Thursday, March 15, 2012

So You Want To Be Published?


I’m working in a migraine fog this morning, so I’m a little late in getting this posted. Hope you’re all having a wonderful Thursday. The weather is simply gorgeous in South Carolina today.

If you’re a writer, you want to be published! No secret formula exists for publication, but certain things will improve and hasten your chances of seeing your name in print.

Topping the list is good writing. This means impeccable copy—your best work. Nothing else is acceptable. You can kiss your chances good-bye, if you don’t live by this market standard.

Your goals shouldn’t be set so high that only a book with your name on the cover adorning the shelves of Books a Million will satisfy. Start small. Even if you have an idea for a book, seek publication with magazine articles and short stories first.

An essential writing tool at this stage is Writer’s Market Guide or, for Christian writers, Christian Writer’s Market Guide. Both books are available in bookstores and online. Writer’s Market also publishes more targeted category guides for short stories and poems. These guides are published annually and can be obtained used for reasonable prices.

A magazine subscription to Writer’s Digest is a valuable resource. A subscription is reasonably priced, but if you don’t want to pay, their website has tons of articles archived to learn from.

Search for small magazines and online writing opportunities. If you’re a Christian writer, the Sunday School take home paper is an excellent break-in opportunity. These listings are in the guides above.

Don’t limit yourself to paying markets.

The objective is to get your name in print to build your credentials and improve your craft. We’ve discussed before that writing is more than talent. Even the most talented writer has to hone their skills. Smaller, non-paying markets are an excellent place to build your resume.

I can’t stress enough the value of attending writer’s conferences. For a new writer, the price may seem hard to justify to family members who try to reconcile the cost with your lack of income in the field. But it’s like attending college. The costs come first, the payoff later. Writer’s conferences jumpstart your writing career like nothing else. They often shorten the length of time to publication because of the opportunities to meet with agents, editors, and other writers who will form your network to get you there.

The bottom line is—there’s no secret or magic formula to getting published, except learning what you don’t know. Seems like a very basic concept, but when starting out, it’s the unknowns that work against you. The resources I’ve listed above will help.

Good, old-fashioned hard work and persevering in daily writing will get you published one day. Believe in yourself and the talent God blessed you with.

Please leave a comment, if you have a question you’d like answered or if you have a piece of advice to add to the above. I’d love to hear experiences about attending writer’s conferences, as well.

17 comments:

  1. Thanks, Laura. Enjoyed the post.

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for stopping by.

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  3. Good points. A critique group, whether online or in person, helps too.

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    1. Thanks, Holly. We covered critique groups in the first week of Writers' Corner, but it would have been good to mention it here again for those who weren't reading my blog then. Thanks for pointing it out.

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  4. Great post, Laura. You give a realistic look at what it takes, and I smile when I talk with people who think you write one draft, find a publisher, they love it, and boom, you're published. It's so much more work than I thought.

    I'm at the place where I'm taking my writing serious enough I'm researching conferences. I've yet to meet anyone who regretted going.

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    1. Thanks, Julie! Yes, most people don't realize what goes into being published. A friend of mine (who now has 20 books published) said it took her eight years to get a book published from the time she started. We both agreed that it's a good thing starting out you're so naive and don't realize the long road or perhaps you wouldn't even undertake the journey. I encourage you to attend a conference. I was a little intimidated with my first one, but I loved it! Each one I attend helps so much, despite the level of classes offered because of the contacts and boost I received from being around other writers.

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  5. Thank you for all this advice. Going to subscribe right now to Writer's Digest.

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    1. You're welcome, Shanda. Writer's Digest was an excellent learning tool when I was a new writer. I learned more about the mechanics of writing and the business side from this magazine. The magazine gives a good depiction of the industry and practical learning exercises.

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  6. All great advice. I'm going to refer my writers' group to your blog, Laura. Thanks for sharing it on Bless and Be Blessed.

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    1. Thank you, Gail. I'm honored you will do that. I appreciate the blessing you've been to me as a writer and fellow Christian.

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  7. Thanks, Laura, I was unfamiliar with Writer's Digest, so I'm heading over now to check it out. Thanks for the tip!

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    1. You're welcome, Lori. It was nice to finally meet you last month at Writers' Bootcamp.

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  8. Thanks so much for the words of encouragement and wisdom. Visiting you from bless a blogger sat. Have a blessed weekend!

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    1. You're welcome, Amanda. I'm glad you found the post helpful. Hope you have a blessed weekend, as well!

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    1. Thanks, Denise. I'm glad you found this helpful. Every Thursday I blog writing tips or encouragement for writers. Be sure to check back. You can also access the archives for previous posts.

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