517_l

Over and over again, I get the same response from agents:  We love it.  But…

  • But Emma Jean is too brash.
  • But Emma Jean is unlikeable (because she does what she wants and says what she wants).
  • But Emma Jean gets drunk on airplanes.

So on Saturday evening, when I got home from a day-long retreat and casually checked my email on my phone while talking to my husband, I found a message from a small publishing house to which I'd submitted.  I thought it was going to say the same thing as all the rest.  Because it started the same way:

Thanks for submitting your novel, Emma Jean's Bad Behavior to us.  We love it……

Wait.  There was no but.

I read further.

We love it and we'd like to include it on our 2013 publishing list.

Wait.  What?

It took me a minute to figure out what the email was saying.  But once I did, it dawned on me: they want to publish my novel! (I've re-read the email a million times since then, making sure I didn't misunderstand it or that the words didn't rearrange themselves on the screen.)

This is a small publishing house but one that emphasizes literary quality and, the part I love the most, the "anti-heroine."  That is our girl, Emma Jean.  I don't have any details yet, and I'll share them with you as I get them, too.  Let me just say for now that I'm very happy–Saturday night there was quite the spontaneous celebration around here!

I love this book and it makes me so happy that it is going to see the light of day at last.  This feels like a door opening to me–one I've been knocking on forever.  I'm going through it full force, and I invite you to come along.  I'll be sharing every aspect of the process with you over the next few months. On Wednesday, for starters,  I'll tell you more about how it came about.

Thank you for being loyal readers–blogging is as much my love as writing books, and it is wonderful to have an audience for my ramblings.  I appreciate each and every one of you SO much.

Create a successful, inspired writing life: No matter what your writing goals, keep at it!  Take another step toward your goal today.  If I can do it, you can do it!

Photo by ugaldew.

Free Book Offering: Going To A Place Far, Far Away

Well, its not that far, really.  I'm heading up to the Washington coast to visit my Nashville friend Sue at her father's place.  What makes it feel far, far away is that there is no internet service and no cell phone service.   No blogging!  No Twitter!  No text messaging! 

However, I'm only going to be gone until tomorrow.   I'm taking my camera and since my new end-of-the-year resolution is to snap lots of photos, I'm hoping to come back with many of them to share.  In the meantime, here's a photo I took last night of the Christmas train at Oaks Park:

Steam Engine & Self Portraits 009

Not quite sure how to get that date stamp off it.  Words are my forte, not photos. 

Which brings me to the point of this post.

I'm feeling a bit tired of it all and in need of some inspiration, which is where you come in.  I want to know what you want to read about in terms of writing, and what you need to know.  If you feel so inclined, pop me an email at wordstrumpet@gmail.com with answers to the following questions and in return I'll send you a free beta bcopy of my Ebook, Set the Words Free.  (But bear in mind that I'm going to be out of wireless range for a few days and thus will not be getting back to you with it until the end of the week.)

1. Do you write:
fiction
screenplays
nonfiction
poetry

2. What is your biggest writing problem?

3.  Do you struggle more with finding time and motivation to write or issues with craft?

4.  Are you a published writer?

5.  If not, do you aspire to be a published writer?

6.  If yes, what do you aspire to publish (ie, novel, short story, get a screenplay optioned, poetry, etc.)

7.  Do you aspire to make money writing?  If so, in what area?

8.  What kinds of posts are most helpful?

9.   What kinds of posts do you enjoy the most?  (ie, life of a writer or craft)

10.  What is your biggest writing goal for 2009?

11.  If you are a regular reader of this blog, what brings you back to it?

If you only want to answer a couple of questions, that's cool, I'll take any and all feedback.  Thank you so much and I'll be back with photos at the end of the week.

Observations on a Not-So-Good Novel

I'm reading a novel published by a smaller press.  Sometimes the reason why novels don't get picked up by a big publishing house (or picked up at all) is a mystery. But in this particular case I have some thoughts.  Its really a very good novel in many ways–compelling subject, lots of conflict, interesting situation.  Yet there are a few things that jump out at me, and in this, I'm realizing, it is as instructive to read a not-so-good novel as a top of the line one.  So here goes.

