Kevy my life-crush has this one joke he loves to tell…
KEVY: What’s Lisi’s favorite thing to make for dinner?
ANYONE WITH EARS: I dunno, what?
I roll my eyes when he tells it even though it’s true. I can’t cook. And those who can’t do should turn to those who can.
So when S.R. Rhodes sent me a message on Facebook on the difficulties of getting published, I turned to my brilliant editor, Erin, for the answer.
Need a visual? Here we are last week in my office. She was in San Diego for Comic-Con and stopped by Laguna for an afternoon of chit-chat and shopping. The owner of an ah-dorable local boutique called Isla gave us free matching key chains because we bought up the store. As you can see, we were very excited.
My excitement continues because Erin put some serious thought into her advice and if you follow it, I will be reading your books someday.
Here is S.R. Rhodes’ question:
For me, queries can be a bit intimidating. I feel like literary agents focus so intensely on the query letter that the manuscript itself, good or bad, has little importance. I know that rejection is a part of life but in the “author” world it has become overwhelming, especially when no criticism is given. I have read books, web blogs and digest magazines with tips on queries, and just when I think I’ve figured it out… another rejection. No publishers will accept manuscripts without representation except for the ones who ask for hundreds of dollars up front. My passion for writing is a well-lit flame that will never burn out. I write day and night- typing, pen and paper or talking into recording devices. I’m not a quitter…I will fight for my dreams hopefully gaining more knowledge and skills along the way. I need some insight from another author, which is why I’m messaging you. Any words of wisdom? Thank you.
Now Erin, over to you…
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 experience 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!
THANK YOU ERIN!!!!!!
I have to go make my dinner reservations for tonight. I’m expecting company.