Timeless Guidance – Erin’s Advice on Getting Published

Many of you have been coming to the blah-g lately saying, “Lisi, you always give the best advice…” and when I read that, I can’t help but to dole out more. But when I read TacoChic’s comment that guy advice seems to be my thing, I knew it was time to switch those things up. And in an effort to be more than one note, I’m going for Janine’s question today on how to get your first book published. Here’s her question:

Hey Lisi,

Your books are truly amazing!
I want to become a writer myself and as clichéd that probably sounds I dream of being one since I was little. I used to write short stories – well actually they were planned to turn into books but I never finished them :D – but recently I participated in a contest NaNoWriMo where I completed a novel with over 50000 books. I am currently planning to publish it as an ebook on Amazon but it would be a dream coming true if it would get like really published.
I was hoping that you would have some tips? As in how did you manage to get your first book published and all.
That would really be amazing!
Thanks and lots of love,  Janine

Hi Janine. A few things first: One, thank you for the nice compliment. And congratulations on participating in NaNoWriMo, but more importantly, on completing your first novel! That’s huge for any writer and you should be very proud. It’s also more than I can say for myself since I majorly failed the 50,000 page November challenge last year. But this post isn’t about me, or my failures. It’s about you and all other young writers reading this who are wondering how to get their book published so you can add that to your list of successes.

I’ve said before that those who can’t do should turn to those who canSo in racking my brain on ways to best advise how an aspiring writer should go about getting noticed by a publisher I remembered my brilliant editor, Erin, who answered this very question on my blah-g a while back.

Here’s a refresher shot of partial Team LH from our brunch meeting a couple of weeks ago in Santa Monica. We ate delicious food, sipped on tea and virgin Bloody Mary’s, and worked on plotting book 3 of Pretenders. Erin is the fair-faced beauty in the top left corner, and down in the bottom left is Office Elf extraordinaire, Alisha! As you can see, Team LH was very excited to be meeting in the warm light of day instead of the cold glow of our computer screens and usual cc’d thread of emails.

Team LH at our brunch meeting in Santa Monica!

But back to the question at hand.

My excitement continues because Erin put some serious thought into her advice on how to get published and when I rediscovered it today, I knew it would give you all the direction you need. If you follow her wise words, I will be reading your books someday.

Now over to Erin’s timeless guidance:

Hi readers,

Lisi asked me to answer a few questions for you. I know a lot of you are aspiring authors and that is fantastic! Keep writing! As with any artistic calling, it can be hard to break out and get your work noticed. For large publishing houses, the standard policy is to only accept manuscripts that are submitted through an agent. This is largely just a matter of volume—editors couldn’t possibly answer every single query if it was an open-door policy and most publishers do respond to every submission they get. So here are some ideas on making your way in the publishing world…

1) It is easiest to get your manuscript seen by a publisher if you have an agent. An agent truly is a great advocate for an author. So do consider trying to get representation for yourself.

2) Editors keep their eyes peeled for talent out in the world. Try other forms of writing—try your hand at journalism by writing for websites, magazines or newspapers and build up a clip file of published work. Write a blog on a topic that interests you and try to drum up a following. Or self publish through a variety of different platforms and try to garner an initial readership for your book that way. (These kinds of projects are all great experiences that you can use to pitch yourself to an agent as well.)

3) Consider paying a small fee to a freelance editor to review your manuscript and help you revise. There are a lot of great people out there who can help you take your writing to the next level.

4) Attend writing workshops or attend a full writing program. It will help you polish your work and meet other authors.
As with any career, the best thing you can do is network! Take classes, talk to local professors or authors, attend seminars, join a writers association—there are trade organizations for all aspects of the publishing industry. Apply for an internship at a publisher, or an agency, or to assist an author. The more people you meet, the more people you are connected to through their connections. The more people you know, the more you can talk about your projects and get advice. If you network your way to an editor, sometimes you can get someone to look at your work without an agent.
Basically, you need to do everything you can to put yourself out there and make connections. You also need to make sure you are putting your best work out there. Really take your time to develop your writing, and if you can’t get anyone to notice the first book you write, write another! A writer’s work is never done (as Lisi can tell you!). Keep creating… and good luck!


