I’m hoping to take all my individual ADVICE posts and combine them here. In the meantime here are seven steps to getting started or, perhaps, not getting started.
1. Before you pin your hopes on getting published, know that it may turn into a maddening obsession. That’s not hyperbole. I came close to losing my grip during the dark days. If you want to hear my story, I’ll tell it to you privately. It’s TOO HORRIBLE to post online…
2. Read my Dickens quote:
“At least, I’ll try,” said Clennam. “It will do me no harm to try.”
“I am not certain of that,” rejoined Doyce, laying his hand persuasively on his shoulder. “It has done me harm, my friend. It has aged me, tired me, vexed me, disappointed me. It does no man any good to have his patience worn out, and to think himself ill- used.”
3. Read this…
http://www.underdown.org/insidebz.htm (Thanks to Matt McElligott for pointing me to this.)
4. Read Editorial Anonymous… Scary, isn’t it? Your manuscript will be adrift in a sea of manuscripts in EA’s office. But she does want to help you. Try this one: http://editorialanonymous.blogspot.com/2007/07/question-of-query-letters.html
5. Consider this: If you sell the book to a publisher, when it comes out you will have to sell the book to the public. Do you like to sell things? I do not, but I am trying…
6. If you’re still interested here are a few things to think about:
a) I never did get published through query letters and submissions. Rather, I got an agent (actually my writing partner did) and she knew just what to do with my book to get it published.
b) My wife, Cece Bell, DID get published through a query letter.
c) I’m assuming that your book is good, but is it marketable? Are people going to want to buy it? A few things that help are: appealing to boys, appealing to reluctant readers, being silly.
7. Note that my first book never got published. Which suggests that had I written just that one book and then spent a years trying to get it published I might have nothing to show for it.
On a related note, had I written a sequel to that first book, it would have shared the same fate. The important thing is that I got to work on another, wholly different book.
TO SUM UP:
If you can talk yourself out of doing this, you may be doing your mental health a favor.
Try to get an agent. They help you in many ways even after you sell the book.
Write more than one book. More than one kind of book. Write fun books.