beginners: ten ways to prepare to get published
By Jill Nagle, Founder and
GetPublished, guerrilla guidance for your writing adventure
Author of How
to Find A Literary Agent Who Can Sell Your Book for Top Dollar
Like any field, excellent writing
requires study, practice and mentorship. Very few successful
authors ever published their first draft of their first work.
Nearly all had to expend considerable effort to improve their
craft. Here are some ways to prepare for that moment of
publication. These tips also help keep you on your toes after
publication for better and better writing results as your career
1) Read, read, read in your
field. You can never read too much when you're trying to
excel as a writer. Reading in your field helps you develop a
discerning eye. You need this discerning eye for when you step
back and look at your own work.
2) Cultivate role models.
Know who the top-selling authors are in your field. Find out
more about them. How did they get to where they are? Do searches
on the internet for information about particular authors whose
careers you admire. Let your role models inspire rather than
daunt you. There is no competition, only inspiration, potential
teachers and opportunities for co-operation. That author you
envy this year may be writing a blurb for your first novel next
3) Research your markets.
If you want to publish in periodicals, whether literary fiction,
journalistic writing, or anything else, realise publication
standards serve a purpose other than to frustrate new authors.
4) Take classes. Many
cities offer writing classes through community colleges or local
writing groups. Online writing classes are popping up
everywhere. If possible, choose a writing teacher who has
published in a field you'd like to enter. Even better, find
someone you already consider a mentor. Not every published
author has what it takes to offer beginning writers what they
need, but many do.
5) Join or start a writer's
group in your area. We teach best what we most need to
learn. There is no better way to improve your own writing than
to help others with theirs.
6) Find a writing buddy with
whom to check in on a regular basis. The two of you can be
each others' inspiration, accountability market, guidepost and
reality check. Having structure and someone to check in with may
help you look forward to your otherwise lonely writing sessions.
7) Play with changing voices.
Copy other writers you admire. How does that feel? Pretend you
suddenly got an injection of creativity serum or IQ booster,
then write like mad for ten minutes. What happens to the quality
of your words? Is this a possible new direction for you? As
creative and intelligent beings, we have so much more within us
than we could ever dream.
8) Accept the reality of
rewriting. Unlike other professions who get to rest on their
milestones, for writers, a completed manuscript often represents
a beginning. The best writing comes after lots of rewriting,
even for seasoned authors. You needn't throw any of it away, but
not every sentence belongs in every work. Save the scraps, but
don't get attached to where they go, or the integrity of your
project will suffer.
9) Get clear on what you want
out of getting published. Many writers move forward without
knowing where they want to wind up. As a teacher once told me,
"if you don't know where you're going, any road will take
you there". The answer to what you want out of getting
published will help you determine the best route to take. And in
publishing, those routes are many
10) If what you want is to get
published in the least amount of time, considering hiring a
ghostwriter. An extremely common but rarely discussed
practice, many successful authors talk to ghostwriters, who put
their skills to work on an author's behalf. Although some such
ghostwriters get a cover credit, many do not, hence the
"ghost" terminology. If you have more money than time
or inclination to toil, ghostwriting may be the option for you.
Author Jill Nagle is founder and principal of
GetPublished, which provides coaching, consulting,
ghostwriting, classes and do-it-yourself products to emerging and
published authors. Her most recent book is How to Find An Agent Who Can
Sell Your Book for Top Dollar.
can now leave feedback on magazines
The introduction of the user feedback feature on
and literary agents
databases has opened up a whole new dimension on these listings, giving for the
first time a writer's perspective based on actual writers' experiences. Though
still very much in its early days, there are already listings with three or more
different comments from various users on them, enriching the database and
providing more information than ever before for writers.
This feature has now been extended to the
magazines database –
firstwirter.com's longest-running directory. Have you had a rude
rejection letter from a magazine? Did they take longer than they promised
looking at your MS? Well now you have the opportunity to name and shame them,
and warn other users about the way they behave. Equally, if you've been treated
very well by a magazine (received helpful advice, or a particularly quick
turnaround on your submission) you can leave positive feedback to commend them
to other writers.