Did offering up Erin’s advice and passing it off as a new blah-g post cure my current one note status? Probably not. Come back in two weeks when I make another go of it, and don’t forget to keep starting your questions off with the magic words.



Ps. Office Elf will be guest posting over on her blog next week while I’m in Mexico!


Am I happy you are all getting crushed by crushes? Of course not. I’m just glad you’re coming to me for advice and not solely relying on your friends. No offense, friends, but you’re just as inexperienced as the one in need. I have decades of heartbreaks to draw from. Enough mean girl dramas to fill a Lifetime Channel. And more sleepless nights than Draculaura.

I will try to get to all of your questions eventually, especially if you start them with Lisi, you give the best advice…, but this week my crushed heart goes out to Biebs Girl.

Lisi, you give the best advice… What do you think about dating someone who’s younger than you and way shorter? This really sweet guy is a Freshman and he told me he had a crush on me. I’m a Junior and my friends always say it’d be soooo wrong to even think about it. But I am. I’m about 5″4 and I’m pretty sure he’s like 5’4 or maybe slightly taller or shorter. Its just kinda awk how he’s a height close to mine. What do you think?

If I forgot what it was like to be in high school I’d say something not-at-all helpful like, “Who cares what your friends think. If he’s a good guy and you like each other that’s all that should matter.” Technically, that’s true but it sucks as advice because when you’re in high school friends’ opinions do matter. I’m not saying it’s right. I’m just saying I accept it because if I didn’t I’d be feeding you that crap line and wondering why it didn’t help.

First order of business: My guess is these friends of yours are single or unhappy. If they were happy in relationships of their own they wouldn’t care who you liked as long as you were happy too. Know that. Don’t ever forget it. EVER! Some friends can be very supportive as long as they’re happy. When they’re not, many have a fear of being left behind and they will do and say whatever it takes to keep you from moving on without them.

Next: Do you really like this guy? Does he make you smile out loud? If so, Massie Block has a question for you:

Would you rather hang with an awesome guy your friends don’t think is tall enough to ride the roller coaster OR miss out on what could be a great time to keep your friends from yapping behind your back?

It takes courage to do things your friends don’t approve of. If you don’t find that courage now ,you’ll have to find it eventually because you won’t always agree on everything. And at some point in your life that’s going to have to be okay or you will have no clue who you are and you certainly won’t be happy.

Assuming you find the courage to live life for yourself and not your friends (it’s hard at your age, I get it) then it’s all how you spin it. Instead of acting all unsure and insecure show them how much fun dating a young same-sized guy can be. Put on your advertising hat and sell it. Start by telling them they are judging him based on the year his parents had sex. Gross, I know, but that’s really what it comes down to. It’s called ageism. No different than judging someone based on the color of their skin or the god they pray to.

Next, think of all the celeb couples who rocked that trend. Demi and Ashton, anyone? Fine, it didn’t end well but they had a great run. My husband is two years younger than me. My friend Noel married an ah-mazing guy who is six years younger than her. We live in a culture that worships youth. Make that work for you, sister. Be a Junior-cougar. Start a Junior Cougar Club. Junior girls who proudly date younger guys. Make it trend. Own it.#Juniorcougar

Find out if he has any friends that are interested in one of your friends. A double date perhaps? Maybe the young ones will get cheaper prices on movie tickets. 🙂

It hard to go against the social norms. Ask anyone who ever made a difference in this world. They’ll tell you.

Keep me posted!



So many issues, so few Wednesdays. Keep sending your questions. I’ll answer another one next week.

