My biggest tip for getting published…

The theme for this month’s Kidlit Carnival is tips and advice, so I’m going to take this chance to try to restate my main piece of advice as clearly and convincingly as I can.

The advice: Diversify your manuscripts.

Let’s use an analogy. Let’s say you’re the greatest Etruscan rockabilly flutist who does Carpenters covers of all time. But nobody in the business will even listen to your album, “Close to You, Daddy-o.”

What does that mean?

Does it mean you’re not a good musician? No, because they’ve hardly heard you play. Plus you can play two at once while walking through a forest! You’re awesome!

So what should you do?

Practice the flute harder? Learn more obscure Carpenter hits? Get a bigger pompadour?

“No, dog,” says Randy Jackson, “let us hear something that’s not an Etruscan rockabilly flute cover of the Carpenters!”

So do you play an Etruscan rockabilly flute cover of Dionne Warwick?

No, you’re a great musician. You’ve got skills. You’ve got more than one idea.

So, you play something completely different to prove it! (Maybe Nina Simone’s Backlash Blues with a hip-hop sensibility.)

The moral: if you’re banging your head against the wall trying to sell, say, three different poignant urban kiddie chicklit masterpieces maybe you should send them a funny werewolf attack book.

 That’s basically my story, except for the part about being the greatest anything of all time. Keep reading if you want to hear the actual story, but I imagine you’ve got the gist by now….

 My first manuscript is a masterpiece, probably among the greatest works in the English language. Touching, funny, exciting, adventurous, silly. Wonderful in every way imaginable, plus some.

And, of course, it’s unpublished.

And my agent (who has sold three of my other manuscripts) won’t even send it out.

 At one point I actually started on the sequel to it. Now, I ask you, what is the point to that? And what is the point of even writing another book in the same vein? Maybe I could somehow make the next one better, you say. That’s a red herring, the gambler’s ruin and a road to madness wrapped up in one.

 Luckily, what I did instead was write a wholly different sort of book. In fact several different sorts of books.

 So what I had was 5 different MS of five different sorts, ranging from time-travel to prom disaster to hometown adventure.

The hometown adventure turned out to be what was wanted. Three nearly normal kids exploring their nearly normal town and finding poetry, friendship, love and a nearly normal sewage fountain.

 So my point is: If I had kept writing and rewriting and messing around in that first genre, I might never have gotten published at all. Your MS may be perfectly good, but it may not be what the world is waiting for.

I’ve got more advice here:


One Response

  1. Thanks for sharing this great tip.

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