Wednesday, September 2, 2009

"How do I get published?" That's the million dollar question!

The life of a writer has two components. There is the creative writing side and the business side and you have to work equally hard at both. The short answer is get a fabulous idea, write a marketable book, polish it until it is perfect, and find a publisher or agent who wants your work. If only it was that simple.

This is the number one topic anytime I do a workshop. So for all my writer friends out there -- I'm declaring Wednesdays to be Writer's Day on my blog. I encourage everyone to send me questions or make comments as we go and lets develop a dialogue on the topic.

When it comes to finding a publisher or agent for that matter -- you have to do your homework. This is an ongoing part of the business of writing. There are a number of books published every year such as: Writer's Market, Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors & Agents (about 1000 pages), Writer's and Illustrator's Guide to Children's Book Publishers and Agents, Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market. These books include information about the business, query letters, formatting, resources for writers, websites, etc. all very useful. Visit your bookstore or library and find the one(s) that work for you. Double check any possible choices at the publisher's or agent's website to be certain you have the most current information on submission guidelines. Editors and agents come and go. Houses shift their focus and some only accept submissions during specific times of the year. The SCBWI list serve has a wealth of helpful information as well.

Get the submission guidelines for anyone you are considering. They are often posted on the websites or you can request them by mail. If they say we want submissions in this form or that do it! If they say they don't accept your type of story believe them. Look at what they've published most recently to get a feel for their type of work. Publishers may be looking for books with specific themes or in certain genres, but chances are they aren't looking for another book that is too similar to one they've just published.

Keep in mind that a house may receive 20,000 submissions a year and only publish 10-20 books. The editors I'm speaking to tell me they are being extremely careful about the projects they are taking on...they're looking for the best of the best. Having said that, don't let yourself get discouraged. Remember that you can go into any bookstore and find books you love and other's that don't interest you at all, but they all got published somewhere. A work that doesn't suit one editor may really appeal to someone else.

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