To leave feedback, all you have to do is find the
or literary agent's)
listing (the best way to do this is to go to the Advanced Search page and enter
part of the name) and click the "Leave Feedback" button at the top of the
listing (there's also a link in the "User feedback" section half way down the
page). Then just type in your comments and click submit! It doesn't cost
anything, and it helps make the database better for everyone, so what are you
waiting for? Remember – this feature relies on you, the users, so it can only be
as good as you make it!
At the same time as adding the user feedback
feature the magazines database
has also been generally upgraded to the level of the publishers
and literary agents
databases: "Report an Error" and "Print this Page" functionality has been added,
and the overall look has been enhanced. Flags have been added to the listings on
all these three databases, making it easier to tell which listings pertain to
which countries, and the keywords for the material they handle have been
expanded and standardised across the databases.
"This paves the way for future developments and
innovations in our service," says firstwriter.com Managing Editor, J.
Paul Dyson. "By standardising the terms the three databases use we've made it
possible for them to interact and become more integrated in the future. There
are lots of ways in which this can potentially improve information delivery to
the customer, but the first benefit you'll notice will be in the InstantAlert
email services, which we're looking to make more integrated and more
customisable for the customer, allowing them to eradicate unwanted emails and
drill down to the InstantAlerts that really matter to them."
Now that the upgraded version of the
is online work has begun in earnest on the improvements to the InstantAlert
services, however no date has been set for their implementation. In the
meantime, remember to leave your feedback on any
or literary agents
you have dealings with.
writers at firstwriter.com
for the following invaluable resources for writers:
on this newsletter for as little as $30 / £20 click
uses English spelling conventions.
Spellings such as "realise"
differ from other spelling conventions
but are nonetheless correct.
sought for webzine's first issue
Shakespeare's Minivan, an online literary
magazine, is seeking submissions for its first issue.
Minivan describes itself as more than just
another webzine: it's a place where average, working people can reclaim their
right to an imagination.
Minivan publishes quality
fiction, poetry and essays by people with full-time, non-writing jobs and
families to support. If you get up at 4am to write – if you can't quit
your day job – this is the magazine for you. It will look at work in all
genres, as well as fragments of unfinished projects. For submission
guidelines, log onto the website at shakespearesminivan.com.
For details of more than 500 other magazines
gives teleclass on finding a literary
Hilary McMahon, a literary agent from Westwood
Creative Artists, will be appearing as a teleclass guest for writers attempting
to secure a literary agent.
Westwood is a renowned and highly successful
agency and Hilary represents many talented authors. She’ll be spending a full
hour sharing her insider knowledge on what an agent can do for a writer, what
agents are looking for in proposals these days, and how writers can best work
with agents once they’ve been signed.
The class will be held on May 31, 2005 at 2pm ET.
For more information,
To search over 600 literary agencies,
group launches magazine
The London Surrealist Group has recently launched
a magazine, Arcturus.
For more information on the group and their
magazine visit londonsurrealist
group.org.uk or email
For details of more than 500 other magazines
to sell more books online
The key to successfully selling
anything online is search engine
placement. Various studies have shown that 54 per cent to 85
per cent of online purchases begin with a
search engine, and 34 per
cent to 69 per cent
of clicks go to the top three spots.
Ink Tree Marketing
is offering the services of a search engine optimisation specialist (who is also
a self-published author) to five of their subscribers – all you have to do is
join their mailing list. The five lucky writers will receive a customised,
one-on-one service that will help them achieve higher online book sales.
Those interested should send an
inktreemarketing.com with the subject line
Engine Optimisation" as soon as possible.
Valley Poets Fest 2005
Taking place in the beautifully resonant environs
of the Widow Jane Mine, Rt. 213 in Rosendale, NY, the Hudson Valley Poets Fest
will be held on Saturday, August 13, 2005, from noon to dusk.
Hosted by Mike Jurkovic, HVPF '05 will feature
many regional poetic luminaries, published both nationally and internationally.
Poets already scheduled include Will Nixon, Barbara Adams, Sharon Nichols, Bill
Seaton, Cheryl Anne Rice, Robert Milby and John Faucett, who will be reading
from his new book
Road Travelled (ISBN 1859291260, by Remus House, released May 21, 2005).
Artists, craftspeople, and socially conscious
organisations who wish to set up booths can contact Dietrich Werner at
For more information concerning HVPF '05, please
contact Mike Jurkovic on +1 (914) 474-7758 or at
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