The Way

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About a month ago I attended a book festival here in Orlando. One of my friends, Steph Post, was a panelist in a discussion on Crime and Mystery writing. Although those aren’t in my usual wheelhouse there is always something to be learned from any author’s experience. Anyway, I believe that for a book to be successful in the modern marketing climate it must have elements of nearly every genre. For example, one of the hottest subgenres in sci-fi right now is Romance.

Following the panel discussion, as I was gathering my stuff together to follow Steph to her scheduled book signing in another building, a guy who had been seated at my table approached me. His first question was, “Do you write?”

“Of course.”

“Me too,” he said. “You know, every time I come to one of these things I never hear what I want to hear.”

“And that is what?”

“What do I need to do to get published.”

“Yes, that’s the million dollar question, isn’t it?”

“I don’t think there is an answer. That’s why they never address it.”

“Maybe you’re right,” I allowed. “All I know is you have to keep writing because it is what you do. Not writing would be like trying to stop breathing. And the reason a writer writes should not be to get published. If that is the case he or she will be frustrated and frequently disappointed.”

“But that’s the goal, isn’t it?”

“It’s a means to an end, reaching an audience. The reason I write is to have others read my stories. Whether they buy them is more a matter of concern for my publisher. It’s the business aspect of things.”

“You have a publisher then?”

“Yes, Steph and I are both with Pandamoon Publishing.” I pulled out a copy of Fried Windows to show him.

FINAL Final Fried Windows Front Cover Only

“I see. So, maybe I should ask you, then. What the secret? How do I get published?”

“There isn’t a secret. There’s nothing magical involved, except for maybe having a story that the publisher or the acquisitions editor can connect with.”

“So it’s more a matter of luck?”

“I don’t know if it is luck or good timing. Publishers look for things they think will sell. It’s the business.”

“But sometimes things sell that surprise everyone.”

“That’s true. And there are always exceptions. So I guess, if your book is exceptional, then it will get the attention of a publisher. If it’s rejected, you don’t take it personally. It isn’t really a no, but a not yet. You go back into the manuscript and redo things. Obviously the first few pages are critical. If a publisher didn’t accept a work, there is a reason for it and you have to assume it is early on in the book, right?”

He nodded.

“So you work on that. And it’s kind of valid since a potential reader will look at your book a lot the same way an acquisitions editor will. If the first few sentences grabs attention, whoever is reading it will read on. You have to have an effective hook somewhere in the first few lines. It really has to set up the story that follows.”

“And that’s what you did?”

“I was fortunate enough to have a friend I met online. We both posted things to a writers website and received feedback from other aspiring writers. A few of the members were published, but most of us were just trying to gain attention. She was a little different in than she wrote professionally for a magazine, though it wasn’t fiction. Still, she had pretty good editing skills. So I asked her to read my first couple of chapters and give me feedback. I honestly believe that without her the book would never have been published. She told me how to rewrite the first paragraph. I mean, she told me a lot of other things that I put to use, but that was the key piece of the whole thing. And when I did what she suggested and read to aloud I knew it worked. It was kind of like hearing a song on the radio for the first time and you just know it’s a hit. Same sort of thing. Sometimes that’s all it takes. The words were mine just she told me how to use them more effectively.”

“And that got you published?’

“Not right away. I considered submitting the first two chapters as a short story to a magazine. I was so certain they would publish it that I was already considering how I was going to spend the money. Then, they rejected it. But by then I had revised the rest of the book because I figured the magazine would publish it in installments. At least that was my hope.”

“Then how did you get the book published.”

“Well, I had a manuscript and I received a tweet from Pandamoon Publishing asking for submissions. It seems fortuitous that I had a manuscript ready to go. I submitted it, expected rejection. That’s what usually happens, isn’t it?”

“Tell me about.”

“Yeah, but this time I received an email from the publisher saying they had received the submission and would be in contact with me in a week or two. And less than a week passed I get a follow-up congratulating me on my novel and asking if I could set aside some time to discuss publishing it.”

“You’re kidding me.”

“Nope. That’s how it happened. I was so shocked I forwarded the email to several other people to make sure I was reading it correctly.”

He laughed.

“Look, the best advice I have for anyone who writes is to keep writing. And when you think something is good enough to submit, set it aside for a few days, then go back to it with fresh eyes and read it again. You see, writers always want to revise something they have written. That’s natural. But if you read it and find that you aren’t revising anything, then maybe it really is ready for prime time.”

Me crop 2

#Advice #Writing #FriedWindows #GetPublished #PandamoonPublishing

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