Last week I was the featured speaker at a writer’s festival in our town. While the questions the moderator asked me were about my recently published book, when it came time for audience questions, they seemed much more interested in how I got my book published.
Now, I’m fairly certain there’s not a one of you writers out there that hasn’t given some (okay maybe a lot) of thought to the part about getting your work published. And you’ve probably figured out by now that the traditional way of publishing is pretty much gone, unless you have connections, are a star or have done some outrageous thing that put your name in the headlines and therefore created enough name recognition to carry a book. Unfortunately that leaves the other 98 percent of us out there struggling, trying to determine what to do to get someone to read our number one bestseller. After all, we wouldn’t be writing if we weren’t certain that our story is the best, the most unusual, the most gripping, terrifying, funny and tear-jerking story ever written. Why can’t those publishers see that right away?!
The traditional query to the agent or publisher can still be sent out, however the rate of return on that investment is rarely more than zero. Yes, there are those few who get past the censors and land their manuscript on a decision maker’s desk. That is absolutely the exception and not the rule. The first line of defense in a publishing house are the readers, those who screen through the stacks (physical, but more and more electronic) of queries. In this case the writer must come up with a good hook, something short, sweet and sums up the story in an appealing way in just two to three sentences. Sadly, even with the best hook ever, some manuscripts are never seen. There are just too many of them for assistants and others assigned the task to determine the fate of those poor souls whose work is siting in front of them. It becomes easier for them to just stick a pre-made little note in your SASE and toss your work in the trash. Some queries land in good hands and may genuinely strike the reader as great material, but the timing is wrong. You’ve written a detective novel, but they’re looking for true detective works. Do your research and send your query to the right house and person. Even though the odds are most often against you, if you believe in yourself and your work, then don’t stop!
If you want to pursue the traditional route to getting your work published, go for it. The key is persistence. Keep at it, even when the rejection slips exceed the storage limit of your email account. It is not impossible to get published going this route, but it is frustrating and sometimes, downright depressing.
Today, most writers are getting creative in their efforts to draw attention to their work. And creative they are. But hey, aren’t writers supposed to be creative? Whatever route you use to get published, you need to generate interest in your work. Your goal is to make readers run to grab a copy of your latest. Next time, I will discuss some ways authors have succeeded in getting their work recognized.
Until then, keep those ideas flowing!