I’m still buried under deadline, but I thought I’d do a consolidated post on everything I know about getting published. Why? Well, about one in every four emails I receive is from writers asking for advice on how to get published. Believe me, I understand their frustration over the process. It’s a HARD process, make no mistake. If getting published were easy, everyone who wrote a book would have one on the shelves. When I was first querying back in 2004, I scoured the internet looking for advice, and while there were scam places galore just waiting to pounce on unwary writers, the pickings for practical advice were slim.
I’m not saying I know all there is to know about publishing. Far from it. Writers should not treat this post as one-stop-shopping for publishing information, so by all means, scour the internet and book stores to find as much additional information as you can. That way, you won’t make some of the same mistakes I did starting out. But hopefully, some of my trial and error will turn out to be useful for you, which is my goal behind this post.
With that in mind…
On writing advice: My writing advice is simple – write. The more you write, the better you’ll get at it. Read a lot. Be prepared to revise your novel, because revising is part of the process. Then, once you’ve polished a novel, gotten a second (or third) constructive critical opinion on it, revised, and polished again, start agent hunting. But until you’ve finished a novel and really gone over it several times, don’t look for an agent. Write first. Make sure you love it. Then jump into the publishing world 🙂
On how I got published: http://frost-light.livejournal.com/16905.html
Timeline of exactly how long it took: http://frost-light.livejournal.com/107613.html
My process when I write a book: http://frost-light.livejournal.com/109987.html
A writer’s Q&A on literary agents, querying, self-publishing, and scams to avoid: http://jeanienefrost.com/2010/01/qa-for-writers/
When to get a critique, and when not to: http://jeanienefrost.com/2012/02/critiques-part-1/
More on scams and why writers should always, always remember Yog’s law: Money flows TOWARD the writer: http://frost-light.livejournal.com/93699.html
More on why I think getting an agent is important: http://frost-light.livejournal.com/113254.html
What do traditionally-published authors get paid?: http://jeanienefrost.com/2010/01/publishing-money-myths/
Examples of queries critiqued by agent Janet Reid: http://queryshark.blogspot.com/
Absolute Write, a great place where writers share information / warn against scam agencies & publishers: http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/index.php
What about self-publishing? I hear you don’t even need traditional publishers anymore.
Self-publishing is indeed a valid option now, with many self-published authors hitting bestseller lists alongside traditionally-published authors. However, for every success story, there are hundreds of thousands of writers who rushed to self-publish thinking this is the “easy” way when in fact, it’s just as hard (if not harder!) to find success. The only thing “easy” about self-publishing is the upload factor, and I speak from experience. Everything else takes the same time, effort and diligence on the author’s part.
The harsh reality is that there is no magic fast lane to success, whether you’re self-publishing or going the traditional route. If you choose to self-publish, do so because you have the time, savvy, and energy to devote to being your own publicity team, art department, editorial staff, tech support and distributor, because that’s what you’re signing on for. The reward for this extra work is a higher royalty rate, so for some authors (especially if you have a platform and/or an existing fan base) this might be the better choice. But please, don’t fall for the fallacy that it’s “easier” to self-publish. It’s harder, and if you don’t take my word for it, perhaps you’ll listen to self-publishing superstar Amanda Hocking here and here. I’d also point you to author Chuck Wendig’s funny, informative post comparing the pros and cons of self-publishing versus traditional publishing here so you can better decide if this is the best path for you.
Important note: If, however, you’re one of the people who’s looking into self-publishing because those stoopid New York houses hate original material and wouldn’t know good writing if it bit them in the butt – plus no one’s going to make you revise your perfect, precious gem of a story! – well, I’d say good luck, but I’m not optimistic for you.
On me reading your manuscript / query letter: I’m sorry, but due to time, legal, and ethical constraints, I cannot read your query letter or partial/full manuscript. Before you get mad at me for saying no, please read this: http://jeanienefrost.com/2010/04/the-tao-of-no/
All right, if you’ve read through all the above and you’ve still not found anything helpful, try Author Cassandra Clare’s comprehensive Q&A for aspiring authors on her website. There are several more helpful links inside the post, too: http://cassandraclare.com/cms/writing
Best of luck to you, writers!