Many emerging writers often ask me what the trick to getting published is. But the trick is that there is no “trick.” It goes without saying that writing professionally is a labour of love and takes incredible amounts of dedication, patience and perseverance. Here are my top 10 tips that can help:
1. Write, write, write!
The trick to writing well is to KEEP WRITING! You need to spend time writing every single day. You may put in more hours on some days than on others, but the idea is to keep going. The gems emerge here and there, so the more pages you write, the more gems you’ll find.
2. Edit, edit, edit!
So you managed to get the first draft out, great. Now what? Time to edit! Editing is actually very difficult. You need to be able to look at your work objectively and ruthlessly chop what’s not working. I heard a great quote at a writing conference I attended: that you usually end up scrapping the first few chapters of your book entirely! Those pages are really just for you to situate yourself with your story.
3. Get an editor!
Speaking of editing, I think every author needs to edit their work as best they can. However, once you’ve done that, I highly recommend getting a professional editor before submitting anything. It makes a huge difference. You can also be part of a critique group, where a group of writers get together and help edit each other’s work at no cost.
4. Read, read, read!
This one sounds obvious, but some writers forget to read! It’s vital that you keep a pulse on contemporary literature, especially in the genre you’re writing for. If you’re going to pitch your book, you need to know what else is out there and where your work fits in.
5. Keep it real!
Always be authentic and write from the heart. I think the best work happens when someone writes about something they truly feel passion for. It’s not about becoming an author to “make money” or “become famous,” though these may be side effects. It’s about doing what you love and sharing it with others.
6. Join the club!
There are many professional organizations dedicated to literature in every field. In children’s literature for example, SCBWI and CANSCAIP are fantastic. People often ask if it’s worth the annual dues (which are low) and my answer is YES! You get tons of information about the publishing industry, a multitude of resources, and you make connections.
7. Research the industry!
Once you have a finished, edited manuscript, the idea is not to randomly send it to 100 publishers at once. First of all, some of them only accept exclusive submissions. But more importantly, you need to research the industry and find out which publishers are actually in line with your work. That will save you heaps of time.
8. Write a GREAT cover letter!
When you do find the right publishers, it’s imperative that you write an engaging, professional and polished query letter and/or cover letter, depending on the circumstance. Google it and you’ll find tips on how to write them effectively. This is your only chance to impress the editor, so make it count!
9. Sharpen your skills!
Don’t forget to make conscious efforts to sharpen your writing skills. Take a workshop, many of them are online and very convenient these days. Join some writing forums and groups. And lastly, attend a writing conference if you can, it will blow your mind open!
10. Persist, persist, persist!
By the way, rejection is a part of this industry, so it’s best to develop tough skin. You will get rejection letters, but learn to see them as encouragement since you’re that much closer to finding the right publisher! Keep persisting, it will pay off!
Love & Light,