Posts Tagged ‘Publishing’

We all know how daunting the writing world can be. With stiff competition and a limited selection of publications, it sometimes seems like the world will end before I’ll get anything published (and at this rate, even if we make it past December 21st, I may still see the apocalypse before I see my work in a magazine).

I’m here to offer some encouragement today. It seems to me that too many of us, as writers, focus on what’s wrong with each other’s writing, rather than congratulating each other on a job well done. I’m guilty of it. I didn’t do it to be mean or spiteful, I only gave the open and completely honest opinion I would have wanted, were it my work. While it’s good to be forthcoming on mistakes and parts of stories that just don’t “feel right”, we need to focus a little more on the good, the things that did “feel right” and the things that captured our imaginations.

Here’s what I suggest. Today, while posting, reading others blogs, or whatever you all do on here, take a few extra minutes to find something you really enjoy on some one else’s blog. Leave them a comment, be specific, tell them exactly what you loved about the post (or story or poem or whatever). If each and every one of us were to do this every other time we logged on here, in a matter of a week, many would receive a serious ego boost.

Too long this field has been fiercely competitive, and sometimes down right mean and spiteful. If you would all take a moment to brighten someone’s day, you may be surprised who will do it for you as well.

I’m aiming to put a smile on everyone’s face. Let’s see if it works.

If you think you can’t write, know that you can. All it takes is a pen, paper, and a vocabulary. You think you need some schooling first? Think again, countless authors have foregone college and made amazing careers for themselves. I can’t say that schooling isn’t important, but if you find that you can’t afford it, know that there are ways for you to increase your vocabulary, learn writing skills, and edit like a pro.

For those of us working on our fist novels (and mine’s admittedly not really my first, but my first in this genre, second total), have patience. I know I’ve had a hard time with that. A novel will not write itself over night. It takes time, and even some of the most proficient writers will take a year and a half to two in order to finish a novel. Be patient with yourself, as well as your story. Think of it as a seedling. Just a tiny sprout, still half in its seed shell, bright green in stark contrast to the rich dark dirt. You must water it, fertilize it, give it enough light, and make sure the temperature is warm enough. Much as a tiny sprout will one day turn into a lush lilac tree, weighed down with gorgeous pink-purple blossoms, your novel idea will one day turn into a voluminous and endearing tale of greatness. There are so many different things to consider and keep track of when writing a novel, it’s no wonder it takes so long, and for the beginning writer, this can take twice as long. Don’t worry about the people nagging you, asking when your book will be done so you can sell it and make the big bucks already (my brother-in-law is extremely guilty of this). None of them truly understand how hard you’ve been working, and how much actually goes into a novel. Most people think writing is easy. They say, “I could write a book in a month, and it’d be good.” If they were to actually sit down and begin planning the novel out, they may begin to get the idea that it’s a lot more work than it looks, but it’s not till you’re about half way, that it feels (for me at least) you’re losing momentum. Tell those people that if they think they can write a book in a month, go right ahead. Don’t let the mountainous work ahead of you get you down. Take your time, break it down into smaller workable pieces, and one day it will be done. Regardless of what you initially planned to do with your novel (so far as publishing), know that it is perfectly fine to write for yourself. Just because you spent all that time and aren’t trying to publish doesn’t mean you’re a failure, or that it was a waste of time. When you finish your novel, look back at it and see how far you’ve come. I swear it’s impossible to write a novel without learning something, anything, about the craft. In fact it’s likely that you’ll learn a LOT.

Writing is a lonely task. We have no encouragement, no cheerleaders, no one there to hold our hand and tell us what has to be done to get where we want. Writers are often lost in the dark, with only a small pen-light (like my pun? :D) to illuminate the way. We must feel around for ourselves, find our path, and when it’s laying before us, beckoning us towards our future, our destiny, we cannot turn away. We must press on, in the face of adversity, in the face of negativity and impatience, we must stay on our trail. If we come to a dead-end, we must blaze the trail from there on out, and one day, we WILL make it. We WILL be everything we dreamed and more.

Keep your head up. Keep reading and writing and exploring both the known world and the uncharted depths of your own imagination.

Who knows, you could be the next great novelist (or poet or essayist or what ever you aim to be).

Comment, please. Or comment on someone else’s post, and put a smile on their face.

I always have a hard time figuring out where my work would best call home. I know, most magazine websites (since I’m talking short stories here) tell writers to buy and read a copy before submitting so that we can get a feel for the style of the magazine. But if I were to do that, I’d be broke (literary magazines usually run $10-$20 bucks a copy depending on circulation, content, and whatnot), and I’d have even more clutter to put up with than I do now. So how do we go about finding a magazine that wants our work?

First off, I find the Writer’s Market invaluable. It separates fiction and non-fiction, as well as consumer magazines, literary magazines, special interest magazines, etc. The problem I have is that there are probably ten horror fiction magazines, and most of them accept work on a seasonal basis. So where do I send my manuscripts? Literary magazines, mostly. When using the Writer’s Market, you have to read carefully. Some magazines won’t accept any horror, or fantasy, or romance, or dysfunctional family stories, or whatever. Many also have limitations on how many fiction manuscripts they can accept as well as the style of writing.