Cardboard characters.  This is not always true all the time, but in too many instances the author isn't able to create fully rounded characters.  What makes a fully rounded character, you ask?  Excellent question.  Too bad there's not an easy answer.  But in this novel, the characters tend to be all bad or all good.  A couple of them seem like stand-ins for idyllic causes.  Also, at times they don't act credibly.

Unbelievable actions and responses.  Sometimes the characters in this novel don't act believably.  Their actions seem to be devised for the sake of the author to move them around or to create more conflict, but its not conflict that is organic to the story and thus doesn't ring true.

Superficial viewpoint
.  No glaring viewpoint violations, but the viewpoint lapses at times, nonetheless, because the author hasn't thought through exactly what the character would see or know.  Sometimes a viewpoint character describes things about the location that, given the fact she just moved there, she wouldn't know. 

Meandering scenes.  The scenes aren't well thought out.  They don't spike, or drop.  Often they start with one emotional tone and end on the same one.  There's no movement. In addition, sometimes there's a monotony to the the order of the scenes.  They are like the same size pearls strung on a necklace, when they'd have more spice if the necklace featured all different size beads.  Just as a scene must have rising or falling action within, so to must the order of the scenes.

And yet, I'm still reading the book.  Why?  I think the main reason is that the author does manage to create a compelling viewpoint character most of the time.  And the conflict that the character faces is well presented. 

So if you find yourself reading a "bad" novel or even a not-so-good one, see if you can define what it is that makes it bad.  You might learn a lot about your own writing in the process.

Rejection: Tempting the Fates

So, I wrote a post about Michael Phelps last week and how he used rejection and ridicule (who's laughing now, twitty teenagers who made fun of him?  Huh? Huh?) to spur himself on.  I mentioned that perhaps we writers could take a page from ol' Michael's book and use that same technique when we get rejected ourselves.

Ah, the universe is such a trickster.

Because it was only a few short days later that I got a rejection from an agent. 

This wasn't a nice rejection, where the agent makes a few pithy suggestions about how to improve the novel.  It wasn't even a rejection that was signed by the agent.  It was a flippin' form letter. 

I haven't gotten a form letter rejection in ages.  To make matters worse, this particular agent is known for representing many of the mentors and alumni of the MFA program I attended. 

And I get a flippin' form letter from her.

The funny thing is, I found the letter in the stack of mail and I knew.  First of all, the  SASEs are a dead give-away and immediately recognizable.  But I swear, the energy of the rejection was contained on the envelope itself, and I knew without even opening it what the result was going to be.

I whined and moaned a bit on Twitter and my tweeples cheered me up.  And then I realized I'd written that post about Michael Phelps and loftily suggested we all emulate him when it came to rejection.

So now I'm going to.  Watch out New York publishing world, cuz I'm mad!  I'm angry, and I'm inspired and, just like Michael (I think we can all call him Michael now, don't you?) I'm going to use this anger to fuel my success.

Oh, there's just one drawback that occurs to me.  Michael can train harder, swim harder, eat more calories for breakfast and go out there and break records all by his little own self.  I can write harder, write better, send my novel out more, obsess about eating too much for breakfast, and I still can't necessarily achieve success all by my little own self.  I need an agent. 

That's the rub about the publishing industry and the film biz–you can put your heart and soul into it and still you have to rely on someone else to recognize your brilliance. 

So I guess all I can do is do my best and work my hardest and let the universe, trickster that it is non-withstanding, make things happen.

And be grateful I don't have to spend hours every day swimming.  I love my man Michael, but I'm the worst swimmer in the world.

Robin’s Publication Day!

This is an exciting day for my friend Robin Gideon.  Aspen Mountain Press is releasing her novel,
Silky Sins: Cassandra's Story.  Its a sizzling contemporary erotic romance and you can download it in ebook format and get it immediately.

Robin is absolutely amazing–she has an incredible list of books coming out over the next few months, and I personally, am a very bright kelly green with envy.   Robin and I met during my brief stint as an erotic romance editor.  I plucked Silky Sins out of the slush pile and knew immediately that Robin was a winner.  Her subsequent success has proven me correct!

Stay tuned for reviews and interviews with Robin on Bookstrumpet.  And go buy her book, it'll make your weekend.