Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Are You Looking Toward Publishing?

photo by Chance Agrella
Yes?  I hope so.  If you're writing, unless you're writing only a journal for yourself, then your aim, one way or another should be publishing.

No fair hiding stuff in a drawer, stacking it up and showing it to no one but your mother (and maybe not her). You may be creating great art, great entertainment, the bread and butter of the writing world, but if you don't submit it, who's going to know that?

Many of us writers lack in confidence, and even after we're published it doesn't change a whole heckuva lot. The question always remains, who's going to publish that next piece of mine? Where will it find a home.?

But there's also a simple equation.  Write and rewrite, then submit and resubmit.  Eventually you will publish and publish again. As I've mentioned in other places, every published writer has created his or her share of unsalable work. I have manuscripts and partial scripts right now on my shelves that may one day be reworked and resubmitted, but are 'resting' now as they  haven't found their mark. That's okay, because others have. I've been published by Doubleday, Harlequin, Pinnacle, G.K. Hall, Five Star and others. In hard copy and, now Ebook format.  I've optioned screen scripts, written for an animated TV series and published short pieces elsewhere.  None of which would have happened if I hadn't thrust those works out into the world.

The reality is you must submit, and submit frequently. If you don't have a manuscript out there, there's no chance there's a check in the mail.  Remember, no matter how much you revise and rework, no matter how many times you tear the piece apart and put it back together it will never be perfect. So, get as close to perfect as you can, reach a point where you simply feel it's as good as it can get - for now - and then send it out.

And, as professional, forget fancy fonts and prettily boxed text. Don't use brightly colored paper and don't punch it and put it in a binder. Follow submission guidelines the publisher puts out precisely. With word processors that isn't hard these days. A lot of publishers accept Equiries too.

Make sure the editor you're submitting to is someone who's worked with the type of material you've written. Don't send romance to a Sci/Fi only publisher. Don't send Sci/Fi to a publisher of mysteries. You get it, do your research

Quite simply, aside from being a creative writer, you are also an independent businessperson and your product is your writing. You are responsible for getting your work out there. For the emerging writer it's an inescapable fact. If you decide to get an agent and work toward that end, the work is still yours until you get that agent.  Even then, the burden is merely shared, it doesn't shift entirely to the agent. The new writer will need to have his or her own website, to promote their work, to work with editors. I had to cut a book almost 1/3 in length one time and that was just to get the contract.  There was more work after that.

So set your sites on publishing - but don't think for a moment that it ends there.


  1. Thank you for writing this, Peggy!!!! I'm new to the literary world, but lost at the same time. The reason why I haven't sent this book to a publisher is because I want to make sure this story (I call it my baby) refine and revised. I'm also glad you said try not to be perfect. I can be a perfectionist.

    And I do have this thing called "Fear" that I let consume me. That four letter word has kept me from finishing my story for four years. It sat inside my drawer next to the computer collecting dust. One day, I decided to finish, of what started as a short story, into a novella.

    And yes, it's too short to be a novel. That will change soon. I will add a chapter or two and extend the first three chapters. I've been walking this vision too long to let my dream die.

    So, expect to hear from me in the future. I will have a lot of questions to ask you.

    Again, Peggy, thank you for posting this.

  2. Glad to help Imani. Hope you find other tips helpful here as well as this one.

    Don't let fear hold you back! Almost every writer I know has felt as you do. That weird fear thing - fear people won't like it, fear they will!

    Be cautious when expanding a tale - be sure you're adding real interesting content, maybe a new contributing sub-plot and not just 'padding' to get it up to the length you desire. And try to keep an active voice to keep your readers engaged

    Put fear aside, dedicate some time and get your work out there!

  3. Thank you. I most certainly will work hard to achieve my dream.

    Originally, my book started as a short story. I completed 30 pages and stopped. It's been shelved for four years. Then one day in January, I decided to challenge myself to finish until the end. Those 30 pages became a 210 pages.

    The reason I said I need to add a couple of chapters is the first three chapters are THE short story. I did change anything, just continued writing until I was done. That said, I feel those early chapters are too condensed.

    Here are the first two chapters. These are the original short stories:

    Finally, I have this question: When writing a novel am I suppose to write the story in present tense or past tense? That's among one issues I'm confused.


  4. Hello Imani,
    You've got a start - lots of work ahead for you, but I'm sure you know that.

    Basically you need to tell a story as if it's happening now - unless you put in some flash-backs. - and even those, once you establish they're flash-backs, you tell in the present. Go over your 'introduction' and you'll see places where you need to smooth things out into the present. One great way to help your own writing is to read someone else's who's work you admire - and read it with an eye to analyzing what he or she is doing that makes that story interesting for you to read.

    Good luck with your writing.

  5. I'm sorry for being late on the response. Thank you. I appreciate your advise.

  6. You're welcome. Glad I could give some advice you found valuable.


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