What I’ve done with my 2012 copy of the Writer’s Market (deluxe edition), was that I sat down shortly after getting it and read through all the literary magazines, their requirements and restrictions for fiction. I paid careful attention to those that accept horror, sci-fi, and fantasy, and marked them with little high-lighter tabs. That way I can easily turn back and find a magazine I felt might accept my work. I really cannot stress to you how helpful the Writer’s Market has been for me. Besides listings of agents, novel publishers, magazines, and contests, there’s also LOADS of helpful tips and tricks and priceless advice for the new/young/emerging writer.

Honestly, if it weren’t for that book, I probably wouldn’t have had half the work I’ve sent out read, and I don’t know anywhere else to find all that information, especially in one place.

There are other ways you can go about publishing though. For example, say you live in a small-town area, like I do. Small-town magazines and newspapers generally don’t get a lot of fiction submitted, and most would weigh more heavily towards an acceptance, knowing that you’re a local writer. The local paper here, doesn’t have a section for submitting work on their website, but check yours out, they might. I think the best thing to do if they don’t have any requirements posted would be to follow standard submission guidelines and write standard cover letters/query letters, and then simply send your manuscript in to the paper or magazine’s fiction editor. If they don’t have a fiction editor, then just send it to the general editor.

And my last, and probably least attractive, advice on publishing/placing work, would be that if all else fails, and you’ve got so many rejection letters that you’re wading through them, maybe it’s time to consider self-publication (such as the popular e-book, which I can offer little to no advice on, being that I haven’t even looked into it yet) or posting your work on an online forum. The only problem with blogging your work or posting it on facebook, is that NO publisher or magazine will buy it (on average at least) after you’ve done this. That’s because by posting it online, you’re allowing others to read your work and essentially publishing it yourself on your own forum, and publishers don’t want left over work that’s been read by God knows how many people. They want new, they want something no one has seen before. They want edgy, they want top of the line. This is why any of my work you read on this blog, will not be placed (until maybe I can get a collection of short stories together, and maybe not even then), and has already found its home here, as I’ve mentioned before.

Placing your work can be one of the most frustrating parts of life in the world of writing, but don’t get discouraged. Even hearing about how tough it is to break into this field and how many writers go broke or starve trying to get their work recognized, you can’t let it get you down. Have faith in your ability to create masterpieces with your words, and hang in there.

Don’t mistake my encouragement for belief that we all get our chance, our moment in the spotlight, but it’s impossible to get anywhere if you don’t just try. Taking on writing is a daunting and often lonely task, and sometimes we forget why we’re in it at all, but that’s not reason enough to give up on your dreams and aspirations.

I actually wrote this post because I am trying to place a few of my pieces. I’ve got to go through and see what’s ready to be sent out, then I’ll be on the hunt for a magazine that might want them. Hell, I think I may even try the local paper. At least it might give me some credentials. However the problem with that is some literary magazines take 90% (sometimes more or less) previously unpublished or new writers. If I were to have work published in the local paper, I would no longer fall into the new writer section, and may have a harder time placing my work with certain magazines. (There’s sooooo much to know in publishing, it’s often exhausting.)

Which brings me to one last point. It’s so important to pay close attention to directions for submitting work. One simple mistake can make your work undesirable, especially to the most discerning editors. Make sure you follow all guidelines. Check your font size, margins, spacing (I’ve sent out more manuscripts than I’d like to admit with single spacing rather than double, which is standard, simply because I forgot, and it makes my work less attractive to the editor.), did you number every page, is your name at the top of every page, did you address your cover letter correctly, double-check the magazine’s mailing address, and so much more need your careful scrutiny. Don’t let your work get tossed simply because you didn’t pay attention or forgot to do something.

If anyone has any advice for finding a home for manuscripts, please feel free to comment with any tips and tricks or opinions on the world of publishing. I love to hear back from my readers.

I know this has been happening for some time now, but it seems to me that more and more publishers are switching to paperless, meaning they are only taking sumbissions online.

I just got some work back from “The Kenyon Review” and they had switched over to online only (I’m guessing they did this between the time I sent my work and the time I got it back since their website had no mention of “online only” when I was researching). I wonder if with transitions like these, more author’s work is likely to be lost. I didn’t recieve all my manuscript back, it was 12 pages and they only returned 3. I don’t understand why, either, because I ALWAYS include a SASE.

I guess the point I’m getting at is that new requirements like these, make it harder for the writer who doesn’t have internet connection to publish their work. I send nearly all my manuscripts by “snail mail” as many call it these days. To me, it’s about the feel of the paper in your hands, and how the words flow on that page, sure you can read something just as easily online, but I’m old school. Paper all the way!

I do have an e-reader. Never use it though. It was a pain in the ass, the books were nearly as expensive as hard copies, and I could only chose from one company. In the end, the battery broke too. With paper books, you don’t need a battery, or even electricity to read, just a little fire light. So I’m sticking with paperback and hardcover books.

Let me know how you feel about hard copies vs ebooks.