Monday, June 29, 2015

The Secret to Getting Published

Don't forget that this Wednesday is the first of July. It's post day for the IWSG. Can't believe it's time already.

I wrote my first novel in long hand before I joined a writing group. I remember walking into that meeting, nervous but excited. It was held in a meeting room behind a food court. When I entered, people were already sitting at the tables and talking to each other. When I took a seat, one of the members greeted me with a new member packet that would tell me all about their group. Then the meeting started and I got out my pen and paper. Now I would learn the secret.

I didn't learn it that first meeting but I paid up for a membership and kept coming back. I learned lots of things about formatting, voice, query letters, writing a synopsis, passive verbs and every other thing I didn't know that I didn't know. Yet no one had spilled the secret after a few years and a writing conference later.

My first novel underwent numerous changes and rewrites. I queried it and received numerous requests for the manuscript but I obviously didn't know the secret. I had completed three more novels before I found the small publisher that I'm still with. I discovered the secret. Hard work and persistence.

In the years since, I've encountered many new writers searching for the same elusive secret I was when I walked into that first meeting. I've even met writers who angrily accuse published writers of hoarding the secret and not sharing it to prevent competition. Some never accept that there is no secret. With all the options open to writers these days like in publishing and promotion, there are new things to learn every day. And still, the secret is work and persistence.

In a recent Book Page publication, in an interview debut author Ericka Swyler shared her Words to Live By.  "Don't worry. No one else knows what they're doing either."

So don't feel as if there is a hidden entrance into the world of published authors. Speak with any successful, published author and they will gladly share how hard they work and how they first succeeded by refusing to give up.

If you're still looking for secrets, read this article by Margot Finke written a while ago but if you like lists, it has one.

Do you know writers who think there is a secret? What would you tell a new writer if they asked you the secret?

20 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I still don't know what I'm doing.
The only secret is timing. Being prepared with the right manuscript in the right place at the right time.

myantimatterlife said...

I had for some time thought I would confine my future publishing to self-publishing, but I've started submitting some of my poems to poetry magazines. I got some published last year and am hoping to get a few more published.

I'm hoping that having more publication credits will provide evidence to readers that I'm actually a decent writer even if I choose to self-publish.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Alex, you are so right about being in the right place at the right time.
Antimatter, stats show that hybrid authors are going very well in the publishing world.

Ann Bennett said...

This is a very spot-on post. There is no substitute for work in any field.

I was listening to a college professor at a small bible college, and she was discussing the disrespect of some of her students. It brought me back to my teaching days. You learn to deal with it even though you don't deserve it. The same is true for getting your book published.

What I have learned from writers is there is a lot of rejection before any success. More importantly, you write because you love it not because you hope to make a killing.

Pat Hatt said...

Hard work and persistence do pay off, too many think it will just happen. Pffft to that.

Janie Junebug said...

Good on you.

Love,
Janie

Nadine_Feldman said...

I recently attended a conference. They had an author panel where four authors talked about their writing process. Each one was dramatically different, and it was a great reminder that we all have to carve our own path. What I love about writing is, I'm always learning, always discovering ways to get better. If it were easy, I probably wouldn't do it.

Anne R. Allen said...

Love this! "Nobody else knows what they're doing either" is unfortunately very true. The publishing industry is changing so fast that even NYT bestselling authors have to relearn things from scratch about every 5 years.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

If there was a secret, it would've come out years ago.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

I have a fortune cookie taped to my computer: There is no secret to success except hard work.

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Feather Stone said...

Wow, my IWSG post this week is on the same theme. Never give up. Glad I'm in such good company.

Karen Elizabeth Brown said...

Good words, Susan. We all need to hang on to the fact that it's not an easy thing to be a writer. It does require determination and moxie. I've had short stories published, that aren't self published, but will probably consider traditional publishing again sometime.

diedre Knight said...

Perseverance is no secret and certainly not as easy as it may seem :-)

Michelle Wallace said...

Since "nobody knows what they're really doing" then we can safely say that perseverance and hard work should be the focus.

Does this mean that most of the authors who eventually publish and enjoy a respectable writing career are guilty of buying into the "fake it till you make it" syndrome?

Lexa Cain said...

I'm still convinced there must be a secret and after writing 3 novels, getting an agent, getting published, but still being unsuccessful, I'm sure I'm missing whatever that secret is. I continue to persevere, but it's more for me now. I've started writing things I personally enjoy more and not trying to please gatekeepers or the fickle and clickish marketplace. At least I'm happier now ... though I have nothing to show for all my work - not one penny. :)

cleemckenzie said...

I'm not sure there's a secret out there. But I am sure there are a lot things I don't know that I should.

vishalbheeroo said...

I agree there is no such thing as secret. It's a learning curve and thanks for this article on writing.

Stephen Tremp said...

A writer has to build upon their successes, learn from their failures, and be flexible and know when to make changes. And it helps to make a lot of friends along the way. Best way to do that is help people and not expect anything in return.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I think the secret is to keep writing, keep learning, keep believing. Those three things are what got me published. I did them, then I went out and found some awesome critique partners. That's the secret. The other secret is there are no secrets.