Monday, March 8, 2010

How not to get published.

This is a non-scientific list about how NOT to get a book published.

I'll add a new observation every day this week about how to avoid getting published. My first observation is this: Lazy writers do not get published.

There are many reasons why lazy writers can't land a book contract. For benefit of space and time, I'll cover just a few. First and foremost, lazy writers don't spend enough time with their rears adhered to the chair pumping out the words. They talk about writing. They watch the latest Oscar winning movie and tell everyone who'll listen that their story is better. They lament with their unpublished friends about how cliquish and unfair the business is. They discuss ideas and say, "Someday I'm going to finish that book." Or start it...

Hence, they never get published.

Lazy writers don't bother to learn the craft. They say, "I'm from the school of hard knocks. My story is about REAL life. It will set the industry on its ear and have readers clamoring to buy my book. My mechanics aren't that great. I forgot most of my high school grammar rules. I not really sure what Point of View or back story are, but my story will make up for all that. That's what editors are for."

Lazy writers don't look for smaller markets to publish their work while working on their novel. The day will come to seek publication of your novel. Editors and agents will want to know your bio. M.B.A.'s are impressive, but that doesn't mean you can artfully string two sentences together. What's your experience? Where were you published before? Friends' blogs and article directories don't count. Get published somewhere that pays for your work. Not only is the practice and experience invaluable, you will show you are a writer who can produce something someone is willing to pay for.

Lazy writers don't go to conferences. There is no better--or more fun--way to learn the craft, make contacts, and get inspired. Most aspiring writers don't have many writer friends. It's difficult in those early days to find someone who understands the frustrations and joys that go along with the writing life. Every person at a writers' conferences hears voices in his head the same as you.

Lazy writers don't take the time to build a platform. Nearly as important as getting work published in a smaller market is having built an audience before ever approaching a publisher. I don't mean you must have 10,000 readers committed to buying your book before a publisher will open your submission. But competition is tight and getting tighter. Thanks to the Internet it's easy to get your name in front of readers. Create a webpage. Every writer should have one. Guest host on writing blogs. Create a Facebook page to promote your work. Write articles about your area or expertise, even if it's just about writing for publication.

It will take more than a well written book to get the attention of publishers and agents in today's economy. Don't get lazy or get used to a mailbox full of rejection letters.

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