As an author, your goal is to sell editors on your talent, your reliability, and your willingness to accept feedback. As an expert, your mission is to get that book published – fast. Why? Because your book is your calling card to new clients, speaking agencies and organizations who want to hear your message.
The wrinkle is that acceptances of creative work are subjective. While one editor relishes poems about rushing creeks, another has banished them forever. Another Publisher wants novels about World War II, while another reports (with bravado!) that “WWII novels are over.” Much like looking for a job, you need to find the right match for your work.
While your response to ‘no’ from a business client might be emotionally manageable, a ‘no’ on your novel or how-to book might challenge your confidence. Separating yourself from your work can help move your goals forward with less sturm und drang.
There is a path to publication. The “4 C’s” approach in “You Can Be a Winning Writer” has been field tested over ten years with clients and students.
A pragmatic approach is helpful. Publishing is a numbers game; the more publishers and agents you submit to, the more likely your book will be considered. While it might take you a year or more to place your work with a publisher or in top journals and magazines, your perseverance will pay off.
Fast Track to Publication: The Winning Writer’s To-Do List
1: Publishing articles or blog posts
Publishing, even on the internet, requires vetting. An editor is always a good, thorough check, but what if you publish with no editor? How do you know if your article will resonate with your readers? Try these exercises:
Read aloud to friends – let them know that you want their honest opinion.
Read aloud to yourself – you’ll hear the false notes when you read it.
Remember the three journalistic edicts: “Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them and tell them what you told them.”
Double check your piece for a cohesive narrative arc; a beginning, middle and end. And, be sure to make your post universal. While the topic might be personal, bring it around to how it can benefit or inspire your readers.
2: Build a Writer’s Resume
Your writer’s resume is the place where new editors and publishers have a chance to vet you. Each publication credit is a notch in your belt. Have an article in the Atlantic? Great. Be sure to tell the publisher you’re approaching with your book. Have a handful of blog posts on Medium? Great! Share them. National publications are taken seriously by editors and publishers.
3: Get busy on social media:
Starting from scratch? Don’t think you can rustle up followers? You can. Search people in your field and friend them. Follow them. Many will follow back. When you use social media stick to your topic. (A good branding expert can help you.) And don’t forget, publishers are always looking for the next new thing: Bloggers get book contracts! Writers with a large number of followers get noticed.
4: Find the right publication/agent for your work
Sending a story on landlocked Idaho to a publication that specializes in islands is probably not a good use of your time. Know the publication’s themes and interests.
At the same time, don’t give up if you really want to be published in the New Yorker.
A story on NPR reported on a cartoon artist who sent packages to the New Yorker for 10 years before they bought his art. Kay Ryan (Former Poet Laureate of the United States, and Jane Hirschfield, Award winning poet) sat together at their kitchen tables and sent out stacks of packages of poems (pre-digital submissions.) When asked why, they responded: “We want to get editors used to our voices.”
5: Know the facts
4% is the average rate of acceptance. Non-fiction sells 3x as often as fiction and genre fiction 3x as often as literary fiction.
6: Say “Yes”
Saying yes is often harder than it sounds. Be flexible. When a show opens a radio spot for you on Tuesday at 10, you go. When someone invites you to speak, you go.
7: Be a friend to writers.
When a friend wins a book contract, congratulate him/her! Having an article published, winning an award, or receiving a commendation is an accomplishment. Let your colleagues know that you support them!
8: Show your fellow writers some love
Can’t buy their book or review it on goodreads or amazon?
Shout out to them on social media!
9: Step up for yourself:
Have an event coming up? Let people know. Start a monthly newsletter, a pod cast, a VLOG, a You Tube channel. Connect with your audience.
10: Promote your book
I cannot tell you how many authors have slaved over a book, sweated getting a contract and then drop the ball!
When your book comes out send it out for post-publication awards and prizes, ask to speak at conferences, hire a publicist or an agency.
You can be a winning writer!
Author of six books, Joan’s latest, “You Can Be a Winning Writer: The 4 Cs of Successful Authors: Craft, Commitment, Community and Confidence” published by Mango Press, hit #1 on Amazon while still in pre-orders.
Joan’s work has appeared in the Huffington Post, Los Angeles Review of Books, Prairie Schooner, Rattle, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry and over 100 literary magazines and journals around the world.
Her novel, “Fear to Shred,” set in a Silicon Valley startup is due out with Mastodon/C&R Press in June, 2019.