Last week I got an email from my brother Dan, who lives in Virginia. He’d gone to lunch with his friend “Sam” who’s writing his first novel. Sam knows I'm an author, so he was picking Dan’s brain for my secret to getting published. Like most authors, I receive lots of questions from people asking for the key to getting their books published. If I knew the answer to that, my novels would have been on the shelves 16 years ago. Even though there is no magic formula, writers can follow some steps to improve their chances:
ü Read widely in your genre, concentrating on books that have won awards for excellence. While it’s great to read the classics, be sure you read works that have been published in the last year or two. Writing trends change, and it’s important to keep current.
ü Write frequently in your genre, every day if possible.
ü Study writing techniques. Attend writing workshops, take college classes, follow authors’ blogs, visit writing chat rooms, subscribe to writing journals or e-zines, and read how-to books.
ü Join a professional writing association. On the Web you can find an association for almost every genre: mystery, romance, science fiction and fantasy, nonfiction, and children’s writing, to name a few. These associations provide almost endless opportunities for networking and education.
ü Join or form a writing/critique group. Hopefully, you will meet like-minded writers through your association, but you can also check local bookstores and libraries to see what writing groups meet there. Look for writers who are at or slightly above your level of expertise so you can pick their brains for ways to improve your skills.
ü Be certain your writing is up to professional standards by getting feedback from other writers, editors, and agents. Many writing conferences give you the opportunity to sign up for critiques from professionals at an added charge as well as breakout critique sessions with other writers that are included in your regular conference fees.
ü Be open to suggestions and criticism. All the feedback in the world is useless if you ignore it. Polish your writing until it is the best it can possibly be.
ü Research publishers through their Web sites, catalogues, and market guides. Target your submissions and follow all guidelines to the letter.
ü Keep trying, learning, and improving your skills until you meet with success!
Pictured above are some of the members of PAL of Central Iowa: Kimberly Stuart, Wendy Delsol, Wini Moranville, Kali VanBaale, Susan Maupin Schmid, me, Rebecca Janni, Mike Manno, and Sharelle Byars Moranville. We have books published in a variety of genres.