Getting Published

This is the number one question I get from people: "How do I get published?" And to be perfectly honest, it irks me just a little bit. Instead, they should be asking, "How can I become a better writer"! Because let's face it, you'll be more likely to get published if you've written some well-crafted novel that has its place in the current market.

But, not to belabor that point, I'm going to assume you know your craft and have written something incredible that deserves to be published. So, here's a few simple ideas (because there are entire books written about this!) to think about:

1) If you're looking to publish in the national market you'll need an agent. And the best way to find one is to ask other writers who write in the same genre as you or attend writer's conferences where they have agents/publishers come to speak.  Many offer you one-on-one time to pitch your idea for an additional fee. Otherwise, there is a resource online but you'll have to do your research. If your writing is geared to a very specific niche (like Christian romance or how to yo-yo), you may not need an agent but just have to track down an appropriate publisher and can just follow the publisher's guidelines which they have on their websites. Remember that competition in most areas is fierce and be prepared for rejection--so try and look at it as a chance to improve.
2) Contests can be a great way to get noticed as well. Different writer's groups and magazines (i.e. Romance Writers of America, Writer's Digest) will have contests that you can get some attention for entering. There are numerous online contests and blogs that allow you to showcase your work, get feedback and gain status by how many followers like what you do.
3) Network, network, network. If you have a large group of writer's that you know, then you have a large group of agents, publishers and information that THEY know. Now I'm not suggesting that you go join some group for the sole purpose of picking someone's brain. I hate it when someone finds out I'm published and instead of getting to know ME, they just want to know what I've learned through years of agony and effort. Just remember, you need to have a support system of people who understand why you write, who'll support you and then cheer you on when you do find success. So start now.
4) Consider what you're trying to publish. Is it an exciting suspense novel with universal appeal or a memoir about how you grew up on a farm. If it's the latter, then you may want to consider self-publishing. Not that a well-crafted book about your life couldn't be interesting, but unless it has a real widespread appeal (like a cancer survivor story or some other angle), a publisher won't touch it. But you can self-publish through several companies for a relatively small fee (around $600 to set up and then pay for each book). Consider groups like AuthorHouse or Morris Publishing. There are hundreds and again you'll have to do your research.
So that's it in a nut shell. Good luck and get back to writing!


Writing Success in the New Year

I've talked about setting goals before, but every time a new year rolls around, I find myself taking inventory of the year before and feeling more motivated to organize myself so I can achieve the success that I'm longing for in the year to come. So here's a quick look inside my mind at some of the thoughts I've been having.

If 2010 wasn't successful year for you, remember that the year 2011 is completely open and full of possibilities. You have to approach it with that mindset that it doesn't matter how many rejections you faced or the criticisms you had to endure--you are a writer and you have something to offer! It may be a matter of examing what you tried in 2010 that didn't work and revising it to discover what could work. Writing is an industry, not just an art form, and so as each year passes, you have to refigure how what you write fits into that. So take some time to examine the trends, to look at the current market and then look at your work in a new way so you can determine how it fits into that trend or market. If vampire-mania is waning, then figure out how your paranormal writing can set a new trend. If the market is innundated with historical fiction about cowboys, then think how you can put a different twist on something you've already written to make it fresh. Your own "slush" pile could be full of great ideas that just were started at the wrong time. If it's been awhile since you looked at old manuscripts, go back and look at them with a new eye and you may find a jewel hiding in the dust.

It's even more important to stay focused if you had success in 2010 because you have a momentum going that you worked hard to get and which will vanish if you don't use it. Think of it as a springboard to even great success! The contacts you made, the things you learned, the projects you began are all part of the tools that you'll use to build with this next year. If you left them sitting around, unnoticed and unused, they'll get rusty or lost and you'll find yourself struggling to finish projects that you'd like to do. So dust off those files from last year and update that marketing schedule, set new deadlines for submissions and decide now that you will be successful!