How Good Girls Can Date Bad Boys

Anyone who begins their comment with, “Lisi, you always give the best advice…” is going to get my advice. That’s how well I respond to compliments. No one knows this better than Mikaelya. Check it:

Lisi, you always have the best advice… so what should I do? I really like this guy at my school (he’s a year older thank gawd) but he’s not into good stuff. I’ve heard tons of bad things about him from everyone who knows him (like he use to be a dealer (maybe still is), is obsessive when he likes a girl, pretty much goes to raves every night, and other things). I don’t want to judge him because of what other people have said, because when we’ve talked he’s been so nice, sweet, and funny. I’ve been trying to stop liking him but I can’t. What should I do??

Oh, Mikaelya. Sweet, sweet Mikaelya. You’ve already made your first mistake. Trying NOT to like someone is as effective as trying not to dream. It’s out of our control, we all know that. Accept that the heart wants what the heart wants, even when the brain has a a major problem with it, and move on.

If there is some truth to the rumors you want to be careful. So here’s what I suggest. Make a list of values that are important to you (Honesty, safety, trust, self-esteem, not breaking the law…) Add some qualities you want from BadBoy (Respect, good judgement, no tartar…) Then ways you want BadBoy to make you feel (Safe, appreciated, heard, goddess…).

After each BadBoy encounter check your list. If being with him has made you stray from anything on it, draw an X through that item and then draw a bigger X across his “obsessive” face. Because he’s done. D-z-u-n, DZUN!

If, however, you are able to hang out with him, without sacrificing who you are or what you believe in, treat yourself to a box of glowsticks and Google “nearest rave”.

Same goes for all of you crush-puppies. Know what you want and don’t compromise. It takes courage and confidence. If you don’t know how to get courage or confidence I’d be happy to tell you… Just begin your comment with, “Lisi, you always give the best advice…” and check back here next Wednesday.



Heavily Processed

As you can see by the glorious transformation of this webpage, superficial change is easy. Easier still if you have someone as brilliant and dedicated as Alisha the “office elf” doing it for you. But this is January, not December! You got the haircut, the glitter eyeliner, the whiter smile. You’re way past the point of superficial tweaks. You want real change, the subcutaneous kind, the stuff resolutions are made of. You want more muscle, less fat, higher grades, lower cholesterol, increased talking, decreased stalking…Whatever it is, you are going for it. Right now. And it’s going to happen. By MLK day.

… But what if it doesn’t?

What if your January finds you lifting weight, but dropping none?  What if that high GPA is still MIA after midterms? What if you spend Valentine’s Day with a pair of binoculars and a bottle of Windex, a-gain!

Then what?

I’ll tell you what. You’ll decide your goals are no longer worth the effort and you’ll quit. Unless, of course, you adopt my new technique (by “my” I mean I stole it from my sister Carly: http://www.balance-the-mother-load.com), which focuses more on the process than the goal.

As an author, I live for the process. To me, writing isn’t about the finished piece, it’s about the time, effort, and occasional joy spent creating it. It’s about the journey, for better and worse. Process, not progress. So I’m really good at this. Check it:

Your goal might be to lose five pounds by February 1st, but what if you only lose two? Most of us would get down on ourselves, thinking there’s something wrong with our metabolisms, willpower, scale, existence. Soon, we’d give up. But if you got rid of the added pressure of the date, you’d be free to focus on what you have accomplished versus what you haven’t. So instead of saying, “I was supposed to lose five pounds but I only lost two,” you could try, “I am in the process of losing five pounds. I’ve already lost two!” That feels better, doesn’t it? Less pressure, more positive. Suddenly that two pounds feels triumphant.

Go on, try it. It works for everything.

I am in the process of increasing my grades. I am in the process of finding the courage to call you. I am in the process of writing a masterpiece. I am in the process of never making resolutions again.

The word “process” reminds me that meaningful change takes time. And that I should expect some bumps along the way. Sometimes I will get lost, other times I will need a rest stop. But I’ll keep moving forward. Chances are I’ll be late. So if you need to move on without me, I understand. Just know that I’ll get there eventually. Quietly. Confidently. Hopefully before 2015.